Dodgers Roster: More Thoughts on a Potential Brandon Morrow Signing

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(Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports)

While it hasn’t yet been a week since the conclusion of Game 7 of the 2017 World Series, there’s already been a ton of speculation stirring on how the Dodgers will fill in the blanks for the prospective 2018 player roster.

Andy reported yesterday that the Dodgers did indeed decide to exercise Logan Forsythe‘s team option, but perhaps more importantly she noted that the 40-man roster is now full, after a handful of players were emptied off the 60-day disabled list to begin the winter. With a full roster, plenty of movement will be expected over the coming months as numerous players are traded, designated for assignment, non-tendered, or added because of Rule 5 implications.

There have been many discussions so far about a potential signing of righty reliever  Brandon Morrow, who was one of six players who became a free agent at the conclusion of the World Series. Fans certainly seem to want the front office crew to pursue a contract with the 33-year-old Santa Rosa native, and Morrow himself has even expressed a desire to come back and pitch for Los Angeles.

“I only knew one person here when I first signed,” Morrow said not long after Game 7. “I kind of warm up slowly to people, I’m reserved at first. But once you get it in and you’re a part of the team, it’s awesome. The talent here is amazing. Everybody’s so professional and prepares and is really close to each other.”

Morrow was one of several Dodgers who remained in the dugout to watch the Astros celebrate on the field at Dodger Stadium when they clinched the franchise’s first-ever World Championship last Wednesday, perhaps reflecting on his 2017 journey, one which saw him resurrect himself from a shredded shoulder not so long ago.

After missing almost 18 months recovering from a severe impingement, Morrow posted a 1.69 ERA in 18 relief appearances after his return to the mound for the Padres towards the end of 2016. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and his crew took a shot on the right-hander last winter, knowing how much he could bring to the table if he was somehow able to return to his form of old.

And return to form he did.

The Dodgers initially selected his contract on May 29, and after he proved to management that he was 100% healthy, he was called up for good on June 21. Over the course of the regular season, he made 45 appearances, posting a 2.05 ERA and 1.55 FIP with 50 punchouts and nine walks over 43-2/3 innings of work. He appeared in 14 of the 15 games for the Dodgers this postseason, as he was one of the few relievers that skipper Dave Roberts trusted in critical situations.

As far as his repertoire goes, Morrow has the ability to throw from a vast selection of pitches, always being known to tinker with different styles and release points. This season, his fastball sat at 96-98 MPH, while occasionally topping out at 100 on the gun. The best thing about his four-seam is that it has late movement, and can be deadly up in the zone when it’s working properly. Back in the day, he was notorious for his splitter, though recently he has focused on a more controlled slider and cutter to compliment his heater.

There’s no question that Friedman and his crew will pursue a contract with the righty, but when considering the reality of a possible signing, the chances seem quite slim when based on prospective comps of other relievers of the same mold.

Surely, if he stays healthy, Morrow profiles as a capable closer for many clubs around the league, and will certainly demand a multi-year deal, something that Los Angeles management may cringe upon, especially when considering the Dodgers’ intentions of decreasing the club’s payroll. It wouldn’t be surprising if Morrow’s camp began talks in the 2-year/$20 million neighborhood, a figure similar to what closer Greg Holland landed from Colorado last year after missing a whole season because of reconstructive elbow surgery.

Looking ahead to 2018, it will be difficult to replace Morrow, as he was far and away the best option when it came to bridging the gap to All-World closer Kenley Jansen. As it stands now, based on players who will be returning, potential options for a 2018 late inning relief options include Josh Fields, Pedro Baez and Kenta Maeda, if Maeda doesn’t begin the season in the starting rotation.

Last year it took the Dodgers about half the season to find a formidable eighth-inning setup man, and if Morrow slips through the grasp of Friedman and his crew this winter, Los Angeles may be in a similar situation next year when trying to build a successful bullpen for the long haul.

(FOLLOW DENNIS ON TWITTER: @THINKBLUEPC)

 

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22 thoughts on “Dodgers Roster: More Thoughts on a Potential Brandon Morrow Signing

  1. It will be really interesting to see how the Morrow off-season scenario unfolds. As a long-time fan, I swallowed hard and accepted the World Series loss, feeling that at least we took one more step this year. The only thing left now is a WS victory. No more getting there and coming in second best. With that in mind, they absolutely need to spend the money necessary to strengthen the bullpen, hopefully with Morrow returning, but if not, someone of equal stature. If we have a bullpen where Baez or Fields are even considered as the bridge to Kenley, we haven’t done our winter job correctly. Then we need to add a couple of pieces to fill in for the 6th and 7th inning (old speak for “fill in wherever the new analytics would have them used” and that will differ on a game by game basis). With Cingrani, Avilan, Liberatore, Dayton and Paredes as bullpen possibilities we probably need to spend most of our time looking at righties.

