Brett Eibner was acquired by the Dodgers back in January for Jordan Tarsovich, who you likely have never heard of before and will not again. Eibner has thus far rewarded the Dodgers with a .313/.389/.688/1.076 line, though granted in a mere 18 plate appearances.
Of course, Eibner hit .193/.266/.353/.619 over 208 plate appearances last year, and with him currently carrying a .429 BABIP and 38.9% strikeout rate, he’s likely still closer to that player. As an organizational depth acquisition, though, Eibner has already provided tangible results for essentially nothing, and his positional versatility of being able to play all three outfield positions solidly adds to his utility.
Well, according to a recent story by Bill Shaikin, the Dodgers would like to add even more versatility to his resume … by making him pitch.
Eibner was an outfielder and pitcher at the University Of Arkansas, posting a 4.68 ERA as a pitcher over three seasons, working primarily as a starter. Over 154 innings, he struck out 147 and walked 60, and he leaned on a fastball that worked up to 95 mph.
This isn’t just about a position player saving the bullpen in a blowout. Eibner has thrown several bullpen sessions at Dodger Stadium and at Oklahoma City, working on building arm strength and developing secondary pitches to accompany a fastball he said hit 95 mph in college. Eibner, acquired from the Oakland Athletics in January, would remain primarily an outfielder. He said he would love to help the Dodgers – and save himself a trip to Oklahoma City — on those occasions when the team needs an extra arm to bolster the bullpen for a day or two. “He’s got a great arm,” pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “We’ll start fine-tuning a little bit and see if there’s something there.”
It wouldn’t be interesting enough to mention if this was just a story about how Eibner would be the emergency pitcher in a blowout situation like the one we almost had on Saturday against the Marlins. So what makes the story intriguing is that the Dodgers are seemingly exploring this as more of a potential Christian Bethancourt situation, where he would be a reserve outfielder, but also help to eat pen innings in a potential mop-up type role as well.
Bethancourt, of course, is a Padres experiment where he tries to be a reserve catcher, outfielder, and reliever. As we witnessed with his showings against the Dodgers early this season, that burned out quickly to the tune of 9 runs in 3.2 innings, and he was sent down in April. However, Eibner has a lot more experience as a pitcher and was once seen as a superior pitching prospect (not unlike Alex Verdugo was), so perhaps this is more realistic than it seems at the moment.
Furthermore, this seems to be an already active project, and with Eibner not likely to emerge as anything more than a fifth outfielder type, adding the ability to absorb mop-up innings would seem to make carrying him all the more palatable (I mean Sergio Romo and Chris Hatcher would attest to that). Besides, in addition to this being interesting from a Eibner career perspective and Dodgers perspective, as a baseball fan you have to love these types of crazy experiments.