The defending National League champions have an uphill battle to even get back to the post season, as three of their four starting infielders (as well as Yasiel Puig) have gone down with injuries over the first month of the season, and while Chase Utley may be the greatest of all time (I’m from Philly), not even he can play three positions at one time, leaving the dodgers with Max Muncy and Breyvic Valera (#29). That poses the question: Where to the Dodgers go from here?
The first thing the Dodgers should do is recall Jake Peter (#12) from Triple-A and sign Danny Espinosa and Brandon Phillips. Peter was acquired by the Dodgers over the offseason in the Scott Alexander trade, and fans might remember Peter from spring training, as he looked rather solid, showing power and versatility. I am admittedly higher on Peter than most, which is based on his floor. I believe that he’s a super utility guy, at the very least, with the ceiling of a Freddy Galvis–type player who plays every day at multiple positions a week. He has a very solid glove and has the ability to hit for a decent average.
Espinosa has not been good at the plate since 2017 began, but one thing that he does bring is exceptional defensive versatility and power potential. I would bring him in on a minor league deal to serve as an insurance policy initially, and would call him up if he started swinging the bat at all in Triple-A. I would hope that he could excel in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, which could help his confidence.
As for Phillips, I don’t get why he didn’t get a contract this offseason. Last time I checked, a 36-year-old second baseman who can hit 13 home runs, steal 11 bases, and hit .285/.319/.416 (which is about league average in terms of OPS), while playing decent defense at second base has real value. He’s a perfect fit for the Dodgers, as he can play third if necessary, which would allow them to have both Utley and Phillips in the lineup. While both are old, they are still serviceable.
After making these moves, wait until Memorial Day. If this works, great, run with it. If not, it might be time to look to the trade market. Just remember one thing:
The Dodgers should not mortgage the farm for two months of Manny Machado!
This is not a knock on Machado, but the Dodgers are in a position where, even if they don’t make it back to the World Series this season, they are built to compete, and seem like near locks to compete next season, assuming they re-sign Clayton Kershaw, which I expect them to do before the season even ends.
I would pursue cheaper options in Joey Wendle and Scooter Gennett. The benefit of acquiring these two guys is that they both come with additional team control and wouldn’t be too expensive to acquire in terms of prospects. Either one could give the Dodgers a serviceable stopgap in 2018, while replacing Logan Forsythe, who is slated to leave after this season and shouldn’t be stopped from doing so. If you are looking to stick to rental acquisitions, however, then Starlin Castro would be your guy. The Marlins infielder has been very good this season and has a team option for next season, in case Corey Seager is out longer than expected. While he could be more expensive to acquire, he isn’t going to cost the Dodgers any top prospects, like Walker Buehler (#3) or Alex Verdugo (#1), which Machado almost certainly would.