The Dodgers have agreed to terms with left-hander Scott Alexander on a one-year, $875K contract to avoid arbitration, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Alexander falls a bit shy of his $1MM projected salary.
The 30-year-old looked like a potential non-tender candidate, perhaps explaining his decision to settle for slightly less than expected. An integral part of the Los Angeles bullpen in 2018, Alexander was limited to just 28 games last season, none after June 5. Alexander suffered a season-ending forearm issue in his throwing arm, which culminated in surgery to relieve nerve irritation in September.
Alexander’s time in LA has been a bit of a mixed bag. Over the past two years, he’s given the Dodgers 83.1 innings with a 3.67 ERA and mediocre strikeout (18.9%) and walk (9.9%) rates. Alexander’s an elite ground-ball specialist, though. His 68.5% ground ball rate the past two seasons trails only Zack Britton among still-active pitchers (minimum 50 innings). The former sixth-round pick turned those worm-burners into stellar results with the 2017 Royals, spurring the Dodgers to part with fairly well-regarded pitching prospect Trevor Oaks to bring Alexander aboard.
Predictably, Alexander has been a bit better retiring lefties (.250/316/.328) than righties (.253/.325/.363) over the course of his career. The Dodgers already have Adam Kolarek on hand as a more extreme lefty specialist, although the three-batter minimum rule likely to be instituted in 2020 could adversely affect both hurlers.
Today’s news doesn’t cement Alexander’s status with the Dodgers. Arbitration salaries don’t become fully guaranteed until the start of the regular season, so LA could yet choose to part ways later on at minimal cost. Alexander will, though, at least keep his 40-man roster spot for the time being. If he sticks on the roster for the winter, he comes with two option years, giving the Dodgers some coveted flexibility.