If there is one area within the Dodgers’ roster that could use an additional star piece, it would be the bullpen.
The Dodgers have been relatively inactive in the reliever market, as the only actions made have been to bring back pieces of the 2023 team, which were a minor league deal for Daniel Hudson and a one year deal for Joe Kelly. The Dodgers were recently in the mix for All Star closer Josh Hader before he signed with the Houston Astros.
The bullpen still features a two-headed monster of Evan Phillips and Brusdar Graterol, but the team still lacks a full-time closer, even with Phillips saving a team-leading 24 games. If the Dodgers are to look into adding someone at the back end of the bullpen, then they should look to trading for current Cleveland Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase.
Here are two main reasons for why the Dodgers should go after Clase.
Bona fide closer
Since being acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Corey Kluber deal, Clase has emerged into not only one of the American League’s premiere closers, but one of the best relievers in baseball. Since the 2021 season, Clase has collected 110 saves, the most in the American League within that span. He has led all of baseball in saves over the past two seasons, becoming the first reliever to lead all of baseball in saves in consecutive seasons since Jim Johnson in 2012-2013.
Even in a down season in 2023, which was statistically his worst season as a full-time closer, he still posted 44 saves, a 3.22 ERA, and an ERA+ of 130 in 75 games. Out of those 75 games, Clase managed to finish 65 of them, adding to his ability to end games even in non-save situations.
The leader in games finished within the Dodgers’ bullpen in the 2023 season was Evan Phillips, as he finished 36 out of the 62 games he appeared in. Adding an arm like Clase would give the Dodgers a reliever exclusively reserved for the ninth inning or for late game appearances, and would alleviate a lot of the pressure for Graterol and Phillips to be the main arm to lock down games.
Not just a rental
After the conclusion of the 2024 season, the only relievers that will be on the Dodgers’ roster will be Phillips, Graterol, J.P. Feyereisen, and Alex Vesia. When looking into who will become free agents for the 2024-2025 offseason, one of the better relievers to hit the open market is Clay Holmes of the New York Yankees, but his 2023 numbers in terms of completing games are very similar to Phillips.
The one thing that helps about Clase is that he is still relatively young at 25 years of age and hasn’t yet entered his physical prime. He is also currently on a team-friendly deal that he signed prior to the 2022 season, which includes options for both the 2027 and 2028 seasons. Although the Dodgers have spent plenty of money this offseason, the team wouldn’t have to worry about a possible extension for the next two seasons at the very least.
The Dodgers this offseason have built one of the most well balanced and star filled rosters in all of baseball, yet the bullpen could still use an additional star piece to serve within the back end. Adding an arm like Clase would ensure the Dodgers have a late-game specialist who can close out games, whether or not it is a save opportunity, and someone that could be a fixture of the Dodgers bullpen for years to come.