Spring Notes: Kenley Jansen still at closer, payroll questions, NRIs, 40-man shuffling

Baseball is back, which is always an amazing feeling no matter what, but I gotta say that the first off-season I’ve experienced with the Dodgers being reigning World Series champions was especially nice. Sure there was a lot of stuff that happened in the world, but when it came to baseball stuff, in the end I never felt like I had to stress all that much. A truly relieving feeling. Regardless, the grind has now returned with Spring Training, and hopefully the players weren’t as chill as I was during their time off.

One important thing to remember about Spring Training reports is that hope is abundant since for the most part any cold reality has yet to strike, so take everything with a grain of salt. People aren’t exactly gonna be out here acting like everything is terrible, especially since they just won the World Series.

Probably the most contentious quote that has emerged so far is Dave Roberts once again backing Kenley Jansen to close.

Personally though, this makes sense. Kenley is now just a good reliever instead of an elite pen arm, but none of the other guys the Dodgers currently have offer a better combination of experience and performance.

That shouldn’t be a surprise since their pen has a ton of upside rebound arms and young power arms, both of whom are generally still trying to establish themselves with the team. The plan was always essentially hoping that at least one reliever emerges as a closer by the time the playoffs come around — assuming Kenley doesn’t find a time machine — and at present those guys haven’t shown much yet. If none do breakout then closing is likely the role Julio Urias will find himself in once again, or they’ll end up exploring a mid-season trade.

Either way, not sure this is worth getting amped up about, especially since Dave sounds the least committed to Kenley he’s ever been in Spring Training.

Speaking of the pen, it seems like Dave expects things from Brandon Morrow.

I mean, the upside is elite so he’ll always get a shot. Curious what his velocity looks like at this point.

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The Dodgers have 31 non-roster invitees at Spring Training, and Dodger Insider has blurbs on all of them so I don’t have to.

Update: Dustin is whining to me that he wrote about them as well.

Speaking of NRIs, it seems like at least newcomers Corey Knebel, Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot, Garrett Cleavinger, and Alex Vesia are off on the right foot.

They’re likely going to need Knebel and at least one of Cleavinger or Vesia this year.

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As far as the rotation goes, some have had questions about David Price with the layoff, but he at least claims he’s ready.

Speaking of starters, it seems like Jimmy Nelson will at least be built up as one, even though a lot of his potential is probably in the pen.

With the innings bump this year, it’s possible they’ll need as many as they can get.

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To clear room for Trevor Bauer, Josh Sborz was designated off the 40-man, and was then traded to the Rangers for Jhan Zambrano.

Not much to say about this as somebody had to go and the return was a 17-year-old lottery ticket.

Speaking of 40-man roster moves, Caleb Ferguson was moved to the 60-day DL for recovery from Tommy John surgery to clear the way for Justin Turner.

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Given that the Dodgers have blown past the luxury tax before and had to restrain themselves for a few seasons after, it’s valid to be concerned about whether they’ll have to do similar sooner than later. However, Andrew Friedman has said that at least this year they don’t have any instructions to shed salary.

Makes sense since they certainly have the money to absorb the penalties now, especially with a clear path to resetting the penalties by at least 2023 or so.

About Chad Moriyama

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