Do the Dodgers need bullpen help?

If you had asked me this question a month into the season I would have told you that this was easily the #1 priority for the Dodgers. Fans across Los Angeles dreaded anyone not named Kenley Jansen coming into the game because it simply wasn’t going to end well.

However, the Dodgers bullpen has quietly transformed into one of the best in all of baseball. In fact, the Dodgers bullpen ERA is No. 1 in MLB just slightly ahead of Houston and Baltimore while also racking up the 5th most innings pitched.

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Frankly, the Dodgers bullpen is the biggest reason the Dodgers are where they are today. Instead of 2.5 games back and looking to bring in big name players for the home stretch, the Dodgers would likely be considering being sellers at the deadline instead of buyers if it wasn’t for the bullpen.

BUT … this doesn’t mean that the bullpen is set and it doesn’t mean that the Dodgers are content with leaving it as it is. Rather, the Dodgers will likely try to pull a 2014 Royals and make a deep playoff run on the back of a dominant bullpen.

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Is Wade Davis the answer?

Recent reports from Jon Heyman have indicated that the Dodgers have shown interest in Royals reliever Wade Davis,

“Although the Dodgers have one of the best closers in the game in Kenley Jansen and, by ERA, the top bullpen in the NL (3.01), Wade Davis is someone who interests the Dodgers.

Baseball president Andrew Friedman is doing his thing, putting together an excellent no-name pen. But word is, the Dodgers are still looking around for a pen piece, and if they get a great one like Davis — with whom Friedman is familiar from their shared time in Tampa Bay — perhaps they can counteract all their rotation questions borne of injury trouble.”

So this leads to the question, is Wade Davis the answer to creating an elite bullpen?

Outside of the clear elite closers in baseball (Craig Kimbrel, Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman) Wade Davis is pretty much as good as it gets. Bringing in someone of Davis’ caliber would essentially shorten the game to 6 innings with Adam Liberatore, Davis, and Kenley Jansen shutting it down.

This would be huge considering that the Dodgers starting pitching is 17th in MLB for innings pitched. This would also be beneficial because Kenley Jansen’s contract expires at the end of the 2016 season and it appears as though there hasn’t been much progress on an extension at this time.

Davis on the other hand is signed through the 2017 season and would give the Dodgers a fallback option in case Jansen decides to leave Los Angeles.

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How good is Wade Davis? 

Over the last few seasons, Wade Davis has established himself as one of the games elite relievers and closers. Davis has a career ERA of 3.54 but that doesn’t tell the full story.

When you consider that Davis has started 88 games in his career and didn’t really start relieving until the last few years, his numbers make more sense. When you look only at the 4 seasons that he solely pitched out of the bullpen you realize just how good he is.

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In those four seasons (2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016), Davis has a combined ERA of just under 1.50. In fact, Davis finished last season with an ERA under 1.00 and he finished 2014 with an ERA of exactly 1.00.

What is Wade Davis worth?

A player of Davis’ caliber will definitely demand a large return. After seeing what the Yankees received for Aroldis Chapman earlier this week and with the Dodgers farm system as deep and as talented as it is, the Royals will certainly want a number of top prospects for Davis’ services.

I imagine that players like Corey Seager and Julio Urias are out of the question, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Jose De Leon is the center piece of the deal. However, reports today from Joel Sherman indicate that there is actually a way the Dodgers could acquire Davis without giving up any top prospects.

At first glance this seems like something the Dodgers might be willing to do to get Davis into the bullpen. When you look closer though it becomes clear that this is actually a very big barrier to the potential trade.

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For example, Kennedy is not even a full season into his 5 year/$70 million contract he signed just this offseason. Plus, Kennedy’s contract is structured in a way that he is only receiving $7,500,000 this season. This means that the Dodgers would owe in excess of $62,500,000 over the course of the next four seasons.

Whether the Dodgers would be willing to do this is yet to be seen but I imagine that this might be the breaking point. Friedman & Co. did take on a few huge contracts when they first arrived in Los Angeles but that was almost solely to acquire Adrian Gonzalez and show the city that they meant business.

Since then the Dodgers have clearly been trying to avoid long term expensive contracts like Kennedy’s. Couple that with the fact that most Dodgers fans are still bitter about Kennedy hitting both Yasiel Puig and Zack Greinke in 2013, leading to a bench clearing brawl, and it simply doesn’t seem like a good fit.

June 11, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Ian Kennedy (31) reacts after hitting Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) with a pitch during the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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Will Wade Davis actually be headed to Los Angeles?

If the Royals insist that the Dodgers take on Ian Kennedy in order for this trade to happen, I do not expect that we will be seeing Davis in Dodger blue. However, my gut tells me that the Royals are just taking a stab at moving Kennedy, but won’t let it be a barrier to completing a deal if the Dodgers refuse to take him.

After seeing the Dodgers nearly acquire Aroldis Chapman this offseason, it is clear the Dodgers want to bolster the bullpen and because of that this actually feels like one of the more realistic trades that could happen in the next few days.

