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The trouble with the Dodgers signing a fourth outfielder

December 03, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Nationals outfielder Michael Morse has been mentioned as a potential trade target.
Nationals outfielder Michael Morse has been mentioned as a potential trade… (Greg Fiume / Getty Images )

They’re afraid. They’re very afraid. Of the Los Angeles Dodgers. More evidence of what a difference one year has made.

Clubs are heading to Nashville this week, not with the hope of catching a glimpse of Connie Britton, but for the annual winter meetings.

And although the Dodgers have few real obvious needs, they remain the one team other clubs figure will be most active this week. The logic is simple: They have the most money. Yep, just a little different from a year ago.

The Dodgers’ most desired addition is a significant starting pitcher, so everyone seems certain they will sign Zack Greinke. Possibly even this week. Though for whatever it’s worth, team Chairman Mark Walter signaled a distaste for signing pitchers to long-term deals.

But their other significant need may not be easily lassoed with deep pockets. They need a right-handed hitting outfielder, who in their ideal world could also play some first base. You know, sort of like Juan Rivera, only upgraded.

The problem is, they really need an outfielder who’s good enough to be a starter. Without having a starting job to offer.

The Dodgers are planning — hoping — that Carl Crawford will be their everyday left-fielder next year. Crawford, of course, is coming off Tommy John surgery performed last August.

They’re hoping he’ll be ready to start the season, but it’s on the iffy side. So is being certain how he will perform, since he barely played last year (he had wrist surgery in January) and was disappointing in his first season with the Red Sox in 2011.

Trouble is, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to get a quality, starting-caliber outfielder to sign to be a backup. If you’re planning on signing one, that takes you to the second tier, and a lot of those names look familiar — Reed Johnson, Andruw Jones, Scott Podsednik, Cody Ross and Rivera.

And then there’s Shane Victorino, the outgoing left fielder who is looking for a starting job and long-term contract, and is expected to get it. Grady Sizemore is available, but he missed all last season with bad knees and makes a lousy insurance policy.

The Dodgers may have better luck dealing for an outfielder, and it’s difficult to know who’s available in trade. The Nationals’ Michael Morse has been mentioned as a possibility, and he can also play first.

There remains the possibility that the Dodgers could yet surprise us, which is actually what you might expect from the most feared team at the winter meetings.

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