Dodgers Acquire Joel Peralta, Adam Liberatore
Say Hello To Your Newest Reliever
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Fret no more, the Dodgers have made the first big move of the offseason, and the new braintrust has decided to try to fix the bullpen that was so terrible last season by acquiring longtime reliever Joel Peralta and minor league left hander Adam Liberatore in exchange for Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris.
Peralta is a 38 year old (39 on opening day) right handed reliever who was a decent reliever for Tampa Bay. He struggled a bit last season as he gave up 9 home runs in 63.1 innings, that comes out to a 1.28 HR/9 rate which was the main factor behind a 4.41 ERA. This isn’t too different from his career mark of 1.22 HR/9 so he’s definitely more prone to giving up home runs likely due to the fact that Peralta clearly is a fly ball pitcher, giving them up 47.1% of the time. However, despite his propensity to give up home runs, he’s been a good pitcher, as shown by his 10.52 K/9, along with a pretty low walk rate of 2.13 BB/9. I have some confidence in his ability to limit home runs in Dodger stadium next season coupled with the marine layer, and that his 2014 was something of an outlier in his more recent performance. Also of note is that FIP has him as an above average reliever, a 3.40 mark comes out to 5% above average, which isn’t anything to scoff at. Solid middle relief costs a lot of money nowadays, I mean teams overpay for the Zach Duke type players all the time, having a reasonably cheap effective arm is nice.
Adam Liberatore at worst serves the Dodgers as a left handed depth piece in AAA. He took the 40 man roster spot that Onelki Garcia left open when he was lost on waivers to the White Sox earlier today. Liberatore posted some incredible numbers in AAA, a 1.66 ERA 1.65 FIP split in 65 innings last season really jumps out at you according to Rays Colored Glasses, he throws 90-92 miles per hour relying mostly on deception to get outs, but does have an above average slider. Thankfully he held right handed batters to a .496 OPS last season, only slightly higher than his .471 OPS he gave up to left handed hitting which is a really promising sign. Lets hope Liberatore figured something out last season because his career splits versus right handed hitting don’t look nearly as shiny as the numbers he posted this season. I would love to say he has a chance at becoming useful for the Dodgers, but he’s a 27 year old AAA reliever who hasn’t made it to the big leagues, I guess he’s a depth piece until he isn’t.
So Liberatore is at worst a good depth move to stash in AAA until you absolutely need him, and maybe he becomes something more than just depth. Peralta is a fairly interesting, useable piece out of the bullpen who strikes out a lot of guys, keeps his control in check, but gives up a lot of home runs. Overall that means he’s a pretty reliable guy, and before we are upset that the Dodgers traded away young talent for a 39 year old reliever and a 27 year old minor league arm who hasn’t made it to the major leagues, remember that the Dodgers had no useable relievers to bail Clayton Kershaw‘s out of his unfortunate 7th inning woes.
But yes, they did give up some young talent of note, most notable flamethrower Jose Dominguez. Dominguez, famous for arriving in the big leagues with a 100 MPH fastball that caught everybody off guard. He was fast tracked to the major leagues after being converted to a reliever early on, and was part of an electric duo along with Chris Withrow that changed the 2013 bullpen just in time for the 42-8 run. Dominguez was pretty good in AAA this past season, striking out 10.53 batters per 9 innings while only giving up 1 home run in the PCL in the 33.1 innings he was with the AAA club. But of course, the control. Like many guys who throw triple digits, they have no idea where the ball is going, and Dominguez sure didn’t walking, 4.86 per 9 in AAA this past year. The control, along with the roster situation was likely the driving force behind Dominguez not being on the big league team this past season.
There’s also the fact that Dominguez hurt his shoulder towards the end of the season and never got a chance for a roster spot in the playoffs.
Greg Harris was the other arm going to the Rays, Dustin Nosler thinks he’s a reliever at the end of the day, so he might not be starting for much longer. Harris also could only muster a 4.45 ERA in the midwest league. Honestly, Harris strikes me as more of a lottery ticket, someone who’s nice to have because maybe they turn out to be something but they likely wont.
The nice thing about this deal, is that while Zach Duke somehow got 3 years to pitch for the White Sox, the Dodgers went out and got a reliever who has 2 more option season (both are team options through 2017) for only 2.5 million. If Peralta gets hurt or his effectiveness slips, they can cut him without any financial repercussions. If he proves to be serviceable for 2015 and beyond, then the Dodgers retain a cheap, useable arm in the wake of massive amounts of money being thrown around the game. They also managed to get left handed depth from the Rays in Liberatore who is coming off a dominant season in AAA and might be something more than just a 27 year old reliever stuck in AAA. Sure they had to give up Jose Dominguez to make the deal go through, but listen, a guy who throws 100 miles an hour isn’t going to be effective if the pitch is as straight as an arrow. And major league pitching has teed off of that pitch thus far in his career. Not to mention that he already has dealt with shoulder problems, and has no idea where the ball is going. Dominguez might prove the Dodgers wrong and become the closer that his raw stuff might suggest, but betting on the cheap, proven major league talent is normally pretty safe. And the same could be said for Greg Harris in that he might prove the Dodgers wrong, but probably won’t.
It’s not a move to get overly excited about, but it’s certainly a good sign that the bullpen has begun it’s retooling project while getting a reliever in which they aren’t heavily invested in, in terms of total money allocated, along with the club options they hold.