The Dodgers on Monday finalized their one-year contract with pitcher J.P. Howell, signing the left-handed reliever to a deal worth a reported $2.85 million. With the move, the Dodgers' 40-man roster is now full.
Howell can also reportedly earn up to $1.2 million in performance bonuses.
"J.P. adds to our bullpen, especially from the left side," general manager Ned Colletti said in a statement. "He provides Don (Mattingly) with additional choices of someone who has pitched at a high level in very competitive situations."
The addition of Howell gives the Dodgers two left-handed pitchers in the bullpen, along with Scott Elbert. Even if Elbert isn't ready to go as planned after Sept. 19 arthroscopic surgery on his left elbow, the Dodgers have Paco Rodriguez at the ready. Two left-handed relievers is a strategy the Dodgers rarely employed last season, at least before rosters expanded in September, due mostly to Elbert's health.
Just two days after the Dodgers acquired Randy Choate from the Marlins on July 25, along with throw-in infielder Hanley Ramirez, Elbert was placed on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation. Elbert returned on Aug. 19, but just 10 days later hit the disabled list again with more elbow inflammation, which led to his season-ending procedure. Manager Don Mattingly had just one left-handed relief pitcher available at his disposal for 122 of the 133 games with 25-man rosters in 2012.
Howell had 29 scoreless outings in his final 32 appearances of 2012, including a scoreless streak of 24 games and 27⅓ innings. He was two years removed from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder in May 2010.
"I've come a long way, and, man, it's just been cool," Howell told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times in August. "It's good to look back a little bit. I've got to give a shout-out to my wife. She's the one who had to wear the brunt of this. She's been with me the whole way. She's seen me behind closed doors. So this is pretty cool for us."
Howell pitched at least one inning in 36 of his 55 appearances in 2012, and he faced at least three batters in 46 of those 55 games.