Even after signing Joe Kelly in 2018, the Dodgers’ bullpen could use another big arm. Blake Treinen could be just who they need for 2020.
Kenley Jansen will enter the 2020 season as the Dodgers’ closer although, for the first time in his career, he will have a much shorter “leash”. That could mean the Dodgers will likely search the free agent or trade market for a backup option if Jansen continues to regress in 2020. One solution could be a one-year flier on Blake Treinen.
Blake Treinen emerged as one of the top closers in the game during the 2018 season. He posted a minuscule 0.78 ERA and converted 38 of his 43 save opportunities. After an injury-plagued 2019 season, the A’s could be looking to non-tender Treinen or trade him before he heads to arbitration.
The Dodgers could trade for Treinen at a relatively low prospect cost if they take on his projected arbitration salary of 7.8 million. For one season that is an expensive gamble for a cash strapped team like the Oakland A’s but for the Dodgers that is a flier well worth the investment. If Blake returned to form the Dodgers’ bullpen would either have an elite setup man or closer.
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The main culprits to Treinen’s subpar 2019 season were a walk rate of 5.6 BB/9IP, a back injury, and an increase in fly balls. Blake Treinen has a turbo sinker that averages 96.5 MPH and when he is on he induces plenty of ground balls and weak contact. His ground ball rate dropped from 51.9% in 2018 to 42.8% in 2019. His hard-hit rate also went up seven percent.
Overall, Treinen’s average exit velocity of 87.1 MPH in 2019 proves that even in a down season, he was able to induce plenty of weak contact. While the Dodgers could wait to see if Treinen gets non-tendered, there would be plenty of competition for Blake if he reaches free agency. Including a low-level prospect or a controllable big-league reliever like Dylan Floro could be enough to acquire him now.
After handing out a three-year contract to Joe Kelly last off-season, it is highly unlikely that Andrew Friedman makes another big reliever signing for the second consecutive off-season. While there may be other trade candidates, no reliever is as good as Blake Treinen if he returns to his 2018 form.
Rick Honeycutt had plenty of reliever reclamation projects during his tenure with the Dodgers and Mark Prior could have his first bounceback project if LA landed Blake Treinen. As long as he is healthy, Treinen could provide nice value for the Dodgers in 2020 if he bounces back to form.