The Dodgers are still looking for a backup first baseman. They’ve been looking for someone who can backup Adrian Gonzalez, preferably a guy who is right handed to balance out the bench, since Gonzalez bats left handed. Could Rusty Ryal be a sleeper for the job? Should the Dodgers consider the young righty for a bench spot?
The Dodgers signed Rusty Ryal to a minor league deal last week, along with several other minor league players. They gave Ryal among others, an invite to spring training, and now that I think about it Ryal may be just what the Dodgers need. The free agent market has been picked clean of all viable options. There just isn’t any right handed bats available right now, especially someone who can play first base. Perhaps Ryal is worth a look?
Ryal is only 29 years old, and has some decent splits. He’s hitting .273 against lefties. Upon a deeper look, I found out that Ryal has posted a line of .286/.300/.545 when he starts at first base. That comes out to an .845 OPS. Ryal mostly played second and short while in the minors, but does have 36 major league games at first base under his belt. It’s hard to judge his defensive performance from that small sample size, but as long as he’s decent then I would be fine with it. Ideally, as long as Gonzo is healthy then he wouldn’t be getting many starts anyways. (knock on wood)
In his 36 games at first base, Ryal has only made a few errors, and has a -2 total runs below average rating. He’s a career .263 hitter, bats right handed, and is definitely an improvement over the only other internal candidate we have which is Scott Van Slyke. Now I know Ryal hasn’t played in the majors since 2010. He spent all of 2011 playing in Japan, and then about 100 games playing for the Brave’s triple-A affiliate in 2012. He would have to re-adjust back to hitting major league pitching, but I think he could be a possibility.
Ryal is making the league minimum salary, and would be under team control for the next couple of seasons. Unless the Dodgers can pick up someone via trade, then I don’t see any other choices available. The Dodgers have to have someone else other than Gonzalez on the roster who can play first base. The remaining options on the market are putrid. Is Rusty Ryal a viable option for the backup first base job? For a bench player, and part time first baseman, the Dodgers could do worse. What do you think? Weigh in your opinion with a comment.