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Rubby De La Rosa returns to Dodgers on minor league deal

Los Angeles Dodgers v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Miles Kennedy/Philadelphia Phillies/Getty Images

There are old friend alerts and there are old friend alerts, and this qualifies as the latter. According to the MLB dot com transactions log, pitcher Rubby De La Rosa signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers.

Back in January when Triple-A Oklahoma City play-by-play broadcaster Alex Freedman joined me on the True Blue LA podcast, he mentioned, “The Dodgers in terms of the minor league free agent market, there have been no guys who can be potential starting pitchers who they’ve signed.”

A handful or so of those pitchers have since been added, and were part of the group of non-roster invitees to Camelback Ranch announced last week.

Whether De La Rosa gets an invitation to big league camp, or whether his role with the Dodgers will be in relief or starting remains to be seen. But all that runs secondary to this fact: Rubby De La Rosa is the last man standing from The Punto Trade.

In August 2012, the Dodgers acquired Adrián González, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto for James Loney, Allen Webster, Iván De Jesús Jr., and two players to be named later, who eventually were Jerry Sands and De La Rosa.

After The Punto Trade

Player PA/BF
Player PA/BF
Adrián González 3,173
James Loney 2,109
Rubby De La Rosa 1,646
Carl Crawford 1,119
Josh Beckett 925
Allen Webster 624
Nick Punto 602
Iván De Jesús Jr. 473
Jerry Sands 213
Major league plate appearances or batters faced after the August 25, 2012 trade between the Dodgers and Red Sox.

It was a shot across the bow for the then-new Dodgers ownership group, taking on more than $250 million in salary to show they meant business. The move — specifically, acquiring González — helped established a credibility in Los Angeles after the franchise was dragged into literal bankruptcy by previous owner Frank McCourt.

González last played in 2018, though he didn’t officially retire until last February.

Beckett retired after throwing a no-hitter in his final season of 2014.

Crawford last played in 2016.

Loney last played in the majors in 2016, then kicked around in the minors, Korea, and in independent baseball before retiring in 2019.

Punto last played in 2014, and announced his retirement in February 2016.

Webster pitched five years in the majors, and last played in 2019.

Sands played in parts of five major league seasons before going overseas. In a four-year stint in Asia, Sands played two years in the KBO and two more in Japan, hitting 79 home runs with an .873 OPS. He last played in 2021.

De Jesús played parts of four seasons in the majors, the last in 2016, and played in Triple-A as recently as 2019. Outside of Puerto Rican Winter League stints including this year, the soon-to-be-36-year-old infielder no longer plays baseball during the summer.

That leaves De La Rosa, who pitched in relief the last four years with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan. He posted a 2.53 ERA in 124⅓ innings with 33 saves for Yomiuri, and was part of two Central League titles in 2019 and 2020.

I’m no scout, but De La Rosa earns extra points from me for not being terminally online. His last tweet was from October 2020, celebrating Yomiuri’s Central League title.

Before heading overseas, De La Rosa pitched parts of seven years in the majors. He made the preseason top-100 list at Baseball America before 2011, the season he made his debut with the Dodgers. He impressed that year as mostly a starter, with a 3.71 ERA (100 ERA+) with 60 strikeouts and 60⅔ innings before Tommy John surgery wiped out his season and most of 2012.

The right-hander found reasonable success in Arizona, including winning 14 games in his one full season in the rotation, in 2015. Two years later, he needed a second Tommy John surgery that cost him a year and a half. He started the 2019 season in Triple-A Reno before heading to Japan.

De La Rosa turns 34 in March and is back stateside. But whether he makes it back to the majors or not, he’s still alive and kicking, and that counts for something.