James Outman: Dave Roberts Casts Doubt on Rookie Being on Dodgers Opening Day Roster
James Outman hit another home run today in a loss to the Cubs at Camelback Ranch. It was the second of the spring for the Dodgers’ rookie outfielder and raised his triple slash line to .400/.480/.800 in 10 games. His 1.280 OPS trails only Freddie Freeman among LA regulars this spring.
That should bode well for his opening day roster chances, right? Manager Dave Roberts talked about Outman after cranking that second bomb of the Cactus League season. Here’s what Doc had to say
“Is he big-league ready? I would say he is. How we shake out, that’s a different question. But yeah, he’s doing everything he can do.”via Jack Harris, LA Times.
So, if you don’t know a whole lot about Dave Roberts and the things he says — or the way he says them — well, he has a way of almost speaking in code from time to time. Especially with tough subjects like this. But that reads a whole lot like Roberts avoiding breaking the news that Outman will not be starting the season in LA.
At this point in the spring, James Outman has absolutely earned a spot on the opening day roster. But the Dodgers might not envision him as a starting outfielder for game one of the season. They might not even see him playing four or five times a week. That’s a problem. The 25-year-old Outman is at a point where he needs to be playing daily and those games may come back down at Triple-A.
One huge issue working against Outman is that he has minor league options left. That lets the team send him back down to AAA and not risk losing him to other clubs. They don’t have that same luxury with guys like Trayce Thompson or Jason Heyward who is in camp on a minor league deal but likely would explore other major league opportunities if he’s not on the opening day 26-man roster.
Fans have expressed online that they want Outman on the opening day roster. But fans don’t get to make rosters decisions… unfortunately. If that were the case, Craig Kimbrel would be traded for a pack of gum after a few weeks last season.
Until a clear role for Outman opens up, he may be at the mercy of those options. Importantly, he’s taking care of his side of things. And Dave Roberts in noticing.
“Even before the home run,” Doc said on Saturday, “he just has an ability to conduct an at-bat. He spoiled a 2-2 pitch to then get to the pitch that he hit a homer. And even when he’s not getting hits, he’s making pitchers work and executing a plan.”
James Outman will be a big part of this Dodger team this season. It just might not be right out of the gate.