The Los Angeles Dodgers always manage to “figure things out” with their bullpen, but in a year where they’re very clearly trying to repeat as World Series champs, there’s no sense in dealing with potential roster holes after all they’ve done this offseason.
Manager Dave Roberts named Kenley Jansen the closer to begin the 2021 season, but there’s no convincing anybody the right-hander isn’t on a short leash.
That’s especially clear when you factor in his struggles the past two seasons coupled with the emergence of Blake Treinen and Brusdar Graterol as well as the additions of Corey Knebel and Brandon Morrow.
The pitching staff is stacked, but having a shaky back end of the bullpen could prove to be detrimental when the Dodgers get down the stretch and into October.
So for argument’s sake, let’s say Jansen picks up where he left off in 2020 (remember, he was hardly used in high-leverage situations in the postseason) and the Dodgers don’t exactly trust anyone else to handle the ninth inning on a consistent basis.
Who could they go out and get?
Here are three closers the Dodgers could target before the trade deadline if Kenley Jansen fails.
3. Josh Hader
Here’s the most obvious option, yet the most unlikely. Josh Hader is among the best closers in the league but has been mentioned in trade rumors due to the Milwaukee Brewers’ precarious situation.
They aren’t exactly contending and they don’t really have a good farm system. So they’re just … a perennial Wild Card contender, and that’s their ceiling? Yeah, probably not what you want as an organization when Christian Yelich is the face of your franchise.
The reason the Brew Crew would trade Hader is because of the potential big haul they’d get in return, coupled with the fact fellow reliever Devin Williams could easily slot into the closer role. Additionally, Hader is under club control through 2023 — though he won’t be cheap — so the price will be high, but he’d be your closer for at least 2.5 full seasons.
Then again, the Padres are rumored to be in the running for Hader and the Dodgers may not get an opportunity to strike a deal before the deadline.
Like we said, unlikely. But one can dream.