Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Alex Verdugo has been one of the club’s, and all of baseball’s, top prospects for the past several seasons.
He’s been one of the most popular prospects for a while now, but unlike fellow organization’ers Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, there hasn’t been a spot for him at the big league level.
Seager settled into a vacant shortstop position two years ago, while Bellinger replaced an injured —and then dearly departed— Adrian Gonzalez at first base.
For the power of the bottomless pocket book, the Dodgers roster construction has been extremely interesting.
Several came from within, as did the two above, but L.A. has found extraordinary bargains in their lineup with Chris Taylor and Max Muncy. Not to mention snagging All-Star Justin Turner for pennies in 2014.
They have indeed flexed their financial muscle, acquiring Manny Machado and Brian Dozier midseason. Last offseason, they brought back Matt Kemp.
Kemp and the opposite corner outfielder Yasiel Puig both have one more year on their contract next season. Joc Pederson is platoon-friendly, but bats from the same left side as Verdugo.
That continues to block the 2014 second-rounder, who was a September call-up last year and twice played injury replacement this year before returning in September.
The Tucson native started this MLB year with a two-hit outing on April 28. He had three multi-hit efforts before returning to Triple-A Oklahoma City on May 9.
Another cameo in July saw him post two more two-hit games.
In Oklahoma City this year, he hit .329 with a .391 OBP. That followed a .314/.389 pairing at OKC in 2017.
His plate discipline is perhaps his best trait, just as much his bat speed and excellent contact rate. (I know, right? A contact hitter!) Defensively, he’s big league ready and can play any of the three outfield spots very well.
He will be 22 until next May (15th) and, if the Dodgers roster were construct as is, Verdugo would be a fourth outfielder at best for Dave Roberts team in 2019.
However, the Dodgers are highly unlikely to keep Machado as Seager returns from injury. Dozier may prove an expensive keep. While Bellinger is a very capable outfielder, first base is his primary home by default, but he will sometimes move to the outfield grass and hand over duties to Muncy, who can also play infield. As can Taylor and Kiké Hernandez.
Kemp, Puig, Taylor and Hernandez all occupy various roster spots. That leaves little room for Verdugo, who is likely to begin 2019 at Triple-A.
He’s still young, but has been an elite prospect waiting in the wings for some time now.
Perhaps he could be on the trade block, but that’s unlikely. The Dodgers have a laundry list full of other options.
Machado will probably be gone. Dozier, too. Chase Utley is retiring. That leaves a hole at second base the Dodgers can fill with Taylor or Muncy, or use one of their many, many outfielders to make a trade and free up Verdugo.
Being a GM must be fun.