Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
The Los Angeles Dodgers created the need for a center fielder when they non-tendered Cody Bellinger earlier this offseason. The 2019 National League MVP became a free agent and went on to sign a one-year contract with the Chicago Cubs.
The Dodgers have since added Steven Duggar and Jason Heyward on Minor League contracts, and remain linked to several players on the trade market, but it is still possible they will fill the void internally.
President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman previously mentioned James Outman, Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson as candidates who could replace Bellinger as the Dodgers’ primary center fielder in 2023.
Outman made his MLB debut last season and impressed in a small sample size. The Dodgers are said to believe he is ready for an extended look and likely will be included on their 2023 Opening Day roster, via Juan Toribio of MLB.com:
As of now, Outman will likely be on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster. The club believes he would be ready for that challenge.
After tearing the cover off the ball in the Minors, the Dodgers promoted Outman at the end of July, and he promptly went 3-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBI in his first big league game against the Colorado Rockies.
Outman was 6-for-13 in four MLB contests before being sent back down to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Along with his offensive production, the 25-year-old can play plus-defense at all three outfield positions.
While it seems like a good bet that Outman will be on the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster this year, he could potentially begin the 2023 season in Oklahoma City if the team acquires another outfielder.
That would allow Outman to get everyday at-bats and stay fresh ahead of a potential midseason call-up to L.A.
James Outman not concerned about role with Dodgers
Although there has been plenty of speculation and anticipation over Outman taking on a regular role with the Dodgers this season, he has continued with the same approach of being focused on improving rather than worrying about the possibilities.
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