Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 Players Trying to Save Their Jobs for 2015
The stretch run is important for the Los Angeles Dodgers for multiple reasons: They’re preparing for the playoffs, and—with a 3.5 game lead in the NL West as of Aug. 18—the players on the roster are attempting to prove their worth.
To a certain extent, the Dodgers’ 2015 core is locked in. Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Zack Greinke, and Clayton Kershaw are all scheduled to make at least $18 million next year, and other current members of the roster, such as Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe, are signed to multimillion dollar deals and will be inked in to the lineup barring injury.
With all that being said, though, there are quite a few roster spots that are—to one level or another—up for grabs, and guys currently on the 2014 team have an opportunity to make their case for continued employment.
Note: All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Hanley Ramirez is the best player on this list, and yet his future with the Dodgers is uncertain. A recent report from Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times states that “Ramirez and the Dodgers have tabled negotiations until the season is over,” and it is no longer a guarantee that the Dominican native will be back with the team next year.
It’s difficult to say whether or not Ramirez can do anything to sway the Dodgers’ decision-making. Ramirez’s talent is not the question—it’s his health and future. He has already been placed on the DL in each of his two full seasons with Los Angeles, so it’s not difficult to imagine him continuing to struggle to stay on the field.
The future question is related to his position. He is currently a shortstop, but he is not particularly good at it. His defensive metrics are the fourth-worst among all shortstops since 2012 (minimum 1,500 innings), and he isn’t going to get better as he ages. So, realistically, it comes down to how much the Dodgers are willing to invest in someone who they can’t count on to play.
A.J. Ellis, C
A.J. Ellis generally gets rave reviews for his ability to handle a pitching staff, but his offense has dipped this year.
His 2014 wRC+ of 69 is the lowest of his career, and his power has disappeared entirely (.057 ISO). He is still a big league catcher, but if his bat doesn’t heat up over the next month or two, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Dodgers look for an alternate option behind the plate.
Dan Haren, SP
To summarize, though, Haren has a vesting option that kicks in if he reaches 180 innings. Through his Aug. 17 start, he is at 143 innings, so he is within reach of that number; however, he will need to pitch well to convince the Dodgers to keep giving him the opportunities, and that is no guarantee.
His past two starts against the Angels and Braves were uncharacteristically good, but his five previous starts (dating from July 5 to Aug. 1) were quite poor. In fact, his best game was a 4.2 inning performance in which he allowed three runs.
Dee Gordon, 2B
This isn’t so much a question of Dee Gordon as it is one of roster construction. Gordon has been excellent this year, with a 107 wRC+ and a league-leading 56 stolen bases, and he has certainly earned the right to have the job next year; however, the Dodgers spent $28 million on Alex Guerrero, and he remains in the mix.
Neither Guerrero nor Gordon has much positional value outside of second base, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if either were traded. And, if the Dodgers decide Gordon has significantly more trade value than Guerrero does, we could see a new second baseman in blue next year.
Josh Beckett, SP
The odds that Josh Beckett returns to the Dodgers on anything other than a low-risk, one-year contract are very small.
The righty is currently hurt and may not be back at all this year. If he expects the Dodgers to have any interest, though, he will need to return and prove he can be a halfway-decent option.