Along with Corey Knebel, the Dodgers have gone after several low risk-high reward guys. Yesterday it was announced that they had picked up several players to minor league contracts. That includes 2017 bullpen star Brandon Morrow, former Dodger pitcher Brock Stewart, Jimmy Nelson, and James Pazos. The Dodgers have gone after “projects” who they are signing based on performances from years past and with high hopes that their pitching staff can mold them into bullpen inning eaters. Corey will begin the year on the Team while the rest are scheduled to begin in the minors.
The Dodgers seem to be rebuilding their bullpen with innings-eaters as all of these guys are in the low risk-high reward categories. Corey Knebel seems to be bouncing back from surgery in 2019. 2020 was a shaky season for him. Perhaps it was because he was recovering and perhaps it was the length of the season, or maybe it was because he was on a mediocre team, his 6.00 plus ERA show promise. The Dodgers should be able to bring him back down under a 4.00ERA. If they can do that, this will be a high reward. 2017 seems like a long time ago but all I see is upside for him. Better defensive team, defending champs, Dodger Stadium, and 2 years removed from his surgery. He should be able to get back down under 4.00 ERA now that he is healthy.
Brandon Morrow is a similar case. He has not pitched since 2018. In 2017, he pitched great for the Dodgers. Of course that was the year they went to the World Series. He got a nice payday that year from the Chicago Cubs. But then late in 2018, he got injured. He then had surgery and has not pitched in the big leagues since then. If the Dodgers can have the Morrow of old back, they will have again gotten a high reward payout.
James Pazos is a 29 year old left handed pitching option. His ERA shows up as being over 16.88 in the 2020 season. This was the highest of his career. Keep in mind it was a shortened season and he was in Colorado. His career ERA is 3.95 which is what the front office most likely subscribed to. If he can be that career 3.95 pitcher in Los Angeles, you better believe that we will be seeing him a lot.
Brock Stewart is another young pitcher at 29 years old that is controlled through 2023 and the Dodgers are hoping he can find himself in tripe A. Maybe the Dodgers are able to bring him up during the season. His career ERA is at 6.05.
Jimmy Nelson is a right handed pitcher that signed with the Dodgers in 2020 for $700k and the Dodgers had a buyout option for 2021. He did not male an appearance in 2020 for the Dodgers. Point is he will be returning.
It is more than likely the Dodgers will pick up one currently proven arm for the bullpen at some point during the offseason. Whether this happens via trade or free agency is uncertain but what is certain is that the Dodgers are not done with the bullpen. I still think they will sign one or two of their 2020 bullpen arms, such as Pedro Baez or Alex Wood, but only time will tell.