Dodgers acquire right-handed hitting Trayce Thompson from Tigers
The trade deadline is still six weeks away.
But in the wake of an injury to star right fielder Mookie Betts, a lack of obvious replacement options in the organization and a monthlong slump from the lineup at large, the Dodgers felt compelled in recent days to seek out another right-handed hitter.
On Monday, they found it, acquiring Trayce Thompson from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for cash considerations.
In trading for Thompson, the Dodgers will get a six-year MLB veteran who has shown the ability to hit for power. Though he is just a career .205 hitter, Thompson has 26 home runs in 640 big league plate appearances.
Mookie Betts’ absence already cost the Dodgers one game, and manager Dave Roberts can’t be comfortable with where the team stands without its star.
A 31-year-old Los Angeles native who went to high school at Santa Margarita Catholic and is the younger brother of Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, Trayce previously played for the Dodgers, appearing in parts of two seasons with the club during 2016 and 2017.
Since then, he has bounced around to various organizations. In 2018, he spent time in the majors with the Oakland A’s and the Chicago White Sox, the team that originally drafted him in the second round in 2009. Last season, he played 15 games for the Chicago Cubs.
This year, he signed with the San Diego Padres in March and went one for 14 in six games with them before being designated for assignment in May. He signed a minor league deal with the Tigers after that.
In 41 triple-A games this year, he has 17 home runs, a .305 batting average and 1.086 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
The Dodgers’ need to acquire another right-handed bat became magnified in recent weeks.
Earlier this month, Kevin Pillar was lost for the rest of the season because of a left shoulder fracture.
On Sunday, the team placed Betts on the injured list after discovering he had suffered a fractured rib in a collision with Cody Bellinger a few days earlier, an injury that will hold Betts out for at least a couple of weeks.
Without Betts or Pillar, the team used left-handed hitting infielder Eddy Alvarez twice in three games against the Cleveland Guardians this past weekend, but he misplayed several balls Sunday that contributed to the club’s loss in the series’ rubber match.
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Many of the team’s other organizational options in the outfield, such as Zach McKinstry or Jake Lamb, are also left-handed hitters — which would have limited the team’s potential platoon options to match up against left-handed pitchers.
While one of the club’s top position player prospects, Miguel Vargas, is a right-handed bat, he is limited defensively, having never played the outfield before in his professional career.
Manager Dave Roberts hinted Sunday afternoon at the Dodgers’ pursuit for a trade, when he told reporters the club’s front office was considering options both internally and “externally, as well” for another right-handed bat.
“I like the idea of having a right-handed bat join us,” Roberts said.
It was a need the Dodgers didn’t anticipate having before the season started, when they traded AJ Pollock — a veteran right-handed hitting outfielder — to the Chicago White Sox for closer Craig Kimbrel during the last week of spring training with the idea it would balance out their roster.
But three months later, injuries have thinned their depth. A need for a new addition has suddenly arisen. And as they try to snap out of their 7-9 slump since the start of June, they are hoping Thompson can at least temporarily help fill a void.
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