Sarah's Take: Dodgers DFA Crawford at curious time

Sarah's Take: Dodgers DFA Crawford at curious time

The Carl Crawford era ended in Los Angeles on Sunday when the Dodgers designated the 34-year-old outfielder for assignment. This unexpected move enabled the Dodgers to call up backup catcher Austin Barnes, who is having a terrific year in Triple-A.

The timing of the Crawford move is curious. Although he hasn't performed as well as the Dodgers had hoped this year, and he has spent significant time on the disabled list, the Dodgers appear to have a shortage of outfielders at the moment. Through the 2017 season, the Dodgers owe Crawford approximately $38 million.

Since 2010, when Crawford left the Tampa Bay Rays as a free agent, he hasn't been the same player. Often injured, he hasn't been able to play a full season. Multiple hamstring injuries have decreased his fabulous speed, his biggest asset. A Tommy John surgery has weakened his throwing arm (left), making him unable to play anywhere but left field.

The Dodgers don't know when Andre Ethier will return from a hairline tibia fracture. This past week, Yasiel Puig went on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. Scott Van Slyke just came off the disabled list after missing about two months with a back issue, and back issues can recur at anytime.

The emergence of Trayce Thompson and the revival of Chase Utley's career enabled the Dodgers to release Crawford. Thompson is a young, athletic outfielder who can play all three outfield positions. So far this season, he has demonstrated an ability to hit for both a decent average and power. His nine home runs are second on the club. He can be used against both right-handed and left-handed pitchers.

With Utley becoming a perfect leadoff hitter, Howie Kendrick can't play his natural position of second base. When the Dodgers re-signed Kendrick in February, they made sure he was open to playing other positions. He primarily has played left field since starting the season on the disabled list with a calf strain. He has done decently, but he is better in the infield. However, the Dodgers, desperate for offense, enjoy having his bat with its natural opposite-field swing in the lineup.

Enrique Hernandez also can play outfield, but he is about the only one who can be a backup for Corey Seager. The way Seager has been playing, it seems impossible the Dodgers will want to take him out of the lineup, but everyone needs a rest once a while.

With the Dodgers trailing the San Francisco Giants by 3 1/2 games in the NL West, the Dodgers' front office must be trying to find a way to improve the roster. Most Dodgers fans probably think the Dodgers need better pitching. After all, injuries have plagued the starting rotation. This week, Alex Wood went on the disabled list because of a sore elbow and will miss a minimum of four weeks.

However, the Dodgers have the fourth-best pitching in baseball. Although it is easy to see how the Dodgers can improve their pitching, it's not the problem. The Dodgers' staff has eight shutouts, the most in baseball.

The offense isn't producing well. It's not a dynamic offense. The Dodgers don't manufacture runs, and they waste scoring opportunities at an alarming rate. Something has to be done to produce more runs if the Dodgers want to win their fourth consecutive NL West title.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at sarahmorris27@gmail.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.