Following the trade of Dee Gordon and the departure of Hanley Ramirez via free agency, the Dodgers were in need of a brand new combination up the middle. To fill these holes, the Dodgers traded for both Howie Kendrick and Jimmy Rollins in order to create a veteran presence. While Kendrick was solid prior to his recent injury problems over the last month, Rollins has consistently struggled throughout the season and has seemingly lost his starting job to young upstart Corey Seager.
With the injury to Kendrick, the Dodgers attempted to solidify their middle infield with the acquisition of Rollins’ former double play partner in Philadelphia, Chase Utley. Similarly to the acquisition of Rollins, the trade for Utley has not panned out the way the Dodgers would have hoped. With the ascension of Seager to the starting job, and the return from injury for Howie Kendrick, the Dodgers need to consider all options for the postseason. This includes the possibility of leaving one or both of Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins off the postseason roster.
With all the injuries and troubles the Dodgers have had with their pitching staff throughout the season, one thing that has always been a strong suit for the Dodgers in 2015 was their positional depth in both the infield and the outfield. Given that Utley and Rollins both play in the infield, it seems prudent to focus on that area of the Dodgers positional depth in particular.
At this point, Seager and Kendrick are getting a large share of the playing time up the middle with Justin Turner getting a majority of the playing time at third. In terms of backups, the Dodgers certainly have a few interesting options. First on this list is Enrique Hernandez who has played six positions for the Dodgers so far in 2015, including all three outfield positions, shortstop, third base, and second base. This versatility, backed by his strong performance at the plate this season, almost assures him a spot on the Dodgers postseason roster.
Beyond Hernandez, the Dodgers also have Alex Guerrero who has cooled off significantly in recent months after a hot start to the season. Like Hernandez, Guerrero has some versatility, playing both left field and third base this season, which should help his case when the Dodgers decide on a playoff roster. Last but not least in terms of Dodgers infielders is trade deadline acquisition, Jose Peraza. Peraza, who plays most of his time at second base, has so far been underwhelming in his time with the Dodgers.
With a lot of outfielders vying for playing time, the Dodgers seemingly would like to keep guys such as Guerrero and Hernandez who double as both infielders and outfielders on the playoff roster. This would seem to bump both Jose Peraza and veterans Rollins and Utley off the playoff roster. With the Dodgers positional depth in mind, do Rollins and Utley deserve a spot over any of the other players mentioned?
While Guerrero (wRC+ of 89 for the season) and Peraza (wRC+ of 43 with the Dodgers) have both struggled recently, Hernandez has been excelling all season (with a wRC+ of 133 for the year). By comparison, Rollins has a wRC+ of 77 for the season and has struggled for much of the season, while Utley has a wRC+ of just 95 since coming to the Dodgers and just 72 for the entire season. With these numbers on offense, and declining defensive numbers, it may be hard to justify keeping either of these guys on the roster over more versatile and younger options in Guerrero, Hernandez, and Peraza based on the idea of veteran presence alone.
For the Dodgers positional depth in both the infield and the outfield is a good problem to have. While they acquired both Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley with the expectation that they would both be getting significant playing time going into October, the Dodgers should consider all options when it comes time to decide on postseason rosters. Rollins and Utley both provide veteran leadership that may be worthy of making a postseason roster. The question remains whether this leadership is worth keeping at the expense of strong play on the field.