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Predicting the Future of Corey Seager and the Los Angeles Dodgers

February 19th, 2014 at 7:13 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

'Corey Seager Spring Training 3.16.13' photo (c) 2000, Dustin Nosler - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Most of the talk at Spring Training for the Los Angeles Dodgers has revolved around the Hanley Ramirez extension talks, Clayton Kershaw’s innings count, the influx of Cuban defectors, and the added bullpen depth. While these topics are rightfully the major points of discussion, one potentially major future storyline has been somewhat overlooked: What do the Dodgers plan to do with Corey Seager?

Seager is ranked as either the number one (MLB.com) or two (Baseball America) prospect in the Dodger organization, and while he is young, he has been viewed by many as a future Dodgers regular. His current position is shortstop, but it is widely expected that Seager will eventually be forced to move to third base due to his 6’4” frame. It had seemed that the Dodgers were wary of committing any more than two years to Juan Uribe (and they may even feel uncomfortable with two as it stands) so they would not have to block Corey Seager from the big league club. But then there was this news from MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick:

“The Dodgers still apparently are interested in giving a contract extension to current shortstop Hanley Ramirez, but with an understanding that he would move permanently to third base when a shortstop replacement is ready.”

Given that the Dodgers are currently finalizing a contract with Cuban shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena, it calls into question what the Dodgers plans are with regard to Seager. If Ramirez moves to third, it means that the Dodgers believe that Seager can at least begin his career as a shortstop in the majors. At 6’4”, Seager is big, but there has been a history of sizable shortstops being able to play the position at least adequately. Both Alex Rodriquez and Derek Jeter are listed as 6’3”, and Cal Ripken, at 6'4", played most of his career there. So why not Seager? De Jon Watson, the vice president of player development, had this to say about Seager to the Albuquerque Examiner’s Christopher Jackson:

“He’s a shortstop, he’s staying at shortstop, he’s playing it well and he’s really just stabilizing the infield defense whenever he gets in the lineup. His play has been consistent, he never wavers. Again, he’s a pretty advanced player for such a young age.”

It seems that at least Watson believes that Seager’s future may include shortstop, which is likely why the team has bridged the subject of Ramirez’ move to third as a part of any extension talks. So why would the Dodgers go out and sign Arruebarruena, a player many believe to be capable of playing elite defense in the majors immediately?

Aside from the issues with Arruebarruena’s bat, there are also concerns with fellow Cuban Alexander Guerrero’s glove. Arruebarruena may simply be insurance in case Guerrero is unable to live up to the Dodgers’ expectations. There is also the possibility that Ramirez or Uribe are injured, or in Uribe’s case, unproductive. Either scenario allows the Dodgers to avoid rushing Seager well before he is ready by utilizing Arrubarruena and his superior defense in a lineup that may not be terribly impacted by a no-hit shortstop.

All of this is based on events occurring in the future, and speculation may be a foolhardy endeavor, but a team must prepare for those events regardless of how they eventually play out. If the Dodgers extend Ramirez, they will have plenty of infield options and they will also have plenty of depth, something they are currently without.

Tags: Alexander Guerrero, Baseball, Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Hanley Ramirez, Hanley Ramirez extension, Juan Uribe, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB

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