It’s February which means we are days away from Dodgers pitchers and catchers reporting to Camelback Ranch for spring training 2023. After an ugly loss to the Padres in the NLDS, and a slow offseason that saw more talent leave than join the club, we’re entering a period of transition for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Several veteran players are with new clubs and for a majority of the winter we’ve heard ad naseam about the youth movement. Up the middle — meaning second base, shortstop, and center field — things will look a bit different for Dave Roberts. But change in just those three positions doesn’t necessarily feel like that massive of an overhaul.
The Dodger manager spoke with our Doug McKain at a local media event for the organization’s annual community tour on Thursday. It was there that Dave pushed back a bit on that whole youth movement thing.
“You know, to lose guys like Justin Turner who was a stalwart — who was an extension of me and the coaches — to lose a veteran player like Trea Turner, obviously we’re going to miss those guys. But, Gavin Lux is a young player, he’s been around. So he’s just going to get more opportunity at shortstop, which is great. Miguel Vargas, he’s been in the system, he’s a Dodger farmhand, baseball is in his blood. I can’t wait to see him get an opportunity to perform. We saw a little bit of James Outman last year. Outside of the great hair that he’s got, he has a great swing and can really dominate centerfield. So he’s going to get an opportunity. Dustin May, he’s a guy that Dodger fans have heard about for the last four or five years, he’s still a young player but he’s seasoned and he’s healthy.”
“I think that the ‘youth movement’ might be a little aggressive. We’ve still got our anchors with Mookie (Betts), Freddie (Freeman), Max Muncy, Will Smith, Clayton Kershaw, Julio Urias. The goal is to still win a championship.”
So, as Dave sort of talked himself into, yes, there is still a very good veteran presence on the club. Both in returning players and in offseason additions like J.D. Martinez and Noah Syndergaard. But, where the youth movement really stands out more is on the pitching side of things.
The Dodgers essentially have the opening day five man rotation set. However, when diving in to the rotational depth, we start to get a bit more young. Ryan Pepiot, who saw a fair amount of time at the big league level last season, will essentially be the first man called upon when LA needs a fresh arm or to replace an injured veteran. Michael Grove also appeared in 7 games and made 6 starts down the stretch for the Dodgers last season, acting as an unofficial sixth member of the rotation over the final month of the season.
Both pitchers still have their rookie status intact.
Beyond Pepiot and Grove, 2023 will be the year of Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller. In some way shape or form, they will contribute to the club over the course of the next eight to nine months.
So, sure, the Dodgers will be young. But there’s no reason to think the club can’t challenge for a title with the young guns and veteran stars they have on the roster.