The Dodgers and Andrew Friedman have a history of rehabilitating underperforming veteran relievers. Their ability to identify and acquire talented arms at bargain prices has helped them build vital bullpen depth. It’s been a hallmark of Friedman’s dating back to his Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays days.
Which former Dodger reclamation projects have been Friedman’s best?
5. Josh Fields
- Pre-Dodgers ERA: 4.53
- Dodgers ERA: 2.61
The Dodgers acquired Fields midseason from the (gulp) Houston Astros in 2016. The struggling 30-year-old thrived off the change of scenery that year and posted a 2.79 ERA with LA in 22 games. Between 2017-2018, Fields appeared in over 100 games for the Dodgers with a sub-3.00 ERA.
Admittedly, the Fields trade did not end up being much of a bargain. LA traded Houston future 2019 AL ROY Yordan Alvarez for Fields. Fields also served up back-to-back homers to Houston in the World Series, but hey, the regular season was great!
4. Tony Cingrani
- Pre-Dodgers ERA: 4.14
- Dodgers ERA: 3.85
The Reds jettisoned Cingrani to the Dodgers once it became clear that his impressive rookie season (2.92 ERA/1.01 WHIP/18 starts) was a statistical outlier. The lanky lefty became a crucial piece of the 2017 Dodgers bullpen that finished 4th in bullpen ERA (3.38). In his 10 IP in October 2017, Cingrani posted a 0.90 ERA.
3. J.P. Howell
- Pre-Dodgers ERA: 4.42
- Dodgers ERA: 2.49
Friedman’s familiarity with Howell from his Tampa days made for a great fit for both parties. The Pride of Modesto turned in a spectacular first half of 2015 (0.35 ERA), his best season with LA. Howell became a trusted reliever and appeared in at least 64 games in his four seasons with the Dodgers.
2. Bradon Morrow Part I
- Pre-Dodgers ERA: 4.16
- Dodgers ERA: 2.06
Morrow signed with the Dodgers for his age 32 season. The former Blue Jays and Padres starter solidified himself as Jansen’s setup man in 2017, Jansen’s best season. That year, Morrow boasted a sub-1.00 WHIP,10.3 SO/9, and a 2.06 ERA.
Unfortunately, manager Dave Roberts’ heavy reliance on Morrow was their collective downfall. Morrow pitched in 14 playoffs games including all seven World Series games (3.85 postseason ERA).
The Dodgers signed Brandon Morrow to a minor league contract for the 2021 season.
1. Blake Treinen
- Pre-Dodgers ERA: 2.97
- Dodgers ERA: 3.85
Treinen’s otherworldly 2018 with Oakland (0.78 ERA and 38 saves) was a distant memory after 2019 (4.91 ERA). Friedman pounced on Treinen in free agency by signing him to a one-year deal for 2020.
He had his ups and downs during the regular season and playoffs, but when it mattered most he delivered. Treinen provided the final three outs against the heart of the Rays’ order in Game 5 of the World Series.
Friedman’s picks this year? Corey Knebel and Garret Cleavinger, plus the return of Brandon Morrow with Tommy Kahnle already lined up for 2022. It looks like, once again, the Dodgers are primed to find another diamond in the rough of middle relief.
Who’s your top reliever that Friedman’s acquired over the years? Did I miss anyone? Sound off in the comments below!