In a bit of surprising news on Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly signed free-agent outfielder David Peralta to a one-year deal, putting a wrench in many of the team’s pre-season roster predictions across the baseball blogosphere.
Although the signing is a curious move, it’s not an impactful one, at least as far as money goes. While the team has yet to make the deal official at the time of this writing, reports suggest that Peralta’s contract will pay him a guaranteed $6.5 million with the possibility of reaching as high as $8 million with incentives.
The 35-year-old lefty hitter spent all nine of his MLB seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays at last summer’s deadline. He’s a career .281/.339/.457 hitter, although his production has fallen off significantly since winning a Silver Slugger Award in 2018, when he slashed .293/.352/.444 with 30 long balls, 25 doubles and 87 RBI.
In 134 games and 490 plate appearances between Arizona and Tampa Bay last year, Peralta hit .251/.316/.415 with 12 homers, 30 doubles and 51 RBI.
Peralta’s career splits aren’t horrible, but they could be better. Over 3016 plate appearances against righty pitching, he has slashed .294/.350/.486, while he has hit .238/.302/.361 against southpaws. Knowing how the Dodgers operate, they’ll probably use him in a platoon role in some shape or form.
A native of Valencia, Venezuela, Peralta brings solid defense to the table, evidenced by his Gold Glove Award with the D-Backs back in 2019. Although he’s a left fielder by trade, the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder has the ability to handle all three outfield spots. Over the course of his career, he has appeared in 736 games in left, 23 games in center and 176 games in right field. However, all indications are that the Dodgers will mostly use him in left because of his declining range.
Interestingly, Peralta has a career .226/.278/.339 slash line at Dodger Stadium in 58 games and 209 plate appearances.
The move certainly makes life difficult for players like James Outman, Jason Heyward, Steven Duggar and Bradley Zimmer, who all could be in the running for the final outfield spot by the time Opening Day rolls around. Many pundits had Outman making the team’s active roster and a potential contender for the left-field starting spot.
As it stands, the team could go with a potential regular outfield of Mookie Betts in right, Trayce Thompson in center and Peralta in left, so long everyone stays healthy and Thompson remains on track offensively. That configuration could leave Chris Taylor to roam as the super-utilityman while filling in at left field against lefty pitching.
The transaction is also interesting because it raises the team’s payroll slightly past the 2023 Luxury Tax Threshold, suggesting there could be other moves on the horizon that either trim the payroll down or blow it well past the cap. It would be surprising if the team sacrificed the chance to reset their tax based on Peralta’s $6.5 million salary alone.
The team would need to make room on the 40-man roster for Peralta upon announcing the deal, but the Dodgers and other MLB clubs are allowed to move injured players to the 60-man disabled list next week, possibly creating a spot when Walker Buehler transfers over.