Tomorrow is the day the Dodgers have been awaiting for a month now: the day rosters expand. The bullpen doesn’t currently consist of Brian Wilson, Brandon League, Carlos Marmol, and Edinson Volquez because they’re the best the organization has, but rather because they have upside and the team wants another month to evaluate them for the postseason roster and 2014. Sep. 1 is that magical day they get to keep all those aforementioned guys and call-up everybody they’ve kept in the minors who could have been helping the roster all along.
Generally speaking, this is where fans would be dreaming of Joc Pederson or Zach Lee or even Ross Stripling, but none of them are on the 40-man roster, and with the addition of Volquez to fill out the 40-man, a roster move in that area appears unlikely. That said, Ned Colletti does expect more than a few players to be called up:
Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said he would be surprised if he adds a player in a waiver trade before Saturday’s deadline, though he expects the Dodgers to call up five to seven Minor Leaguers once rosters expand on Sunday.
“It’s a small list of phone calls,” Colletti said. “The deadline at this point is really no different than it was in July. There’s still not a tremendous amount of sellers.”
So no waiver trades are expected, which isn’t surprising, but five to seven guys are expected to come up sooner than later.
The no-brainers are Scott Van Slyke, Chris Withrow, and Drew Butera. The former two are on the optimal roster anyway, and Butera is the third catcher for September depth/day-to-day insurance.
Dee Gordon and Stephen Fife figure to join the fray considering they were with the team a bunch this year. Gordon would be up for his speed and ability to play short (sort of), while Fife would be there as the long relief/spot starter guy or perhaps even take the fifth starter role if he gets right.
They aren’t locks, though, because Gordon has been generally terrible and I think the team has rightfully soured on him, while they passed Fife many times and added Volquez, which says a lot about their current confidence level in him (he’s getting rocked at AAA).
So this is where it gets a bit murky for me: Javy Guerra, Matt Magill, Peter Moylan, Alex Castellanos, and Jose Dominguez.
All have had time with the team in 2013, but could be out of favor for different reasons. Castellanos has fallen behind Van Slyke on the depth chart, and with Matt Kemp soon returning, carrying six outfielders might seem like overkill. Moylan could be a useful arm, but the Dodgers didn’t seem all that shy about demoting him while they clung on desperately to other veterans, so he could have a superfluous existence on the roster. Guerra and Magill are the likeliest options on the depth chart, but the team has been decidedly hesitant to call either up lately. I would predict Guerra comes up for mop-up duty but Magill stays down so that he doesn’t have to adjust to a relief role.
As far as Dominguez goes, I think he’s a lock if he’s healthy … if. Currently he’s not healthy, and he’s one of the guys that Colletti is likely talking about as call-ups after Sunday.
Justin Sellers, Elian Herrera, and Shawn Tolleson fill out this tier. Everything I said about Castellanos? Double that for Herrera, who has more versatility but is even further behind in the pecking order. Same goes for Sellers, who I have to believe is behind Gordon if they gave Gordon the call first earlier in the year.
Tolleson is in Dominguez’s shoes, except it’s been longer since he’s last pitched and he’s not simply slow to recover, he’s had a setback.
The prospects. The guys outside of the 40-man roster and looking in. Primarily Pederson, Lee, Stripling, Onelki Garcia, Kelvin De La Cruz, Nick Buss, and Yimi Garcia.
I figure I don’t have to explain Pederson and Lee, who are among the team’s top prospects. Stripling is up there as well (2.56 FIP AA), but he has to be behind Fife, Magill, and Lee, at least. Onelki (3.57 FIP 2013) and De La Cruz (2.75 FIP 2013) have advantages because they’re both lefty relievers, and Onelki has been seemingly fast-tracked by the team, so that says a lot to me. Onelki probably has the best realistic shot at being promoted out of everybody in this tier. Buss (.903 OPS/.373 wOBA 2013) has raked at AAA all year, but the team has a lot of outfield options that are already on the 40-man. Yimi is a long-shot, but after posting a 1.21 FIP between A-ball levels last year and a 3.17 FIP in AA this year, I just wanted to mention him. Underrated arm.
In all, there was a surprising amount of experience on the 40-man roster, which is likely why they won’t be calling up inexperienced top prospects as they fight for home-field advantage down the stretch. That’s actually good news though, as the roster gets significantly better with the half dozen or so guys who will get the call.