Today was the deadline for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. The Dodgers tendered all of their players and agreed to terms with Scott Alexander, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The biggest bit of news is the Dodgers acquired right-handed reliever Corey Knebel from the Brewers for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
The 29-year-old former All-Star is arbitration-eligible for the final time, and since he’s coming off a second Tommy John surgery and struggled in 2020 (6.08 ERA, 6.64 FIP, 11.3 K-BB%) was going to be non-tendered by Milwaukee before the two teams struck a trade.
Knebel’s breakout season was 2017, when he had a 1.78 ERA, 2.53 FIP and a 27.8 K-BB%. That was sandwiched in between a couple of solid season of 3.53 and 3.08 FIPs. He missed substantial time in 2018 with a hamstring injury, so he’s definitely a #TrueDodger. But his 2019 season never got started because of a torn elbow ligament. When he’s right, he sits in the mid-to-high-90s with a hammer curveball. His average fastball velo was 94.4 MPH in his 13 1/3 innings last season, so he’s not all the way back yet. The biggest knock on him is his command/control. He has run a BB% of 9.9 percent or higher for the last five years (four seasons). That’s something Mark Prior and Co., will have to work on with Knebel.
He’s a prototypical Andrew Friedman reliever pickup — high-ceiling, former top performer who is coming off an injury-plagued season. He’s projected to make $5.125 million via arbitration, so this isn’t a Brandon Morrow or Jake McGee situation. Rather, it’s closer to the Blake Treinen signing from last winter. Speaking of Treinen, this move doesn’t fully close the door on his return, but it also makes it a little less likely. If Knebel is right, though, he could be just as effective as Treinen was this season.
The Dodgers also tendered contracts to all six of their other arbitration-eligible players: Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger, Walker Buehler, Dylan Floro, Adam Kolarek and Corey Seager. Now, the team will either agree to terms with each player or go to arbitration.
Alexander, on the other hand, was signed to a 1-year, $1 million deal to avoid arbitration. His deal is fully guaranteed. That’s notable because most arb deals aren’t fully guaranteed at the time of the signing. He was projected to make that much through the process, but instead of risking being waived in Spring Training, he got his money guaranteed. With Caleb Ferguson out for the ’21 season due to TJ, bringing Alexander — who has two minor-league options remaining — and his left arm, seemed like a no-brainer.
With this deadline having passed, we should start seeing at lease some moves around the league.