Speaking on the MLB Network on Monday, Roberts put to the rest the notion of Betts part-timing in both the infield and outfield as the Dodgers look to win the National League West for the third year in a row.
“It’s pretty safe to say that No. 50, Mookie Betts, is going to be our every-day second baseman,” Roberts said.
Betts, 31, was the Dodgers’ second baseman against righties last year. But second base is Betts’ preferred position, and he thought it’d be easier to stick to one position. The Dodgers also believe that playing second base is easier on his body.
Last season, he started nearly as many games at second base (62) as he did in right field (77). He also made 12 starts at shortstop, his first career appearances at the position.
The Dodgers are bringing back Jason Heyward on a one-year deal and will use him in right field and against right-handed pitching, Roberts said. The club will also now seek a right fielder to play against lefties.
Heyward had a bounce-back 2023 season in Los Angeles, hitting .269 with 15 homers and compiling 2.2 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs. The left-handed hitter played all three outfield spots and first base in a platoon role, which he figures to return to in 2024 for the Dodgers.
“It’s one of those things where [Betts] is a Gold Glover out in right field, but I think that when you’re talking about putting together a roster and someone who can be so offensive at second base, you can get more games out of him if he is playing second base,” Roberts said. “So now when you get a happy Mookie Betts, a guy who can play in close to 160 games, it makes the Dodgers much better.”
The Dodgers finished 100-62 last season, 16 games ahead of the field in the NL West. They lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the wild-card round, however.
Additional reporting from ESPN staff writer Alden Gonzalez.