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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Future Infield Dependent Upon Hanley Ramirez Extension Talks

February 23rd, 2014 at 5:00 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

'HamRam Crush' photo (c) 2013, Not That Bob James - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

The Los Angeles Dodgers have made a number of moves in the last few months that will impact the look of their infield for many years to come. With regard to the future, there are no such things as absolutes, so in assembling this talent it seems that the Dodgers have acted with several different scenarios in mind. Acquiring depth at multiple positions protects the team in case things do not work out as initially planned, or in the event that serious injuries occur. The following is a look at the various scenarios that the team may have considered, and what the infield will look like if those scenarios play out:

If Hanley Ramirez signs a multi-year extension…

The biggest question this Spring Training has revolved around whether Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers will be able to work out an extension. If the team is able to sign Ramirez, it will be with the understanding that he will eventually move to third base, possibly as soon as 2015. Assuming Ramirez does sign, the Dodger infield in 2015 will likely look like this:

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

1BAdrian Gonzalez
2BAlexander Guerrero
SSCorey Seager/Hanley Ramirez
3BHanley Ramirez/Juan Uribe

This infield begs a number of questions, as Juan Uribe and Erisbel Arruebarrena will still be under contract. In this scenario, Uribe could be used as a utility infielder until his contract runs out, and Arruebarrena would serve as a capable late-innings defender or simply remain at Albuquerque for organizational depth. This assumes that Seager is ready for the bigs in 2015, which is not a certainty.

If Seager is not ready for the majors by 2015…

Seager is held in very high regard throughout baseball, having been ranked as high as the number one prospect in the Dodger organization. Seager is still young, and will only be entering his age-21 season in 2015, so it is a distinct possibility that he is not yet ready. In that case, the infield will likely look like this:

1BAdrian Gonzalez
2BAlexander Guerrero
SSErisbel Arruebarrena/Hanley Ramirez
3BHanley Ramirez/Juan Uribe

This infield is dependent upon Uribe’s production in 2014. Uribe was one of the best defenders in all of baseball in 2013, but his offensive production in 2011 and 2012 was atrocious. If Uribe regresses, Arruebarrena takes over shortstop and Ramirez makes the move to third. Even if Uribe does not regress, it is possible the club still elects to use Uribe as a utility man or as a power bat off the bench in 2015.

If Ramirez leaves in free agency after the 2014 season…

This is a scenario that has fans of the New York Yankees drooling. Though both the Dodgers and Ramirez seem hopeful that Ramirez will remain with the club, the possibility exists that he may leave. The Dodgers must protect themselves against this possibility, which may be why they have pursued additional infield depth. In this case, the Dodger infield of 2015 will look like this:

1BAdrian Gonzalez
2BAlexander Guerrero
SSErisbel Arruebarrena
3BCorey Seager

While the Dodgers have maintained that Seager is a shortstop, most scouts believe that his 6’4” frame makes him less than ideal for the position. The prevailing belief is that Seager will play third base in the majors, not shortstop. In this scenario, Arruebarrena and his elite defense will start at shortstop, while Seager will play the position most feel he is best suited for. All of these scenarios assume that Alexander Guerrero will be capable at second base, which, according to recent reports, is not necessarily a given.

If Guerrero is not ready to play second base…

The Dodgers signed Guerrero to be their second basemen, allowing the capable Mark Ellis to walk in free agency. Early reports indicated that Guerrero’s plus bat more than made up for his lack of defense at second, but the transition from shortstop to second has been difficult for him so far. In all likelihood, the worst-case scenario is that Guerrero needs some seasoning at Triple-A to start 2014, but if the Dodgers have to give up on him altogether, the team may field an infield that looks like this:

1BAdrian Gonzalez
2BErisbel Arruebarrena
SSCorey Seager/Hanley Ramirez
3BHanley Ramirez/Juan Uribe

Arruebarrena is considered an exceptional defender, and though general manager Ned Colletti sees him as a shortstop long term, it would be much easier for the recently signed Cuban to make the transition than it has been for Guerrero. This scenario again accounts for the possibility that Seager is not yet ready for the bigs, in which case Ramirez and Uribe remain on the left side of the infield.

The only lock for the infield — barring an unlikely trade or an unfortunate injury — is Gonzalez. The rest of the infield depends upon how this season plays out, and upon many future events that are incredibly difficult to predict. Fortunately, the Dodgers seem to have all of their bases covered, both literally and figuratively.

Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, Alexander Guerrero, Baseball, Corey Seager, Erisbel Arruebarrena, Hanley Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, Ned Colletti

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