Dodgers decision to keep Scott Alexander shouldn’t be a surprise
The Dodgers agreed to a one year deal with Scott Alexander, avoiding arbitration and keeping him in Dodger blue for another season.
Sunday night the Dodgers agreed to a one year $875K dollar deal with Scott Alexander, avoiding arbitration and retaining the southpaw for another season. The deal is slightly less than Alexander was projected to get in arbitration and the deal makes a lot of sense for the Dodgers. While Scott Alexander struggled in his abbreviated 2019 season, he is still a serviceable left-handed reliever at a time when the relief market is abysmal.
With Drew Pomeranz off the board, the free-agent market features names such as Luis Avilan, Jerry Blevins, Tony Cingrani, Zack Duke, Zac Rosscup, and Francisco Liriano among others. If none of those names get you excited about possibly signing them that is because they shouldn’t. Pomeranz was the only notable southpaw reliever on the market.
That brings us back to Scott Alexander who at the very minimum has options. If Scott does not make the team out of spring training, he will head to Oklahoma City and serve as a very reasonably priced depth option should injury occur to Adam Kolarek, Caleb Ferguson, or any other left-handed reliever that cracks the Dodgers’ opening day roster.
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In 2019, Scott Alexander struggled against left-handed batters as they hit .364 against him. Right-handed batters fared much worse against Alexander as they hit just .143 against him. Over the last three seasons combined, the splits are much closer with lefties hitting .230 and right-handed batters hitting .251 against him.
Aside from injuries, what caused Alexander’s struggles in 2019? Opposing batters hit the ball much harder against him. For his career, Alexander has a hard-hit rate of 26.9%. Last season that number jumped up to 42.4%. Scott’s sinker did not have the sink it usually does and batters made him pay. His strikeout rate also fell to 4.6 K/9IP where his career average is 7.2 K/9IP.
Scott Alexander was once referred to as Zack Britton lite and he still has the potential to be Britton like if he gets his sinker back to form. Given that the three batter minimum rule takes effect in 2020, keeping a left-hander who is more than a specialist around is a good move to make. At worst Alexander is a depth piece in 2020, and at best he reverts back into a reliable middle reliever.
This winter the Dodgers don’t have much to choose from when it comes to free-agent left-handed relievers. Scott Alexander is a much better option to keep around than the current lefty arms available in free agency. That is why the Dodgers keeping him around for another season shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.