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2022 Dodgers in review: Edwin Ríos

Pinch Hitter, Third Baseman, First Baseman

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers non-tendered Cody Bellinger and Edwin Ríos on the same day. Much of the discussion was focused on Bellinger’s fall from grace with the Dodgers, but the other side of the story was one of Ríos, whose constant injuries led to the end of the big slugger’s career with the Dodgers.

Ríos was expected to play and contribute consistently as one of the better power hitters on the Dodgers’ 2022 roster. With the addition of the universal designated hitter, there was a lot more wiggle room to get Ríos into the lineup and give him the opportunity to impact the team with his big bat from the left side.

Through the first two months of the season, Rios was doing just that. He wowed us with his monstrous moon shots. Ríos batted .244/.293/.500 with a 119 wRC+ in 27 games with the Dodgers. He hit seven memorably large home runs and collected 17 RBIs in 86 at-bats. He played most of the time as a DH, but he was able to play some corner infield as well.

Ríos took advantage of some playing time at the start of the season, but a serious hamstring injury sidelined him for 2½ months. By the time he was healthy in mid-August, he had dropped down on the depth chart rapidly. The Dodgers didn’t even call him up from Triple-A after he completed his rehab assignment nor when rosters expanded on September 1.

The hot start to the season was derailed on prematurely on June 3 when the Dodgers designated hitter was placed on the 10-day injured list with a significant strain of his right hamstring.

Ríos injured his hamstring in the Dodgers’ series opener against the New York Mets. The Dodgers were leaning on Rios with Max Muncy out. He made 11 starts during the previous 12 games and brought a big bat to the plate and a big personality to the Dodgers’ clubhouse.

Once all of the main position players got healthy, all of the spots Ríos can play were well-covered. Dodgers’ left-handed batters Freddie Freeman and Muncy play Ríos’ main positions in the corner infield. The emergence of Trayce Thompson and the acquisition of Joey Gallo further blocked Ríos. The Dodgers also added James Outman and (in November) Michael Busch on the 40-man roster as well, pushing Ríos further down the Dodgers’ depth chart.

Ríos spent the last six weeks of the 2022 season in Triple-A. He never got the opportunity to rejoin the major-league team and finished the season in the minors.

Ríos played 48 games with Oklahoma City — 14 on his rehab assignment, 34 after he was optioned — hitting .259/.339/.492, a 102 wRC+ with 17 doubles and nine home runs.

By the time September 1 came, and rosters expanded, the Dodgers had already acquired the better defenders in Thompson and Gallo. Miguel Vargas needed playing time. Ríos was the odd man out. Everyone was healthy, a rare occurrence for the Dodgers and unfortunate timing for Ríos.

In the past three seasons, Rios has missed time with a left hamstring injury, shoulder surgery, and a right hamstring injury. Ríos slugged .634 in 60 games in 2019-20, his first two major league seasons with the Dodgers. He struggled through two injury-riddled years after, sapping his power.

Ríos hit .219/.299/.492 with 20 home runs in 291 plate appearances for the Dodgers in parts of four seasons. He also had a 32-percent strikeout rate and was limited defensively.

There’s no denying Ríos has sheer power and can launch humongous home runs from the left side. Unfortunately his inability to stay healthy has hampered his home run output and playing time over his career since being drafted by the Dodgers in the sixth round in 2015.

2022 particulars

Age: 28

Stats: 93 PA, .244/.293/.500, 120 wRC+, 7 HR

Salary: $730,000

Game of the year

On May 10, Ríos had three hits and three RBI while homering for the second straight game. He drove in Justin Turner on a single to center field to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead over the Pirates in the third inning.

Then Ríos crushed one of his signature home runs, a two-run shot, to give the Dodgers a commanding 11-0 lead.

Roster status

The Dodgers declined to tender Rios a contract for 2023 on November 18, making him a free agent.