One LA Dodger Star Will Suffer Playing Time Cut This Season

The Los Angeles Dodgers didn't make any huge splashes this offseason, but made a few changes that will have some ripple effects across the lineup.

The signing of full-time DH J.D. Martinez was a move that goes counter to the ways that the Dodgers worked their lineup from game to game in 2022. They cycled guys through the DH spot in order to get certain players a break from playing the field, while still keeping their bats in the lineup.

In fact, manager Dave Roberts doesn't sound like a fan of losing that flexibility. “It’s not in our DNA,” he said. “The biggest con (with one player serving as a full-time designated hitter) is you don’t have an opportunity to get a certain guy’s bat in there, to get him essentially a half-day off as the workload of running him out there. If you’re kind of locking yourself into one player taking those at-bats, that’s certainly a con.”

And one star player in particular who will be paying the price is catcher Will Smith. 

With a career OPS of .856 and 49 home runs in the past two seasons, Smith is one of the Dodgers' top hitters, but he is going to see his playing time diminish. As noted by Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, the introduction of the DH last season allowed Smith to accumulate 77 extra plate appearances from the pre-DH days. 

“It’s just going to be more of Will will just have off days,” Roberts said. “I don’t expect J.D. to DH 162. But he’s going to be the guy who’s going to be in that position 99.9 percent of the time. So if there is a time Will doesn’t play, it’ll just be an off day."

Smith caught 109 games last season, the 6th most of any catcher in the majors, while adding another 25 appearances slotted in as the DH. He finished the year with a career-high 87 RBIs, while slugging 24 HRs. 

Roberts will have to get creative to ensure he keeps Smith's bat in the lineup as often as possible.

Photo: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports