The Dodgers, who recently learned that closer Kenley Jansen will be sidelined for eight to 12 weeks due to foot surgery, are showing interest in Joba Chamberlain, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The team is also considering “other possibilities,” though Rosenthal doesn’t elaborate any further on that notion.
Speculation following the news of Jansen’s injury was that the Dodgers may jump into the top end of the free agent relief market — specifically meaning Francisco Rodriguez or Rafael Soriano. However, multiple reports quickly downplayed that speculation, suggesting that if anything, adding a middle relief arm would be more likely.
Chamberlain, 29, fits that description, although as I noted recently, one could make a case that he’s the best buy remaining on the free agent market. He’s certainly the youngest notable free agent left in free agency, and he enjoyed an overall solid year on the mound, pitching to a 3.57 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 53.2 percent ground-ball rate. It’s true that Chamberlain faded in the season’s second half, but much of that is attributable to a nearly seven-percent dip in his strand rate.
Chamberlain stranded better than 75 percent of baserunners in the season’s first half — a mark that’s well in line with his lifetime 74.6 percent clip — and saw that number dip to 69 percent in the second half. Strand rate can fluctuate in small samples but typically regresses toward a pitcher’s average rate, giving reason to believe that Chamberlain could see improved all-around results in 2015. (A move to the National League, of course, may be beneficial to his bottom-line numbers as well.)
Adding a reliever in the wake of Jansen’s injury may seem an overreaction to some, but the Dodgers had some bullpen depth issues even when Jansen was healthy. Beyond Jansen, the team projects to have Joel Peralta Brandon League, J.P. Howell and Paco Rodriguez in the ’pen, with candidates for the final two spots including Juan Nicasio, Chris Hatcher and Pedro Baez. Non-roster invitees include David Aardsma, Sergio Santos, Erik Bedard and David Huff. While the makings of a solid bullpen certainly could be in that mix of players, man offer question marks in terms of health, inexperience and/or recent struggles at the big league level.