5 Players Who Won’t Make Los Angeles Dodgers 2014 Opening Day Roster
Los Angeles Dodgers Look to Round Out Roster In Spring Training
When the Los Angeles Dodgers begin their 2014 Spring Training schedule on Feb. 26, most people will surely have their eyes placed on the stars of the team. With $221.9 million in salary, top notch players will be around everywhere to provide storylines, with the weight of Yasiel Puig, the recovery of Josh Beckett and the condition of Matt Kemp's hobbled shoulder and ankle providing early fodder. There is little doubting that Don Mattingly has a bit of a circus on his hands, as the Dodgers are going to be expected to win every game they play in, and for everything to go smoothly along the way.
And while the big guns in camp will be pivotal as the team looks to win the National League West for a second-straight year and go on to win the 2014 World Series, the real storyline should be on the players that are the easiest to overshadow. These players would be the guys who are fighting just to become the Dodgers' fifth starter, backup catcher, second outfielder off the bench or just an extra arm out of the bullpen. After all, these relatively obscure players are often the ones who are called upon to step up when a star player gets hurt, and in the 162-game schedule that MLB plays, there is little doubting that injuries will occur somewhere down the line.
Keeping in mind the guys who are fighting just to make the roster, I have formed a list of the five players who won't end up making the Dodgers Opening Day roster in 2014. These five players are all extremely talented players and could end up on a big league roster at some point in the regular season, but I will inform you why they won't make the 25-man roster, and who will end up taking the spot they are vying for.
5. Joc Pederson
Joc Pederson is one of the best outfield prospects in all of baseball, as the 21-year-old has the mix of speed, strength, fielding ability and base-running skills to become an All-Star for the Los Angeles Dodgers. During the 2013 season he played at Double-A, featuring in 123 games and compiling a slash line of .278/.381/.497 with 22 home runs, 24 doubles and 31 stolen bases. Pederson will be fighting for the fifth spot in the Dodgers outfield in spring training, but will not earn the job because of the organizations stated ability to earn him consistent at-bats, and the job will instead go to Scott Van Slyke.
4. Chad Billingsley
Chad Billingsley is currently fighting against Beckett and Paul Malholm for the right to be the Los Angeles Dodgers fifth starter. Unfortunately, Billingsley is in the midst of recovering from Tommy John surgery that he had back in April of 2013. Because of this, there is seemingly no chance that Billingsley will be ready to pitch at the big league level before May, although he will certainly be called up to Los Angeles after getting healthy. Look for Beckett to earn the fifth starter spot along the way, as he has much more upside than Malholm.
3. Drew Butera
Drew Butera is in the running to become the Los Angeles Dodgers backup catcher, and will only have Tim Federowicz to fight off. Unfortunately, Butera has much less upside than his opponent, as the 30-year-old has an underwhelming career slash line of .181/.229/.262 in 190 career games at the major league level, and is only an average player defensively. This simply will not cut it when Federowicz is considered one of the best young defensive catchers, and proved in 2013 that he can be at least an average hitter. Look for Butera to feature heavily in Triple-A, and receive a call-up at some point if either Federowicz or A.J. Ellis gets hurt.
2. Chone Figgins
After being well-below average during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Chone Figgins did not play baseball in 2013, and it appeared that his career was over. Surprisingly enough he was offered a chance to earn a utility spot for Los Angeles this year, and he has reportedly come to camp in better shape than he has been in for many years. Still, it will be a tough road to make the team, as the Dodgers already have a set infield, four outfielders and two backup infielders who look likely to make the team. Figgins will not end up making the Dodgers' roster, although with a good spring, he should latch on with a lesser team come Opening Day.
1. Erisbel Arruebarruena
The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Erisbel Arruebarruena to a luxurious five-year, $25 million deal this spring, but he certainly won't open the season with the big league squad. This is because despite reportedly being a Gold Glove-caliber shortstop, there are genuine questions about whether or not he can handle the pitching at the big league level, although he did post a .276 average in six seasons in the Cuban Serie Nacional. With Hanley Ramirez on board, Arruebarruena will have to dominate minor league pitching similar to the way that Yasiel Puig did last year to earn a call-up before the All-Star break.