Dodgers sign pitchers Tyler Anderson, Danny Duffy, Jimmy Nelson & trade Luke Raley + 4 new NRIs

A lot has happened since the Dodgers signed that Freddie Freeman guy (who is decent), as they recently signed pitchers Tyler Anderson, Jimmy Nelson, and Danny Duffy to one-year deals, and have traded Luke Raley to the Rays for Tanner Dodson. Additionally, the Dodgers had 22 non-roster invitees at Spring Training last time we checked in there, but now there’s been four more additions to that pack.

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Despite all the hype about the lineup, the Dodgers still have a bunch of question marks in their rotation. To address this, they’ve given Tyler Anderson a one-year contract worth $8 million and he’ll be expected to eat innings and lock down a rotation spot.

The 32-year-old lefty has pitched to a 4.62 ERA and 4.43 FIP in his six seasons. He pitched primarily for the Rockies before going to the Giants in 2020 and splitting last year between the Pirates and Mariners.

Of course, that time in Colorado means his numbers are a bit misleading, though he didn’t blow anybody away last year either, posting a 4.53 ERA and 4.37 FIP over 167 innings. His arsenal consists of heavily mixing a fastball, sinker, cutter, and change, with perhaps a rare curve thrown in. He doesn’t miss a lot of bats and doesn’t miss the zone a lot, but he’s usually decent enough.

Honestly, that’s probably about what the Dodgers are looking for, a fringe-average starter to keep them in games and hold the fort down until starter reinforcements arrive at mid-season. Makes all the sense in the world with their rotation situation, even if it isn’t the sexiest acquisition. Though it’s worth noting that he did struggle after the sticky stuff enforcement went into play, so monitor that this year.

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Danny Duffy was acquired last year in a trade but didn’t pitch for the team as he had an injury setback — eventually having off-season surgery on left flexor tendon — but now he’s re-signed for 2022 and the Dodgers have a club option for 2023.

Most of the analysis at the time of the trade still holds up, except he’s undergone another procedure, so there’s further doubt in his ability once he returns.

Duffy, 32, has a 2.51 ERA, 3.39 FIP and a 17.1 K-BB%. His 25.8 K% would be a career-best. The southpaw is a 5-pitch pitcher: 4-seam fastball, slider, changeup, sinker and curveball. He throws all pitches at least 10% of the time, with his 4-seamer and slider being his two most frequently used offerings.

Either way, it’s always good to add a quality pitcher. He might start, he might relieve — either way, he’s a good arm and checks a lot of what the Dodgers look for in their pitchers.

Yeah, so basically he’s good … if he can throw, and if he can throw to the levels he was at before the injuries.

The club option is because he’s likely to be out until at least June and it’s unknown when he would even be truly back to where he was before.

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Speaking of currently-injured Dodgers re-signing, Jimmy Nelson is also back with the club on a one-year deal, also with a club option for 2023.

Hey, remember when that former Dodgers Digest writer and current Astros employee (trader!) wrote up Nelson early last year? Yeah, always bet on stuff, and Nelson was excellent for the Dodgers when healthy, putting up a 1.86 ERA and 1.89 FIP in 29 innings for the team. He was arguably the team’s best reliever, and with him healthy perhaps the 2021 postseason goes different.

No idea if he’ll even be back this year, but just the prospect of him returning could be a boost late in the year.

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In trade news, the Dodgers have dealt Luke Raley to the Rays for minor-leaguer Tanner Dodson, primarily to open up a 40-man roster spot.

The 27-year-old Raley was atrocious in his MLB debut, putting up a .182/.250/.288/.538 line with 25 strikeouts in 72 plate appearances, a slash that at times seems friendly compared to how overmatched he looked. That said, he has done nothing but hit in the minors, so maybe it’s worth it for the Rays to find out if he’s a AAAA guy or a guy.

Dodson is a second-round draft pick of the Rays from 2018 and is entering his age-25 season. Last year he had a 2.50 ERA in 39.2 innings at A+ but struggled to a 4.86 ERA in 16.2 innings at AA. He had a typical high strikeout and high walk statistical power profile and Joshua Morgan of DRaysBay says he has the arsenal to match.

Tanner Dodson was drafted by the Rays with the 71st overall pick in the 2018 draft as a two way player. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019 and early in the 2021 season he transitioned to the mound full time. In 56.1 innings as a multi inning reliever he put up a 3.20 ERA and 3.59 FIP. He posted a 26.3% strikeout rate and 9.5% walk rate. He throws an upper 90s fastball and high 80s slider.

The stuff certainly seems interesting.

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Back to the non-roster invitees, as there are a few interesting ones in this crop.

Pitchers

Shane Greene
Reyes Moronta
Mike Wright

Greene ended last year with the Dodgers, giving up three runs in 6.2 innings and wasn’t a factor in the playoffs. Even during his “good” seasons as a reliever in 2017, 2019, and 2020, Greene ran FIPs in the high-3s, so he’s a safety valve at most but one with extensive experience.

Moronta is a 29-year-old former Giants reliever, who actually has great career numbers. In four seasons with the Giants he had a 2.65 ERA with a 3.44 FIP and has struck out 11 batters per nine (despite 5 BB/9). So what’s the catch, right? Well, he missed all of 2020 with shoulder issues and threw only four innings last year after making it back. More concerning, he was once a flamethrower that sat at 96-98 mph, but averaged 93.9 mph last year. If his stuff ticks back up, then watch out, but other than that it’s hard to say.

Wright is a 32-year-old reliever who has a career 5.97 ERA and 5.19 FIP. He spent 2020 in the KBO as a starter but wasn’t all that great there either, then came back in 2021 and put up a 5.50 ERA and a 4.84 FIP in 18 innings with the White Sox. Fringy stuff as well, so I’m guessing just roster depth.

Infielders

Jake Lamb

Lamb was an All-Star in 2017 and put together two connected seasons where he had an OPS of .843 for a 113 OPS+ with the Diamondbacks. But in his last four seasons he has dealt with injuries and has bounced around with four different teams, putting up a meager .663 OPS. He hasn’t had a handedness split over the last four years and was never known for his defense, so unless he turns back the clock it’s hard to see a fit. Perhaps the Dodgers find a way to unlock whatever has been ailing him, or perhaps he’s finally healthy, or both.

About Chad Moriyama

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