With the offseason coming to a screeching halt, this is a great opportunity to review the moves the Dodgers were able to complete before the lockout. While there have been relatively few transactions from the Dodgers, even minor transactions can end up being impactful.
Chris Taylor: 4 years, $60,000,000
This move absolutely deserves an A. Bringing back a critical component to the Dodger’s recent success is a no-brainer. Doing it on a team-friendly deal that doesn’t lock you into a long-term contract is even better.
You can read my full analysis of this transaction in the article below.
Andrew Heaney: 1 year, $8,500,000
I’ll be honest, this signing has the potential to make a lot of people look stupid. I’m going to give this signing a B- at this time. Now, there’s no such thing as a bad one-year deal. However, this may seem absurdly high for a pitcher coming off of a season in which he posted a 5.83 ERA and gave up an average of 2 home runs per 9 innings. But gone are the days where players get paid for their past performances. Teams are now paying players for what they expect them to do going forward, and Heaney has exhibited several signs that indicate potential, and the Dodgers are looking for the next Robbie Ray.
While Heaney’s 2021 results were a far cry short of impressive, his underlying numbers provide optimism. In 2021, Heaney struck out 3.7 batters for every 1 he walked. For comparison, Walker Buehler, a Cy Young candidate this year, had a K/BB of 3.8. Heaney’s above average strikeout numbers and below average walk numbers give him a strong base on which he can improve. More often than not, if you strike out a lot of people and don’t give up many free bases, you’re going to be successful. Heaney’s SIERA (basically a more predictive form of ERA), which was nearly 2 full runs lower than his actual ERA, also reflects this.
Clearly, the Dodgers believe Heaney has more talent inside him that can be unlocked. They likely plan on working with Heaney to improve his slider, which would compliment his high-spin fastball and changeup. Over recent seasons, we’ve seen the Dodgers work with pitchers to improve their sliders to great results. Blake Treinen, Kenley Jansen, and Dustin May have all made tremendous strides with the pitch. If the coaching staff can add a plus breaking ball to Heaney’s arsenal, he could end up being the steal of the off-season. However, if the Dodgers are relying on Heaney to be anything more than a back-end starter, he will have to vastly improve on his results from last year for this to be a successful signing.
Daniel Hudson: 1 year, $7,000,000
I’ll give this deal a B. Hudson has had success since his last stint with the Dodgers ended in 2018. He has posted a 3.28 ERA since 2018 with the Blue Jays, Nationals, and Padres. The Nationals also relied heavily on Hudson in the 2019 playoffs, and Hudson ended up getting the save in Game 7 of the World Series.
While this deal was announced around the same time as Cory Knebel leaving the Dodgers for the Phillies, I don’t believe it’s accurate to say that Hudson is Knebel’s replacement. The Dodgers likely view Hudson as a middle reliever in 2022 rather than a back-end piece. Kenley Jansen and Joe Kelly potentially returning to LA could also push Hudson further down the depth chart. Tommy Kahnle will also be returning from the Injured List, and his stuff makes him Knebel’s heir-apparent.
$7 million for one year of a middle reliever that has late inning experience has very little risk. Therefore, despite this signing’s lack of sex appeal, it should end up being a good move for the Dodgers.