While the Dodgers’ bullpen has some solid pieces and an elite closer, the bullpen has still been the weak area of the team for the past two years.
After a horrorshow of a bullpen in 2014, the Dodgers got rid of a bunch of pieces and rather than breaking the bank for Andrew Miller/Luke Hochevar, they signed Mike Adams, David Huff, Dustin McGowan and Sergio Santos and traded for Juan Nicasio. Of the signings, only Huff (three) and Santos (12) actually made appearances for the Dodgers, and Nicasio had a better-than-expected season, but was still hardly a dependable late-inning option.
After Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers didn’t have much in the bullpen. Factor in an injury-plagued season for Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell struggling against righties and Yimi Garcia being overused early on, and the 2015 version of the bullpen was also bad. It wasn’t nearly as bad as it was in 2014 when Brandon League, Jamey Wright and Brian Wilson each had over 60 appearances, but it was still pretty bad.
A bullpen core of Jansen, Hatcher, Howell and Garcia should be good. Howell is a great loogy, Hatcher and Garcia have great stuff and are unhittable when they’re on, and Jansen is one of the best closers in baseball.
To be fair, you could delete “Dodgers” from that tweet and replace it with 29 other MLB teams. Darren O’Day is arguably one of the most sought-after bullpen arms on the market.
O’Day turned 33 in October and will likely command a 3-4 year deal. Fangraphs’ free agent predictions has O’Day joining the Mets next year, which isn’t relevant right now. More relevant is their projected contract, as Dave Cameron believes O’Day will sign for four years, $32 million. $8 million/year isn’t too bad for a top-flight reliever (especially for a team that can basically print money), but the Dodgers have been burned by high-priced relievers in the past.
O’Day has quietly been an elite reliever for most of his eight-year career. He’s only failed to reach 60 appearances in two of his eight seasons, one was his rookie year and the other was due to a pair of injuries (shoulder and hip). In his other six seasons, O’Day has been nails out of the bullpen.
Reliever ERA is far from dependable, but in his six healthy full seasons, O’Day’s highest ERA is 2.28. His WHIP has only been above 1.000 in one of those six seasons and he’s always posted a good K/BB rate. He was an all-star in Baltimore last year, as he struck out a career-high 82 batters while only surrendering 47 hits and 14 walks in 65 1/3 innings. He only has 14 career saves as he’s never been a closer, but that shouldn’t prevent him from being getting a nice contract in the offseason.
Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish said that the Dodgers, Nationals and Tigers “appeared to be three of the most likely destinations at this point”. This is a prospect that should excite Dodger fans. O’Day would be a perfect fit for the Dodgers (and pretty much every other team). You can never have too many bullpen arms, and a back-end of the pen with O’Day, Hatcher, Howell and Jansen should be able to shorten every game for the Dodgers. There will be a lot of competition for O’Day, but the Dodgers should probably be in on every available bullpen arm, and O’Day is one of the best.