The Dodgers have been on the hunt for a right-handed (infield) bat the entire offseason. With Justin Turner just sitting there, they’ve opted not to just give him the third year he wants.
As such, their search for a right-handed bat landed on … Garrett Cooper?
Cooper, 30, is coming off a strong, yet shortened, 2020 season that saw him hit .283/.353/.500 with a 134 wRC+. His 2019 was also solid, as he hit .281/.344/.446 with a 111 wRC+. If he were acquired, he wouldn’t displace anyone as a starter, but he would be a really nice depth piece. As usual, you have to dig a little deeper than what you see on the surface if you’re trying to figure out what Andrew Friedman might like about Cooper.
That’s some pretty good company, and it’s probably coincidental that he shares this trait with Turner, but interesting nonetheless.
As for the fit, well, that’s where things get a bit tricky. Cooper is a basically a three-corners guy — first base, left field, right field. He has all of 40 professional innings at third base, and that came in 2014 when he was a 23-year-old in the Brewers’ farm system. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound right hander probably couldn’t make a mid-career switch to a position he hasn’t really played, so if he were acquired, here’s the scenarios.
If Turner does re-sign
Cooper acts as a backup first baseman — to give Muncy a day off here and there against left-handed pitching (or Muncy can get some time at second base, depending on Gavin Lux‘s progress). He also could serve as a backup corner outfielder, should the opportunity present itself.
Either option could make sense, but one is much more preferred than the other.
When I constructed my offseason plan post, I thought the Dodgers might need a right-handed hitter capable of playing both corner outfield spots and first base to fill a bench need. I opted for Ryan Braun, much to the displeasure of basically everyone. Luckily for you, he doesn’t seem interested in playing in 2021.
If the Dodgers want to fill this need, they could do a lot worse than Cooper. If he’s being brought in as a convoluted JT replacement, that could be a bit more problematic.