Trayce Thompson was a fan favorite with the Dodgers in 2016-17, but he struggled a lot in 2017 and Los Angeles lost him on waivers to the Yankees in 2018. It was a long and winding road, but it eventually led Trayce back to LA’s door in 2022.
When Mookie Betts went down with a cracked rib in June, the Dodgers brought in Thompson, who was hitting well in Triple-A for the Tigers organization, to fill in for the two or three weeks Mookie would be out. But once Trayce got his foot in the door, he refused to leave, batting .300 with an .823 OPS in Mookie’s absence.
So Thompson stayed on the roster and kept getting playing time, and he posted a .913 OPS the rest of the way. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, and he and the Dodgers agreed on a $1.45 million deal for 2023, his first time making over a million dollars in a season.
For Trayce, it’s also his first time feeling the stability of knowing he has a role on a big-league club. For it to be the Dodgers, his hometown team, just makes it sweeter. Thompson was part of the “Dodgers Love LA Community Tour” on Wednesday, joining Kirsten Watson, Ken Landreaux, and others at the Dodgers Dreamfield at Darby Park in Inglewood. The tour coincided with the first day of Black History Month, and Thompson and the others met with students from predominantly Black middle schools to talk about fitness, nutrition, and baseball.
Thompson answered a lot of questions, and when he was asked how he’s feeling going into spring training, his answer was poignant.
“I’ve always been motivated. If anything I just have a lot more of an opportunity from the start,” Thompson said. “I’ve always had to scratch and claw in Spring Training — not that I won’t this year, but I think there’s just a little more mental stability. I know I’m going to be on a team. I’ve never really had that in my career. As far as the motivation stuff, it’s always been the same. I feel like I’ve always unfortunately had this chip on my shoulders. But I enjoy it. I’m just looking forward to getting going.”
Thompson’s role on the 2023 Dodgers is unclear, but he’s expected to get a lot of playing time in the outfield. A year ago, he was a free agent during a lockout, a month away from signing a minor-league deal with the Padres. Now, he’s on a guaranteed contract and looking to contribute to one of the best teams in baseball.
What a difference a year makes.
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