There continues to be in-house “conversation and debate” about what the Dodgers will do in regards to their left field competition, according to Dave Roberts, but the manager seems bullish on veteran Matt Kemp (via Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register). “When you make the trade and you look at the seasons guys had last year who we have coming back, we were already a very good team without Matt,” said Roberts. “But to have a former All-Star in as good a shape as he’s been in years and add him to the mix, it only increases the level of competition to play for everyone around him. That’s a good thing. That’s a good thing for all of us.” The 33-year-old Kemp has gone 12 of 36 with four home runs this spring as he attempts to grab a job as part of a mix that also features Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez, Andrew Toles, Alex Verdugo and Trayce Thompson. Plunkett examines each of those players’ cases and suggests that Kemp may well open 2018 as the Dodgers’ primary option in left. Kemp, a former star with the Dodgers, rejoined the team over the winter in a luxury tax-geared trade with the Braves. He’s in the penultimate year of a huge contract, which he signed during his original run with the Dodgers, and set to make $21.5MM this year.
More from out West…
- Thanks to his struggles this spring, right-hander Bartolo Colon isn’t a lock to make the Rangers, TR Sullivan of MLB.com writes. Further clarity should come Sunday, when left-hander Martin Perez starts. Perez underwent surgery on a fractured right elbow last December, but if he’s healthy, he’ll take a season-opening rotation spot. That would leave the 44-year-old Colon vying for a long reliever/swing starter role, though the Rangers signed Jesse Chavez with the goal of using him in that capacity, Sullivan notes. For his part, Colon would be willing to fill that position if it’s available – “I will do anything I need to do to make the team,” he said. Notably, Colon has come out of the bullpen a mere nine times in 537 career appearances.
- The Rangers have considered extending first baseman Joey Gallo and outfielder Nomar Mazara this spring, but it doesn’t appear either those two or any of Texas’ other young players will receive a long-term deal at this point (via Sullivan). “We are always interested in talking to our best young players,” general manager Jon Daniels said. “But I don’t expect anything at this point.” As things stand, both players are still under control for several more years. Gallo won’t become eligible arbitration until after the 2019 season, while Mazara is in his last pre-arb year.
- Rockies outfielder David Dahl is likely to begin the year in the minors, thus opening up a spot on Colorado’s bench for fellow outfielder Mike Tauchman, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post explains. The 27-year-old Tauchman brings minimal major league experience (32 plate appearances, all of which came last season), but he has performed well in the minors and could make more sense for a reserve role than Dahl, 23. While Dahl’s a former high-end prospect who impressed as a rookie two years ago, a rib injury kept him from the majors last season, and there’s no obvious path to playing time for him in Colorado at the moment. As such, he’s likely to begin the year as a full-time player at the Triple-A level.