Is Adam Ottavino a Good Fit for Dodgers?


Being that there’s no shortage of decent relief pitching in this year’s free agent class, one wonders if boss Andrew Friedman will abandon his typical of philosophy from building his bullpen from within and dip into resources from the outside. While there’s still some speculation that the Dodgers will once again land below the Luxury Tax threshold next season, there still may be some room under the cap to land a quality fireman.

Players such as Craig Kimbrel, David Robertson and Jeurys Familia are several of the headliners in this winter’s market, but there are still a slew of bullpen arms which could be had at more economical prices. Normally, the relief pitching market stays strong throughout the winter, as bullpens are sometimes the last area of the team that management addresses. This winter will probably be no exception.

One pitcher in particular, 33-year-old righty Adam Ottavino, caught my eye not long after the free agent class was announced in early November. If his salary demands stay on the low side, he could potentially end up being one of the steals of the offseason.

Originally a first-round draft choice by the Cardinals in the 2006 draft, Ottavino made a name for himself in the Colorado bullpen, logging 360 appearances and throwing more than 390 innings over his seven-year tenure. The New York City native underwent Tommy John surgery early in 2015, but has been relatively injury-free since, aside from mild shoulder inflammation during his 2017 campaign.

Last season, he was one of the most reliable arms in the Rockies’ relief crew, making a whopping 75 appearances and tossing 77-2/3 innings with a .154 BAA, a 2.74 FIP and a 0.991 WHIP. His 13.0 K/9 in 2018 was far and away a career-high.

Ottavino’s 2.6 rWAR in 2018 was the best among all the free agent relief pitchers on the current free agent market.

Ottavino can still throw relatively hard, as he has the ability to gear back and crank his heater to 95 MPH. Deserting the traditional four-seam in recent years, he was known for just two-pitches prior to last season—a sinker and a slider, which both have evolved into plus offerings. But it was the development of his cutter last spring that set him apart for 2018. In a recent interview on MLB Now,  he provided a bit of insight on the cutter, mainly crediting the use of film and technology:

“You can look at the pitch tracking devices, the flight dynamics of your pitch, see how they’re spinning and how much they’re spinning, and then you can go look at it with a really high speed camera and see how you are accomplishing that goal and what you’re doing it right and what you’re doing it wrong,” he explained. “I think it takes a person to kind of look in the mirror a little bit and look at their stats and see where there’s room for improvement and this is just a way to get to that end.”

In theory, Ottavino could be one of the last free agent relievers standing, as this winter’s market appears to be evolving slowly thus far. Tim Dierkes of MLBTR has Ottavino pegged at garnering a contract in the three-year/$30 million range, but if the righty could be had for two years at a rate shy of the $10 million mark, Friedman could be tempted to pull the trigger.


74 thoughts on “Is Adam Ottavino a Good Fit for Dodgers?

  1. I am not the biggest advocate for getting last year’s relief stars. The secret is to find Adam Ottavino before he becomes Adam Ottavino. In 2017, Adam had a 5.06 ERA, 5.16 FIP, and 1.6361 WHIP. The Rockies were so unimpressed that they committed $100MM+ for Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and Bryan Shaw last year. Look what that got them. I am okay with acquiring one of the top relievers having a good year at the deadline but not so much during the off-season. Relievers are quite often unreliable in maintaining excellence from year to year. The Dodgers are already heavily invested in Jansen. Find the next guy for nothing more than the arbitration cost for now.

    If the Dodgers could somehow convince Texas that Jose Leclerc belongs in Dodger Blue, I would be all in. There are a few other obscure relievers that I would inquire on. Otherwise, I will wait for one of the bargain basement relievers to rise to the occasion, or wait until Jesen Therrien is ready. I like Therrien to be this year’s Adam Ottavino.

    1. I’m in agreement Jef and brought up Leclerc in a post yesterday. We were speaking about him quite a bit last July but have kind of forgotten about him this off season. Of course those guys, because of the amount of control left, tend to cost quite a bit in trade rather than in salary. You have to weigh one against the other. Who are some other Leclerc types out there that we might have overlooked? A little more info on Therrien would be appreciated.

      1. On November 29, 2017, the Dodgers signed soon to be 25 year old RHRP Jesen Dygestile-Therrien to a 2 year contract. The contract is for two years because Therrien will not pitch this year as he is recovering from TJ surgery.

        Despite the 17-year age difference, both Therrien and former Dodger reliever Eric Gagne were teammates on the 2017 Canadian WBC team. But their relationship pre-dated the 2017 WBC Tournament. “He’s really been a mentor for me,” the 24-year-old Montreal native said. “After all of my outings, he’ll call me or text me telling me what I did wrong, what I did good.” “He keeps it really simple,” Therrien said.

