Can Jonny DeLuca squeeze Trayce Thompson off Dodgers roster?

Feb 26, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Jonny DeLuca against the Chicago
Feb 26, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Jonny DeLuca against the Chicago / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Outside of two games featuring power surges, Trayce Thompson has been useless for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2023. It sounds harsh to say, but when you're hitting .155 with an 82 OPS+ and striking out 42.5% of the time, you're really costing the team. His -0.4 WAR on the year proves that.

At some point, the Dodgers are going to have to accept that Thompson's 2.0 WAR in 74 games last year was a major outlier (he's been good for a 2.9 WAR across his 333 career MLB games).

Maybe now that he's hit the injured list with an oblique injury, that'll open some eyes. On Saturday night, the Dodgers brought up slugging prospect Jonny DeLuca to take Thompson's spot on the roster after he hit the IL.

Can another heavy-hitting youngster make an impact with LA? DeLuca was impressive in both 2021 and 2022, clubbing 47 homers and 135 RBI in 199 games. After lighting up Double-A again to start 2023, he was promoted to Triple-A and has raked there so far (.315 AVG, .915 OPS, 4 HR, 19 RBI).

Now he's made it to The Show after just 17 games with Oklahoma City and a legitimate chance to turn some heads as the Dodgers try to escape their current rut (8-10 in their last 18 games).

Dodgers call up Jonny DeLuca; Trayce Thompson hits injured list

If DeLuca proves able to hit lefties at the MLB level, this should be a relatively easy decision for the Dodgers, who have been relying on Thompson to be that guy since the middle of last season. Thompson's rewarded them with a .143 AVG and .607 OPS vs lefties this year after hitting .174 with a .621 OPS against them last year.

On the contrary, though enjoying a hitter-friendly Texas League and Pacific Coast League, DeLuca has hit .362 with a 1.104 OPS vs lefties in 2023. Last year, which could be considered his "breakout," he hit .310 with a 1.001 OPS against left-handed pitching.

DeLuca's also seemingly improved on the defensive end, as he's yet to make an error in 2023 across his 401 innings between right field, center field and left field. Starting to think there's a reason the Dodgers protected him from the Rule 5 Draft by awarding him a 40-man roster spot ...

All things considered, DeLuca's quiet ascension has been impressive. He was drafted in 2019 and played in just 26 games before the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 season. He returned in 2021 to finish with 22 home runs, 64 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 101 games between Single-A and High-A.

With how impressive Bobby Miller has been with limited exposure to Triple-A, would it really surprise Dodgers fans if the 24-year-old DeLuca figured out a way to carve himself out a role with the big-league club?