The Dodgers signed outfielder Steven Souza Jr. to a minor league contract on Wednesday, hoping to add to the right-handed depth in the organization. The move was first reported by Jon Heyman, and confirmed by Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times and Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
Souza, who turns 32 on April 24, was in Astros camp in spring training on a minor league deal, vying for a reserve outfielder spot, but was released on March 24 after just four hits in 27 at-bats this spring, hitting .148/.258/.333 with 15 strikeouts.
Injuries have wreaked havoc on Souza the last three years, during which he has accumulated just 83 games played with the D-backs and Cubs. He spent time on the injured list with a pectoral injury in 2018, missed all of 2019 after tearing up his left knee, and missed time last year with a right hamstring strain.
Souza’s best year came in 2017, when he hit 30 home runs with a 121 wRC+ for the Rays, hitting .239/.351/.459. He gives the Dodgers another veteran right-hander in the minors, along with Matt Davidson who was a non-roster invitee and even threw a few bullpen sessions in spring training.
The Dodgers’ opening day bench includes three left-handed batters — Edwin Ríos, Matt Beaty, and Zach McKinstry, the latter winning the final bench spot because of his ability to play defensively in both the infield and outfield.
“You look at our roster, and a potential right-handed bat on paper might fit a little better,” manager Dave Roberts said Monday. “But I like that Zach’s versatility, his ability to take a good at-bat off the bench, run the bases, and still throughout his career handle left-handed pitching.”
The only other right-handed batters on the Dodgers 40-man roster are infielder Sheldon Neuse and outfielder DJ Peters, plus switch-hitting catcher Keibert Ruiz.