It’s been a long time since the Dodgers have had a highly paid bullpen. But the combination of guys that they currently have out there is a reminder that Los Angeles can spread the money around in hopes of finding the right pieces.
As of now, there are realistically at least 12 guys looking to compete for a spot in the Dodgers bullpen. Tommy Kahnle and Caleb Ferguson are both recovering from Tommy John surgery, so don’t include them in that number.
After the signing of Blake Treinen, the Dodgers bullpen is now worth right around $45 million, and that’s not counting the pre-arbitration guys that will get paid league minimum. That figure is much different than in years past, given that Andrew Friedman typically prefers cheap reclamation projects to fill out his bullpen.
And that’s not to say that Friedman hasn’t found those deals during this offseason. The trade for Corey Knebel and the signings of Kahnle, Brandon Morrow, and Jimmy Nelson could certainly be characterized that way. But this year is no doubt different for the Dodgers bullpen.
In looking at their payroll, the Dodgers do seem to have three tiers of relievers. The first tier can be summarized by the contract of Kenley Jansen, set to be paid $20 million in the 2021 season. The second tier is the Joe Kelly/Blake Treinen/Corey Knebel tier, set to make a combined $21+ million.
The final tier for the Dodger bullpen is basically just everyone else. Tommy Kahnle will be paid just over $1 million for 2021 despite likely not playing, with Scott Alexander and Dylan Floro making about the same. Everyone else is set to make around league minimum or somewhere in between.
So what does that tell us? Well, the fact that Friedman has been so willing to spread the money around outside of Jansen tells us that he’s looking to protect his starting rotation and bolster the pen where he can. Who knows how many innings the starters will get to throw this year, especially mixing in David Price who took the 2020 season off.
Whatever the case, the Dodgers will have plenty of arms ready to go for the new year.
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