Since then, the question has quietly faded into the background. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Puig have been healthy enough to play in the same game exactly once. That game ended with Kemp spraining his ankle and going back on the disabled list, and he’s still there.
So with the trade deadline set for 1 p.m. today, the Dodgers are expected to keep all four outfielders.
I asked Ned Colletti about it anyway, and his response was interesting.
“You always talk about addressing your bench,” he said. “That’s something we think about, but when you get your four outfielders back, you’ve got somebody that’s not starting that game, that’s obviously a really good problem.”
Basically, Colletti turned the question of how to handle the four-outfielder situation into a question about how to upgrade the Dodgers’ bench. The answer is that either Kemp, Crawford, Puig or Ethier becomes a bench player as soon as Kemp comes off the disabled list (and Don Mattingly said Tuesday that he plans to play Kemp as soon as he comes off the DL). It makes sense; the Dodgers won’t be able to acquire a better bench player in a trade today without mortgaging their farm system. And — getting way ahead of ourselves here — if the Dodgers advance to the World Series they will have an obvious choice for a designated hitter sitting on their bench, a luxury few National League teams enjoy when they play in an American League park.
The likely takeaway: Ethier isn’t going anywhere today and the Dodgers aren’t likely to add a position player. They aren’t closing the book on adding a starting pitcher, but are not desperate for change with Chris Capuano pitching adequately for a number-five and Stephen Fife preparing to come off the DL. (The teams that pull the trigger on last-minute deals usually do so with a sense of desperation.)
There are some question marks in the bullpen in Carlos Marmol (13.50 ERA) and Chris Withrow (nine career games), but there are also reinforcements waiting in Brian Wilson and Jose Dominguez. So don’t be surprised if the Dodgers stand pat.
Some bullet points for a trade deadline day: