The Dodgers on Friday have reporedly added to their bullpen by signing left-handed relief pitcher J.P. Howell to a one-year contract. Dylan Hernandez reported that the Dodgers and Howell were moving toward a deal, while Buster Olney of ESPN and Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the deal as done.
Olney says the contract is worth $2.85 million, with performance incentives. Hernandez pegged the contract at $2.75 million. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says the deal is $2.85 million, plus $1.2 million in potential bonuses.
Howell was also reportedly pursued by the Nationals, who lost left-handed relievers Sean Burnett (Angels) and Mike Gonzalez (Brewers) to free agency. Howell, who turns 30 on Apr. 25, gives the Dodgers a second left-handed reliever in the bullpen, joining Scott Elbert, with Paco Rodriguez waiting in the wings.
Left-handed batters have hit just .209/.295/.304 against Howell in the last two seasons, and in his career the southpaw has held lefty batters to a .241/.323/.351 line in his seven-year career.
Howell missed all of 2010 and the first 44 games of 2011 after left shoulder surgery, and posted a 6.16 ERA in 46 games in 2011 with a career high walk rate of 13.0% of batters faced. He improved to a 3.04 ERA in 2012, with 42 strikeouts and 22 walks in 50⅓ innings.
Though he began his college career at USC, the Modesto native transferred to Texas after his freshman season with the Trojans. Howell was drafted after his junior season, 31st overall by the Royals in 2004, a supplemental pick for the loss of free agent Raul Ibanez. Traded to the Rays in 2006, Howell became an valuable part of Tampa Bay's bullpen, including racking up 17 saves in 2009.
His 252 appearances with Tampa Bay are the most by a left-handed pitcher in Rays history. Howell pitched in three games for Team USA in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, and led all U.S. relievers with 3⅓ scoreless innings.
With Howell the Dodgers will have a full 40 players on the 40-man roster. Presuming Howell at $2.85 million, the Dodgers have $228.5 million committed to 23 players in 2013, including $1.15 million to Tony Gwynn Jr., who is currently not on the 40-man roster but will join the team as a non-roster invitee to spring training.