LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers appear set to enter Spring Training with an abundance of outfielders, and one of the roster's most interesting competitions should be in left field.Joc Pederson started in left in Game 7 of the World Series, but there's no guarantee he will start there come Opening
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers appear set to enter Spring Training with an abundance of outfielders, and one of the roster's most interesting competitions should be in left field.
Joc Pederson started in left in Game 7 of the World Series, but there's no guarantee he will start there come Opening Day. Alvin Toles is back in the fold after missing most of the 2017 season due to a right knee injury. Enrique Hernandez, Trayce Thompson and Alex Verdugo will also be in the mix.
And then there's Matt Kemp.
"We have a pretty crowded outfield," general manager Farhan Zaidi said Saturday during Dodger Stadium FanFest.
The Dodgers reportedly have attempted to move Kemp and his contract ($43 million over the next two seasons) since acquiring him from the Braves in a financially motivated deal that dropped Los Angeles below the luxury tax threshold for 2018. But they have been unable to do so.
"He's going to be one of our guys in camp, and we got a little bit of an open competition in left field, and he's going to be part of that competition as of now," Zaidi said.
Starters in center and right field are Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig, respectively.
Manager Dave Roberts believes the excess of outfielders won't be an issue.
"It's a good thing to have, and competition is going to make guys better," Roberts said.
The Dodgers were one of the deepest clubs in baseball last season, and it helped them win the National League pennant for the first time since 1988.
"I think depth has really proved to be the thing that has kept us consistent," Roberts said. "We have a lot of talent on our ball club, and a defined role right now for really a lot of guys is hard to do."
Regardless of whether or not Kemp is still with the Dodgers when they hold their first full-squad workout on Feb. 19, the left-field competition will be worth following. The Dodgers had 12 different players start in left field in 2017.
Toles started Opening Day, but he was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL when he jammed his knee into the left-field wall at Dodger Stadium in a May 9 game against the Pirates.
Before his injury, Toles was a catalyst at the top of the lineup and a capable defender.
"We were excited to have him last year coming into the season and he gets hurt. That was a big loss for us," Roberts said. "But the bat, the athleticism is very exciting for us. It just adds that competition in the outfield, certainly."
By all accounts, Toles is ready to compete for a starting job once again this year.
"He's a dynamic player," Zaidi said. "He was terrific for us in '16. I anticipate there's going to be a little bit of rust going that long without facing live pitching. We're excited to have him in camp and get him into games and see how he looks, because he brought a different element to this team before he went down. It will be exciting to have him back around."
Austin Laymance is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter at @JALaymance.