Dodgers Add Bullpen Depth In Ryan Webb

Say this for the new front office: They do not mess around. After only three games (and one bullpen implosion), the Dodgers have apparently made a move, sending minor league catcher Chris O’Brien and reliever Ben Rowen to Baltimore for reliever Ryan Webb, minor league catcher Brian Ward, and a competitive balance pick, No. 74 overall in the upcoming draft, giving the Dodgers four of the top 74 picks.

Webb, 29, was a fourth-round pick of the A’s back in 2004, but made his debut with the Padres in 2009 and spent three seasons with the Marlins before joining the Orioles as a free agent prior to 2014. Despite having a two-year contract, he was designated for assignment earlier this week to make room for extremely short-term Dodger Ryan Lavarnway.

Obviously, all that time with Oakland gives GM Farhan Zaidi some nice familiarity with Webb, and in six seasons he’s been a decent enough reliever, with a nearly identical ERA/FIP of 3.38/3.37. He doesn’t miss bats, but he does get a ton of grounders. That’s what you’d expect when you have a guy who throws his sinker 60% of the time, and he throws it pretty hard. I’m guessing this isn’t entirely unrelated to the loss of Brandon League, actually.

Really, Webb’s a useful enough guy who got let go only because the Orioles had entirely too many relievers — Zach Britton and Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz and Wesley Wright and Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day — and needed to clear up a roster spot. Personally, I would have preferred Matusz, also rumored to have been available, but really, who can complain when Webb came for free?

I’m not just being snarky, either. As much as I/we/Brim all loved the idea of Rowen, the fact is that he was signed to a no-cost minor league contract. O’Brien is nearly 26 and essentially organizational depth, although, hey, this is from just a few hours ago and is super awkward!

I guess I should mention Brian Ward. Now I have.  (Okay, fine: He’s 29 and probably wishes he could hit as well as Drew Butera, but is reportedly an elite defensive backstop.)

For $2.75 million (Webb’s salary) and some minor league pieces that probably won’t ever be missed, the Dodgers picked up a ground-balling righty who can fit into the bullpen right away.  How that happens, exactly, is unknown — I’m guessing Pedro Baez or Yimi Garcia are getting optioned back to Triple-A, or maybe Darwin Barney. That’s just speculation for now, and with today being an off day, we might not find out immediately. Since the 40-man roster stood at 39, Webb can be added without having to DFA anyone.

A useful piece who’s not a big name but adds depth for a low cost, plus a draft pick? Why, that doesn’t sound like the nerd squad’s doing at all.

About Mike Petriello

Mike Petriello
Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.