With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Dodgers squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers re-signed free agents Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, Rich Hill and Chase Utley. They traded for right-handed-hitting second
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Dodgers squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers re-signed free agents Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner, Rich Hill and Chase Utley. They traded for right-handed-hitting second baseman John Forsythe to bat leadoff, signed right-handed-hitting outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to balance the bench and former Giant Sergio Romo as the setup man.
Pretty much every winter box has been checked by management, and on Wednesday pitchers and catchers report as the Dodgers once again open Spring Training trying to end their World Series drought, which has now reached 28 years.
:: Spring Training 2017 preview ::
"I think the continuity we have going into '17 -- with the hope of better health, with a full year of Rich Hill, the transition of Kenta Maeda -- there's a lot of variables that point to us being even better," said Dave Roberts, whose 2016 debut earned him National League Manager of the Year.
"We haven't been there since '88, but that's our goal coming into Spring Training."
Roberts said a surplus of starting pitchers may force one or more of them to the bullpen, a high-quality problem, to be sure. He added that the long Spring Training to accommodate the World Baseball Classic will provide sufficient at-bats for "an intense competition" in the outfield.
Expectations are high. The Baseball Prospectus PECOTA projections have the club winning 98 games this season, the most in the game and the most for the Dodgers since they won 98 games in 1977.
What follows is a glance at the Spring Training picture for the Dodgers as camp opens.
Pitchers and catchers report: Wednesday
Full squad reports: Monday, Feb. 20.
First Spring Training game: Home vs. Chicago White Sox, Saturday, Feb. 25, 12:05 p.m. PT.
New faces: Forsythe and Romo were the key offseason acquisitions. The former provides a right-handed bat at second base and leadoff, the latter becomes the likely successor to setup man Joe Blanton. Also added to the 40-man roster for depth were free-agent outfielder Gutierrez (pending) and, via trades, left-handed reliever Vidal Nuno, utility man Darin Ruf and outfielder Brett Eibner.
Interesting NRIs: Walk-off, division-clinching hero Charlie Culberson made the club on a Minor League contract last year and hopes to do so again. Pitcher Brandon Morrow, with past MLB success, but a bulky medical file, is typical of management's reclamation projects. First baseman Ike Davis is insurance for Adrian Gonzalez, as is catcher Bobby Wilson for Yasmani Grandal.
Prospects to Watch: First baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger, the club's No. 1 prospect, according to MLBPipeline.com, could be the next Corey Seager and he'll be in the spotlight, but outfielder Alex Verdugo (No. 2), second baseman Willie Calhoun (No. 3) and catcher James Farmer (No. 22) will also see playing time.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.