The Los Angeles Dodgers jettisoning Matt Beaty had to happen this offseason, in the name of maintaining their exceptional bullpen depth and importing Hanser Alberto to cover a more pressing need (infield backup and bench energy).
That doesn’t mean sending Beaty out into the wild didn’t hurt for both parties — a sting that went double when the sweet swinger ended up on the San Diego Padres, a team that, whether fans like it or not, should contend for a playoff spot/nip at the Dodgers’ heels all summer.
So far, the lefty-swinging Beaty hasn’t made a profound on-field impact in San Diego, mustering two hits in 16 at-bats. However, despite a lack of impact and opportunities so far, it’s hard to argue there’s a better landing spot for the 28-year-old in terms of “ownership care factor,” roster projections, and of course the opportunity to engage with his old friends in on-field battle.
Perhaps, someday, true hatred for his old pals will develop in Beaty. For now, though, it sounds like he’s trying to paint his ex-Dodgers mates as “enemies” between the lines, but can barely keep a straight face while doing so.
Beaty opened up about leaving Will Smith and Co. ahead of his first Padres-Dodgers series wearing the brown over the weekend, and he didn’t exactly sound like he’d left his old team behind.
Ex-Dodgers fan favorite Matt Beaty can barely call his old teammates ‘enemies’
Quoth Beaty to Bryce Miller of the San Diego Union Tribune:
"“That will be weird, coming up to the plate and Smitty’s there,” Beaty said. “We golf a lot in the offseason. I’m sure I’ll joke with him to throw me some fastballs, to lighten the mood.“But when you’re between the lines, you’re kind of enemies.”"
Wow. A true heel turn! A villain of all villains!
Nah. Beaty’s just a guy looking for an opportunity, like the rest of us, who saw the Dodgers sign Freddie Freeman and the National League add the DH, nearly in one fell swoop. That dried up basically all of his opportunities to contribute in Los Angeles and led to brighter days with a division rival.
Kudos to Beaty for not trying to create any sort of contrived narrative about how he was wronged and is now out for blood. The man gets it, as much as he might not want to while staring down his former teammates — sorry, enemies — on the field.
As for the feeling of being let loose, Beaty doesn’t harbor any genuine ill will there, either, though he didn’t sugar coat his reaction:
"“It sucks getting DFA’d, whenever that happens, but I think the body of work the last three years, I expected teams would want to pick me up. I knew it wasn’t the end for me. It was a little frustrating, but it was also exciting for a new chapter coming. I knew there was going to be a better opportunity to get more at-bats and play a little bit more.”"
So far, Beaty’s Padres career hasn’t included a signature moment, even though he had a chance to craft one by walking off the Dodgers in the ninth inning on Saturday night.
Initial frustrations seem to have dissipated, and Beaty is now able to view his career objectively. He’s 28. He’s already captured a World Series ring, something some players never do. His time in Los Angeles expired naturally, but his time in the league hasn’t done so yet. He remains relevant. If the worst thing he has to do is pretend to hate his offseason golfing buddy, that isn’t so bad.