The Los Angeles Dodgers have much to accomplish this offseason with various voids on the roster to fill. Who replaces Trea Turner? Cody Bellinger? Justin Turner? Tyler Anderson/Walker Buehler? Who plays left field? How is the bullpen addressed?
There have been some clues given to us by MLB insiders. Gavin Lux might slide over to shortstop. Kevin Kiermaier could be the new Bellinger. Miguel Vargas may take over for Turner. Justin Verlander visited with the team and could be the high-profile rotation addition. It looks like James Outman is in line for a starting job in the outfield on Opening Day.
But the bullpen is … tough. There hasn’t been much chatter on that front outside of LA’s reported interest in a recently-released St. Louis Cardinal.
Earlier this month, the Cards non-tendered former All-Star closer Alex Reyes, who missed all of 2022 after undergoing shoulder surgery following his stellar 2021 campaign (3.24 ERA, 4.40 FIP, 1.36 WHIP, 29 saves, 95 strikeouts in 72.1 innings).
Reyes missed all of 2022. He pitched in just 32 total games from 2016-2020 due to performance issues and Tommy John surgery. He has one good season under his belt. So why do the Dodgers want to do this again?
The Dodgers need to avoid another injured reliever in Alex Reyes
The Dodgers just did this with: Tommy Kahnle, Jimmy Nelson, Danny Duffy and Corey Knebel ON TOP OF dealing with injuries to Blake Treinen, Daniel Hudson, Dustin May and Brusdar Graterol. Knebel was the only successful injured reclamation project, and the Dodgers let him go. They spent a combined ~$14 million on Kahnle, Nelson and Duffy to get a grand total of 12.2 innings from the second half of 2021 through all of 2022. That’s the definition of bad business.
Though the bullpen has been characterized as “bend don’t break” over the last couple of seasons, the Dodgers possess the resources to have that not be the case. They can shore up a very important area of the roster without using an excessive amount of money or trade capital.
If Reyes is nothing more than a supplementary, low-risk high-reward move, then great. That’s a plan fans can get on board with.
If he’s going to be brought in to be an essential piece to the 7-8-9-inning mix for 2023, or if the Dodgers are going to be forced into winning a bidding war for him, then absolutely not. It’s not a calculated risk, and it’s not one the Dodgers can afford to take with so much of their bullpen in flux at the moment outside of Evan Phillips and Alex Vesia.