Clement, DH, and roster construction
I should have brought this up in the Hinske post, but I wanted to focus largely on the player and thinking about how to look at free agent possibilities.
How the team decides to use Clement will have a big difference in what they look at in off-season acquisitions, and they’re not really going to know that until they’re into spring training probably.
Say Clement’s knee is great and they decide to play him at C/DH, trying to keep him a viable C option with Kenji the primary backup. A 2/3rds split in favor of Johjima would get him into about fifty games behind the plate, then you put him at DH the rest of the time.
Tada! There’s your lefty DH, essentially — there’s not enough playing time left to justify buying even a Hinske-esque DH. You still have to find someone, preferably right-handed, to pick up DH starts against left-handers (and that assumes that you’re pushing Clement behind the plate against some of them), and it’d be nice if that person could cover some other roles as well.
Is fifty games enough, though, if you really want to have Clement be the catcher of the future? Or is it possibly too much? I know the knee surgery went about as well as possible, but we don’t really know how well he’s going to hold up to any catching workload (much less how he’ll endure long-term).
You see the problem. And using Clement as the DH on the same day as Johjima catches puts a lot of pressure on the team to carry a third catcher on the bench, making the team:
DH: Clement vRHP, ? vLHP
1B: Branyan vRHP, ? vLHP
Assuming they carry 12 pitchers to start the season, they have five spots to fill two starting positions, probably a backup outfielder, possibly another catcher (depending on Clement’s use), a utility player, a platoon partner for Branyan and then another solution for Clement-as-DH.
Now, you might already be thinking “what about finding some utility infielder who can really, truly field up the middle, and using them to swap Lopez or Betancourt into DH for our severe groundball ptichers?” or “What if we find a third catcher who is an only-break-glass-in-case-of-catcher-need guy, can cover first, and is a decent hitter against lefties and off the bench?” or something similarly wacky.
And I would say “a Shawn Wooten-type? Now that is interesting…” and probably go make myself some coffee and forget about it as I got distracted looking through minor league free agent lists. That’s why I love the offseason.