The Los Angeles Dodgers struck gold the last two offseasons by signing former starters Joe Blanton and Brandon Morrow to use as relief pitchers. Both pitchers revived their careers by becoming Kenley Jansen’s primary set-ups guys.
They went on to cash in on contracts as Blanton signed with the Washington Nationals a year ago, and Morrow signed a two-year deal with the Cubs this offseason.
Looking to upgrade their bullpen again this winter, Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi said the team would once again target relievers on the value end, essentially looking to find the next Blanton or Morrow.
Whether or not he becomes the answer to that is currently unknown, but on Wednesday the Dodgers formally signed Tom Koehler to a one-year contract.
Koehler’s contract is worth a base salary of $2 million but he can earn more than $3 million by way of incentives, via the Associated Press:
He can earn $500,000 for games: $50,000 each for 40 and 45; $100,000 for 50; and $150,000 each for 55 and 60. He also could make $1 million for starts: $250,000 each for 10, 15, 20 and 25. His deal also includes $450,000 for games finishes: $150,000 each for 20, 32 and 40.
Koehler fits perfectly into the category of failed starter turned reliever, as in 12 starts this season with the Miami Marlins, he went 1-5 with a 7.92 ERA, 6.91 FIP and 1.73 WHIP in 55.2 innings pitched.
After being demoted to Triple-A and traded to the Toronto Blue Jays, he was utilized as a reliever and the results improved. Koehler posted a 2.65 ERA, 3.22 FIP, 1.29 WHIP in 15 appearances.
Koehler likely won’t be the only reliever the Dodgers add to the mix this offseason, but signing him to a low-risk, high-upside contract is exactly the type of move that has paid off for the team in the past.