Dodgers: Imminent Roster Crunch Has Dave Roberts Choosing His Words Carefully
People sometimes call it “a good problem to have,” having more quality major-league players than available roster spots. But a problem is still a problem, and it’s a problem the Dodgers are going to be facing soon.
There are ten Dodgers pitchers currently on the injured list. Three of them — Walker Buehler, Daniel Hudson, and Jimmy Nelson — are done for the season, but the other six are hoping or planning to be back soon. Blake Treinen, Victor Gonzalez, Tommy Kahnle, and Danny Duffy are all currently on rehab assignments, and Clayton Kershaw, Yency Almonte, and Tony Gonsolin should all be back soon, too.
Those returns will have big ramifications on the Dodgers roster, both the active 26-man roster (which expands to 28 on Thursday) and the 40-man roster. All four pitchers currently on rehab assignments are on the 60-day injured list, which means room will have to be made for them to rejoin the 40-man roster, let alone the active roster.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts is aware of the coming crunch, and he’s being diplomatic about how he addresses it, as Bill Plunkett reports in the Orange County Register.
“There aren’t enough spots for all of them – whether it’s on the 40, whether it’s on the 26-man or 28-man coming up,” Roberts acknowledged. “Some of those guys, it’s about performance and build up. Other guys, we just have to see if an opportunity presents itself. Guys here, active, have been doing a fantastic job. It’s no slight on anyone that isn’t active. But that’s just kind of how it is right now.”
Roberts didn’t say a single name in that quote, so let’s read between the lines a little bit.
First of all, not all the active guys have been doing a fantastic job. Despite two straight scoreless appearances, Phil Bickford still has a 5.14 ERA and is not someone anyone would trust in a close (or even semi-close) postseason game. He also has options available, so he’s almost sure to be sent down when some of these returning pitchers need spots on the active roster.
But everyone else? Yeah, they’ve been pretty good.
Then there’s the 40-man roster crunch. To bring back any of the rehabbing guys, the Dodgers will need to make room on their 40-man roster. Some obvious candidates to be cut:
Jake Reed, who has bounced from organization to organization every time his current team needs a spot on the 40-man. Likely to start that DFA limbo again soon.
Eddy Alvarez, who was underwhelming in his brief time in the big leagues this year and will turn 33 this offseason. He’s hitting well at Triple-A but he’s unlikely to play a role on this year’s team, so they might as well cut him loose now.
Realistically, that’s it. There are no other obvious DFA candidates. Which means of the four 60-day IL guys coming back, it might be that only two are actually coming back.
Duffy hasn’t thrown a pitch since last July, and while it would be a feel-good story for the lifelong Dodger fan to finally get his chance to pitch for Los Angeles, is there going to be room for him this year?
It’s been over a year since Gonzalez has pitched in the bigs, too, and we’re two years removed from him being the dominant force he was in 2020.
And finally there’s Kahnle, who has great stuff but has thrown a total of five major-league innings in the past three years.
Treinen is the only lock of those four to return to the 40-man roster this season (assuming no setbacks, of course). Kershaw, Almonte, and Gonsolin all make the team better, so the Dodgers will find room to bring them back. Roberts might be too diplomatic to say it, but it’s just remarkably unlikely that we’ll see Duffy, Gonzalez, or Kahnle in the big leagues again this season.
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Time to drop Kimbrel. He once was a great closer, but no more. With other relievers coming off injuries he needs to be replaced NOW!
Agree. Kimbrel and Bickford have not earned a roster spot. Remember ‘ meritocracy ‘ ?