Because of the overwhelming number of injuries, the Los Angeles Dodgers have sent a whopping 21 different position players to the plate this season to face opposing pitching. From prospects to journeymen to career minor leaguers, there has been no limit on who the club might select to fill a specific role.
Early in the year, we saw a handful of prospects used to provide depth in the forms of Keibert Ruiz, Edwin Rios, DJ Peters, Sheldon Neuse, and Luke Raley, although the latter four players have probably surpassed their prospect qualifications because of age. A new trend has seen the club purchase the contracts of a few veterans, including Andy Burns and Steven Souza Jr. on the field, in addition to Nate Jones and Mike Kickham, who were both used earlier this year in pitching roles.
In Friday night’s opener against the Diamondbacks, the righty hitting Souza ended up being one of the heroes of the game, as his solo shot in the eighth inning provided the team with a spark of offense that was previously nowhere in sight. The 32-year-old Souza also made an impressive catch in foul ground down the right field line in the seventh inning that might prove important when determining his future role with the team.
Souza has only played two games with the Dodgers so far, but he logged 22 games at Triple-A Oklahoma City earlier in the year, producing a .280/.444/.603 slash line alongside six homers, four doubles, and 16 RBI. More importantly, he saw time at all three outfield spots and even made two appearances at first base, which no doubt weighed heavily in his activation to the parent club.
Obviously, it’s impossible to accurately predict how much Souza will contribute to the Dodgers moving forward. Quite simply, there’s no way to tell if he can stay healthy after suffering an injury that tore apart his left knee back in 2019. He tried to stick with the Cubs last year, but the two sides parted ways after he slashed just .148/.258/.333 in 31 plate appearances. Souza spent 2021 spring training with the Astros, but he didn’t make the team after going just 2-for-21 with 13 strikeouts in 27 plate appearances.
Right now, Souza doesn’t have any team options, but it’s still hard to say if he’ll stick around if he produces at a decent level. Soon, the club will need to make room for the returns of Max Muncy, Corey Seager, and Cody Bellinger, so there will be players bumped around in the process.
When healthy, the Los Angeles primary outfield consists of Bellinger, Mookie Betts and AJ Pollock, with Chris Taylor, Matt Beaty, and Zach McKinstry providing another tier of depth. Both Taylor and McKinstry have seen significant time in the infield this season, but that might diminish with a healthy Seager and Muncy back in the lineup. Conceivably, if he does continue to productively contribute, the decision to retain Souza might come down to optioning either McKinstry or Beaty back to Triple-A, assuming that Burns might be the first victim of the roster crunch. Certainly, all that hypothetical thinking depends on the concept of the Dodgers staying healthy, which so far this season they haven’t been able to do.
Moreover, with only about six weeks left before the 2021 summer trade deadline, the Dodgers might have a plentiful stock of resources to use when making prospective player improvements to the active roster.
Even if Souza ends up getting bumped by the Dodgers to create roster space, he could find an opportunity elsewhere in the league, should he be able to avoid injury and stay on track with his production.
Although Souza has never been a player to hit for a high average, he has shown flashes of outstanding power at some points of his career. For the Rays in 2017, he slugged 30 long balls and 21 doubles for the Rays over 148 games.
13 thoughts on “Can Steven Souza Jr. Stick with Dodgers Long Term?”
Can Steven Souza Jr. Stick with Dodgers Long Term?
But good for him getting some dap at age 32. I think everyone likes him and we all hope he continues helping until the team gets back to full strength.
What an interesting series of lineups we’ve had this year. Hopefully we can keep playing the dbacks every night until Muncy, Bellinger and Seager return.
I hope Souza plays well enough to stick, but it’s going to be difficult logistically, no matter what, assuming no further injuries (and I admit that’s a ridiculous assumption).
You mentioned Burns and Raley as the first victims of a roster crunch, Dennis, but Raley is already gone. So if we assume Burns is a definite to go, that would leave two others. I didn’t realize that Souza played all three outfield positions at OKC. Had no idea he could play center, which gives him an advantage over Pujols, who can only play left or right (and that’s with the aid of a golf cart).
The one thing I see Souza contributing which no one else has so far is an upbeat personality, which I think is important. I see him as Mickey Hatcher-like. Someone else compared him to Justin Ruggiano. Yes, Mookie is upbeat, but in a very quiet way. Bauer is quirky but not outgoing. Souza makes everyone feel better. Graterol has those qualities but he spends most of his time in the bullpen when he’s here. We need a guy like Souza in the dugout. I hope we can take advantage of that and he stays around for awhile.
That the Dodgers are continuing to compete they are 8-2 last 10 games with Seager, Muncy, and Bellinger out is a testament to the pitching staff and the depth of the club.
I am very happy for Souza but doubt he can stick if everyone comes off the IL. It seems the IL has been a rotating crap game lately so who knows this year if it will ever be without Dodger players this year.
Also happy for Jimmy Nelson grabbing the opportunity and pitching well. Cleavinger is back and I saw Kneble in the dugout so hopefully, he makes it back by last quarter.
Burns will go when the first player comes off of the IL, and that looks like it might be Max, then Cody, and then Seager. I think a pitcher will be the second cut. Who they send down when Seager comes back, that is the big question.
…unless somebody else ends up getting injured in the meantime. That seems to be happening a lot lately.
Well lets not jinx them there Dennis.
Better give Souza a rest tonight. He’s probably worn out with all the playing time. 🙁
He swung really hard on that homer last night. Totally wore himself out.
Right handed starter.
Souza got an AB
Man these dbacks are bad. Having lived in Arizona for 11 years I have a lot of friends who are suffering through this. They aren’t supposed to be this bad.
And we just keep cruising no matter who we put out there. As fans we are most fortunate.
I moved to Tucson 4 years ago from SoCal. Always been a Dodger fan. The Snake fans were talking smack last year. Not so much these days. I wish the team when they fire the management would fire Brenly. He is the biggest homer in broadcasting. I hate having to listen to the Snake broadcast when I am blacked out.
I found Brenly impossible to listen to when they were playing the Dodgers. Other than that he was ok. Yeah, he’s a homer.
Well, we’re getting it done against the soft teams. Hopefully end it 10-2 before we head to San Diego.
Interesting lineup today. Pujols, Burns, Souza all in the lineup. Taylor leads off.