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Exploring bullpen options for the Dodgers

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MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals
Greg Holland didn’t pitch in 2016, but could be a potential fit for a bullpen in 2017.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

While we wait on Kenley Jansen to make a decision on his home for 2017 and beyond, there are still several other bullpen arms out on the market that might interest the Dodgers, whether they retain their closer or not.

Jansen is getting married this weekend in Curacao, so it is understandable if he is a bit preoccupied at the moment. But even so, I have to believe that every day that goes by with Jansen not taking the reported five-year, $80 million plus offer on the table means he is not all that enamored with joining the Marlins.

That doesn’t necessarily mean an automatic return to the Dodgers, since the Nationals are also reportedly in the mix for the elite closer’s services. But even if the Dodgers retain Jansen, they will probably look to add to their relief corps in other ways.

Here is a look at some arms still out there who could interest the Dodgers, either as a Jansen replacement or someone to supplement his presence in the back end of the ‘pen.

David Robertson

Though it got overshadowed by the same-day acquisition of starter Chris Sale, the trade of Brewers closer Tyler Thornburg to the Red Sox removed a potential target for the Dodgers. Thornburg posted a 34.2% strikeout rate and a 2.15 ERA in 2017, and has three arbitration years before free agency.

But the trade of Sale, followed by the trade of Adam Eaton, rang the bell of rebuild for the White Sox, which means closer David Robertson has to be on the block. Robertson, with 110 saves in the last three seasons, has been a bullpen workhorse with between 60 and 70 games, and between 60 and 67 innings for seven years running.

Robertson had a 3.47 ERA and 3.58 FIP in 2016, his highest mark of the last six years. He struck out 28.1% of his batters faced last year, struck out 33.1% of batters faced in the last three years, and 31.8% career.

He has two years and $25 million remaining on his contract, which given the contracts we have seen this offseason for Mark Melancon and Aroldis Chapman, is under market.

Greg Holland

The former Royals closer, now 31, is working his way back from 2015 Tommy John surgery, looking to get back to the form that posted a 1.86 ERA, 1.92 FIP, and 35.2% strikeout rate from 2011-2014.

The Dodgers showed interest in Holland at a workout in Arizona in November. Despite the time off — Holland last pitched in September 2015 — he won’t come too cheap, though likely will be available for a short-term deal.

MLB Trade Rumors in their top 50 free agent preview projected a 2-year, $18 million contract for Holland. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports in his November prognostications guessed 2 years, $20 million.

Brad Ziegler

The submariner is an infield’s best friend, with a career 66.3% ground ball rate. He has been an excellent reliever throughout his nine-year career, with a 2.44 ERA and 3.38 FIP to go with his 16.6% strikeout rate.

Ziegler in 2016 posted a 2.25 ERA, a 3.10 FIP and 20.0% strikeout rate with the Diamondbacks and Red Sox, and in the last three years has a 2.53 ERA, 3.41 FIP and 17.8% strikeout rate.

The 37-year-old has 85 career saves, including 52 in the last two seasons, and has been quite durable with at least 64 appearances for eight consecutive years.

MLBTR: 2 years, $16 million

Heyman: 2 years, $18 million

Neftali Feliz

The right-hander had an electric arm when he was closing games for the Rangers in their consecutive trips to the World Series in 2010-2011, but Tommy John surgery ate up most of his next two seasons. He has a 4.19 ERA and 4.44 FIP in the last three years for the Rangers, Tigers and Pirates, but in 2016 saw his strikeout rate spike up to 28%, his highest rate since 2009.

Feliz also allowed 10 home runs in 2016, matching his total for 2014-2015 combined, giving him a resume that looks an awful lot like Pedro Baez. Feliz turns 29 in May.

MLBTR: 3 years, $18 million

Heyman: 2 years, $12 million

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Philadelphia Phillies
Joe Blanton had a 2.48 ERA in 75 games for the Dodgers in 2016, with 80 strikeouts in 80 innings.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Blanton

Blanton has reinvented himself after nearly a decade as a starter, and has posted two straight excellent seasons in relief — 2.65 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 25.5% strikeout rate — even though the freshest memory in the minds of Dodgers fans is the grand slam he allowed to Miguel Montero of the Cubs to lose Game 1 of the NLCS.

The Dodgers paid Blanton $5 million on a one-year deal to be a vital part of their bullpen in 2016, including a $4 million base salary. He will be more expensive this time around, and turns 36 on Sunday.

MLBTR: 2 years, $14 million

Heyman: 2 years, $10 million

Sergio Romo

The Brawley native grew up a Dodgers fan, so this homecoming has seemed in the cards for years. Romo posted a 2.64 ERA, 3.80 FIP and 28.2% strikeout rate in 2016 for the Giants, though he missed nearly three months with a flexor strain in his right forearm.

Romo in the last three years has a 3.21 ERA, a 3.12 FIP and a 28.2% strikeout rate. He has closed at times in his nine years with the Giants, saving 84 career games. Romo’s slider remains a weapon, and his 25.1-percent K-BB% ranks ninth-best among relievers the last two seasons.

He turns 34 in March.

MLBTR: 2 years, $14 million

Heyman: 3 years, $18 million

Jerry Blevins

A left-handed specialist might be superfluous on a roster with Grant Dayton, Adam Liberatore, Luis Avilan and Vidal Nuno, but Blevins has proven effective. Blevins has held left-handed batters to just .214/.266/.322 in his career, including .255/.313/.324 with a 31% strikeout rate in 2016.

Blevins posted a 2.79 ERA and 3.05 FIP in 73 games for the Mets last year, with 52 strikeouts and 15 walks in 42 innings.

Other free agent lefties, though again probably unlikely, include Mike Dunn and Boone Logan.

MLBTR: not listed

Heyman: 2 years, $12 million

The bottom line — from the medical journal “Duh” — is that while any of these pitchers might be useful to the Dodgers, they would sure look a lot better joining a bullpen with Kenley Jansen than without.