Returning stars solidify deep Dodgers roster

Projected 25-man squad has plenty of protection

Returning stars solidify deep Dodgers roster

With Spring Training fast approaching, takes a look at a different aspect of this year's Dodgers squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster.

LOS ANGELES -- While trying to predict the Los Angeles Dodgers' Opening Day 25-man roster, one thing is clear: The Oklahoma City Dodgers should be loaded.

The carryover benefit from accumulating depth after last year's injury onslaught is the high-quality problem of too many players -- depending, as always, on health. So, the Dodgers will have a capable taxi squad at Triple-A, probably including top prospect Cody Bellinger.

Aside from adding Logan Forsythe in the infield, Sergio Romo in the bullpen and Franklin Gutierrez on the bench, the 2017 Dodgers look a lot like the '16 version around the horn, with uncertainty in the outfield, a deep starting rotation and multiple live arms in the bullpen ready for another heavy workload.

Impacting roster decisions will be the recovery of many players coming off 2016 injuries, namely Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Andre Ethier, Trayce Thompson, Scott Van Slyke, Alex Wood, Adam Liberatore, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chris Hatcher.

Here's an early look:

Catcher (2): Yasmani Grandal, Austin Barnes 
Grandal had the production-breakout season management envisioned when making the Matt Kemp trade and could start 130-plus games. It's Barnes' time for the big leagues, manager Dave Roberts said at the Winter Meetings. Bobby Wilson provides non-roster veteran depth.

Grandal on adding Forsythe

First base (1): Adrian Gonzalez
Gonzalez's power was down, but not the RBIs -- he has had at least 90 per year for a decade. Van Slyke could face tough lefties.

Second base (1): Forsythe
This was a three-for-one trade: Forsythe plays second base, provides a right-handed bat, and can bat leadoff.

Forsythe fills vital role

Shortstop (1): Corey Seager 
As long as there's no sophomore jinx, Seager looks superstar-bound.

Third base (1): Justin Turner
The returning veteran seems to have the necessary makeup to live up to the big contract.

Kasten on Dodgers' offseason

Utility (2): Van Slyke, Chase Utley (pending). However, Kiké Hernandez, Chris Taylor and (if healthy) Thompson are all in the mix. All but Utley bat right-handed.

Outfield (5): Joc Pederson, Yasiel Puig, Andrew Toles, Ethier, Franklin Gutierrez (pending). Pederson starts in center against righties and everything else is to be decided. Management loves Toles, while Puig is at a career crossroads. Ethier comes off a broken leg, but he's a gamer. Gutierrez joins Thompson and Van Slyke as specialists against lefties when they are healthy.

Starting pitchers (5): Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Kazmir, McCarthy
The first three are givens. Julio Urias will be the fourth, but maybe not until May as his innings are rationed. Kazmir and McCarthy (with guaranteed contracts) return from injuries and probably get first shots, but Wood, Brock Stewart and Ross Stripling are viable. Initial reports on Ryu are favorable, but he's been shelved for two years.

Gurnick on Dodgers star Kershaw

Bullpen (7): Kenley Jansen, Romo (pending), Pedro Baez, Grant Dayton, Liberatore, Josh Fields, Josh Ravin
Not included initially are Hatcher and Wood, but the former is out of options and the latter could be a starter or reliever. Lefties Luis Avilan and Vidal Nuno have legit shots, as does non-roster invitee Brandon Morrow -- if he's healthy. 

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.