        “The goal is to get Jesen ready for the 2019 season. We’re really excited about what he’s capable of doing,” said Dodgers director of player development Brandon Gomes. “Now it’s just focusing on getting him as healthy and as strong as possible.”

        Therrien posted a 1.41 in 39 minor league relief appearances in 2017, splitting time between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He struck out 65 and walked only nine in 57 innings, his walk rate improving from 11.3% in 2016 to 4.2% last year. In the last three seasons combined, Therrien in the minors posted a 1.79 ERA with 195 strikeouts and 53 walks in 176 innings, a 27.5% strikeout rate.

        After jumping onto the radar of the Phillies former Manager, Pete Mackanin, in the Spring of 2017, Therrien made his ML debut on July 29, 2017. “We loved him in spring. I loved his breaking ball,” Mackanin said. “We really got excited about his breaking ball. He has a really nasty breaking ball. It’s good to see. … He’s on the map for me based on what I saw in the spring. He came in and threw strikes with a really good looking breaking ball. Especially out of the bullpen, if you have a really good breaking ball and you can command it, that’s half the battle.”

        One other positive note that caught the Dodger player development staff’s attention is that Therrien has been a ground ball pitcher for the bulk of his career, inducing a 48.5% ground ball rate in the majors in 2017 and a 52.5% rate from 2015-17 in the minors.

  2. It is. Relievers are the biggest gamble of all! Boston got both Kelley and Evoldi on the cheap and they shut us down and Colorado spent a fortune and got very little in return. But we need another Morrow for the eighth inning and get us over the top!

  3. And I like our remaining bullpen to cover the 6th and 7th. Baez now that he can throw his slider and change for strikes, Floro, Cingrani and Alexander give us a nice bullpen.

  4. Well, that’s one way to go about it. And. it’s more or less how Friedman has done it since he’s been here. It’s a long list of spinners, rehabbers and bargain basement signings in the last 5 years. Some have actually worked. Most? Meh. They come, they go.

    Why in the world would the Rangers part with Leclerc? He’s not even arb eligible until ‘20.

    I am certain the Friedman team is scouting the wires looking for a possible Brandon Morrow. It’s far more likely to find a few more Koehler’s, and Bolsinger’s. And they will be brought in for a tryout. The question at this time of year is which free agents do we like? Ottavino still walks too many but he’s figured a few things out at age 32 and if the price is right I’d give him the 7th. I’d do the same with Familia and Soria, but they might be good enough for the 8th. To tell you the truth at this point I’m not all that concerned about the front of the pen. It will work itself out. I’m more concerned about Jansen than depth.

    I say again, we haven’t done anything yet and we are the favorites. The money likes the Dodgers. So do I.

    1. Why in the world would they give up Leclerc? Because somebody was willing to give them players that will help them build their team from an also ran into a pennant contender. Bad teams don’t need very good closers when they could turn that guy into good prospects. Now, the question is will the Rangers and Andrew agree on what a fair price would be that would help both teams get better. Probably not, but it’s nice to think about having him for the 8th inning at the right cost.

      1. They had no problem trading Keone Kela. And Seattle traded Diaz. You do not know unless you ask, but there is a price that Texas will accept, but it may not be one the Dodgers would offer.

      2. Everything I’ve read says they have NO intention of trading him. But, everyone has a price. Let’s hear your offer.

      3. He’s an interesting case. Basically has 2+ years in the majors and although he’s always had lots of k’s, last year was the first time he’s been able to keep his walks at decent numbers. Four more years of control. It would probably take something like what they got for Kela last year which might involve White or Gonsolin plus a low level prospect of some promise. Over the past year I’ve really come to appreciate Gonsolin. Might actually give up White before I would him. We have a decent amount of young starting pitching now so if the front office really felt Leclerc was the real deal I might go for it.

    2. Gotta love your optimism my friend. But with Goldy leaving and the fact that the Dodgers core is pretty much intact, I would have to agree. The Rockies have lost a couple of major pieces and to this point they have not done a thing. Most of the movement is taking place in the NL East and Central. Right now all we are getting are rumors and rumors of rumors. No real action. I expect that to all change within the next week. Eovaldi back to the Sox for 4 years, Carrasco signs an extension with the Tribe.

