What Happened In 2017: Got off to a horrendous start in Triple-A and the majors and never recovered.
When the Dodgers acquired Trayce Thompson in a 3-way trade with the White Sox and Reds two winters ago, he may have been the biggest prize for them at the time. Sure, Frankie Montas‘ arm talent was incredible, but Thompson had the size, athletic ability and power potential that makes scouts drool.
After fracturing two vertebrae in his back during the 2016 season, it was reasonable to think his comeback would be slow, but maybe not this slow. He went hitless in his first five games at Oklahoma City (0-for-13 with two walks) and was recalled to the Dodgers when Franklin Gutierrez went on the disabled list. Thompson didn’t look particularly great in Spring Training (.674 OPS), so his promotion was a bit of a surprise. It made sense — the Dodgers needed an outfielder — but it was clear he wasn’t operating at 100 percent. He went 0-for-8 in three games and was sent back to Triple-A. In all, he began the season 0-for-29 before hitting a double in his final plate appearance of an April 21 game against Nashville.
May would be Thompson’s best month with OKC, but it wasn’t exactly impressive, as he had just a .758 OPS for the month. He followed it up with a similar June (.751), but that was really it. He came back to the majors at the end of June and stuck with the big league team through July 23. In that time, he hit just .143/.250/.343 and hit his only home run of the season in a 3-2 loss against the Angels.
Ahhh, that’s the swing a lot of folks fell in love with. But you remember the rest of that game, right? It was the one where Yasmani Grandal homered in the ninth inning and subsequently threw a ball down the right field line on a strikeout to give the Halos a walk-off win. Oops.
Thompson was part of the September call-up group, but he only got into eight games — mostly as a defensive replacement and/or pinch-hitter. He went just 1-for-6 with a walk over the remainder of the season.
It’s hard to analyze Thompson’s season with too much certainty. He burst onto the scene (with the Dodgers) and looked like he might be a first-division starter type before hurting his back. If he returns 100 percent healthy, there’s a chance he could still be that guy, but that’s far from guaranteed. His 41.8 percent strikeout rate at the MLB level is concerning, while his 25.2 percent rate in the minors is about in line with his career mark.
2018 Status: Pre-arb eligible. Will make near the minimum and could be a 4th/5th outfielder for this team. He could also be trade bait. It’d be mildly surprising if were designated for assignment before Spring Training.