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Who Plays 3B for LAD in 2024

I have no idea who will play 3B next year.  AF would have to be thoroughly convinced that either Vargas or Busch can become the regular 3B.  Neither one is adept at 3B defensively.  Vargas is RHH with good bat to ball skills, and Busch is LHH with power and improving bat to ball skills.

  • Busch – .322/.426/.613/1.039 – 460 PA, 26 HR, 26 doubles, 89 RBI, 18.9 K%, 13.5 BB%
  • Vargas – .298/.417/.496/.913 – 276 PA, 10 HR, 15 doubles, 45 RBI, 20.3 K%, 16.3 BB%

Busch has so much more slug than Vargas, and that is what the Dodgers prefer.  But with Lux coming back, do they need another LHH starter?  Vargas’ slug is less than .500 at AAA, so his slug will be limited at the ML level.  3B is supposed to be a slug position.  Neither is the ideal choice, but both could be more than serviceable.  I cannot see both being LAD next year.

Max Muncy is the incumbent 3B, and while he lacks any kind of defensive range, his bat makes up for it.  It will be difficult to replace 36 HR, 102 RBI, .824 OPS, especially at a cost of $14MM.

Before Friday’s game, with 541 PA, Max is hitting .211/.333/.491/.824, 36 HR, 102 RBI, 16 doubles, 1 triple, 119 OPS+, 2.9fWAR, 2.8 bWAR.  His 2.9 fWAR equates to a $23.2MM value.

He is 9 PA shy of reaching 550 PA and maximizing his club option at $14MM.    He had a value of $19.1MM in a dismal 2022 campaign.  His $14MM will be a bargain next year.  I cannot see AF not exercising the club option.

If not Max, Vargas, or Busch, then who?  Here are the 2023-24 FA 3B:

  • Ehire Adrianza (34)
  • Brian Anderson (31)
  • Jeimer Candelario (30)
  • Matt Chapman (31)
  • Charlie Culberson (35)
  • Josh Donaldson (38)
  • Eduardo Escobar (35) – $9MM club option with a $500K buyout
  • Evan Longoria (38)
  • Mike Moustakas (35) – $20MM club option with a $4MM buyout
  • Justin Turner (39) – $13.4MM player option with a $6.7MM buyout
  • Gio Urshela (32)
  • Joey Wendle (34)

I know a lot of fans were originally looking at Matt Chapman as a possible LAD 3B.  His defense is GG caliber, but his offense is not very good.

  • .244/.333/.427/.760, 15 HR, 39 doubles, 2 triples, 51 RBI, 109 OPS+, 4.1 bWAR, 3.2 fWAR, $25.6MM value.

I have to believe the Dodgers will take any of their internal options over the Scott Boras client.

The only other 3B that LAD MAY have interest in would be to bring JT back home.  He has a player option of $13.4MM that he can opt out for $6.7MM.  If the Dodgers give him the JDM $10MM deal, that would give JT $16.7MM total for 2024.  For the season, JT is hitting:

  • .280/.351/.467/.818, 23 HR, 95 RBI, 30 doubles, 118 OPS+, 2.4 bWAR, 1.6 fWAR, $12.6MM value.

He did the above with 600 PA.  He is on pace to exceed his ML career high PA of 622 in 2016.  Can he duplicate that at the age of 40?  I have my doubts.  I think AF would prefer to get much younger in DH and 3B.

Then of course there is the trade route.  I have no clue who might be attainable.  But one name that has been bandied about is Oakland 2B/3B Zack Gelof.  Gelof is having a fantastic rookie season:

  • .277/.342/.532/.874, 13 HR, 19 doubles, 1 triple, 145 OPS+, 2.5 bWAR

I am not sure how Oakland would feel about it, but the Trade Simulator is okay with Maddux Bruns and Jorbit Vivas to Oakland for Zack Gelof.  Maybe you have to substitute Landon Knack for Maddux Bruns to get an established MLB infielder still in his rookie year.

Per MLB Pipeline – Bruns is Dodgers #17 prospect, Vivas is #10, and Knack is #9.

Per Baseball America – Bruns is #16 prospect, Vivas is #15, and Knack is #7.

Trade Simulator:

  • Gelof – 11
  • Bruns – 5.6
  • Vivas – 8.7
  • Knack – 8.9

One player that I have been wanting since he was drafted is Minnesota’s Royce Lewis.  With Carlos Correa playing SS, Lewis has been playing 3B. He returned in May 29 after his 2nd ACL surgery.  In 239 PA:

  • .309/.372/.548/.921, 15 HR, 7 doubles, 52 RBI, 149 OPS+, 2.4 bWAR and fWAR.

He has 2 DRS and 2 OAA at 3B.  Maybe the knees will not hold out long term at SS, but he is more than capable at 3B.

Bums wants Bobby Witt Jr..  I want Royce Lewis.  We are both going to be disappointed.

There are not any ML ready 3B prospects that I would prefer over either Busch or Vargas.  And that includes Minnesota’s Brooks Lee, or any of Baltimore’s infield prospects:  Coby Mayo, Connor Norby, or Joey Ortiz.