  5. Ottavino is a pipe dream that people should get out of their heads. He will get the standard non-closer relief pitcher max contract of 3 years $30 million from someone and will still be an above average reliever but not replicate what he did last year. You’re better off looking at guys like Adam Warren, Kelvin Herrera, Jake Diekman, Tyler Clippard and Brad Boxberger. Those are the kind of guys Friedman always targets. All have had some form of success before or have a particular pitch they think they can enhance to increase effectiveness. Most importantly all will come on short, cheap deals. I would love to see Andrew Miller in Dodger blue as I think he will rebound this year but Andy will just not pay that kind of money. Joakim Soria and Oliver Perez are also two guys they would be crazy not to look at.

    1. Soria was a Dodger at the beginning of his career. He was drafted in 2001 and released in 2004. He also was part of the trade with the Royals that brought Alexander to the Dodgers. He went to the Sox along with Luis Avilan, the Dodgers got Alexander and Peters, the Royals got Trevor Oaks, and Erik Mejia.

  6. Never been a strikeout guy but gets lots of ground balls and weak contact. I’ve always like Joakim Soria. He used to throw 95 but now he’s only 90-92 but still has success. You would at least know what you were getting with a guy like that.

    1. Now that you mention it, Herrera may be the exact kind of arm Friedman might gamble signing, because his salary will probably be low. He’d be low risk with a very high upside.

      1. I agree. Exactly the kind of signing Andrew loves, but I would also expect another signing or trade on top of that.

  7. The Dodgers could really solve their bullpen issues themselves if they truly wanted. They seem to think every prospect should be groomed a starter instead of taking the cream of the crop to groom for the rotation while letting some of the other young arms who have nice stuff but flaws ditch everything but their 2 best pitches and and see how they react in the bullpen. Yadier Alvarez is the obvious guy here but another I think they should experiment with is Mitchell White. He may very well end up as a 4th or 5th starter type one day but I’d argue he would be just as valuable as a hard throwing setup man in relief. Look at how Caleb Ferguson’s entire world has changed in one season. He was a decent starting pitcher but in the bullpen he was our best lefty.

    1. I agree with this take.

      We have some outstanding young arms that would love the chance to prove themselves a few innings at a time. We have a few who could do it. The problem is not their ability to get ML players out. The problem may be as simple as starting the clock. Friedman will find a few relievers the way he always has. But, that said……Ferguson and Urias worked.

  8. You may be right about how Friedman thinks, but the question for me is why does he think that way? He’s not in Tampa anymore! We’re trying to get over the hump and actually win it all! I don’t want to be like the Buffalo Bills or someone similar and be known for getting there but always losing! Significant moves are necessary, not bargain basement hunting. The Red Sox kicked our asses! They had the highest payroll. Go figure.

    1. That’s just the way Andy is. He is in the big city, but still thinking like he is in Tampa. He also is under a mandate from the owners to keep the payroll under the CBT. So don’t expect too much extravagance.

  9. That bridge guy to Jansen might very well be in the Dodgers system right now. Joe Broussard. The 27 year old has some nasty stuff and did pretty well in spring. He is pitching in winter ball right now. He should get a long look in spring.

  10. It’s not all Friedman. He’s obviously been given a budget and line that he can’t go over but the Dodgers will not publicly say so because then they lose leverage in negotiations. This team can still go to the World Series again without going over the luxury tax line. I’ve been agai at paying out ridiculous contracts for guys like Harper and Machado from the start. You build a dynasty from within through homegrown talent and use free agency as a way to fill in the gaps. As much as we would like it to happen, you can’t just buy a championship.

  11. I just don’t see us doing much in free agency beyond a backup catcher and a reliever. At most a 2B too. I’d be happy with the current team as constructed with the addition of one true late inning reliever to go with Kenley.

      1. I would love to see LeMahieu in a Dodger uni. Ottovino wore 0 with the Rocks. Trivia, who was the only Dodger ever to wear 0? Wilson wore 00.

      2. Al Oliver. We have a payroll of around $197mm. When Friedman was with Tampa that never happened because most of those guys, including Kershaw, would be long gone. And, contracts like the ones offered Anderson, McCarthy and Hill would never have happened.

        Saw predictions for the Top 25 FA at BR last night. All the top teams mentioned – except the Dodgers. Pretty quiet.

        Wife listening to a Mythi broadcast. He’s a scientist from the Pleiades working in the region. He says Earth is a Level 0 consciousness colony. I can believe that.

  12. I figured you would know that there Scoop. The guy could definitely hit. 77 years ago today, we were attacked by the empire of Japan at Pearl Harbor. My dad was there on the USS Nevada and survived. Over 2,000 lost their lives. Take a few moments to remember those who lost their lives on that day…..

