While the MLB Hot Stove hasn’t quite heated up yet, the Los Angeles Dodgers are already on the board with their first notable move, acquiring former All-Star closer Corey Knebel in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers.
The right-hander has some impressive seasons under his belt, but struggled to the tune of a 6.08 ERA, 6.64 FIP and 1.73 WHIP in 13.1 innings this year (15 games). It was his first work on the mound since undergoing Tommy John surgery in April 2019.
Knebel, however, was much improved down the stretch, allowing just two runs and holding opponents to a .167/.286/.250 batting line in six appearances during September. His fastball also had more life on it, which resulted in an uptick in strikeouts and swings-and-misses.
Teams took notice of this and hoped the Brewers would non-tender Knebel for an opportunity to sign him in free agency, via Robert Murray of FanSided:
Had Knebel been non-tendered, his market in free agency would have been strong, with one high-ranking National League official saying his team was “salivating” when reports surfaced that he would reach free agency.
Given that other clubs were lining up to sign Knebel, the Dodgers appear to have made a wise choice in completing a trade for him prior to the non-tender deadline.
Knebel fits the mold of other relief pitchers the Dodgers have taken a gamble on, and if he is able to recapture his previous form, it would be a significant boon to the L.A. bullpen.
Knebel has one year of team control left before potentially reaching free agency at the end of the 2021 season. He was tendered a contract by the Dodgers, although the two sides still must agree on a salary before next month’s deadline.
Knebel ‘can’t be more excited’ with trade to Dodgers
Knebel was hopeful to remain with the Brewers, but said he couldn’t be more thrilled to join the defending World Series champs.
Knebel provides insurance in the event one or both of Pedro Baez and Blake Treinen depart in free agency. With this in mind, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman revealed that bolstering the bullpen remains a priority.
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