The Dodgers signed Joe Kelly last off-season but find themselves in need of a bullpen upgrade yet again. How will the Dodgers get more help?
Last off-season the Dodgers knew they needed bullpen help so Andrew Friedman finally dove into free agency for a high-cost reliever in Joe Kelly. Despite the big investments in Kelly and Kenley Jansen, the back end of the Dodgers’ bullpen still has plenty of questions heading into next season.
Can Joe Kelly bounce back from a roller-coaster first year in LA? Will Kenley Jansen continue to lose velocity and struggle with his location in 2020? The bullpen will also lose Julio Urias who is expected to be in the starting rotation to begin next season. Somehow and someway, Andrew Friedman will need to shore up the pen once again this winter.
Andrew Friedman has shored up the bullpen in the past few seasons in a myriad of ways. He has had his reclamation projects like Brandon Morrow who panned out well for a season. There have been trades for under the radar relievers such as Scott Alexander and Dylan Floro. Then there have been the big signings like Joe Kelly and keeping Jansen in Los Angeles.
This off-season there are plenty of relievers on the free-agent market so it will be interesting to see which route Andrew Friedman chooses. Oddly enough, Brandon Morrow is once again a free agent coming off an injury so if he chooses, Friedman could try to revive Morrow’s career one more time.
The trade route is much more wide open given Friedman’s ability to find talented pitchers that most fans don’t even know of. Then, of course, there is the free-agent market. Despite the Braves’ flurry of early signings like Will Smith and Chris Martin, there is a good variety of relievers on the market.
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Drew Pomeranz is the Joe Kelly type reliever of this year’s market. Although his sample size is larger than Kelly’s postseason, he pitched less than 30 innings in relief albeit he was spectacular in those innings. Still, Pomeranz has the risk of becoming another Joe Kelly small sample size gone wrong signing.
Then there are the elite but coming off injury pitchers like Dellin Betances. Betances if healthy would be a massive upgrade for LA’s bullpen but there is big injury risk coming off an Achilles injury and arm issues in 2019. He would be an impact signing if healthy but if he gets injured again then the bullpen would be back to square one.
There are also the playoff-tested veterans such as Sergio Romo, Will Harris, and Joe Smith. Daniel Hudson is another veteran with playoff experience although his track record of success as a reliever is much shorter than the aforementioned pitchers. Hudson would also come at a much higher cost as he is coming off an excellent postseason.
The Dodgers once again find themselves in need of bullpen help this season and now the question becomes which route they will choose to get it? With Kenley Jansen in decline, the pen will need at least one more reliever who is capable of stepping into the closer role if necessary. Failing to land an effective reliever for 2020 could lead to another early postseason exit in 2020.