No bullpen help?
Having lost out in both the Stanton and Ohtani sweepstakes, L.A. has opened the Hot Stove League 0-for-2. Getting a left fielder who is also a right-handed power bat would bring their average to .500, leaving only the bullpen to focus on.
Brandon Morrow is gone. He was 2017’s version of Joe Blanton, who was 2016’s version of Brandon Morrow. The Dodgers have consistently found at least one bullpen arm per year off the “scrap heap” who has successfully bridged the gap from starter to closer Kenly Jansen.
Several name arms are available through free agency this winter, allowing the Dodgers to shop at Nordstrom instead of the Dollar Store: Matt Albers, Steve Cishek, Anthony Swarzak, David Hernandez, Brandon Kintzler and Addison Reed top the list.
Each has his own set of positives and negatives.
Albers, who is right-handed, will be 35 next season (negative) but posted a 1.62 ERA and a 0.852 WHIP in 2017 for the Washington Nationals (positive). Not sure the Dodgers will want to give him anything more than two years at his age, even though his 61 innings pitched last season were his most since 2013.
Another righty, Cishek, turns 32 in June and had a fantastic 2017 with Tampa Bay, posting a 2.01 ERA, 0.896 WHIP and a nearly 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (all positives). If the Dodgers were willing to go to three years with Cishek, considering his age, it might get a deal done.
Swarzak is another 32-year-old righty who posted a 2.33 ERA and 1.034 WHIP and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of better than 4-to-1 (lots of positives). He may be looking for $12-15 million per year for two or three years (could be a negative).
Right-hander Hernandez turns 33 in May and, while his 2017 numbers don’t compare favorably to the previous three names, he could probably be had on the cheap (positive) and could be 2018’s Joe Blanton or Brandon Morrow.
Kintzler, also right-handed, will be 34 in August and struggled a bit (negative) after moving to the Nationals from the Twins at the July 31 trade deadline last season.
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Reed, who is, yes, also right-handed, might be the best of the bunch. He turns 29 in a few weeks, and he had one of the best seasons of his career in 2017 (positive). Having made $7.75 million last year, he is undoubtedly in line for a hefty raise (negative). Four years and $60 million is not out of the question, possibly keeping the Dodgers out on Reed.
Then, there’s one lefty the Dodgers have had their eye one for more than a year: Orioles closer Zach Britton, who would become Joe Blanton and Brandon Morrow rolled into one superb lefty set-up guy.
Britton would probably cost no more than one good prospect (positive), considering he has one year of arbitration left before reaching free agency at age 31 next off-season. Britton earned $11.4 million last year and could get as much as $15 million in arbitration (negative) for 2018, though it would only be for one year (positive) before he leaves for free agency.
That’s a lot of information the Dodgers’ front office has to consider over the next few days, weeks and months.
But the bottom line is, don’t expect the Dodgers to come away from the Meetings with a bunch of new, expensive toys. Andrew Friedman apparently doesn’t have a problem with that. In fact, he sounds downright satisfied to go into 2018 “as is.”
“I think the point of that is – that’s a good thing,” Friedman told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, referring to the possibility of the Dodgers standing pat at the Winter Meetings. “I don’t want that perceived as a bad thing.”