Rubby De La Rosa began his MLB career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he hasn't pitched in the bigs since 2017. He's now back with the organization ahead of his age-36 season after signing a minor-league contract on Friday.
Signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2007, De La Rosa spent six years with the Dodgers before he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox in the massive Adrian Gonzalez trade. He spent two years in Boston and then three in Arizona before his career was upended.
De La Rosa underwent his second Tommy John surgery that year, missed all of 2018, and returned to Triple-A Reno with the D-backs in 2019. After 18 games there, he decided to take his game overseas to Japan, where he spent four seasons with the Yomiuri Giants (the Diamondbacks sold his rights to them).
Over that span, and now fully transitioned to a reliever, the right-hander logged a 2.53 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with 33 saves and 118 strikeouts in 137 games (124.1 innings). Uh, not bad at all! And he was super consistent in all of those years despite the workload not being comparable to MLB standards.
On top of being in need of minor-league pitching depth, did the Dodgers just take a flyer on De La Rosa on the off chance he can provide relief at the big-league level?
Dodgers sign Rubby De La Rosa to minor-league contract
Information is scarce on De La Rosa's most recent stint in Japan. It's unclear what his pitch mix currently consists of and we don't know how hard he's throwing. But his Baseball Savant page helps us recall his skill set.
The right-hander sported a fastball and slider last time he pitched in MLB. He averaged 97 MPH on his four-seamer and 85 MPH on his slider. Per his percentile rankings after 13 games pitched in 2016, his numbers were favorable in a number of important categories, such as fastball velocity, hard hit percentage, expected batting average, and strikeout percentage.
Is there an MLB renaissance waiting to happen here?
If not, De La Rosa should be able to absorb enough innings at Triple-A if/when guys like Bobby Miller, Gavin Stone, Tyler Cyr, Matt Andriese, Adam Kolarek, Jake Reed, Tayler Scott and others get the call to the active roster.
Funny enough ... these will be De La Rosa's first reps at Triple-A Oklahoma City because his first stint with the Dodgers saw him top out at Double-A before the trade with the Red Sox.