The Dodgers have selected the contract of veteran right-handed reliever Nate Jones from Triple-A Oklahoma City, per a team announcement. Infielder Travis Blankenhorn, whom L.A. recently claimed off waivers from Minnesota, was designated for assignment in order to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Jones.
Jones, 35, had a strong spring showing with the Braves but was rocked in his 10 1/3 innings for Atlanta during the regular season. Lack of command was his primary downfall, as Jones issued 10 free passes in that time. The Braves released him earlier this month, and he quickly inked a minors pact with the Dodgers.
Jones allowed four runs in three innings with the Dodgers’ Triple-A club, but he also had a 6-to-1 K/BB ratio there. The improved control seemingly was enough for the Dodgers to give him a look at the big league level. It helps, of course, that Jones has a lengthy track record at the big league level. The veteran hurler was somewhat quietly a high-quality member of the White Sox’ bullpen from 2012-19. He battled numerous injuries along the way, but whenever Jones was healthy enough to pitch, he was generally sharp. In 291 1/3 frames with the South Siders, he pitched to a 3.12 ERA with a 26.5 percent strikeout rate.
Blankenhorn, 24, was a third-round pick of the Twins back in 2015. He’s tallied four plate appearances with the Twins since Opening Day 2020, representing his lone MLB experience. Last year’s canceled minor league season meant Blankenhorn missed what would’ve been his first taste of Triple-A action, so the six games he’s played there in 2021 are his first at that level. He hit .278/.312/.474 with 18 dingers and 11 steals at Double-A in 2019. Given the heavily pitcher-friendly nature of that setting, Blankenhorn’s slash line was good for a hearty 125 wRC+.
The Dodgers will have a week to trade Blankenhorn or attempt to pass him through outright waivers. He has a minor league option remaining beyond the 2021 season and has ample experience at second base and third base, so it’s not out of the question that another club with some infield needs might look to place a claim or pick him up in a small trade.