Recently, we discussed the log-jam of outfielders that the Dodgers have at their disposal. On his birthday, we took a look at what’s been going on with Trayce Thompson. He’s having a nice spring with little mention. It now appears that the next logical step in a big league career is taking form. Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers will make Thompson available in trade talks. It’s both odd and realistic to imagine that we have seen Thompson play his final game in a Dodgers uniform.
I still remember the first time I saw Thompson play. He had a multi-homer game in May of 2016 and was hitting around .300 on the year. I knew he was Klay Thompson’s (of Golden State Warriors fame) brother. His athleticism impressed me – and I thought the upside was intriguing. It wasn’t that hard to imagine him on the fringe of a Corey Seager/Joc Pederson/Yasiel Puig young core.
But how time, injuries, and circumstance of all types come to effect a player’s path.
Thompson would suffer a broken back in July of 2016. He mustered just 27 games with the big league club in 2017 after struggling to regain form at AAA all year. The team couldn’t hold on and wait for Thompson – the train kept moving on schedule – teams in a results business like the major leagues can seldom wait for anyone.
And now, the 2009 second-round pick of the Chicago White Sox is fully healthy, looks ready to contribute, but is without a defined role on the current version of the Dodgers.
Thompson is so far down the depth chart that the math won’t work for him to be on the opening day roster. He is out of options to be sent to the minor leagues. This means he would need to clear waivers for the Dodgers to be able to do so. With his mentioned upside and pedigree, and the fact he’s healthy and producing; someone would take a flier on him. Rather than lose him for nothing, the Dodgers will try to maximize the asset and flip him for whatever return they can find in a short amount of time.
There was a period in time that I firmly believed I would see Thompson as a Dodgers fixture for at least a half-decade. It was easy to picture him posting a couple 20-homer, 10-steal seasons in my vivid imagination. I remember making notes about him in a deep keeper fantasy baseball league, excited to have snagged him for nothing off the waiver wire.
But alas, this was before the days of Andrew Toles, Cody Bellinger, Matt Kemp, and Alex Verdugo were in my vision; and the front office’s. While he was never regarded as a ‘sure thing’, this is a great example of how quickly a player’s path can change; even if he’s healthy and ready to be a big league player.
I believe it’s both probable that Thompson’s Dodgers career is over and that he will play meaningful games somewhere in the big leagues elsewhere in 2018 and a few years to follow. Any time a guy exits – no matter the way it happens – you hope for two things. You want it to be someone you didn’t have some great attachment to, and you hope for a great return. I’ll miss Trayce Thompson, and it will be interesting to see what the Dodgers can yield in the way of a return for him. There’s likely to be at least one general manager out there who thinks the guy can play.
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