We’ve got an OLD FRIEND alert, Los Angeles Dodgers fans! And it wouldn’t at all surprise us if this reliever ended up back where it all began.
Pedro Baez, the infamous right-hander who typically labors (and drags) throughout his outings, is now on waivers after being designated for assignment by the Houston Astros on Tuesday in what was a fairly surprising transaction.
Last year, Baez signed a two-year, $12.5 million contract with a club option for the 2023 season, as the Astros clearly saw a meaningful role for him in their bullpen. However, after just 6.2 innings of work with the franchise, he’s gone, and Houston is willing to eat all of the money.
Baez pitched in only four games last year (totaling 4.1 innings of work) due to a shoulder injury. He didn’t make an appearance until August and then was done for the year after that limited work. In 2022, he was dealing with back issues in the offseason, and got shelled during spring training.
Then came what would be an absolutely horrific showing to start the regular season. In three games (2.1 innings), Baez has allowed six runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks. His usage has been quite confusing, too. He pitched on April 8, 15 and 19. And his most recent outing was a scoreless frame in a loss to the Angels.
But assuming he clears waivers though (he probably will), might the Dodgers bring him back since they’ve clearly been able to maximize his abilities and are also dealing with a thinning pitching staff?
Might the Dodgers reunite with Pedro Baez after his Astros release?
Baez, though a frequent source of frustration among Dodgers fans for the amount of time he took on the mound, had a very successful career in LA. Across seven seasons, he went 21-15 with a 3.03 ERA, 3.61 FIP and 1.10 WHIP with 369 strikeouts in 355 games (356 innings). What more can you ask for from a bridge option to the closer?
Coincidentally, the Dodgers’ pitching staff has taken a hit with all of Andrew Heaney, David Price and Blake Treinen landing on the injured list recently. Andrew Friedman has properly stacked this team with formidable depth in that department, but more familiar faces can’t hurt, especially if there’s room.
If the Dodgers can scoop him up on a minimum deal, make the Astros pay the remaining balance on his current deal, and use him as another decent innings-eater out of the bullpen, how would that not be a win?
At the very least, the Dodgers have a different reason to celebrate here. Baez made a grand total of $7.144 million across his seven seasons with LA. In 6.2 innings with the Astros, he’s already guaranteed himself $12.5 million after his early injury troubles evidently put him in a hole (coupled with the fact the Astros seemingly don’t have the patience or tact to properly deploy him).
Here’s yet another lesson in the Dodgers being superior in bringing out the best in their players and knowing when to part with them before they get too expensive/begin to regress.