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    1. dayton is gonna be out all of next yr due to tommy john but i would love if they sign mike minor and morrow to be the 7th and eight inning to jansen

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      1. Mr. Zaidi is the master of misdirected information. One thing for sure, the roster is in far better shape than it was the day after the season ended in 2016, but I’m sure there will be changes. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but Farhan has just been named editor of Fake Baseball News. 🙂

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      2. It’s gonna take a little research, but sooner or later I’m gonna need to determine who needs to be added to the 40-man to be protected from Rule 5. Off the top of my head I know Dickson and Scavuzzo won’t be protected, but I was thinking about Trevor Oaks and Joe Broussard. Broussard doesn’t throw as hard as Morrow, but his hard stuff has excellent movement which may play huge at the big league level. This could be the year he finally gets a shot.

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      3. I look forward to your research. Agreed that Dickson/Scavuzzo won’t be on the list. I know you love Broussard and Locastro so hopefully they’ll both be on the 40-man. Am I correct that Urias and Dayton need to be kept on the roster even though neither may play next year? Depending upon how many guys may be added, I could see one or more of the following being removed: Font, Segedin, Thompson, Ravin, Paredes. I don’t think it’s likely that 5 players are added so I’m assuming that not all five of the players I named will be taken off. Of course, they might come up with something creative to do with Kazmir and might trade Grandal. Lastly, there is Gonzo but I’m thinking he may be untradeable.

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      4. Both Urias and Dayton can be bumped to the 60-day DL not long after the start of spring training, which will open up their respective spots on the 40-man. Speaking of which, another name we haven’t mentioned in awhile is Yimi Garcia. Will be interesting to see how he recovers.

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      5. Moving Urias and Dayton to the 60 day in February will help somewhat but not for moving guys to the roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. Along with the 5 guys I mentioned above as possibly being on the cusp I guess we have to also include Culberson also.

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      6. I just don’t think they’ll offer Culberson a deal, especially with the right-handed bats of JT, Taylor, Enrique and Forsythe around. Charlie helped out the front office a great deal last year by not electing to become a minor league free agent, but I think he’ll declare this year if they don’t offer him some type of big league contract straightaway.

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      7. I agree on Culberson. At least he helped himself with his WS performance. At this point, I think his only chance is if they’ve decided to trade Forsythe, move Taylor to second and need one more multi-faceted spare part. And even then, they may decide to use Locastro for that. Charlie deserves a major league contract. I just don’t think he’ll get it from the Dodgers.

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  2. I loved Morrow pitching for the Dodgers this year, I hope we bring him back. After watching the the way Andrew, and company, run the team, I don’t think signing Brandon for multiple years, at 8 or 10 mil per year is the type of signing they will do. I do like the arms in our pen, we just need a set up guy, one arm, and the bull pen is set. Someone like Morrow, or minor, and we are good to go.

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    1. I agree that they haven’t been willing to spend a lot of money on a setup/bridge guy in the past, but strategy is changing, starters are going fewer innings and that guy is more important than ever. I’m guessing they will spend on one guy like that but I doubt they would bring in Minor AND re-sign Morrow. Maybe one or the other.

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  3. Mike minor, played with the royals last year. 2.55 era,10.2 k/9,1.01 whip, in 77 innings.He is comperable to Morrow, I’m not sure who is better, Dennis might have a better opinion on that, but he is 3 years younger,and is a south paw. After re reading the article , and the comments I’m starting to think, unless they find good value with someone, they will use in house players to build the pen, if it’s not working make a trade in July.

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  4. We agree on the pen, I think they will also stay with the starters that are already witn the team. So how do you see them improving /strengthening the team?

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    1. Mike Petriello has an interesting post up on mlb.com touting Tyler Chatwood as another potential Charlie Morton, especially if you remove his starts at Coors (of which there were plenty since he pitched for the Rockies last year). I wonder if Andrew Friedman and friends would consider signing him. He has all the Dodger prerequisites – he won’t be horribly expensive, has a high spin rate and is injury prone (2 previous TJ surgeries). I realize the last thing they probably need is another non-stud starter, but you never know how that high spin rate might tempt them.
      By the way Dennis, not sure how you feel about our referring to other websites as I did above. If you would prefer we not do so, just say the word.

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      1. If I read correctly, he recommended that Grandy would fit with the Nats, Pirates or Angels. Never recommended that the Dodgers get him. Who knows, if the Pirates had traded for him, the WS victory parade probably would have been in Pittsburgh this year. 🙂

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