There has been some discussion as to the value of JDM and Max.  Here is a snapshot of their 2023 season going into Friday night.  I have isolated vs LHP as that seems to be the weakest offensive area for LAD.  Not that it mattered much Friday night with Max not in the lineup because of LHSP, Sean Manaea.

JDM

  • LHP – .273/.346/.591/.937 – 110 AB, 9 HR, 13 BB
  • WRISP – .336/.388/.655/1.043 – 110 AB, 9 HR, 15 BB
  • Late & Close – .286/.342/.486/.828 – 35 AB, 2 HR, 3 BB
  • 2 out – .331/.393/.676/1.069 – 148 AB, 14 HR, 14 BB
  • Batting 4th – .278/.344/.549/.893 – 144 AB, 9 HR, 14 BB
  • Batting 5th – .296/.345/.637/.982 – 179 AB, 16 HR, 16 BB
  • 135 OPS+, 2.1fWAR, 1.9bWAR, $16.8MM value

Max

  • LHP – .154/.265/.385/.650 – 143 AB, 11 HR, 17 BB
  • WRISP – .200/.348/.407/.755 – 140 AB, 7 HR, 34 BB
  • Late & Close – .200/.347/.463/.810 – 41 AB, 3 HR, 7BB
  • 2 out – .157/.317/.333/.650 – 153 AB, 7 HR, 35 BB
  • Batting 4th – .215/.337/.492/.829 – 311 AB, 24 HR, 58 BB
  • Batting 5th – .178/.341/.438/.779 – 73 AB, 6 HR, 3 BB
  • 119 OPS+, 2.9 fWAR, 2.8bWAR, $23.2MM value

Even a negative defensive player gets more positional/defensive value than a DH which is the primary reason that Muncy has a greater WAR than JDM.  Offensively, JDM is 19.4 runs above replacement, while Max is 14.1.  Thus for Max to continue to get maximum WAR (and getting maximum value), he will need to play 3B.  Can the Dodgers afford to let him continue to play the position?

Max is currently the #7 3B OPS in MLB.  If you like OPS as the pivotal metric, there really is not going to be much improvement.  Max is #1 in RBI, and #2 in HR in MLB.

IMO, it is going to be either Michael Busch or Miguel Vargas at 3B and Max at DH.

The Dodgers named their eight players assigned to the Glendale Desert Dogs AFL team.  The Dodgers will team with players from the following additional teams: Mets, Red Sox, Twins, White Sox.  The Dodgers players assigned:

  • Ronan Kopp, LHP (MLB Pipeline Prospect #16)
  • Yeiner Fernandez, C/2B (MLB Pipeline Prospect #26)
  • Ben Casparius, RHP
  • Jake Pilarski, RHRP
  • Ryan Sublette, RHP
  • Kendall Williams, RHP
  • Damon Keith, OF
  • Jake Vogel, OF

The Arizona Fall League regular season begins on Monday, Oct. 2 and runs through Thursday, Nov. 9.

We can get more involved in this discussion as we get closer to the start of the AFL.

 

 

09-22-2023 – MiLB Game Summary Report

 

Albuquerque Isotopes (Colorado) 7 – OKC Dodgers 0

Kendall Williams, who was just named as one of the LAD Arizona Fall League players, was promoted to OKC.  Kendall was rudely received, but stayed in for quite some time. He allowed 5 runs on 6 hits, 5 BB, and 2 K in 6.0 IP.  He had 91 pitches/56 strikes.    He did allow 2 solo HRs.

Williams is 23 years old (22 baseball age) and is playing on his 4th team in 2023.  He was acquired in 2020 in a trade with Toronto for Ross Stripling.

  • Rookie ACL – 1 game
  • Great Lakes – 7 games
  • Tulsa – 8 games
  • OKC – 1 game

Jake Reed surrendered 2 more runs in the 8th.

OKC had 4 singles, 3 BB, and struck out 11 times.

Box Score

 

 

 

 

 

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Scott Andes

I’m fine with Muncy returning and playing third again. I know he’s not the best defensive player but 35 home runs, 100+ RBIs he can come back and play third. If he continues to hit 35+ home runs and 100+ RBIs do we really care about his defense?

I don’t and I think his defense has improved a lot. I know alot of you value defense more than me. I’m a bat first offense first guy. But you can’t argue with those power numbers. He’s a legitimate power threat in the middle of the order. And when he’s crushing home runs in the postseason you won’t care as much about his third base defense.

Now if they don’t bring back JDM, they could transition him to full time DH if they believe Busch is ready to play third full time. Or Muncy gets the majority of reps at third and Busch sees some time there while Muncy plays DH during those games. I wouldn’t put Vargas there, I think he needs a lot of work on both sides of the ball.

I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing back JT to play DH on a team Friendly contract. Thats my opinion though.

Badger

I believe the organization would prefer Vargas step up and take over third. I know I do. If not him it will probably be Muncy again. I’m a bat first guy too but his defense is embarrassing.

