At the outset of the general manager meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. Los Angeles Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman placed an emphasis on acquiring pitching this offseason.
Friedman added that entailed replenishing the starting rotation, with voids at the time left by free agents Brett and Zack Greinke. Anderson has since accepted the Dodgers’ one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer.
The focus on pitching also meant upgrading the bullpen if an opportunity presented itself, Friedman said. Multiple relievers are arbitration-eligible, with Joel Peralta now a free agent after the Dodgers declined their club option on the veteran right-hander.
Los Angeles was among the teams linked to free agent Darren O’Day, whose contract is expected by some to surpass the three-year, $18.5 million deal Luke Gregerson received from the Houston Astros last December.
Generally speaking, signing a relief pitcher to such a contract goes against Friedman’s philosophy. According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee of the Tampa Bay Rays are other relievers the Dodgers are interested in:
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 16, 2015
Roughly one month after Friedman took control of the Dodgers’ front office he completed a trade with his former club that sent Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris to Tampa Bay in exchange for Adam Liberatore and Peralta.
The Dodgers then traded left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno to the Rays in late April for cash considerations. Boxberger was selected 43rd overall out of the University of Southern California by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2009 draft.
He made his MLB debut with the San Diego Padres in 2012, appearing in 24 games and finishing with a 2.40 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 33 strikeouts and 18 walks in 27.2 innings.
Boxberger spent parts of the 2013 season with the Padres before getting included in a seven-player trade that sent him to Tampa Bay in January of 2014. In two seasons with the Rays, the right-hander has appeared in a combined 132 games.
The 27 year old has 43 saves and 63 games finished over that span, to go with a 3.03 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 34.7 strikeout percentage. However, last season Boxberger saw his strikeout percentage drop to 27.3 percent from 42.1 in 2014.
Moreover, Boxberger faltered a bit in the second half of 2015. He posted 3.25 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, and had 48 strikeouts to 18 walks over 40 games prior to the All-Star break.
Then in 29 games after the Midsummer Classic, he had a 4.33 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, plus only 26 strikeouts to 14 walks while opponents hit .248/.345/.396. Boxberger is under team control through the 2019 season.
Unlike Boxberger, McGee has spent the entirety of his career with the Rays. Coming off arthroscopic elbow surgery in December, the 29-year-old left-hander made his 2015 debut in May.
McGee went on to hold a 2.41 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, six saves, 48 strikeouts and eight walks in 39 games (37.1 innings) last season. He had surgery on his left knee in August, which limited him to just three games after recovering from the operation.
McGee holds a career 2.77 ERA, 2.58 FIP and 1.02 WHIP in six seasons with the Rays, including 26 saves and 68 games finished.