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Roberts on Dodgers' trades: 'I'm over the moon'

@kengurnick
February 11, 2020

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers are calling it an introductory press conference for Mookie Betts and David Price, scheduled for Dodger Stadium at 1 p.m. PT on Wednesday in center field. Truly, it’s more like a coronation, and right field would be more fitting, because that’s where Betts will be stationed

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers are calling it an introductory press conference for Mookie Betts and David Price, scheduled for Dodger Stadium at 1 p.m. PT on Wednesday in center field.

Truly, it’s more like a coronation, and right field would be more fitting, because that’s where Betts will be stationed in 2020, batting leadoff for the Dodgers after Monday’s blockbuster trades made a strong roster seemingly invincible.

How does that make the manager feel?

“I’m over the moon,” said Dave Roberts.

He should be. Betts is probably the most talented player in his prime the Dodgers have ever acquired. Price is a former Cy Young Award winner the Dodgers believe is healed from wrist surgery and capable of being as good a No. 3 starter (behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw) as there is in MLB.

Brusdar Graterol, the hard thrower obtained from Minnesota in the Kenta Maeda trade, could contend for a bullpen spot. But he’s only 21 years old with an injury history and might begin the season in the Minor Leagues, where his usage can be managed.

“Give credit to ownership -- Mark Walter, Stan Kasten, Andrew Friedman -- for making this happen,” said Roberts. “They understand the fans have been so supportive and show it by coming to games nearly four million strong every year. What Mookie and David will bring, on the field and in the city of L.A., is beautiful.”

Roberts said he loves everything about the current roster, but acknowledges as it currently stands his greatest challenge is to keep everyone relevant (i.e., happy).

“It’s a high-class problem, but we’re going to ask a lot of our players to play for the greater good of bringing that championship back to Los Angeles,” he said. “If we can all do that, we’re going to have that parade.”

The aborted trade with the Angels creates a potentially awkward situation for Joc Pederson and Ross Stripling, who are still Dodgers. Pederson and A.J. Pollock will vie for left-field playing time, and Roberts said Pederson has “handled” the trade uncertainty well.

Stripling figures to compete for the fifth-starter spot with Alex Wood, Jimmy Nelson, Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, as Julio Urías is expected to finally crack the rotation as the fourth starter.

“It’s Julio’s time to make that jump and be a starter,” said Roberts.

Although Betts gets top billing in Monday’s trades, the Dodgers aren’t minimizing the importance of the 34-year-old Price, especially with last year’s rotation losing Cy Young runner-up Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill. That trio combined for 68 starts and 28 victories.

“One to eight, I can’t see anyone in baseball that compares to what we have,” Roberts said of his starters.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.