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Dodgers go “all-in” on Blake Treinen

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The erstwhile A’s reliever signs for 1 year, $10 million.

MLB: Houston Astros at Oakland Athletics
Blake Treinen looks in the direction that his salary headed.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t leave the winter meetings without signing a free agent pitcher. But it was a bullpen addition, not another starting pitcher, as they inked former A’s reliever Blake Treinen to a one-year deal for $10 million.

Treinen had such a poor 2019 season that the Oakland A’s declined to tender him an offer for the 2020 campaign, his third and last year of arbitration, making him a free agent.

Internet projections had the 6’5” right-hander making about $8 million for the upcoming season, so the former A’s closer looks to have picked up a few extra bucks in free agency.

“Former” is a key word, as Treinen lost the closing job in Oakland while posting some unsightly 2019 numbers such as a 4.91 ERA, 5.14 FIP, 1.62 WHIP and 5.7 BB/9 (13.9%).

A regular and successful member of the Washington Nationals bullpen for two and one-half seasons (3.39 ERA as a Nat,overall) before being traded to Oakland in a mid-season deal, Treinen boosted his performance with the A’s, finishing 2017 with a 2.13 ERA, with increased strikeout and decreased walk rates over his final 38 innings.

But 2018 was a sublime season for the Kansas native, who finished the year with a microscopic 0.78 ERA in 80 13 innings – a 531 ERA+ ! – saving 38 games and finishing sixth in the American League Cy Young balloting. He struck out 11.2 per nine innings while walking only 2.4, leading to a WHIP of 0.83 and only two home runs allowed.

That all makes Treinen a low-risk, high-reward gamble in return for a one-year commitment and 10 million simoleons.

With some return to form, that at least makes a Dodgers bullpen led by Kenley Jansen, Joe Kelly, Blake Treinen and Pedro Baez an interesting thing to ponder.