The Dodgers have agreed to a deal with right-hander Hansel Robles, reports Mike Rodriguez of Univision (Twitter link). It’s a minor league contract, tweets Juan Toribio of MLB.com. Robles was released by the Red Sox earlier this week.
Robles, 32 next month, has long been a tantalizing late-inning arm who’s been prone to inconsistent performance despite possessing impressive raw stuff. The right-hander averaged 96.2 mph on his heater with the Red Sox this season, which ranks in the top 15 percent of MLB hurlers, and has fanned more than a quarter of his opponents in 427 1/3 innings scattered across parts of eight big league seasons. However, Robles logged a career-low 18.9% strikeout rate this year against a career-high 12.6% walk rate, and the resulting 5.84 ERA through 24 2/3 innings prompted the Sox to eventually move on.
Walks have always been an issue for Robles (career 10.2%), but at his best he’s shown the ability to miss bats in bunches, thanks to that power fastball and a pair of secondary offerings in his changeup and slider. The changeup has long rated as the better of the two pitches, per FanGraphs’ run values, and that’s all the more true in recent seasons. Opponents slugged .594 against Robles’ slider this season, ripping a pair of doubles and three home runs off the pitch.
The Dodgers’ bullpen isn’t at full strength right now, so it’s only natural that they’d be intrigued by a veteran power arm who has, at times, looked like a very capable late-inning reliever. Blake Treinen has been shelved for the past three months due to shoulder troubles, while Daniel Hudson — who’d been one of the team’s best setup options — suffered an unfortunate ACL tear when fielding a grounder last month. Flamethrowing sinker specialist Brusdar Graterol hit the injured list just yesterday due to a shoulder issue, and the team has yet to announce the results of today’s followup imaging. Right-hander Tommy Kahnle has been out since May due to a bone bruise in his right elbow.
Robles is far from the first veteran pickup whom the Dodgers have opted to stockpile in the minors. They’ve also added righties Pedro Baez and Dellin Betances, although Betances has struggled in Triple-A, while Baez is only just building back up with the Dodgers’ Rookie-level club after a shutdown period. He’s thrown three scoreless innings but is presumably not an option in the very near term.
Robles seems likely to join Betances in Oklahoma City, and if he can get on track in a hurry, there could be a bullpen opportunity before long — particularly if Graterol is to miss an extended period of time. The Dodgers will, of course, be active in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, so it’s certainly possible — if not likely — that they’ll add some more established help to an injury-depleted relief corps in the next 18 days.