With Matt Kemp turning 30-years-old during the season, all but two of the Los Angeles Dodgers starting position players were under the age of 30 at season’s end.
While a veteran feel to a team can certainly be a positive, it can also come with a downside — as in being more prone to injuries. Kemp began the year on the disabled list, Carl Crawford found himself on the DL after spraining his ankle, A.J. Ellis was inactive twice, and so too was Juan Uribe.
That’s without having mentioned Hanley Ramirez, 30, who celebrates a birthday Dec. 23, and presents the Dodgers with an interesting conundrum. Should they re-sign the shortstop that was a spark plug in 2013, only to follow it up the next year by seemingly being saddled with one injury after another?
Manager Don Mattingly discussed evolving into an old team and the Dodgers’ emphasis on getting younger from within, via ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon:
You see certain teams and, all of a sudden, you’re old. In baseball, it’s tough to say that because you see 32, 33 in baseball and all of a sudden, that’s old again. It always has been besides one little 10-year or 12-year period when it didn’t seem to matter. Just as an organization, I think it’s something you pay attention to. It’s what ownership and [president] Stan Kasten talked about from the beginning. You want to have guys coming all the time. You don’t want to have to get into the free agency.”
The Dodgers were certainly mindful of holding onto their prospects at the trade deadline as they refused to include any of Joc Pederson, Corey Seager or Julio Urias in a deal; no matter if it may have meant landing David Price.
Pederson saw time with the Dodgers once September rolled around and could play a larger role in 2015, and if not, should be a lock in 2016. Seager got his first experience at the Double-A level this season and could be two years away from cementing the shortstop or third base position for the Dodgers.
Urias is the wunderkind that had many buzzing he was ready for the Majors this season — at just 18-years-old. The Dodgers have younger options at shortstop should they decide to let Ramirez walk or fail to come to terms on a new deal.
As for the catcher’s position, Ellis is eligible for arbitration and attempted to atone for a down year with a strong showing in the NLDS. He certainly wouldn’t warrant the investment Ramirez may and has Clayton Kershaw backing his re-signing, which could bode well for the likelihood him and the Dodgers agreeing on a contract.