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4 Responses

  1. AlwaysCompete

    I would
    doubt that Friedman/Zaidi will entertain Wade Davis, especially if Ian Kennedy
    is involved.The cost in either talent
    (for Davis alone) or $$$ and a horrible contract to include Kennedy would be
    prohibitive.What was Dayton Moore
    thinking?The Dodgers need to do something
    to try and quiet a very angry fanbase.But they do not need to do something stupid.As a fan since 1958, I too enjoyed 9 trips to
    the WS in the 1st 30 years but enjoyed nothing in the last 28.So I am with them in their disgust with the
    direction of the team.However, the problem
    with the Dodgers is more resultant of bad ownership (Fox and McCourt), bad
    contracts, and bad drafts (overall).Friedman assumed a salary top heavy team with minimal farm talent, and
    started to build from the bottom up.Anyone
    who has been in construction, knows that is how you build a strong structure…with
    a strong foundation.They have had two
    good drafts (how good we will not know for about 5 years), and signed a boat
    load of Cuban, Mexican, Dominican, Venezuelan, etc talent.Just like drafts, some will work, most will
    not.
    The other
    unknown factor is that nobody other than key Dodger employees, know what the
    direction the ownership is telling Friedman to go in.I hear fans say they should have signed
    Greinke and Price…who cares about the money.But has anyone seen a budget Friedman has ever been given?If it is unlimited as certain fans want, then
    yes they made a mistake by not signing Greinke.Price wanted to stay in the East as did Scherzer the year before.I know it’s hard to believe but not everybody
    loves or wants to come to LA.Not every
    player is a true mercenary like Greinke.
    Today there
    are a number of sites that has fans talking about the great trade made by the
    Giants to get Eduardo Nunez out of Minnesota.Really?Ehire Adrianza (basically the same player) is due
    back, and Connor Gillaspie, Kelby Tomlinson, Ramiro Pena (my favorite) have
    been filling in nicely for both Panik and Duffy.It is their pitching that is going poorly,
    not to mention a Brandon Belt slump, and whatever is happening to Brandon
    Crawford.They did not need a 29 year
    old utility IF.Remember half of Nunez’
    12 HRs were hit at Target Field in Minnesota, which is not AT&T in SF.The Giants traded their #1 LHSP prospect in Adalberto
    Mejia, who may have passed Tyler Beede to be their #2 SP behind Phil Bickford.The Giants do not have a lot of pitching in
    their system to trade one for a utility IF.The Giants have IF’s Christian Arroyo and Lucius Fox not long out.The Giants need OF help, starting pitcher,
    and relief pitching, not infield utility players.If they were going to trade with Minnesota
    they should have looked at Ervin Santana not Eduardo Nunez.Maybe the Cueto and Samardzija signings have
    hurt their ability to take on more $$$.Now if the Giants turn around and package Joe Panik for a SP then this
    trade makes far more sense.But by
    itself…no.
    Bottom line,
    I trust that Friedman will pull the trigger on a Chris Sale/Chris Archer/Jonathan
    Lucroy/Wade Davis/Ryan Braun/Jay Bruce/ and or Josh Riddick trade, only if it
    makes sense.If it doesn’t then the wait
    continues, but it will not be because of knee jerk over-reaction trades to
    satisfy an angry fanbase, and I can live with that.I would like to see what Urias/De Leon/De Jong/Holmes/Alveraz/Verdugo/Bellinger/Rios/Diaz
    and all of the new draftees this year and last can do. Build the foundation and framing before you do
    the finish work.

    Reply
  2. Arodc03

    AlwaysCompete – I’m one of those guys that thinks the Dodgers should have offered that 6 year to Greinke or made a bigger push for Price.  And while there may be some truth to what you say about Price not interested in coming to LA, reports I’ve read suggest that the Dodgers didn’t make a big push for him but rather put all their eggs in the Greinke basket.  After all the Dodgers where said to have offered 5 years around $160 MIL , why not go an extra year to retain a proven pitcher and guarantee 3 to 5 strong years of the one two punch of Kershaw and Greinke?  I mean if your going to spend money what better then in pitching!  Furthermore the Dodgers refuse to trade their top prospects, at least up until now, then they better be willing to spend money for top pitching if you want to win now.  Oh the 2017 free agency for starting pitchers is horrible!
    Unlike you, I’m skeptical of Friedman and company.  Moves such as, trading Kemp, which the Dodgers are still paying for him to play…in San Diego, trading Dee Gordon, already mentioned Greinke or suitable replacement, heck how about not trading Either when White Sox wanted him and before his 10/ 5 rights, not to mention trading for a bunch of sorry pitchers like Mat Lato and Jim Johnson just to name a few, have not sat well with the fans.   I really hate to be critical of these types moves because some could argue that some of those moves worked out better for the Dodgers.  Bottom line is that nothing they have done has taken the Dodgers to that next level which is an NL pennant or better when it feels like it was just yesterday (2014) when many felt, including myself, that the Dodgers were only a middle reliever or two away from making a stronger run in 2015. 

    Finally, I think Jansen is gone after this season.  Friedman will only offer so much and that will allow for another team to come in and offer Jansen more.  Which makes sense  why the Dodgers are looking to trade for another closer, in preparation for Jansen’s departure. So if the Dodgers can get Davis without taking on Kennedy, that would be great.  Chapman will be too expensive, maybe Malecon, but I suspect that Dodgers feel like that can get away with someone already on the team like, Liberatore if they can’t get another closer in free agency.

    Reply

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