Monday, December 9, 2013

Dodgers' Winter Meetings shopping list: Relievers - Albers, Logan, Veras

In the last of a four-part series, I look at what left-handed relievers the Dodgers could target at the Winter Meetings, which start today.

The Dodgers did quite well when they re-signed Brian Wilson last week. That helped to shore up the back end of the bullpen, but there's still some work to be done.

I looked at some bullpen options last week -- one of whom signed on the day of the post (Wesley Wright with the Cubs).

There are plenty of relievers to be had, including some intriguing options from both sides.

Matt Albers

Albers is an extreme groundball pitcher. The Dodgers just non-tendered an extreme groundball pitcher in Ronald Belisario. But Albers would be a nice addition as a replacement for Belisario -- if the Dodgers are looking for a pitcher who doesn't rely on the strikeout as much as other guys.

Going into his age-31 season, Albers could continue to get better, especially if his sinker continues to do magical things.

John Axford

I wrote about Axford last week, and he's going to be one of the hottest commodities on the free agent market, so he won't be inclined to sign quickly if the deal doesn't meet what he's looking for.

Still, he's just two seasons removed from being an elite closer who has nasty strikeout stuff. He'd be worth a look.

J.P. Howell

Howell is the must-sign of the Winter Meetings for the Dodgers. If it means a 3-year deal, the Dodgers need to do it. Howell is unlike most desirable pitchers on the market. He is plenty good at getting batters out, but he does it with a below-average fastball. His off-speed pitches are good and he throws them where he wants.

I'm probably in the minority when it comes to giving him a 3-year deal, but I'd do it without hesitation.

Boone Logan

I'm kind of surprised Logan is available and/or hasn't been snatched up yet. In the last three years, he's struck out 10.9 batters per nine innings while keeping his pitches somewhat under control.

Logan, 29, is strictly left-handed specialist. In his career, lefties have hit .243/.312/.378 against him. Righties have hit .297/.379/.475. If he's throwing against a right-handed hitter, it's in an extreme situation or his team is getting blown out.

Oliver Perez

Perez enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in 2013. For the Mariners, he threw 53 innings that had mixed results. He had a 3.74 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 1.0 HR/9 and a 4.4 BB/9. Definitely not great. But he struck out 12.6 per nine innings in those 53 innings.

He's the "boom" guy available from the left side. He's as likely to strike out the side as he is to walk two batters and give up a home run. But that mid-90s fastball from the left side is awfully intriguing.

Jose Veras

Veras began 2013 as the Astros' closer before being traded to the Tigers to set up Joaquin Benoit. He had a solid season and has been just that for the last few years.

Veras, 33, showed marked improvement with his control in 2013. He reduced his walk rate to 3.2 per nine innings. That makes him a much more reliable reliever. He also has three pitches he goes to -- a fastball, a splitter and a curveball. He has confidence in all of his pitches, which makes him a more viable weapon out of a bullpen.

Photo credit: Keith Allison, Wikimedia Commons

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