The Dodgers have avoided arbitration with right-hander Corey Knebel, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $5.25MM, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). It’s a slight bump from last year’s $5.125MM salary for the Excel Sports client. This is Knebel’s final year of arbitration eligibility, as he’ll be a free agent following the 2021 campaign.
[Related: MLBTR’s 2021 Arbitration Tracker]
Los Angeles acquired Knebel, 29, from the Brewers in a buzzer-beating trade before MLB’s tender deadline earlier in the offseason. Milwaukee had been set to non-tender Knebel before finding a last-minute taker in the Dodgers, who agreed to send a player to be named later in return. Minor league lefty Leo Crawford was traded to the Brewers once the Rule 5 Draft had passed, completing the deal.
Knebel struggled in 2020, his first season back after undergoing Tommy John surgery in early 2019. Beyond an unsightly 6.08 ERA in 13 1/3 innings, there were plenty of red flags for Knebel in 2020 — most notably a 94.4 mph average fastball velocity that sat three miles per hour shy of its 2017 peak. However, Knebel’s velocity ticked upward late in the season, which could have been enough to give the Dodgers hope that he’ll regain some of the life on his heater next year when he’s another season removed from surgery.
From 2017-18 with the Brewers, Knebel racked up 55 saves while pitching to a 2.54 ERA and identical 2.54 SIERA over the course of 131 1/3 innings. Along the way he emerged as one of the game’s premier strikeout artists, punching out a ridiculous 40.2 percent of the hitters he faced. With the Dodgers, he’ll join a late-inning mix featuring Kenley Jansen, young flamethrower Brusdar Graterol and the recently re-signed Blake Treinen.