With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Dodgers squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the Difference?
LOS ANGELES -- After retaining free agents Kenley Jansen, Justin Turner and Rich Hill, the Dodgers' primary areas of concern were to find an everyday second baseman, a right-handed hitter and a leadoff hitter.
They feel they killed those three birds with one stone in the acquisition of John Forsythe from the Rays for young starting pitcher Jose De Leon.
Forsythe can be a difference maker for the Dodgers without needing to be a superstar. If he checks in with a season similar to his last two, the 30-year-old Forsythe will outproduce his predecessor, 38-year-old Chase Utley, as well as provide balance in a lefty-leaning batting order and a slight upgrade in leadoff capabilities.
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Granted, the Dodgers spent most of the winter fixated on the 42-homer bat of Minnesota's James Dozier. But they couldn't pry him loose without packaging multiple prospects and ultimately decided getting Forsythe in a one-for-one deal was a better value proposition for a club that missed the World Series by only two wins.
Forsythe hit .264 with a .778 OPS, a career-high 20 home runs and 52 RBIs in 2016. His splits against righties and lefties were virtually identical. He has a .255 career batting average with 55 homers and 203 RBIs in 618 games over six seasons. Forsythe is owed $7 million this year with an option for 2018 at $8.5 million or a $1 million buyout.
Dodgers management is very familiar with Forsythe. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman previously acquired him from the Padres when Friedman ran the Rays in 2014. Manager Dave Roberts coached Forsythe when they were in San Diego, along with current Dodgers executive Josh Byrnes.
"We feel he will fit in incredibly well with the fabric of our group," said Friedman. "On the field and off the field he's a great fit in terms of the type of player he is -- a grinder, a professional hitter, can really handle left-handed pitching as well as right, is a good baserunner. The type of player we needed to be aggressive to add to our current group."
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"I'm happy to just come over to a winning ballclub, organization and help some young guys if I can, jump in with the core guys and try to help these guys any way I can," Forsythe said during the club's FanFest at Dodger Stadium. "The Dodgers' past, with their success on the field, it's known, and I'm just happy that I get to be another piece to help these guys go further."
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal was excited about the reunion with his former Padres teammate.
"I love him," said Grandal, who played two seasons with Forsythe in San Diego. "He hustles, goes 100 percent each day -- that's what I like about him the most. In San Diego, we had a young team, we were just trying to figure out who we were. But you knew who he was -- no matter how good he was doing or how bad he was doing, he's going to hustle 100 percent. Having him back on my team, it's energizing."
Dodgers pitchers and catchers will have their first workout at the team's Camelback Ranch-Glendale complex on Feb. 16, and the first full-squad workout will follow on Feb. 21.