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Dodgers Insider Talks LA’s Thinking With Void in Center Field

When the Dodgers non-tendered Cody Bellinger early this offseason, they hoped to bring him back on a less-expensive deal, but they knew there was a chance he’d go elsewhere. His departure to the Cubs leaves them with somewhat of a hole in center field, which could be filled internally or they might go outside the organization.

Last week at the Winter Meetings, Dodgers Nation talked with Los Angeles beat writer Juan Toribio about the center-field situation. This was before both Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Kiermaier signed contracts to play elsewhere, but Toribio’s thoughts on L.A.’s thought process remain valid.



“[Center field] is going to be kind of interesting. I mean, they have a couple places to replace Bellinger,” Toribio said. “You lose a left-handed bat, so you kind of have to add in a left-handed bat. You’re losing one of the best outfielders in baseball. Obviously his offense wasn’t coming around the last two years, but his defense never wavered, I mean he was a great center fielder. So you have to replace that defense in center field.

“And now, with all the rule changes and stuff like that, center fielder — I know the shift is on the infield — but center fielder is still a center fielder. So it depends on how they want to do it. Does that come in one player or does that come in two different types of a guy? Like do you get a left-handed bat who DHes or whatever the case may be, and then you get a defensive guy in center field.”

Any offense the Dodgers get from center field will be a bonus over the last two years of Bellinger, but as Toribio points out, Belli’s defense will be hard to replace. With Nimmo and Kiermaier both off the board, L.A. might turn to prospect James Outman, who had a brief but torrid start to his big-league career in 2022, posting a 1.409 OPS in four games in July and August. Outman bats left-handed and could likely provide more offense than Bellinger did the last two years, and his defense in center is said to be outstanding, with some even saying Outman is the best athlete in the Los Angeles organization.

There aren’t many options left on the free-agent market. Rafael Ortega hit well for the Cubs in 2021, but he was back to below average in 2022 and has always been below average defensively. Guys like Billy Hamilton and Travis Jankowski would provide great defense but would likely be even worse than Bellinger’s been offensively. So the job might be Outman’s to lose at this point, with Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson available for some reps in center.

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12 Comments

  1. Yes on Outman, please! While Belli will benefit greatly from the demise of the shift, so will Outman. An outfield of Thompson-Outman-Betts with Taylor as the backup/reliever, I don’t think the Dodgers miss a beat.

    I also want to see Busch at 2B, Lux at SS, and Vargas at 3B, with Muncy as spot starter and DH. With Syndergaard now in the rotation, and the 15 relievers already on the staff, the Dodgers are set. But, they must…

    Let. The. Kids. Play!

    1. Agreed, except Vargas may need the DH more and Muncy the regular gig at 3rd. Two offensive options that I might still consider are JTurn and ABenetendi, but overall, let’s see how our kids do against the mighty Pads. Our guys need to get hungrier, younger and more athletic. Our pitching should compete with anyone out there. No one should sleep against the DBags, they look young and primed to be a thorn in the West.

  2. I don’t know anybody a Dodger fan longer I,,,,but I’m really disgusted how they wait and lose a couple of good players,,,Why not sign one of the past as,,,,and a GOOD PITCHER don’t think Lux will make a good SS sorry to say,,,,everybody improved but my DODGERS

    1. Aren’t you aware of the Trevor Bauer situation? Where will they be if they sign someone to a huge contract and then his suspension is reduced and they have to pay another 40 million!

  3. Yes, Barry the Dodgers are HOPING that subtraction will bring addition. Math doesn’t lie, as they currently are the 3rd best in the division, and 6th best in National League.

  4. Dodger fan here since 1959. My thought is a team can’t win a World Series without a World Series caliber shortstop. The Dodgers have had many during the past 63 yrs beginning with Pee Wee Reese, Maury Wills, all the way through Corey Seager and most recently Trae Turner. I agree with “let the kids play” but shortstop has to be solidified with a proven, high caliber player. The team has one more very important signing to complete.

  5. Lux is a good SS. He was batting close to 300 when he was injured then Roberts did his usual and spotted him in here and there. Lux needs to be played regularly to be effective.

  6. not impressed with the off-season signings. Noah is a huge question mark. We should have signed Judge, and Verlander or the Japanese pitcher. Lux at SS is a big gamble!

  7. Tired of all this insider’s rumors and speculations. FO will do nothing but just scam us into thinking they are putting together a championship team. They are not even hearing what fans say and want, but continue to extort us to supply their revenue.
    The Dodgers are falling to be a mid-level team while wasting Mookie’s and Freddie’s prime years, and probably Kershaw’s last year as a Dodger.

  8. You can’t answer our question marks about the quality and/or readiness of our young guys – unless you play them ! Some of these guys are in their mid 20’s already & haven’t gotten a shot yet ??? Poor guidance & very poor judgement plus we don’t have any visionaries in our front office. 4th place here we come !!

  9. Don’t forget about Jason Heyward and his 5 Gold Gloves. He will also be a great veteran mentor to the young players (particularly if JT doesn’t come back) and, similar to Pujols in 2021, only costs the Dodgers the MLB minimum as the Cubs are on the hook for his $22,000,000 salary. If he’s finally healthy in 2023, he could have a big upside. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Cubs were paying BOTH Bellinger and his replacement in 2023?

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