Initially, Kahnle hit the 10-day IL with forearm tightness, likely a lingering symptom from undergoing Tommy John surgery in August of 2020. The official diagnosis was a bone bruise in his right elbow. He hasn’t picked up a baseball since landing on the IL back in mid-May.
As a result, the Dodgers made the decision to keep him out for at least two months to free up some roster space and avoid further uncertainty, which means Kahnle will only have the chance to pitch for just over two months in LA (and that’s a BEST-case scenario) after signing that two-year contract before the 2021 season.
That deal will pay him $5.25 million, and now appears to be a sunk cost (unless Kahnle comes back and helps lead the bullpen charge in a postseason run).
Moral of the story? Andrew Friedman’s attempt at making crafty signings/trades for injured players simply needs to stop. The Dodgers have the necessary spending power to avoid having to get cute, and this is one of many moves that simply hasn’t worked for LA.
Kahnle wasn’t the first, but we’re hoping he’ll be among the last, since there are other ways to take leaps without the risks being excessively prohibitive.
Andrew Friedman’s Tommy Kahnle deal was not good for the Dodgers
Some fans were indeed puzzled with Friedman’s logic on Kahnle’s deal. The right-hander was set to miss all of 2021, and then the Dodgers were theoretically paying for 2022 — and what pitcher has been lights out in their first year following elbow reconstruction? Not many!
Then you look at the trade for Danny Duffy, who was dealing with a flexor strain when the Dodgers traded for him in July. He didn’t throw a single pitch in 2021, then the Dodgers re-signed him in the offseason, and he’s not expected back until after the All-Star break. Where’s the value in that?
LA just did the same with Jimmy Nelson … now twice! Back in 2020, they signed him coming off just 10 games played over the previous two seasons due to injury. He missed all of 2020, was re-signed for 2021, had a great showing in 28 games (1.86 ERA, 0.93 WHIP), but was on the shelf for good in August. LA re-signed him again this offseason for $1.8 million over two years, knowing he wouldn’t pitch at all in 2022, and hoping for a miracle bounceback in 2023.
Remember Brandon Morrow? Tyler Thornburg? Manny Banuelos? Those were at least acceptable because they were minor-league deals, but the idea of resurrecting every injured/underperforming pitcher perhaps needs to be curbed for a moment.
Now LA fans are staring at an insanely thin bullpen and there will be even more work to do at the trade deadline as a result.