LOS ANGELES -- When you take a quick look at the Dodgers’ roster, a few things stand out.
However, one of the biggest areas that stick out on this year’s roster, and one that has become increasingly difficult to ignore, is the lack of quality outfield options, at least at this point in the offseason.
Having Betts, a six-time NL Gold Glove Award winner, is a luxury no other team in the Majors has. Betts is arguably the best defensive right fielder in the league and has shown no signs of slowing down at the position. But outside of Betts, the Dodgers will need multiple things to go their way.
Losing Cody Bellinger to the Cubs isn’t a big blow to the lineup, but the outfield defense takes a significant hit with the former NL MVP now gone. While Bellinger hasn’t graded out as well as he once did defensively, he’s still an above-average defender at a premium position. Right now, Los Angeles would lean on Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson to fill the center-field role, both big defensive downgrades.
The Dodgers could ask Betts to move to center, something they’re talking through, but that would require them to take him away from right field, the one strength in the outfield. In left field, Los Angeles will look to Taylor and rookie James Outman.
What exactly can the Dodgers do in order to improve the outfield before the start of the 2023 season?
Given that Los Angeles is knocking on the door of the $233 million tax limit -- a figure the club wants to stay below -- there really isn’t much to be done from the outside. The Dodgers could try to swing a trade for someone (like Bryan Reynolds), but they would then have to shed salary in another area -- presumably trying to trade Taylor, though no teams would likely line up to take the three years and $45 million still owed to him.
The most realistic way of improving the outfield is hoping Outman can become the player they hope he can turn into, and quickly. Outman had the best possible start to his big league career, hitting a homer in his first at-bat. But he also struck out six times in his last two games, perhaps a sign he’s not quite ready to be an everyday player. Can that change entering this season? Absolutely. In fact, Los Angeles is optimistic that’s exactly the case.
There are a lot of question marks regarding the Dodgers’ outfield. They’ll need to find some answers in order to defend their National League West title this season.