Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Dodgers started to rebuild their outfield early in the offseason by re-signing Jason Heyward to a one-year contract, and in their latest trade with the Tampa Bay Rays to acquire Tyler Glasnow, they also picked up Manuel Margot.
The expectation was Margot will see most of his time in a platoon with Jason Heyward in right field, but Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes said Margot’s ability to play all three outfield spots with high quality defense may help him see more playing time than previously expected.
“I think the ability to play anywhere is super helpful,” Gomes said. “Depending on what Doc is thinking and the lineup construction, there’s different avenues for him to get out there. Our sense is he will get a ton of reps.
“How that exactly looks come regular season is TBD, because we’ll have the opportunity to explore different things leading up to that point and then also injuries happen. The fact that he’s an elite defender and puts together a really good at-bat in the box is very helpful for constructing the rest of the team.”
If the Dodgers ran out an outfield of Margot in left field, James Outman in center field and Heyward in right, it would easily give them the best defensive group in MLB. All three were ranked in the 80th percentile or better of outs above average in 2023, with both Heyward and Outman ranked above the 90th percentile.
Margot also figures to be the primary backup to Outman in center field with no other quality defenders at that position on the roster, and the pair hitting from opposite sides naturally works out well to get the left-handed hitting Outman some days off.
While Margot figures to work best in a platoon, which is how the Rays mostly utilized him, the Dodgers are also comfortable giving him at-bats against right-handers. That added versatility gives the Dodgers increased flexibility not just on the field, but also in terms of how they construct their roster as they look for one more bat.
“As far as Manny, I think the beauty of that is he can play any (outfield) position and handles both sides pretty well as far as versus left and right,” Gomes said.
“He can go up there and put together a high-quality at-bat versus right-handed pitching, so it allows us flexibility to see what else is available and not having to box ourselves in one way or the other. Just kind of let the offseason play out and be opportunistic.”
Margot hit .264/.310/.376 with a 93 wRC+ across 99 games in 2023, but he had stronger seasons in 2021 and 2022.
In 2021, Margot played 125 games, posting a 2.4 WAR while hitting .254/.313/.382 with 10 home runs, 57 RBI, 55 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. Most of his value was carried by his defense, but he proved to be a solid everyday player.
His best offensive season came in 2022 when he hit .274/.325/.375, good for a 105 wRC+.
When facing left-handed pitching across his career, the 29-year-old has slashed .281/.341/.420 with a 109 wRC+, a far better mark than when he faces right-handers, where he’s hitting just .244/.294/.370 with an 82 wRC+.
Margot has also hit significantly better away from Tropicana Field since being acquired by the Rays, and in the previous two seasons, he’s posted a wRC+ of 119 and 111 on the road.
The Dodgers may think getting him into a better environment for hitting will be beneficial, and if not, he can still be an effective player in a platoon role.
Manuel Margot’s clutch reputation
Margot has also developed a reputation among Rays fans as a clutch hitter, earning the nickname “Manny Mar-Go-Ahead.” In 72 high-leverage plate appearances, Margot hit .308/.361/.400 in 2023, and in 2022 that slash line was .290/.329/.464 across 73 plate appearances.
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