Travis d’Arnaud has been a catcher throughout his entire professional career, but the Los Angeles Dodgers newest position player will be manning unfamiliar territory in L.A. in an attempt to abide by the team’s mantra of versatility.
Two days after being released by the New York Mets, Travis d’Arnaud has been signed to his hometown team, with the Los Angeles Dodgers inking the Long Beach native to a $3.52 million deal for the remainder of the 2019 season.
The signing of d’Arnaud came in the wake of A.J. Pollock going down with another freak injury in the form of a staph infection that will shut him down for at least the next six weeks. The Dodgers responded by adding a right-handed bat in d’Arnaud, however, he’ll likely serve as much more than that for the boys in blue.
A first round pick in 2007, d’Arnaud had spent parts of the past seven seasons in Queens, and upon arriving in L.A. he quickly realized the change of scenery off the field will be just as drastic as on the field with the Dodgers wanting to pencil him in at numerous positions.
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With the Dodgers already employing two backstops in Austin Barnes and Russell Martin, manager Dave Roberts has announced that d’Arnaud will primarily be played at first base and left field; two positions the 30-year old has never manned at the professional level, even in the minor leagues.
D’Arnaud has told his new skipper that he is most comfortable at third base, but due to the abundance of Dodgers who can handle the hot corner Roberts will be getting him reps at positions where the team has less depth. The Dodgers want to transition 1B/OFer Cody Bellinger (who has been one of the best hitters in baseball) permanently to the outfield after suffering a partial dislocation to his throwing shoulder, giving d’Arnaud the opportunity to make a lasting impression at first.
The Dodgers and Roberts have been known to employ position players that can play all over the diamond. Practically every hitter on the 25-man roster plays two positions, while D’Arnaud hopes to follow in the footsteps of Kiké Hernández, Chris Taylor and others as guys who have had recent success as super-utility players in L.A.
The question is whether d’Arnaud will be able to hold his own with the bat in order to test his luck at these new positions. The Mets designated him for assignment after floundering at the plate in the early goings. Albeit a small sample size, d’Arnaud looked incompetent, and was such with a batting line of .087/.160/.087 in 25 plate appearances. He’ll certainly need to improve on that front if he wants to stick with his hometown team. The Dodgers hope d’Arnaud will produce big hits for them like he did for the Mets occasionally, such as the no-doubter that went off Citi Field’s Home Run Apple in the 2015 postseason.
Travis d’Arnaud’s career has been laden with injuries that have diverted the trajectory of the once highly-touted catching prospect. His path shifts once again as he will try to reinvent himself with the Los Angeles Dodgers who hope he’ll be able to contribute at the plate and from all over the diamond as the team aspires to return to the World Series for a third consecutive time.