LOS ANGELES — There is always some level of uncertainty when introducing a new player to the team, but the Dodgers are pretty well acquainted with new second baseman Logan Forsythe.
He was drafted by the Padres in 2008 out of the University of Arkansas, and made his major league debut in 2011. In Forsythe’s three years in San Diego, current Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was his first base coach.
Forsythe was traded along with reliever Brad Boxberger to the Rays in January 2014 in a seven-player deal that saw pitchers Jesse Hahn and Alex Torres go to the Padres. Andrew Friedman was the general manager who brought Forsythe to Tampa Bay, and his San Diego counterpart was Josh Byrnes, now a senior vice president in Friedman’s baseball operations department in Los Angeles.
"You do as much digging as you possibly can on a guy you're looking to acquire, but it never replaces just being around a guy. Just in terms of how he prepares, what kind of competitor he is, how he might fit in within the context of your group,” Friedman said on Monday. “A number of us having experience with him gives us that much more comfort in terms of that fit. We're all extremely optimistic that he's going to fit in really well with our group.”
Friedman described Forsythe as “a grinder,” and Tampa Bay general manager Erik Neander called Forsythe “a great teammate and leader in the clubhouse.”
Some former Rays teammates also had great things to say about their now former teammate.
I'm really, really, really gonna miss Logie bear . Doesn't get more classy or blue collar than him. Happy I was able to play with that man.— Chris Archer (@ChrisArcher22) January 24, 2017
#Rays Longoria on Forsythe deal: "I'm surprised and upset at losing a player, clubhouse presence and friend like Logan. He's a rare player''— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) January 24, 2017
Don't care about numbers/sabermetrics. The way Forsythe plays the game, his abilities, his leadership and the ultimate pro he is...— Jp Arencibia (@jparencibia9) January 24, 2017
Dodgers just got a star... one of the most underrated players in the game.— Jp Arencibia (@jparencibia9) January 24, 2017
Forsythe was a utility player with the Padres. He started 119 games at second base with San Diego, but also 30 games at third base, 11 games at shortstop, seven games in left field and two games in right field.
Through his first four years, including his first season in Tampa Bay (2014), Forsythe never had more than 350 plate appearances in any one season. Injuries played a part, including:
- Arthroscopic left knee surgery in September 2011 that prematurely ended his rookie season.
- Surgery on his left foot in spring training cost him the first two months of the 2012 season.
- Missed the first two months again in 2013, this time with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Forsythe also missed 28 games on the DL in May and June 2016 with a hairline fracture of his scapula in his left shoulder.
In those first four years of his career, Forsythe hit .235/.305/.343 with 18 home runs, and in the last two seasons he has been an everyday player, hitting a combined .273/.347/.444 with 37 home runs.
Logan Forsythe, career batting
Forsythe had his first injury-free year in 2014, and then had a breakout season the next season. Marc Tompkin of the Tampa Bay Times explored Forsythe’s success in September 2015:
But Forsythe learned some valuable lessons, such as how to tailor his workouts to stay injury-free for a full season for the first time and how to develop a pregame routine that prepared him the same for whatever opportunity arose. That his best 2014 success came during a stretch when he played regularly motivated him going into this past offseason to find a way to be even more ready.
"What I asked myself was how can I have that success without that consistent playing time," he said. "So that's what I focused on, just trying to improve on being consistent and improve on a routine."
Part of it was mental, and part physical, specifically settling on the best set of mechanics and sticking with them. Working out during the winter with former Ray Ben Zobrist near their Nashville-area homes, Forsythe would send videos to Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton, who offered suggestions, and they agreed to remain, well, consistent.
A few projections heading into Forsythe’s age-30 season:
- Steamer: .258/.328/.415, 19 doubles, 12 home runs, .322 wOBA
- ZiPS: .259/.329/.421, 21 doubles, 15 home runs, .329 wOBA
- Bill James: .258/.334/.414, 26 doubles, 17 home runs
Forsythe made all 125 starts batting leadoff in 2016, but in 2015 he batted fourth or fifth in 122 of his 148 starts, and started at least once in seven different spots in the batting order.
Friedman on Monday said he didn’t know exactly where Forsythe would bat in the Dodgers’ lineup, and that is something that would be determined in spring training.
Forsythe has one more season left on his two-year, $10.25 million contract signed before the 2016 season. He will earn $5.75 million in 2017, and has a club option in 2018 with a $1 million buyout.
The option began at a salary of $8.5 million but has already increased to $9 million for reaching 550 plate appearances in 2016 (he had 567). The option can increase to as high as $10.5 million based on Forsythe’s playing time in 2017, per the Associated Press. The 2018 option value increases...
$500,000 for 533 plate appearances (giving him 1,100 total in 2016-17)
$500,000 for 550 plate appearances
$500,000 for 600 plate appearances
With Forsythe in the fold, the Dodgers have $170.8 million committed to 19 players on the 40-man roster in 2017, and including dead money and some minor leaguers have $215.25 million in total committed for this year.