The Los Angeles Dodgers had eight players reach free agency the morning after the World Series concluded, and so far two are no longer available on the open market, with Pedro Baez becoming the first to leave the team.
Baez signed a two-year contract with the Houston Astros that includes a team option for 2023. The structure of the deal is similar to that of what Blake Treinen received to re-sign with the Dodgers.
In addition to Treinen, L.A. has addressed their bullpen this offseason by trading for Corey Knebel, re-signing Jimmy Nelson and reuniting with Brandon Morrow and Brock Stewart on Minor League deals. Tommy Kahnle was added on a two-year contract, but faces an uphill battle to return from Tommy John surgery this season.
Reports of Baez’s departure was met by mixed reaction and further complicated by the fact it is for the Astros, who infamously were found to have electronically stole signs en route to defeating the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series.
Amid some criticism for Baez, Alex Wood, who has since gone on to sign with the San Francisco Giants, came to his defense, specifically addressing the notion the Dodgers at times lacked faith in the right-hander.
For someone that’s posted 50+ games minimum every year since 2015 you go through an occasional lull because you literally are always pitching. But to use the word “often” is a gross misuse. Take it from someone who was there. There’s a reason his name is Caballo. https://t.co/LkB70TSZxN
— Alex Wood (@Awood45) January 13, 2021
Baez and Wood were Dodgers teammates over two separate stints. Not only that, but Wood found himself in the bullpen as well on multiple occasions.
Initially signing with the Dodgers as a third baseman, Baez converted to pitching after six Minor League seasons of struggling to hit. He made his MLB debut in 2014 and became one of the longest-tenured members of the Dodgers organization.
His career with the franchise came to a close with a 3.03 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 369 strikeouts over 356 innings pitched. Baez earned the trust of not only former manager Don Mattingly but Dave Roberts, in addition to teammates.
Outlook for Dodgers bullpen
Knebel and Treinen figure to share high-leverage opportunities, with Victor Gonzalez likely in the picture as well if he is kept in the bullpen. Roberts recently said the Dodgers were forging ahead with the notion that Kenley Jansen remaining closer was a “best-case scenario.”
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