SAN DIEGO — I touched on the Dodgers’ pursuit of a shortstop in today’s Winter Meetings notebook, but general manager Farhan Zaidi offered more to say than I had room in print.
So, about Hanley Ramirez’s replacement …
“It’s hard for us to imagine us signing a guy for six or seven years,” Zaidi said. “I’m talking about shortstops specifically. When you have a guy like Corey (Seager) — we’re not going into the season expecting him to contribute. If he works his way into the lineup, great. We’re not expecting him to contribute. The guys that we’re looking at are all in the kind of timeframe where we’re comfortable if they’re a good fit this year.
“We value positional versatility too. So guys that aren’t only shortstops can move around the infield and accommodate Seager a year from now or whatever, I think guys like that will be of value to us as well.”
Zaidi expects Seager to be invited to the Dodgers’ major league spring training camp. That hasn’t been formally announced, but it sounds safe to mark down Seager as the Dodgers’ first non-roster invitee. That doesn’t mean he will be on the opening day roster, but he has a chance. For comparison’s sake, Joc Pederson was a non-roster invitee to camp last year and made it all the way to Sydney. Who knows how far Seager will take his opportunity.
As Opening Day shortstops go, the Dodgers’ perfect candidate would appear to be an established player who is content to play one year in Los Angeles, and maybe cede the starting job to a rookie at midseason.
“If you’re looking for certainty, the guys who have at least a six-year track record obviously have an edge in that respect,” Zaidi said.
Are the Dodgers looking for certainty?
“If you have expectations,” he said, “there’s a premium on certainty for sure.”
That doesn’t bode well for Erisbel Arruebarrena, Alex Guerrero or even Miguel Rojas, who might need to prove he can hit at the major-league level to have a shot at sticking in 2015.
Maybe the “perfect candidate” is Jimmy Rollins. Maybe it’s a free agent. Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Everth Cabrera headline the list of unsigned shortstops. Of those, Lowrie has the most “positional versatility.” Lowrie, 30, can play shortstop, second base and third base if needed.
Here’s one scenario: The Dodgers sign Lowrie to a two- or three-year contract and make him their Opening Day shortstop. If Seager defies expectations and forces his way onto the major-league roster prematurely, Lowrie displaces Miguel Rojas as the primary multi-position backup infielder. When Juan Uribe‘s contract expires at the end of the 2015 season, Lowrie becomes the third baseman. Or he plays second base if Dee Gordon struggles.
If that’s too much to expect of Lowrie, Zaidi should know. He helped bring Lowrie to Oakland in a February 2013 trade with the Houston Astros. Tuesday, the GM declined to comment on Lowrie specifically.
It’s unknown what the Phillies are asking for in return for Rollins, who has more hits than anyone in the franchise’s 132 years of existence — or if the Dodgers have any concrete interest.
Those are the names to pay attention to for now. Zaidi said the Dodgers only need one shortstop. They also need to trade at least one outfielder, but those discussions don’t necessarily involve getting a shortstop in return. So while the outfield talks drag, the Dodgers might be able to identify their next Opening Day shortstop by the end of the week.
Whoever he is, that shortstop will be the Dodgers’ fifth Opening Day starter at the position in the last five years.