Cash considerations. All it took for the Los Angeles Dodgers to change the complexion of their outfield was cash considerations.
The best stories start in the humblest places. The best stories also tend to involve the Dodgers pulling the wool over the eyes of the San Diego Padres. Luckily, the tale of Trayce Thompson’s 2022 season includes both of those elements.
No matter how Thompson finishes the campaign, with a surge or slide, he’s going to wrap up his age-31 breakout season with an OPS over .800 (it sits at .845 entering play on Thursday, Sept. 22), and enough signature moments to serve as a spark plug for the ages.
It’s alright to admit, sometimes, that you got a little lucky. It is the residue of design, after all, and no one has better design than Andrew Friedman’s front office. That said, the Thompson acquisition was definitely a stroke of luck; the Dodgers were in need out outfield depth, he was a familiar name, and he fit the bill as a temporary replacement.
And now, entering October, he’s still around, prompting the Dodgers’ leadership team to admit what we knew all along: Thompson’s emergence was a shock to both the viewing public and Friedman himself.
Dodgers star Trayce Thompson was definitely a lucky break
As Friedman told David Vassegh on Thursday:
"“I love Trayce. When we won the division last week, seeing how overcome with emotion he was was incredibly touching. I’ll be honest, when we got him, it was when Mookie broke his rib and we went through, looking for right-handed bats, and obviously, he was having success in Triple-A and we noticed some swing things that had changed.“But if you would have asked me at that time, I would not have thought that it was going to be a longterm solution. So the credit goes to him, and it couldn’t happen to a better guy. I love when good things happen to good people. He has elevated his game to a whole new level. And I think that comes some with confidence, and how much he loves being here …“This is a different level, and he’s earned the opportunity to be here and carved out some playing time, and I couldn’t be happier that he’s done that.”"
Hopefully, Vassegh is recovered from the broken bones he sustained hurtling down Bernie Brewer’s slide, and enjoyed covering this much, much happier accident.
Thompson was initially acquired in June to play the role of Mookie Betts after the superstar outfielder suffered a busted rib — like an NFL scout team, but front and center instead of behind the scenes.
Instead, the Tigers — who’d picked Thompson up from the Padres — sent him into the best possible circumstance. Thompson returned to a very different Dodgers team than the one he joined back in 2015, when he was paired up alongside Frankie Montas in the three-way trade that sent Todd Frazier to Chicago.
He also made a very different impact. Can’t say anyone saw it coming, though. From the top down.