Dodgers sign former Rookie of the Year to bolster bullpen
By Adam Weinrib
2021’s been a year of bullpen lottery tickets for the Dodgers, a team that sits near the season’s midpoint with just about half of them cashed out.
Jimmy Nelson? Very valuable, and made quite the statement over July 4 weekend. Phil Bickford wasn’t a major part of anyone’s plan, but he, too, has impressed.
But Corey Knebel? Not so much. Tommy Kahnle? Still waiting. Garrett Cleavinger? Cripes.
It’s not shocking, given everything we know about the Dodgers and who they target, though, that LA has taken a chance on another faded arm with an impressive pedigree on Tuesday afternoon.
Bullpens are typically built not with high-dollar deals but with attempts to restore fallen assets, from failed starters to All-Stars approaching the end of their careers, ready to make any and all adjustments.
Per their latest shakeup on Tuesday, the Dodgers still see something in 2010 Rookie of the Year Neftali Feliz, released by the Phillies last week.
Los Angeles Dodgers have signed Neftali Feliz.
If you’re looking for silver linings to this move based on Feliz’s most recent performances, do not do that.
In two outings with the Phillies, his most recent MLB appearances since 2017, he managed to complete one inning, post a 36.00 ERA and allow four earned runs — with two strikeouts, though!
Since a bounce-back season with Pittsburgh in 2016, Feliz has largely been absent from the professional baseball ranks, posting a 6.00 ERA with Milwaukee in 2017 and a 4.74 mark in Kansas City later that year before exiting stage right. He pitched for the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate in 2018, then signed a minor-league deal with Seattle prior to 2019 but never appeared anywhere at any time for the organization.
This minor-league pact is quite simple, though. Based on a routine viewing of his Phillies “career,” the velocity is there. The pedigree is there.
The results are … not.
In reality, there is very little to get angry about here. Moves come, moves go, waves crash.
Feliz will grab a spot at Triple-A previously occupied by several unsuccessful participants in the Dodgers’ bullpen shuttle, which went back and forth to OKC while transporting largely disappointing results.
There were, however, clearly not enough solid options when LA tried to plumb the depths earlier this season, and perhaps Feliz will become one once again for the first time since 2016. At the very least, the Dodgers have added one of the brightest stars of 2010, and another reminder to always trade your volatile relief prospects once you’ve maximized them.