    1. I still do. My dad was a Marine in the Pacific. I also stop and take a moment every November 22nd. The nation used to, doesn’t anymore.

      1. I still take a moment on the 22nd also. I remember exactly where I was when we got the news. I was at choir practice getting ready for our Thanksgiving concert. We had just finished when one of my best friends at school told me about it. I did not believe it was true until I saw the flag being lowered to half staff when I went to lunch. I spent the next 4 days glued to the TV.

      2. I was sitting in drafting class. Mr Finney had a radio on while we worked. My table was right in front of his desk. I’m sure he remembered the moment just as I do. We both looked up at each other. I can still his face. A few minutes later the entire school was out on the Senior Lawn. Girls were crying, everyone in shock.

        December 7th is a whole different thing for me. My sister’s birthday.

      3. My birthday is Nov 23rd. I didn’t have a good birthday that year. I hesitate to put this in writing but I fear that with the way we treat each other today, we probably aren’t too far from another event like that. Whether President or member of Congress. Whether successful or not. Whether from the right or the left, we are rapidly losing our humanity. For those who come here to get away from politics (and I am one of those people), I apologize for this post. Actually, I blame Bear and Scoop.

      4. Well Jeff, what we posted had nothing to do with politics. It was about taking time to remember a dark day in our history. Those who ignore the past, are bound to repeat it. As for the reference to the assassination, it is just a day that was also a dark day in history, and those reflections are important to remember. To me and Scoop at least.

      5. As they are to all of us Bear. Some things are even more important than baseball.

  13. Ottavino has spent a lot of time on MLB tv in the last couple of days. Never had an opinion about him one way or the other, but I was really impressed. Very intelligent guy and a very good communicator. Does that make him a good investment for the Dodger bullpen? I have no idea.

    1. I accept the responsibility for stirring up political thoughts Jefe. I probably started it with my twitter post.

      Ottavino looks and sounds like a fit in LA LA land. Make it so.

      1. I compliment you for accepting responsibility, an uncommon trait these days. Would you by any chance be willing to relocate to DC? (Damn, there I go again). Teams seem to be dropping out of the Harper sweepstakes left and right (this statement based on various unconfirmed rumors). We might wind up with him by default and I really don’t know how I feel about that. Numerous reports out there now that Puig is “disgruntled” about being platooned and has lost trust in management. Although he had a bad year against southpaws last year, his numbers lifetime are .250 bat avg against them. I’m a huge Puig fan but I don’t want him here if he doesn’t want to be. Now we just have to convince the Indians they want him.

  14. Everyone is talking about Klubert and I just don’t get why. It’s not his talent because the guy is a legit ace but what makes so many people think Friedman will cough up 2-3 blue chip prospects for a 34 year old starting pitcher with a whole hell of a lot of miles on his arm? It’s like people just say things and don’t think to look at our GM’s obvious tendencies. Friedman puts no value in the bullpen and refuses to pay older players premium dollars. I’m sure it killed him to give Kershaw his extension and he’s only 30.

    1. My thoughts of Kluber went away when Gomes was dealt. I just can’t see Friedman sacrificing any of his resources for just a SP when he already has one of the Top 3 rotations in the NL.

      1. After 2 straight WS failures Andrew may need to think about a rotation that can beat the Yanks, Sox or Astros. I’m very conflicted. I just want this to be over! (unless I’m not happy with what I see or don’t see, in which case I’ll be sorry it’s over). He may also be thinking about 2020 and 2021 when Ryu and Hill will be gone, Kershaw will be another year older and who knows if Urias will be able to function as a starter the way he seemed to be able to do as a reliever this year. As much as he likes Santana, May, Ferguson, Gonsolin, he can’t be sure exactly how they’ll function as major league starters. All of that might lead to his sacrificing something that will surprise us.

      2. I think if Ryu can stay healthy and throw well into the summer, Friedman might throw an offer at him before his free agent momentum builds. Ryu absolutely loves Los Angeles and Friedman could use that to his advantage. The downside is that he’s already 31 with a rickety body, but there’s still less innings on his arm than others his age.

      3. I really hadn’t ever thought about Ryu signing an extension or Andrew offering one but I agree that he might very well be so comfortable here that he would give something of a discount to stay. Now we just have to keep him healthy.

      4. On a different subject, do you know if Cervelli is considered a good defensive catcher? He’s an OBP machine, which should really appeal to Andrew.

      5. Not sure about framing, but I always thought he had a decent glove and a solid arm. Absolutely fantastic clubhouse guy. Just seems to have one or two stretches every single year when he’s hurt, though.

