Dodgers sign slugger to minor-league deal on eve of Opening Day

Just hours before the first pitch of the 2021 season (can you believe it?), your defending champion Dodgers have added another longball specialist.

This player, in particular, will be taking aim at the Bricktown walls down at Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Once a 30-homer bat with a proclivity for a high OBP (.239 average and .351 on-base in his standout 2017 season), Steven Souza Jr. watched his career get derailed in the desert, as his tough 2018 season in Arizona was followed by a horrible knee injury that erased his 2019 campaign and essentially ended his MLB tenure.

Since that surgical repair, he’s bounced to the Cubs and Astros, but has yet to take an MLB plate appearance.

Released by the Astros six days ago, Souza Jr. will now continue his rehabilitation in a relatively low-pressure situation: mashing one step below the bigs for the greatest organization in baseball.

Not a bad opportunity for a bounce back.

The Dodgers have signed Steven Souza Jr. to a minor-league deal.

Souza Jr. has thrived before, carving out a niche in Tampa Bay as … well … as a prototypical Rays outfielder. 30 homers, high on-base percentage, a high number of strikeouts (but not an overwhelming one), and a gritty attitude with effective defense (and a beard).

As they’re wont to do, though, the Rays sold high, shipping him to Arizona as part of a three-way trade that brought Brandon Drury to the New York Yankees, Nick Solak temporarily to Tampa, and Colin Poche and Anthony Banda permanently to Rays’ corps.

He cratered there, hitting just .220 in a 72-game cameo in the 2018 season before tearing his (clears throat) ACL, LCL, PCL (partially) and posterior lateral capsule in his left knee, all from an ill-timed stomp on home plate while rounding the bases in one of Arizona’s final exhibitions.

As expected, he’s struggled to regain his timing in the two years of rehabilitation since, but has been granted a new opportunity in Dodger Blue.

Souza Jr. may fit in quite well here — or, at least, better than he did in Houston, where he got into a fight with an Astros blogger just days ago over whether or not Trevor Bauer is overrated.

Clearly a fan of the hurler who Los Angeles imported this offseason on an escalating price tag, he’ll now have a chance to work back to being teammates with the mercurial righty.

Baseball has a funny way of working out, now doesn’t it?