MLB trades: Injuries increase Dodgers urgency to add infield help

The Dodgers originally thought they’d need to get by for just a couple weeks without Max Muncy at third base. Now news of a setback that has forced him to shutdown all baseball activities while recovering from an oblique injury puts a spotlight on a third base spot that hasn’t been great for Los Angeles this season.

Muncy originally went on the IL on May 17, but he hasn’t played since a May 15 loss to the Giants. LA has managed to score just 3.6 runs per game since that date, a stark decrease from the more than 5.0 they were scoring before that point. His pop in the middle of the order mattered. 

Getting by without him for a couple weeks would’ve been fine, but the Dodgers don’t have enough quality options there to viably rely on who they’ve been rolling out. In Muncy’s absence LA has started a handful of different third basemen. Kiké Hernandez has been the primary option, while Miguel Rojas and Chris Taylor have also seen time there for LA this season.

There’s been a pretty significant problem with this. In 16 games since Muncy got hurt the Dodgers have gotten just one home run and two doubles out of the 3B spot. Hernandez is hitting just .183 with a .258 on-base percentage as a third baseman this season. By comparison, he’s at a .290 average and .361 OBP as a left fielder. And his struggles make sense.

Hernandez this season has played 159.0 innings at 3B this year. His previous high at the hot corner was 98.0 innings last year. Before then he’d played only 154.2 innings of third base in nine seasons. He’s a capable utility player, but he’s not an everyday third baseman and never has been. 

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That isn’t to say there are other high-quality options for LA. The only other realistic option on the roster is Rojas, but he’s also struggled badly at the plate when playing third base.

Perhaps the Dodgers are fine rolling Hernandez out at the corner opposite Freddie Freeman until Muncy returns. His indefinite timeline for return might also mean LA will be more aggressive in pursuit of an infielder in the trade market. Mookie Betts’ versatility gives them a little flexibility if they’re looking for an infield or outfield bat, but now with the Muncy news the need for an infield bat becomes even more urgent.

Getting less production than Muncy would’ve been fine, but they’re getting virtually nothing out of their third basemen on a daily basis. Compounding that with their outfield woes gives us a good idea of why the Dodgers are having a hard time scoring runs. The key difference is there are some legitimate, viable options in the outfield. At third base there isn’t any real depth.

If LA wants to maintain their cushy lead in the National League West, they’ll need to go find someone to more adequately fill the void left by Muncy. 


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