In case you missed it somehow, the Dodgers announced their travel roster Sunday before boarding a flight to Sydney, Austrlia.
I didn’t have time or space for a longer analysis of the 30 names yesterday, but one is probably needed.
Only 25 men can be on the Dodgers’ active roster for the two games against the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Sydney Cricket Ground this weekend. Other than those 25, the Dodgers can designate up to two players who can be added to the active roster Saturday or Sunday if needed. One of those two figures to be catcher Drew Butera, who would be needed in case A.J. Ellis or Tim Federowicz suffers an injury at some point during the trip.
One way the math doesn’t add up: Of the 30 players making the trip, 26 have major-league contracts. (Zach Lee, Joc Pederson, Red Patterson and Miguel Rojas do not.) The Dodgers can only have 25 players on their Opening Day roster. How will they get from 26 to 25?
There are a couple simple ways to resolve the math (and a few more that aren’t simple):
1. Exercise a contract option to send Chris Withrow, Jose Dominguez or Alex Guerrero to Triple-A.
Whoever gets optioned to Triple-A wouldn’t be able to suit up for the games in Sydney, but he would fly back and be eligible to rejoin the major-league roster when the Dodgers resume the regular season March 30 in San Diego. Which of the three players is most likely to be optioned? That’s hard to say. Withrow and Dominguez are two of seven right-handed relievers on the flight. The Dodgers have four middle infielders on the 40-man roster (Justin Turner, Hanley Ramirez, Dee Gordon and Chone Figgins) other than Guerrero. No matter what, the Dodgers won’t be short-handed during the two-game series.
2. Use one of the three roster exemptions allowed by MLB on Withrow, Dominguez or Guerrero.
This one’s a bit trickier, but here we go: Only two players with guaranteed major-league deals who didn’t make the flight are healthy: Pitchers Dan Haren and Brandon League. Neither guy is a candidate to begin the season on the disabled list as far as we know. So let’s assume that Haren and League get two of the three roster exemptions. Both players can be re-activated March 30 in San Diego. Who gets the third exemption? It could go to Beckett, Kemp or Greinke, but since all three have been dealing with injuries in camp, the Dodgers should be able to place these players on the 15-day DL. This decision won’t be made until Friday, but their DL stint can be backdated to Wednesday, meaning that each guy would be eligible to play as early as April 4, when the Dodgers play their first home game of the season. They would only have to miss three games in addition to the two in Sydney.
But … the Dodgers might not want to burn an option on Withrow, Guerrero or Dominguez. From the time a player joins a team’s 40-man roster, his team can only exercise his contract option three times (more accurately, multiple times in no more than three different years) until that player is “out of options.” Butera is out of options. Javy Guerra was out of options, so the Dodgers designated him for assignment Sunday; he’ll probably be playing for another team soon. Compared to optioning them to the minors, there’s slightly less risk involved in using an exemption on Withrow/Dominguez/Guerrero.
For the sake of accountability: I definitely guessed the Opening Day roster wrong.
The Dodgers chose to leave Brandon League in Arizona to work on his mechanics. I could have foreseen that. Carl Crawford‘s fiancee is giving birth soon, so he’ll go on the paternity leave list. I couldn’t have foreseen that.
The Opening Day roster will most likely include two players from the group of Withrow, Dominguez and Paul Maholm. My Opening Day roster didn’t have any of them.
Other than that, the 30 players’ roles are pretty straightforward. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that either Lee or Patterson will start Thursday’s exhibition game against the Australian National Team. Pederson and Rojas will probably see action in the exhibition game, too. Mattingly also said that Scott Van Slyke would start in left field on Opening Day, but that was before the Arizona Diamondbacks learned left-hander Patrick Corbin wouldn’t be able to start.
Mattingly declined to name Paul Maholm an “insurance pitcher,” probably because no pitcher wants to hear he’s flying 30 hours round-trip for two games only to not pitch. But Maholm figures to be insurance.
Any questions that I didn’t cover here? Ask below.