The Dodgers lost pitching coach Rick Honeycutt to retirement earlier this month, though they appear to be closing in on a replacement. They’re working toward a deal to promote bullpen coach Mark Prior to take over for Honeycutt, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. It won’t be a surprising hire, as president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman suggested upon Honeycutt’s exit that Prior would grab the reins.
Prior, who’s now 39 years old, still counts as one of the most hyped pitching prospects of the past couple decades. He was a member of the Cubs from 2002-06, a span in which he ranged from good to excellent, but a rash of injuries ruined Prior’s MLB career and prevented him from pitching professionally after 2013. Prior then spent time as the Padres’ minor league pitching coordinator for three seasons before the Dodgers hired him to oversee their bullpen in advance of the 2018 campaign.
Now, assuming Prior does succeed Honeycutt, he’ll be inheriting a pitching staff with no shortage of talent. The Dodgers’ relief corps was somewhat of a sore spot in 2019, especially during a Game 5 meltdown against the Nationals in the NLDS, though the club’s pitchers still ranked at or near the top of the majors in ERA (first), K/BB ratio (first) and fWAR (second). Unfortunately for LA, it’s now at risk of losing starters Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill to free agency in the coming weeks. However, the big-spending team could re-sign either or both and/or go outside the organization this offseason to give Prior more to work with in 2020.