Returning stars solidify deep Dodgers roster

Projected 25-man squad has plenty of protection

February 11th, 2017

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com takes a look at a different aspect of this year's Dodgers squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.

LOS ANGELES -- While trying to predict the Los Angeles Dodgers' Opening Day 25-man roster, one thing is clear: The Oklahoma City Dodgers should be loaded.

The carryover benefit from accumulating depth after last year's injury onslaught is the high-quality problem of too many players -- depending, as always, on health. So, the Dodgers will have a capable taxi squad at Triple-A, probably including top prospect Cody Bellinger.

:: Spring Training 2017 preview ::

Aside from adding in the infield, in the bullpen and on the bench, the 2017 Dodgers look a lot like the '16 version around the horn, with uncertainty in the outfield, a deep starting rotation and multiple live arms in the bullpen ready for another heavy workload.

Impacting roster decisions will be the recovery of many players coming off 2016 injuries, namely , , , , , Alex Wood, , and Chris Hatcher.

Here's an early look:

Catcher (2): ,  

Grandal had the production-breakout season management envisioned when making the Matt Kemp trade and could start 130-plus games. It's Barnes' time for the big leagues, manager Dave Roberts said at the Winter Meetings. Bobby Wilson provides non-roster veteran depth.

First base (1):

Gonzalez's power was down, but not the RBIs -- he has had at least 90 per year for a decade. Van Slyke could face tough lefties.

Second base (1): Forsythe

This was a three-for-one trade: Forsythe plays second base, provides a right-handed bat, and can bat leadoff.

Shortstop (1):  

As long as there's no sophomore jinx, Seager looks superstar-bound.

Third base (1): 

The returning veteran seems to have the necessary makeup to live up to the big contract.

Utility (2): Van Slyke, (pending). However, Kiké Hernandez, Chris Taylor and (if healthy) Thompson are all in the mix. All but Utley bat right-handed.

Outfield (5): , , , Ethier, (pending). Pederson starts in center against righties and everything else is to be decided. Management loves Toles, while Puig is at a career crossroads. Ethier comes off a broken leg, but he's a gamer. Gutierrez joins Thompson and Van Slyke as specialists against lefties when they are healthy.

Starting pitchers (5): , Rich Hill, , Kazmir, McCarthy

The first three are givens. will be the fourth, but maybe not until May as his innings are rationed. Kazmir and McCarthy (with guaranteed contracts) return from injuries and probably get first shots, but Wood, and are viable. Initial reports on Ryu are favorable, but he's been shelved for two years.

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Bullpen (7): , Romo (pending), , , Liberatore, Josh Fields, Josh Ravin

Not included initially are Hatcher and Wood, but the former is out of options and the latter could be a starter or reliever. Lefties and have legit shots, as does non-roster invitee Brandon Morrow -- if he's healthy.