Dodgers to sign Blake Treinen to 1-year, $10 million deal

Blake Treinen

After a somewhat frustrating first couple days of the Winter Meetings — and the third that hasn’t exactly been super promising if you’re an Anthony Rendon fan — the Dodgers made their first significant move of the offseason by inking former Athletics’ reliever Blake Treinen to a 1-year, $10 million deal.

Treinen, 31, is coming off a season that saw him struggle immensely. He posted a 4.91 ERA, 5.14 FIP, 5.01 xFIP and a 8.3 K-BB%. Those are all very awful. It’s disappointing because he’s coming off a historic 2018 season that was the 6th-best, in terms of WAR, in the last 20 years.

So, what went wrong? I’m not entirely sure. Al Melchior of RotoGraphs wrote about Treinen being a bounce-back candidate last week.

“It was be easy to conclude that Treinen’s struggles were partially related to the shoulder strain that shelved him briefly during the midseason. He wasn’t especially effective upon his return, and by the time he was dealing with a stress reaction in his back in late August and September, he had a particularly tough time getting outs. While we can’t be sure that Treinen’s difficulties were entirely health-related, getting his shoulder and back to 100 percent would seem to be a necessary, if not sufficient, condition for him to approach his 2018 level of success. At 31, Treinen is still young enough to make a comeback conceivable, assuming he can get healthy and correct what other issues may have been affecting him.”

Allow me to also share Twitter user @eccentricladdie’s thoughts on Treinen.

Treinen is an extreme sinker/2-seam guy. He’s one of those pitchers who is filthy when he’s on but very hittable and wild when he isn’t. That could be said about literally every pitcher, but it seems to hold more true when it comes to pitchers with lots of movement. He not only saw his command go to hell, his ground ball rate dropped by almost 9 points and his HR/FB% skyrocketed from 4.4 percent in ’18 to 16.4 percent last season. Treinen allowed nine home runs in 58 2/3 innings of work.

Before last year’s massive hiccup and 2018’s outlier, Treinen was pretty consistently a mid-3 FIP guy, which is perfectly acceptable for a reliever. He misses enough bats to be effective, and you have to think with the success the Dodgers have with their pitchers that Treinen can at least get back to the guy he was from 2014-17, if not back to the 2018 version.

Of course, he could be the 2019 version (or similar) and the investment won’t look as good — that’s always a possibility. However, there is no such thing as a bad 1-year deal, which is all this is (no incentives, no options). This will be a big year for the right-hander and, if Kenley Jansen struggles again in 2020, Treinen could see some time in the closer’s role. But we’re a ways off from that.

He was projected to make $7.8 million in his final arbitration year before the A’s non-tendered him last week. The fact that the Dodgers paid more than he was projected to make means the A’s missed out on a chance to move Treinen for anything useful. Oh well.

When a guy can do this, you start to salivate at the thought of Mark Prior and the Dodgers’ coaching staff getting their collective hands on him.

And here’s a breakdown of his pitches, courtesy of Rob Friedman (no relation to Andrew).

His velocity dipped a bit across the board in ’19, but not at an alarming level. Perhaps the shoulder injury was a significant factor in his harsh regression.

All in all, a nice start to the Dodgers’ offesason. Now, let’s hope they can keep it going. Please?

About Dustin Nosler

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Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.