I don’t see a position for Busch. Not on this team. If he were a standout somewhere on the field, maybe, but his ML skill will be hitting. I think he will be traded.

I still believe the organization wants Ohtani as DH for at least a year. I wonder what position he might want to play?

5 for 32, all singles, 1 for 2 WRISP. Once again throttled by good starting pitching. It feels like the team is just marking time but we’re 7-3. The hottest team in the league? San Diego. But they won’t make it in, right? Sure hope not.

Badger

Why Vargas? Two reasons. He’s a big RH hitter whose slug I believe will come. And he’s an infielder. I don’t know where Busch plays, but if the Dodgers decide he can play third base then I’m down with it. I thought he would have been traded by now but maybe the Dodgers have a plan for him.

It’s true Vargas had a legitimate shot, didn’t do enough, but did hit 7 homers and 15 doubles in 256 at bats. He even had 4 triples.

I don’t know who’s better. Things will unfold as they will. We will know more at the end of Spring Training. (I can quote Captain Obvious too)

Bobby

I notice you didn’t add Nolan Arrenado to the potential 3b list. Yes, we’d get older, but he’s signed for 3-4 more years, and he’ll still be productive over the life of that contract.

On a separate note, I’m beginning to NOT look forward to Will Smith coming up to bat with guys on base. His bat has been much slower the past couple months (ironically, AFTER his rib injury healed).

We need him to figure this out the next 2 weeks, as he should be coming up with guys on base quite often in October.

Last edited 6 months ago by Bobby
Badger

Maybe he should sit a few days. I would say the same thing about Mookie. And who knows how many other guys might need a 72 hour R&R.

It’s a long season, and the finish will be a few teams sprinting to the tape. Can the Dodgers play in October with the same intensity they did in August? If they do, I really like our chances. If they don’t? ….

Bobby

You and I know, from the last 11 years of doing this playoff thing, that we have zero clue how things will play out.

Somebody will step up. Somebodies will have a bad 4 game stretch. Let’s just hope another somebody steps up.

Badger

The losses I remember, and I am prepared to be corrected, the team looked flat at the finish.

Doc has done a fine job of giving everyone a role that gets them playing opportunities every other night or so. The top of our lineup, Mookie, Freddie and Smith are everyday players. If it were me I’d give them some time off. If not days, then innings.

Bumsrap

Gelofs at 3rd and at 2nd — keep it in the family. It would be cool to have brothers playing together in the Dodgers infield.

I’ve asked before so pardon me for asking again. Is Betts the long term answer for 3rd?

Who looks a lot like Cey? Answer: DeLuca. Just saying. Put a #10 on his jersey.

Last edited 6 months ago by Bumsrap
Dionysus

LF is wide open next year. Taylor & Deluca are probably the favorites right now. If Busch can’t handle 3B, put him there. I think the team likes Vargas at 2B; it’s just his bat that needed a tune-up.

Jeff

I’m in full agreement with Jeff’s take on 3B. Muncy is not going anywhere with 36 HRs. and over 100 RBIs even if he were batting under the. Mendoza line. He seems to be our good luck charm. The only place he should be going is to the DH making room for Vargas who should get another shot at nailing a full time position. I don’t see how they could sign JDM again with a necessary rebuild of the pitching rotation in the works. If Kershaw can pitch, I want him back. We could also use a permanent LF. As good a teammate as Peralta is, I don’t really want him back. He’s lost something in his offense. Rosario? Signed as a SS but plays 2B. With Lux back, he should replace Rojas who is signed for next season. Do we let Rosario walk? We’ve got Taylor for 2B/SS backup, plus we could sign Kolten Wong as another. Kike’s $10M will come off the books.

Badger

Have to admit I really like this team the way it’s currently constructed Jeff. I’m sure there will be changes, but this is a team that trails only Atlanta in runs scored.

We add Vargas and move Muncy to DH. That’s it. What we need after those bold moves is more better starting pitching.

Having said that I’m sure there will be more moves made, but in September I’m not really prepared to change this offensive roster.

Last edited 6 months ago by Badger
Bumsrap

“The Dodgers began the 2023 season with baseball’s No. 1 farm system, but with Bobby Miller (No. 2), Miguel Vargas (No. 3), Ryan Pepiot (No. 7) and James Outman (No. 9) all moving on to the majors and Diego Cartaya struggling through a down year, they have slipped to the middle of the pack.”
via Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report

Dionysus

Not a bad thing

Singing the Blue

Here’s the obvious answer. Have DeLuca play offense and have Cey play defense. Just make sure they are both wearing #10. Nobody will notice the difference.

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Bobby

brilliant!

Oldbear48

Ask me in December right around the time the winter meetings start. I will have a better picture of the situation then.

Bobby

agree.

But then again, we’re up 15 games, and we’re about to clinch the 2 seed this weekend. So we all have nothing else to discuss except how Coach Prime is getting his butt handed to him right now and the LA Kings are down under playing exhibition games.

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