The Dodgers announced that they have released recently acquired right-hander Ryan Webb. With this move, it becomes relatively clear that L.A.’s incentive in making the swap was simply to acquire the Competitive Balance draft pick that Baltimore included in order to get the Dodgers to assume all of Webb’s $2.75MM salary — a strategy that was examined in depth last night by MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth.
The 29-year-old Webb will now be free to sign anywhere he chooses, and as a player with five-plus years of service time, he is entitled to reject his outright assignment and force the club to trade or release him (with pay). As such, interested parties will only be on the hook for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum on a big league deal, with the Dodgers owing the remainder of his salary. That’s not necessarily a bad outcome for Webb, who is still guaranteed his money and is now free to choose a club that presents him the clearest path to a role to his liking.
As Charlie noted in last night’s analysis, that Webb’s $2.75MM salary is apparently viewed as exorbitant is a bit puzzling in its own right. While he’s not a shutdown reliever, Webb’s never posted an ERA+ lower than 99 and has been better than that in recent years. He’s served as a reasonably effective reliever with the Padres, Marlins and Orioles to this point, working to a 3.38 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 56.1 percent ground-ball rate in his career. While it’s true that he doesn’t fit the mold of the hard-throwing power relievers that are proliferating today’s game — his 92 mph fastball is notably tamer than the 95 he averaged in his first two seasons — Webb has still shown the ability to retire big league hitters.
As I noted at the time of the trade, the Dodgers will add not only the No. 74 pick in the draft, but also the money that comes along with it. That pick comes with a slot value of $827K, which will be subtracted from Baltimore’s draft pool and added to that of the Dodgers. The Orioles’ draft pool will drop from $7,677,400 to $6,850,400, while the Dodgers’ pool will rise from $6,954,700 to $7,781,700. And it should, of course, be noted that the Dodgers do come away with Minor League catcher Brian Ward. While he’s not an elite prospect, Ward ranked as the Orioles’ best defensive Minor League catcher (per Baseball America) prior to the 2013 season, so the Dodgers will at the very least add some depth and a strong defender to their ranks, even if Ward has never hit much.