Dodgers Team News

Mookie Betts News: MLB Insider Doesn’t See Dodgers Moving Star to Center Field

At FanFest over the weekend, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he doesn’t know who will be LA’s starting center-fielder in 2023. Doc threw out a lot of names as possibilities, but one name he didn’t mention was Mookie Betts.

Over on MLB Network, Matt Vasgersian and Harold Reynolds were talking to MLB insider Jon Morosi about the center-field situation in Los Angeles, and Reynolds asked what seemed like an obvious question to him:

“Why isn’t Mookie Betts just the center-fielder and we’ll call it a day? I mean, you’ve got your modern-day Griffey, Willie Mays, Trout, throw his name in the mix!”

Vasgersian nodded knowingly and said, “Fair question,” and Morosi gave a response that was more diplomatic than mine would have been.

“He’s so comfortable in right and he’s so great out there that maybe the Dodgers are a bit reluctant to move him out of a spot where he is a clear, top-class, best-in-the-sport defender. It’s also interesting, talking about position switches, with Team USA he’ll play some second base. It would be asking a lot of Mookie to learn a third position in the spring. He can certainly do it, but are they a better team if they have Mookie in center and (James) Outman in right? Or Mookie in center and Jason Heyward in right? Possibly.”

Look, you’d have to have a really compelling reason to move a guy out of the position where he’s won six Gold Gloves in the last seven years. Earlier this year, people talked about Mookie maybe moving to second so LA could sign Aaron Judge to play right. It was never going to happen.

The Dodgers have James Outman, who has played center field throughout his time in the minors. It would be crazy to just assume he can’t handle center in the big leagues and instead move a six-time Gold Glover to center.

Mookie played a lot of center field in 2021 when Cody Bellinger was hurt for half the season. Perhaps coincidentally but probably not, in 2021 Mookie dealt with hip problems that severely hampered his performance. Does Betts have the speed and athleticism to play center? Most likely. But is it the best thing to take a guy with such a slight frame and tell him, “Hey, you’re gonna run twice as much from now on”? Of course not, especially when that guy is the best in baseball at his current position.

Mookie is available to play center in an emergency, but on a team with Outman, Trayce Thompson, and Chris Taylor, there’s less than zero reason to even consider moving Betts off the position he’s better at than anyone in baseball. No matter how obvious it is to Harold Reynolds.

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Jeff Snider

Jeff was born into a Dodgers family in Southern California and is now raising a Dodgers family of his own in Utah. During his previous career as an executive at a technology company, he began writing about baseball in his spare time. After leaving corporate America in 2014, he started doing it professionally. Jeff wrote and edited for Baseball Essential for years before joining Dodgers Nation. He's also the co-host of the Locked On Dodgers podcast, a daily podcast that brings the smart fan's perspective on our Boys in Blue. Jeff has a degree in English from Brigham Young University. Favorite Player: Clayton Kershaw Favorite Moment: Kirk Gibson's homer will always have a place, but Kershaw's homer on Opening Day 2013 might be the winner.

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