The 2019 offseason provides a chance for the Los Angeles Dodgers to do more than just make an improvement here or there. Far more urgently, it’s a chance for the front office to retool the entire roster, which Andrew Friedman confirmed is likely to happen at his recent press briefing.
One area that has to be heavily face-lifted is the bullpen. Ever since the front office assembled a perfect relief corps in 2017, they’ve been criminally neglectful in maintaining it since. Trading for Scott Alexander rather than keeping Tony Watson, passing on Ryan Pressly, trading for Dylan Floro, Ryan Madson and John Axford…it’s been underwhelming on all fronts.
To their credit, the FO made the right call after 2017 to let Brandon Morrow walk to the Chicago Cubs via free agency. After a strong start in 2018, with 22 saves and a 1.47 ERA, he was shut down after a bone bruise injury that ended his season in mid-July. He followed that by missing the entire 2019 season.
Now, however, the circumstances might have aligned for a reunion. As the Cubs undergo their own philosophical overhaul after a disappointing season, they are all but guaranteed to decline Morrow’s $12 million option for 2020.
If so, Morrow would join a relief free agent class that includes Will Smith, Will Harris, Brandon Kintzler, Drew Pomeranz, Jeremy Jeffress, Dellin Betances, and Chris Martin. Even in a crowded field, he still makes for an enticing option given his dominance when he’s healthy.
There is obviously a case against bringing him back. The Dodgers were greatly burned on their decision to keep Tony Cingrani, who also had a strong yet abbreviated 2018 and missed all of 2019 due to injury, and was dealt this past trade deadline. It wouldn’t make sense to throw money at a mirror image of that.
Given Morrow’s in his mid-30s, age may also seem like a factor against him. However, the overwhelming bulk of the impending top relief FA’s are also well into their 30s. It’s really just a matter of health.
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) November 9, 2017
Given Morrow’s stated desire to stay in Los Angeles after 2017, and the uncertainty of his future in baseball, I can absolutely see him agreeing to a team-friendly minor league deal. It could very well be his only option, as he won’t command as much money as the other big names mentioned.
I say go for it, but only on those terms. If he wants anything higher, the Dodgers are better off not bringing him back. And even if he does come back, it should only be a buy-low move amongst other big ones to ensure the relief corps is top-shelf in 2020.