The Los Angeles Dodgers need a centerfielder. They non-tendered Cody Bellinger following his abysmal 2022 campaign and watched him ultimately sign with the Chicago Cubs. LA has been linked to Pittsburgh Pirates' star centerfielder Bryan Reynolds this offseason. However, Pittsburgh's asking price is quite steep in regards to a potential Reynolds trade. But the fact of the matter is that the Dodgers may have a reliable Bellinger replacement already on the roster in the form of Trayce Thompson.
Thompson enjoyed a quality 2022 campaign, albeit in a limited sample size. Here is a look at 2 reasons Trayce Thompson is the Dodgers' perfect Bryan Reynolds trade fallback.
Trayce Thompson's underlying numbers tell the truth
Trayce Thompson posted a .901 OPS over 239 plate appearances for the Dodgers in 2022. As aforementioned, it was in a limited sample size. But an OPS of over .700 would have been respectable for the journeyman outfielder. The fact that he posted an OPS of over .900 cannot be ignored.
But was it a fluke?
Thompson labored mightily with the San Diego Padres before ending up in LA last season. He seemingly changed his entire approach at the plate en route to a successful second-half in Los Angeles.
Trayce Thompson recorded the second highest line drive rate of his career with a mark of 31.4 percent. He added a fly ball rate of just under 50 percent. Meanwhile, his 29.8 ground ball percentage was the lowest of his career.
In other words, Thompson was making an effort to hit the ball in the air on a more consistent basis. That approach helped lead to 13 home runs, 14 doubles, and 1 triple for the Dodgers last season.
Trayce Thompson's strikeouts were still alarming, as he posted a 36 percent strikeout rate. But that may have been a product of his newfound approach. And Dodgers' fans won't mind a few extra strikeouts if it leads to impressive power numbers once again.
Additionally, his OBP did not suffer as a result of the strikeouts. He ultimately had a .364 OPS and 12.6 percent walk rate.
The underlying numbers suggest that Thompson could be in store for another strong performance in 2023.
Dodgers need defense in CF
Trayce Thompson isn't the same caliber of defender that Cody Bellinger was for LA. However, he is capable of holding his own in centerfield. He did not make an error in 2022 and had a number of highlight reel plays.
Thompson is steady enough at the position to warrant a starting gig.
In the end, trading for Bryan Reynolds is not out of the question. But LA should consider utilizing Trayce Thompson as a fallback if a Reynolds deal fails to come to fruition.
*Stats via Trayce Thompson's Baseball Reference page.