It’s hard to imagine outfielder Trayce Thompson making the Dodger’s opening day roster. Other players such as Joc Pederson, Alex Verdugo, Andrew Toles, and perhaps even Matt Kemp stand in Thompson’s way. Those guys appear to have the upper hand. Thompson would have to really impress the Dodger brass in order to leap frog over the above mentioned players. I suppose it’s possible for Trayce but his competition is stiff. Making his situation more difficult is that he’s out of options. If he doesn’t make the opening day squad then he could be designated for assignment.
Thompson was originally acquired as part of the Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler deal with the White Sox and Reds back in December of 2015. The package also included Micah Johnson and Frankie Montas. Both of those players are no longer with the organization. At the time Thompson was considered an intriguing young toolsy prospect with potential. Unfortunately injuries have ravaged his career.
In 2015 Thompson slashed .295/.363/.533 with 5 home runs and a 147 OPS+ in 135 plate appearances for the White Sox. In the beginning it looked like the trade had worked out well for the Dodgers. Thompson posted a .955 OPS in the month of May while crushing 7 home runs through the season’s first few weeks. He slashed .261/.306/.391/ in April and then .270/.352/.603 in the month of the May. He was playing well until a major back injury set him back.
He fractured two vertebrae in his lower back which landed him on the disabled list by mid-summer. He was unable to return for the rest of the season. It was super sad to see such a young talented player suffer such a catastrophic injury.
After batting just .207 in June and .143 in July Thompson called it a season. Overall he finished with a .225/.302/.436 line with 13 home runs and a 96 OPS+ in 262 plate appearances. Thompson finished with 26 walks, 66 strikeouts and a .738 OPS in 80 games.
He returned in 2017, but he was never the same. He played in just 27 games and batted .122 (6 for 49) with one home run in just 55 plate appearances. After playing 71 games in the field in 2016, Thompson was limited to only 19 games at all three outfield spots. Eventually he was sent back to Oklahoma City where he stayed for the rest of the season.
Thompson is 26-years old. He’s young enough to overcome his terrible back injury. The terrifying injury would have not only ended most other player’s careers, but possibly even prevent someone from walking. Thompson is resilient and tenacious. He appears to be ready to return and play for an outfield spot for the Dodgers this spring. We’ll see if the talent is still there, because his heart certainly is. Even if his ceiling is just as a fourth or fifth outfielder, Thompson will need to make an impression this spring in order to make the roster. It’s now or never for Trayce.