The foresight of Andrew Friedman strikes again. The best executive in baseball has managed to keep the Los Angeles Dodgers atop the league and does it in every capacity: scouting, trading and free agency.
As for free agency, you might think that’s the easiest part of the job, especially if you’re the Dodgers. Unlimited funds. The allure of playing for an historic franchise. Being on the West Coast. Almost every aspect of signing with the defending World Series champs is appealing.
But every team has limitations.
Just look at the financial restraints the New York Yankees implemented this year. The Dodgers are far from that — they blew by the third luxury tax threshold mark after signing Trevor Bauer (terrible!) — and have a payroll that exceeds $250 million.
That won’t be the case in 2022, however. The Dodgers did it this time around in an effort to repeat as champions because the time and circumstance couldn’t have been better.
That’s why it’s good there are at least a couple of guys on team-friendly deals to help the financial situation, and Blake Treinen, at the moment, is proving to be among those leading the pack in all of MLB (alongside Max Muncy, of course).
The Dodgers have one of the most cost-effective relievers in Blake Treinen.
Though Kenley Jansen’s been enjoying a resurgent campaign, Treinen’s been the Dodgers’ best reliever and it isn’t really close. The right-hander has a 2.13 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 55 innings of work. He’s the closest he’s ever looked to his unstoppable All-Star form in Oakland back in 2018.
He’s gotten the Dodgers out of so many tight spots that fans would really struggle to imagine how much further down the standings LA would be without him. That kind of contribution for $8 million a year? Sign us up again in 2022! And Maybe 2023!
Treinen signed a two-year, $17.5 million contract this offseason. He’ll make $8 million this year and $8 million next year, then has a $1.5 million buyout in 2023 OR an $8 million team option. His AAV for 2021 comes in at 15th overall among the game’s relievers … and he truly could be considered better than everyone above him, depending on how you evaluate White Sox relievers Liam Hendriks and Craig Kimbrel. At the very least, he’s top three.
Who else is near Treinen’s pay range? Red Sox right-hander Adam Ottavino, Mets reliever Trevor May, Padres reliever Drew Pomeranz, Braves reliever Chris Martin and Mets closer Edwin Diaz.
His box score stats don’t do his production enough justice, either. Treinen is in the absolute top percentile in all of MLB when it comes to average exit velocity, hard hit percentage, expected weighted on-base percentage, expected ERA, expected batting average, expected slugging percentage and barrel percentage. He’s also among the best when it comes to chase rate, strikeout percentage and fastball velocity.
The Dodgers took a risk on Treinen after he regressed in 2019. Then they rewarded him after a solid but no-so-special 2020. Now, the right-hander is returning the favor after emerging as one of the best in the league.