Blake Treinen re-signs with Dodgers at 2 years, $17.5 million, providing another high-leverage relief option

Reliever Blake Treinen had the revival he wanted in 2020 with the Dodgers after a rocky 2019, culminating with him playing a pivotal role in the team’s World Series run. Now the Dodgers are bringing him back for 2021 and beyond, re-signing him for two years with a club option for 2023 at $17.5 million.

After being unhittable in 2018 during a career year, Treinen regressed heavily in 2019, posting a 4.91 ERA and an even worse 5.14 FIP. He ended up getting a one-year, $10 million deal from the Dodgers in 2020, looking to bounce back.

While his 3.86 ERA wasn’t all that impressive, he shaved nearly two runs off his FIP (3.15) thanks to limiting walks (13.9% to 7.5%) and homers (1.4 HR/9 to 0.4 HR/9) with an MLB best ground-ball rate of 64%. Similarly, while he wasn’t necessarily great on the surface in the playoffs (4.76 ERA in 11.1 innings), he got key outs, posting a Championship Win Probability Added of 13.1%. That included workhorse scoreless outings in Game 5 and Game 7 of the NLCS, as well as a timely save in Game 5 of the World Series after Kenley Jansen had lost the role following a Game 4 meltdown.

Now the Dodgers will have Treinen in his age 33 and 34 seasons, which is always a bit of a risk with relievers. So far his stuff hasn’t fallen off, and the Dodgers are essentially banking on his 2020 performance being legit, and all indications are that’s a solid assumption. The Dodgers should end up with another high-leverage option with ZiPS projecting him to be around a 3.3-3.4 ERA guy for the next two seasons, but exactly what role he ends up in his still a question mark.

For those who are absolutely done with Jansen, the bad news is that Treinen was actually worse than him in 2020. The good news is that he wasn’t that much worse and at least provides a credible, almost equal alternative to turn to. It’s just that they aren’t necessarily getting the elite closing option they want here. While $8 million is even less than they paid him in 2020, and I don’t think any Dodger fan would complain about that price tag, the real value for Treinen is in the $17 million total outlay, especially in this market and with the CBA question marks looming.

As Dustin mentioned, there’s also an opportunity cost here if the luxury tax is to be avoided.

So it seems like they felt the cost/years on Liam Hendriks wasn’t a match, and instead of having a locked in closer, they’ll hope one of Treinen, Jansen, Corey Knebel, or Brusdar Graterol emerges. If not, then you begin to see why there were (undesirable) ruminations of Julio Urias going back to the pen instead.

Still, it’s hard to argue with the Dodgers plan at this point, especially given the volatility of relievers and Andrew Friedman’s history of addressing team weaknesses via trade at the deadline if necessary. If a closer doesn’t emerge, they’ll have to pay a price, but I’m sure they’re already looking at potential solutions. For now then, it seems enough that Treinen is back in the mix on a reasonable contract and helps strengthen the bridge to the end of the game for the Dodgers.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times