One of the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ biggest weaknesses last season was their bullpen.

It was no secret, and the numbers didn’t lie. Los Angeles relievers in 2014 surrendered more earned runs than 18 other bullpens in the majors, and only four other relief corps finished the year with a higher walk rate.

While the Dodgers have revamped their roster in a myriad of ways this offseason, the bullpen could still use some shoring up considering its main additions this winter have been Joel Peralta, Juan Nicasio and Chris Hatcher. None of those names represent what most teams would consider lockdown arms out of the pen.

The previous Los Angeles front office under the guidance of former general manager Ned Colletti also took some heat for the failed former closer experiment he initiated by signing Brian Wilson and Chris Perez prior to the 2014 season.

Although both right-handers are no longer part of the team, President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and new general manager Farhan Zaidi should not completely avoid adding former closers if they are available—especially if they have a relatively consistent track record of success.


Casey Janssen

A former closer for the Toronto Blue Jays, Casey Janssen could be a solid free-agent signing for the Dodgers as a potential late-inning option in advance of closer Kenley Jansen. 

The right-hander emerged as a reliable option for the Blue Jays from 2011-2013, during which time he averaged a 2.77 ERA and 3.04 xFIP.

He continued to perform well as closer through the first half of 2014 before a bout with food poisoning derailed his season and likely caused his value on the market to plummet. During Janssen‘s first 22 innings of 2014, he turned in a pristine 1.23 ERA. Following the July sickness, he coughed up a 6.46 ERA in roughly the same number of innings.

Janssen lost exclusive closing duties as a result of the implosion and finished the season with a 3.94 ERA and 4.22 xFIP. Los Angeles may have a buy-low opportunity with the 33-year-old, as he still has not been scooped up on the open market and would not be required to close games for the Dodgers.


Rafael Soriano

A reliever who has found himself in a similar position to Janssen is free agent Rafael Soriano, formerly of the Washington Nationals.

During his two-year stint with Washington, Soriano posted a 3.15 ERA, 7.7 K/9 and saved 75 games. His consistency is illustrated by the fact that he has recorded an ERA north of 3.19 just once since 2006.

However, the 35-year-old also experienced struggles halfway through 2014. He had five blown saves following the All-Star break and seven overall, which was a career high. The younger Drew Storen eventually supplanted him as closer by the end of the season.

Soriano continued to struggle in the late-inning relief role, allowing at least one run in more than half of his September appearances.

Although free-agent relievers like Andrew Miller, David Robertson and Luke Gregerson received hefty offers in free agency this offseason, Soriano should expect a pay cut from the $14 million he made during each of the past two seasons.

The Dodgers will most likely use Soriano in the seventh or eighth inning if they bring him aboard. Giving him $10 million per year might be too much for Friedman and Zaidi considering how a similar deal with Wilson backfired last season.

Something in the range of two years and $10-12 million might make more sense. Whether or not Soriano agrees to that type of deal is a different story.


Francisco Rodriguez

While Soriano is due for a pay cut, veteran right-hander Francisco Rodriguez is expecting a raise this winter.

That’s because he looked like the K-Rod of old last season, notching 44 saves for the Milwaukee Brewers and finishing with a 3.04 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and a 9.7 K/9 ratio. It’s safe to say he has re-established himself on the market and will not accept anything less than the $3.25 million he made in 2014.

Rodriguez’s resurgence stemmed from the .216 BABIP he induced, the lowest mark since his electrifying rookie year with the Angels more than a decade ago. Over the course of his 13-year career, Rodriguez has posted an ERA above 3.16 just twice.

His 69 appearances last year highlighted noteworthy durability as well.

However, there are some red flags the Dodgers may have already noticed. His 4.50 FIP in 2014 was nearly a run-and-a-half higher than his ERA and the 14 home runs he coughed up were a career high.

Rodriguez will turn 33 later this week.


All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs unless otherwise linked/noted.

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