Why Dodgers are welcoming Jake Marisnick, despite Astros scandal

There are some members of the 2017 Houston Astros who would be vehemently unwanted by the Dodgers clubhouse.

Jake Marisnick, apparently, is not one of them.

A 32-year-old journeyman outfielder who had his best season while playing for the Astros’ infamous sign-stealing team, Marisnick was welcomed into the Dodgers clubhouse with open arms Friday after signing with the team this week.

His backstory was well known, as one of seven mainstays from that Houston squad still in the majors.

The Dodgers’ feelings about the scandal, which culminated with the Astros’ defeat of the team in the 2017 World Series, remain largely unchanged, even if their anger has faded with time.

Yet, Marisnick’s arrival was endorsed by Austin Barnes (Marisnick’s high school teammate), Chris Taylor (who briefly played travel ball with him growing up) and even Clayton Kershaw (who has vacationed with him in the offseason).

“I do like Jake,” Kershaw said. “I think he’s had to deal with it for a long time. I think he has some remorse for it as well, which is probably all you can ask for at this point. He’s a good guy. He’ll help our clubhouse for sure.”

And, as the veteran pitcher noted, “at least it’s not one of the other guys.”

Indeed, other members of that Astros team would have found a different reception with the Dodgers, whose three remaining members of that 2017 World Series are Kershaw, Barnes and Taylor.

Last offseason, the team didn’t seriously pursue shortstop Carlos Correa in part because of concerns about how he’d be received by the clubhouse and fan base. Marisnick, however, is seen differently.

He was more of a part-time player on that Astros team, a bottom-of-the-order bat who, despite setting career highs in home runs (16) and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.815), was valued more for his defense in center field.

Jake Marisnick claps after hitting a single for the Houston Astros against the Washington Nationals.

Jake Marisnick claps after hitting a single for the Houston Astros against the Washington Nationals in Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.

(MLB Photos via Getty Images)

“He wasn’t really the guy leading the ship over there,” Barnes said.

Marisnick didn’t play against the Dodgers in that World Series, either, missing the entire postseason because of a hand injury.

“I don’t get as mad at him because he wasn’t in the lineup,” said Kershaw, whose six-run start in Game 5 has long been speculated as being impacted by the Astros’ trash-can-banging system. “Selfishly, I guess, he didn’t really affect me.”

Marisnick’s reputation extends beyond his time in Houston, as well.

As a high schooler, he was a year behind Barnes at Riverside Poly, a connection that led to a career-long friendship between the two, who have worked out together in past offseasons.

“He didn’t have anything given to him and he has battled his way,” Barnes said of Marisnick’s 11-year career, which has endured despite his .228 batting average. “I think he can help us win.”

Taylor, who was teammates with Marisnick in a travel ball tournament growing up, said this team is ready to move on.

“[Jake and I] go way back, and we’re just happy he’s here to help us win,” Taylor said. “We’re not really focused on past seasons. We’re just looking forward to winning the World Series this year.”

Most of all, Marisnick has been remorseful about the scandal, telling reporters in 2020 that he regretted not doing more to stop the sign-stealing.

“You definitely knew something was going too far,” Marisnick said then, shortly after the scandal became public. “That’s where, as a person that was there, to not speak up I think is something that I definitely regret.”

Marisnick struck a similar tone Friday in his first appearance as a Dodger.

“You just be open about it and talk if someone wants to talk,” he said. “People make mistakes in this world and if you make a mistake and you’re open about it and you talk about it, it typically goes over a little better. I’m open if there are any questions here.”

Already, Marisnick said, Barnes had been razzing him about the situation, lightening the mood. Marisnick added that he had no hesitation about signing with the Dodgers either, happy to join a contending club after playing for six teams — none of them playoff participants — since being traded by Houston after the 2019 season.

“Any time you get to come to a team of this caliber and with these players in here it’s exciting,” Marisnick said. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Marisnick likely will be a platoon option against left-handed pitching and give them needed defensive help in center.

“I was excited,” manager Dave Roberts said of learning about Marisnick’s signing, “having a veteran guy who understands the role, to hit lefties and lock down the outfield when he does play.”

Roberts also downplayed the significance of Marisnick’s history.

“For me, to continue to harbor ill will, certainly against a player like that, it’s not beneficial,” Roberts said. “I’m excited. I’m sure our fans are gonna love him.”

To that latter point, Marisnick wasn’t so sure — understanding that while his new teammates have embraced him, his new fan base might take more time to win over.

“I’m hoping I go out and help this team win ballgames,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes from there.”