Dodgers: How to make room for Andrew Toles in the starting nine

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Leadoff batter Andrew Toles (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 29: Leadoff batter Andrew Toles (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the problem that has affected them in the past: too many outfielders but only three positions to play them. Andrew Toles is part of that problem.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are not off to the best start in 2018. Offensively, the team looks lackluster, evident by the 3-6 record the team carries through nine games. Of course, the team is still young and the Dodgers have plenty of time to right the ship and win a sixth straight NL West title.

With the team’s slow start, one of the questionable decisions heading out of free agency has been highlighted; the choice to demote Andrew Toles to AAA and keep Joc Pederson on the big league roster.

Toles was the starting left fielder after all last season before going down with a season-ending ACL injury in May. Toles tore the cover off of the ball in Spring Training. Pederson has not found the same success and has fallen into the same rut that he has before offensively.

Realistically, this choice was likely made for two reasons. First and foremost is Toles’ health. The Dodgers likely want to ease him back into an everyday MLB workload. Instead of throwing him to the wolves, Toles can start in AAA and ease into that transition.

The other reason may be loyalty to Joc Pederson. Pederson was one of the Dodgers’ best prospects coming through the farm system. In 2013, Pederson was regarded as the Dodgers’ top prospect and the 44th-best prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB Pipeline.

Keeping Pederson up could be out of respect, giving the outfielder one last chance at extended big league success before returning back to the minors to work on his swing. While the Dodgers will want to be patient, Toles is only going to push the issue if he continues his success.

Even if he does make the MLB roster and acts as the savior of the team, it is hard to find a spot for him. He can form a platoon with Matt Kemp, who has been one of the best offensive Dodgers, in left field.

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Before Justin Turner returns from injury, though, the Dodgers can get creative. While the starting lineup often changes on a daily basis, Dave Roberts does have the opportunity to field the best nine. This best nine consisting of Toles, Kemp and center fielder Chris Taylor; three guys that would seem impossible to fit all into one starting nine.

It starts with Logan Forsythe’s move to third base. Against left-handed pitching, Forsythe will patrol third base. Chris Taylor will move to his more natural second base and Andrew Toles will patrol center field. While he is more of a corner outfielder, Toles can handle center with his speed and arm strength.

Against right-handers, the Dodgers can get creative and go with Forsythe or Chase Utley at third base, Taylor at second and Toles in center.

Although Taylor has been one of the few Dodgers not moved around yet this season, he has that flexibility. He did play five different positions for the Dodgers last season.

It is definitely an interesting way to field the starting nine. And while this would not be the nightly outlook (because there is no such thing with Dave Roberts) this is a way that the Dodgers could field their best nine guys. Right now, a lot would argue, one of those nine is in AAA Oklahoma City.

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And when he does eventually receive the call to return to the big leagues, Andrew Toles will likely provide a spark that will create a serious case to be an everyday starter. With Kemp also playing well, this could be the team’s best route.