Dodgers strike trade with Rays in what could be another frustrating bullpen move

Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers
Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

“What do the Tampa Bay Rays know what the Los Angeles Dodgers don’t?” is a question many fans would be asking if Andrew Friedman weren't calling the shots in the front office. He know’s exactly what they know. But this time … it’s just another classic low-risk, high-reward bullpen transaction.

On Wednesday morning, the Dodgers and Rays made a trade, which sent reliever JP Feyereisen, who was recently designated for assignment, to LA in exchange for minor-league pitcher Jeff Belge.

You might look at Feyereisen’s 0.00 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched last year and think, “What is going on here?”, and you’d be right. Feyereisen is expected to miss most of the 2023 season after undergoing shoulder surgery last week. The expectation is that he’ll be back in late August.

Here we go again. In recent years, the Dodgers have conducted such dealings with Corey Knebel, Jimmy Nelson, Danny Duffy and Tommy Kahnle, but the production certainly didn’t outweigh the risks. Why won’t LA just spend on their bullpen, which is in need of multiple pieces?

Fans shouldn’t ever fault the team for looking far into the future (this is clearly a move for 2024), but why does it seem like 2023 isn’t a concern whatsoever?

Feyereisen has just 2.1 years of service time under his belt, so if all goes well, he could be in LA for a decent while (four total years, including 2023). His fastball-slider-changeup combo has proven to be lethal over his last 80.1 innings pitched. There’s a lot to like about the soon-to-be 30-year-old’s profile.

That doesn’t make it any less triggering. Blake Treinen’s shoulder issue just played a role in derailing the Dodgers’ 2022 season. So did Duffy never returning from his forearm issue. So did Kahnle only pitching 12.2 innings despite being signed after the 2020 season. And with a bullpen core of Evan Phillips, Alex Vesia and Brusdar Graterol, the Dodgers have plenty of short- and long-term work to do in that department.

Phillips and Vesia are proving to be consistent, stable commodities, but Graterol is always hurt. Phil Bickford regressed in 2022. Chris Martin is gone. Daniel Hudson is coming off a torn ACL. Treinen is expected to miss most of 2023. Were Yency Almonte’s 35.1 innings and 1.02 ERA legit? There’s still no closer.

Perhaps the Dodgers are going to lean on some younger options in 2023 to help better define the larger picture, but there are still names out there that can help them contend right now. What's the wait? And why does it feel like the front office is punting to wait for free agency in 2024?

And if Feyereisen's shoulder doesn't allow him to pitch to his newfound potential, then it'll be another wasted move, no matter how little the cost.