      6. Oh well, Yaz had one or two (or three) stretches every year when he couldn’t hit or catch.

  15. Barnes is the starting catcher this year folks, night as well just prepare for that. I’m rooting for Barnsey though. I’ve akways liked him as a player and I think last year was just one of those years for him. He’s a much better player than he showed in 2018. If Puig had anything close to a level head on his shoulders to call a game and handle a pitching staff I’d say let’s go nuts and try him out behind the plate so a spot opens for Verdugo. At least we wouldn’t have to worry about anyone trying to steal if Puig was back there with that cannon he calls a right arm.

    1. Alex, do you mean to tell me Andrew is going to spend all that prospect capital to get Realmuto and then make him the second string catcher? I’m guessing we’ll see how this all plays out this coming week. Heard an interview with AF today and he said the two main things he needed to work on was to get a veteran catcher to pair with Barnes and to shore up the bullpen. Said there were a number of interesting relievers out there. He also said that he had too many outfielders and intimated that he thought he had too many starters. I’m sure the first one out the door will be Wood and if we get Kikuchi or Kluber/Bauer others could follow. I still maintain that Andrew will be more active this winter than many of you expect.

  16. I don’t think AF is even entertaining the thought of Realmuto at the price they are asking and nor should he. Realmuto is a very good catcher but as I’ve said many times he’s not GREAT. In the end he’s a .270 20HR type player. That’s good but not worth emptying your farm system to get. I think the veteran catcher he seeks is one to back up Barnes, not to start ahead of him.

      1. That may push him ahead of Smith but I don’t think it pushes him to Chavez Ravine at the end of March. Do we know of any free agent catchers who bat lefty and are half decent defensively?

      2. He might be free. His reputation has really suffered over the past couple of years. I think more offensively than defensively, but he can hit left handed (or right handed). A good buy low opportunity, but I’d much rather have Cervelli, even if he hits right handed. Let’s just send them Wood for Cervelli and be done with it. I’d even throw in Rocky Gale.

      3. I don’y think Huntington will deal Cervelli too far ahead of the trade deadline. He always seems to wait until they’re on the verge of being out of the divisional race before he moves his free agents-to-be. Huntington loves Cervelli for his ability to mentor the kids. If Huntington finds himself in a spot to contend, Cervelli may not get moved at all.

      4. If he’s honest with himself there’s no way that team contends this year. Nats, Phils, Braves, Mets, Cubs, Cards, Brewers, Rockies, Dodgers all look like better teams and some of them will add even more before the season starts. Now that I’ve made my pronouncement they’ll probably win 100 games.

      5. Are you saying you think the Bucs are better than the Phils? I think the Phillies are better right now and will probably add another couple of good pieces.

      6. Phillies need at least two more decent rotation arms before they can think about contending. Lack of starting pitching depth is what did them in during the second half of last year. Bullpen needs work, too. I think the Pirates’ staff is much better. Offense is a different story, though.

      7. I think they’ll add a starter and at least one decent bullpen guy this coming week. Between the two, I’d still put my money on Phila. Although getting back to my original point, even if the Phils crash this year there are still too many better teams for the Pirates to contend, so they can give us Cervelli tomorrow. Just a matter of Andrew finding Huntington in that huge hotel and doing the deal.

    1. You could very well be correct, although I think if he gets Cervelli he’ll probably start ahead of Barnes, at least to start the season. I’m looking forward to a week from now when we can stop being upset that Andrew hasn’t done anything and instead be upset at what he’s done. 🙂

  17. I wish Friedman would just once open up the damn checkbook and fix the giant hole that has sunk our ship two years in a row now. Go out and spend $40-45 million and bring David Robertson and Zach Britton or Andrew Miller over and I’ll go head to head with Houston, New York and Boston right now. We all know that won’t happen though so at least go get someone like Kelvin Herrera or Joakim Soria. Both of this guys could be had for 2 years $15 million and instantly upgrade the entire pitching staff. I would gladly hand David Robertson a 3 year $33 million deal to come be Kenley’s right hand man.

    1. I think it’s been fairly well established that Robertson wants to stay on the east coast, but I would be surprised if he doesn’t get at least one of the guys you mentioned or the equivalent.

  18. 64 comments can you believe that Jeff, a little different than the last couple years. Dennis you are doing a great job, keep it up, and thank you.

    1. If you think 64 is a lot Keith, just wait until Andrew trades Buehler, Turner, Seager and Bellinger to Farhan for Joe Panik on Sunday.

    1. I’m afraid not Keith. Some people are hooked on cigarettes, others on booze. I just can’t keep my mouth shut. We all have our demons.

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