Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dodgers make it official - Juan Rivera signs 1 year deal

The Dodgers make it official. Juan Rivera signs a one year deal.

Press release -

The Los Angeles Dodgers today announced that they have signed outfielder Juan Rivera to a one-year contract. The announcement was made by Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti.

“Juan proved to be a valuable addition to our lineup last season both in terms of his versatility and run production,” said Colletti. “He is capable of playing three positions and his production against left-handed pitchers gives the club added balance.”

Rivera was originally obtained with cash considerations from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for cash considerations on July 12 and was a catalyst for the Dodgers’ second-half success as the club went 41-28 (.594) after the All-Star break. In 62 games with Los Angeles in left field (32 games), first base (17 games) and right field (13 games), he hit .274 while driving in 46 runs, which ranked second on the team behind Matt Kemp over the second half of the season.

His 46 RBI after the All-Star break were tied for ninth in the National League over that time, trailing just Kemp (59), Ryan Braun (49), Albert Pujols (49), Prince Fielder (48), Troy Tulowitzki (48), Dan Uggla (48), Joey Votto (48) and Alfonso Soriano (47). Rivera was especially productive down the stretch with 22 RBI in 23 September games, tying for the second most in the NL behind only Kemp’s league-leading 23 RBI.

Rivera is a career .289 hitter against left-handers and in 2011, he batted .289 with a .349 OBP and a .456 slugging percentage for an .805 OPS against left-handed pitching. His OPS vs. left-handers was the second best on the Dodgers behind only Kemp (min 125 PA v. LHP).

He has been a notoriously hot second-half hitter as evidenced by his .260 career average before the All-Star break and his .292 mark after the Midsummer Classic. Since his first full campaign in 2004, Rivera has five seasons with at least 20 or more doubles, four with at least 15 homers and three years with more than 70 RBI.

The 33-year-old had a career year with the Angels in 2009, hitting .287 while posting career-bests with 25 homers and 88 RBI. That same season, he also logged career highs in games (138), hits (152) and runs scored (72).

Rivera has appeared in 949 career games for the Yankees (2001-03), Expos (2004), Angels (2005-10), Blue Jays (2011) and Dodgers. He owns a career batting average of .277 to go along with a lifetime slugging percentage of .449. While Rivera was with the Yankees, Dodger Manager Don Mattingly was a special instructor for New York during Spring Training.

The Venezuela native has appeared in six Division Series, three League Championship Series and one World Series in 2003 with the New York Yankees for a total of 36 postseason games. He also played for Venezuela in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.

In 2004, his lone season with the Montreal Expos, Rivera hit two home runs and collected six RBI in the same inning on June 19 vs. the Chicago White Sox, becoming the 11th player in Major League history to homer twice in the same frame. That season, he also tied for first in the NL with 14 outfield assists.

Rivera was originally signed as a non-drafted free agent at the age of 16 by the New York Yankees on April 12, 1996 and made his Major League debut for the Yankees on September 4, 2001 at Toronto. In 2002, he was named the top prospect in the Yankees’ organization by Baseball America and collected his first Major League hit, a double, on June 5 of that year.  

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