We’re still waiting on our first true Winter Meetings bombshell, but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been any notable news out of Nashville yet. In an interview on MLB Network on Monday afternoon, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed an interesting bit of information about the team’s 2024 plans: namely, that they plan to use superstar Mookie Betts — who’s spent the overwhelming majority of his career, and his time in L.A., in right field — as their primary second baseman.
“It’s pretty safe to say that No. 50 Mookie Betts is going to be our everyday second baseman,” Roberts said.
You can see L.A.’s logic here. Betts began his Minor League career as a second baseman before eventually moving to the outfield, and the Dodgers began using him as an infielder more and more as last season progressed. With Gavin Lux missing the entire year due to an ACL tear and rookie Miguel Vargas struggling mightily at the plate, Betts made a career-high 70 appearances at the keystone in 2023, including 23 of his final 30 starts. It’s the continuation of a trend, and Betts is the type of athlete who can hold his own no matter where you put him on the diamond.
It also makes sense from a roster construction perspective. This is a shallow free-agent market for position players overall, but especially at the middle infield spots, where the top names are uninspiring options like Tim Anderson, Amed Rosario and Gio Urshela. The picture is a bit rosier in the outfield corners: Los Angeles has already agreed to bring back Jason Heyward on a one-year deal, and guys like Joc Pederson, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Michael Brantley and Tommy Pham would all be nice fits. Betts at second and, say, Heyward and Pham in the corners sounds a lot better than Betts in right, Heyward in left and someone like Rosario — or an internal option like Vargas or Michael Busch — at second. (Not to mention that Betts’ bat, while elite anywhere, is certainly a lot more valuable at second base, where that sort of offensive production is more difficult to come by.)
With Betts taking his talents to the infield, expect the Dodgers to try and add an outfielder, specifically a right-handed option to compliment Heyward. And, of course, bolstering their injury-ravaged rotation — and landing Shohei Ohtani in free agency — remain the top two priorities. This is just the beginning of what figures to be a busy winter for the Dodgers — and, evidently, for Betts, as he prepares to enter his first spring at the big-league level as a starting second baseman.