Dodgers 2014 Preview: Key Position Battles Heading Into Spring Training
The unknown of the spring will be Rosin, as he was picked up this off-season and is a Rule-5 draftee, meaning that he must remain on the major league roster all season or he must be offered back to his old team. The 25-year-old has never pitched above Double-A but has been the recipient of praise all winter long. Dominguez has the biggest arm of the group and may be higher in the order, if not for his injury last season that cost him the final quarter of the season. He’ll compete but will find himself in the minor leagues waiting for a chance.
Guerra was the Dodgers’ closer just a few seasons ago before injuries and roster moves left him without a spot Despite his experience, Guerra will once again find himself in the minors and hoping to return to the team. There are a few rookies that could contend, but it looks as if the competition is stacked against them.
Prediction: Although Withrow should be the one to make it, League will be chosen as long as he doesn’t completely blow his chance in the spring.
4. Fifth Outfielder
An underrated battle in the spring will be in the outfield, where there are a few players trying to make the team as the reserve outfielder. The Dodgers outfield is fairly crowded in terms of capable starting players for starting positions, but the final outfield spot is up for grabs.
Scott Van Slyke, Mike Baxter, Nick “Chili” Buss and Joc Pederson will all be trying to get on the team as the extra outfielder. Van Slyke is the clear-cut leader of the pack because of his work last season and ability to also play first base. He provides the team with some power off the bench and experience in all three spots in the outfield.
Although Van Slyke is the favorite, don’t underestimate Baxter because there has to be an obvious reason that the Dodgers claimed him from the Mets. The 29-year-old can also play first base and has spent parts of four seasons in the majors. Someone in the organization liked him enough to bring him on and give him a chance. Buss and Pederson are in the same boat but from different waters. Pederson is a top prospect looking to reach the big leagues for the first time, while Buss is no longer a prospect that is trying to get back to the big leagues. Both will find themselves back in the minors after the spring and are an injury away from coming to Los Angeles.
Prediction: Expect Van Slyke to win the job, make the Opening Day roster and give the Dodgers a power bat off the bench for the later innings.
5. Backup Catcher
One of the stranger moves of the off-season was the team’s signing of catcher Miguel Olivo, including an invitation to spring training. Tim Federowicz was expected to be the Dodgers’ reserve catcher, but may now have a little competition heating up.
Olivo may have been brought in for depth and an extra pair of legs behind the plate, but don’t expect him to think that. The 35-year-old will have every intention of making the roster and backing up A.J. Ellis. He’s one season removed from hitting 12 home runs in just 87 games with the Seattle Mariners. Olivo is a veteran with 12 years of experience and just one year of postseason experience, giving him some incentive.
Federowicz made the Opening Day roster last season, but was sent down after a trade that brought in veteran Ramon Hernandez. He went back and forth a few times before staying up and assuming the backup role for the second half of the season. Federowicz may not have been expecting a battle and could have nothing to worry about, but the 26-year-old cannot get too comfortable this spring.
Prediction: Despite Olivo’s experience and power, Federowicz will once again be on the Opening Day roster, but this year he should remain there the entire time.
ICYMI: The Dodgers and Justin Turner agreed to a minor league deal