Free agent relief pitcher Brandon Morrow was a guest on MLB Network Radio on Tuesday, and expressed an interest in returning to the Dodgers.
“All things equal I’d probably be going back to the Dodgers,” Morrow said. “Having the success that I did, and knowing how the clubhouse is there and the guys on the squad, and how much young talent they have and how good they are going to be for years to come, to be able to hopefully be in that for three to four years like a lot of other teams like that, it’s definitely an attractive situation.”
Morrow was an integral part of the Dodgers bullpen for the final four months of the season and into the postseason, pitching in 14 of 15 postseason games, including all seven World Series games, tying records for both.
He posted a 2.06 ERA and 1.55 FIP in 45 games during the regular season, with 50 strikeouts and nine walks in 43⅔ innings. Opposing batters hit just .194/.241/.213 against him.
It is unclear if the Dodgers would commit the three or four years Morrow mentioned in his interview, heading into his age-33 season and with his injury history. This year marked the first season since 2010 that Morrow wasn’t on the disabled list at some point.
In their season-ending press conference at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi didn’t mention Morrow directly, but referred to the bullpen and free agency in vague terms.
“From a bullpen standpoint, losing a couple guys to free agency. But we do have some guys coming back. We expect Yimi Garcia to be in the mix for us next year,” Zaidi said. “We have really good internal solutions, but it’s not going to stop us trying to find ways to improve.”
“The guys who were a big part of what we did this year that are free agents, they have earned that opportunity and that right to see what makes the most sense for them,” Friedman said.
“If you’re on a pickup basketball court and you come up just short, you want to be able to run it back, to take the same group of guys and be able to go at it again,” Zaidi added. “We all have that instinct a little bit, that we really believe in this team, that this is a championship-caliber team, and we’d love to be able to run it back it with the same group. But that’s not the business of the game.”
Morrow was projected to garner a three-year contract this winter in a couple of places, with Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS system at ESPN predicting a $29.2 million deal and MLB Trade Rumors projecting $24 million.
Signed to a minor league deal last January with a non-roster invitation to spring training, Morrow earned a pro-rated share of $1.25 million for his time in the majors in 2017 — roughly $785,000 — plus another $250,000 for pitching in 40 games.
The Dodgers were 44-15 in games Morrow pitched, including the postseason, and won 104 games, their second-most in franchise history.
“That’s obviously very attractive, to be with a team that’s going to compete. That’s obviously very high on my list at 33 years old, to get back to the playoffs, after getting so close to try and win one,” Morrow said. “That’s going to be the leading factor in my decision, teams that contend.
“I don’t care about closing. Throwing from the sixth through eighth inning, I’m cool with pitching wherever. I’m looking for the best fit in the next few weeks.”