Royals closer Wade Davis is “someone who interests the Dodgers,” reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The Dodgers, of course, have one of the best closers in all of baseball in the form of Kenley Jansen and actually rank first in the National League in bullpen ERA, but as Heyman notes, that didn’t stop the club from pursuing a massive bullpen upgrade this winter when they made a run at Aroldis Chapman. The Dodgers have been plagued all season by rotation injuries, and adding a reliever of Davis’ ilk would lessen the workload from a starting staff that is presently a bit of a question mark for Los Angeles. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman is quite familiar with Davis, having drafted him while serving eas GM of the Rays. Davis, 30, has a 1.10 ERA in 32 2/3 innings this season and has a $10MM club option on his contract for the 2017 season. Theoretically, he could step into the ninth inning for the Dodgers next season if a trade does come to fruition, though it’d be a surprise if they didn’t at least attempt to re-sign Jansen.
A few more notes on the market for relievers…
- The Braves are getting some hits on right-hander Jim Johnson, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark. With Lucas Harrell traded to the Rangers and little interest in names like Erick Aybar and Gordon Beckham to this point, Johnson could seemingly be the next Braves chip to move. He’s toting a pedestrian 4.58 ERA on the season but, as Stark points out, has pitched to a much improved 2.49 ERA since coming off the disabled list in early June. His strong 56 percent ground-ball rate and respectable marks of 7.6 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 lead ERA estimators to project a mark more in the mid-3.00s than his current figure, and Johnson’s $2.5MM salary figures to be appealing to clubs looking for an affordable middle relief arm.
- Royals righty Luke Hochevar is a potential target for the Giants as San Francisco searches for relief upgrades, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Hochevar’s name hasn’t been out there much, but the mutual option on his contract means that he’ll almost certainly be a free agent at season’s end, as such options are rarely exercised. The former No. 1 overall pick has settled in as a quality bullpen arm in Kansas City and has recovered nicely from 2014 Tommy John surgery, as he owns a 3.86 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 36.1 percent ground-ball rate in 37 1/3 innings this year. While his velocity isn’t at its 95.5 mph peak from the 2013 season, he’s still averaging a strong 94.4 mph in 2016, and SIERA pegs him at a more favorable 3.16.
- The walk-off loss suffered by the Nationals last night following a blown save from Jonathan Papelbon has only intensified their pursuit of a dynamic late-inning relief arm, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Washington has been tied to a number of bullpen arms as of late, including Davis, Andrew Miller and David Robertson. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal writes that the Nats considered Joe Ross, Lucas Giolito, Trea Turner, Reynaldo Lopez and Victor Robles untouchable in Chapman talks, so one can imagine that they’d be reluctant to part with any of those names in other trade talks (though Miller’s two years of control beyond 2016 might at least make such an idea more palatable).
- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told reporters, including Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (Twitter link), that following yesterday’s acquisition of Joaquin Benoit, Toronto is “probably” more likely to pursue rotation help than additional bullpen depth.
- ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that given the high asking price for impact relievers and the desire of clubs like the Nationals and Giants to acquire such an arm, it makes sense for the Pirates to listen to offers on Mark Melancon. Left-hander Tony Watson could step into the ninth inning in his stead, and Melancon would be a highly sought-after commodity that could bring back a significant return for the Bucs. Earlier this morning, I discussed that very possibility with Josh Taylor of TribLive Radio in Pittsburgh (link), suggesting that the Pirates have the pitching depth to absorb the loss and could recoup greater value right now than through a potential qualifying offer, which seems unlikely from the budget-conscious Pirates anyhow. There’s yet to be any concrete word that Pittsburgh will market its closer, however.