Dodgers Add Bullpen Depth In Ryan Webb

Say this for the new front office: They do not mess around. After only three games (and one bullpen implosion), the Dodgers have apparently made a move, sending minor league catcher Chris O’Brien and reliever Ben Rowen to Baltimore for reliever Ryan Webb, minor league catcher Brian Ward, and a competitive balance pick, No. 74 overall in the upcoming draft, giving the Dodgers four of the top 74 picks.

Webb, 29, was a fourth-round pick of the A’s back in 2004, but made his debut with the Padres in 2009 and spent three seasons with the Marlins before joining the Orioles as a free agent prior to 2014. Despite having a two-year contract, he was designated for assignment earlier this week to make room for extremely short-term Dodger Ryan Lavarnway.

Obviously, all that time with Oakland gives GM Farhan Zaidi some nice familiarity with Webb, and in six seasons he’s been a decent enough reliever, with a nearly identical ERA/FIP of 3.38/3.37. He doesn’t miss bats, but he does get a ton of grounders. That’s what you’d expect when you have a guy who throws his sinker 60% of the time, and he throws it pretty hard. I’m guessing this isn’t entirely unrelated to the loss of Brandon League, actually.

Really, Webb’s a useful enough guy who got let go only because the Orioles had entirely too many relievers — Zach Britton and Tommy Hunter and Brian Matusz and Wesley Wright and Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day — and needed to clear up a roster spot. Personally, I would have preferred Matusz, also rumored to have been available, but really, who can complain when Webb came for free?

I’m not just being snarky, either. As much as I/we/Brim all loved the idea of Rowen, the fact is that he was signed to a no-cost minor league contract. O’Brien is nearly 26 and essentially organizational depth, although, hey, this is from just a few hours ago and is super awkward!

I guess I should mention Brian Ward. Now I have.  (Okay, fine: He’s 29 and probably wishes he could hit as well as Drew Butera, but is reportedly an elite defensive backstop.)

For $2.75 million (Webb’s salary) and some minor league pieces that probably won’t ever be missed, the Dodgers picked up a ground-balling righty who can fit into the bullpen right away.  How that happens, exactly, is unknown — I’m guessing Pedro Baez or Yimi Garcia are getting optioned back to Triple-A, or maybe Darwin Barney. That’s just speculation for now, and with today being an off day, we might not find out immediately. Since the 40-man roster stood at 39, Webb can be added without having to DFA anyone.

A useful piece who’s not a big name but adds depth for a low cost, plus a draft pick? Why, that doesn’t sound like the nerd squad’s doing at all.

About Mike Petriello

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