The Dodgers have made their first moves of the offseason.
On Wednesday, the Dodgers and Scott Alexander agreed to a one year contract before the non-tender contract deadline to do so. Dennis covered Alexander and his career yesterday.
Just before the 8pm deadline, the Dodgers also made another move. They acquired right-handed pitcher Corey Knebel from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named later or cash considerations. They tendered him before the deadline and offered him a contract.
Knebel is a former All-Star reliever who is coming off of Tommy John surgery in March of 2019. He did pitch in 2020, garnering a 6.08 ERA with 15 strikeouts and eight walks in 13.1 innings pitched. He also dealt with a hamstring injury this past season.
Apparently, the Dodgers saw signs of Knebel being able to recapture his earlier success. In 2017, he had a breakout season where he had a 1.78 ERA over 76 innings pitched alongside 126 strikeouts. His velocity then was 98+ MPH, although it has waned to below 95 this past season.
Knebel faced the Dodgers in six of the seven games in the 2018 NLCS, when he held them to one run, two hits, two walks and 10 strikeouts in a total of seven innings. He accrued a save, a hold and a win in the process.
Friedman has stated that the relief crew is the number one priority of this offseason. He has also emphasized that he wanted as many different looks as possible coming out of the bullpen. If Knebel regains his form, his four-seam/curveball combo will give a different look from Victor Gonzalez’s sliders and the straight heat from Brusdar Graterol. He should figure to be involved in middle to high leverage situations along with the aforementioned and Kenley Jansen.
Knebel is excited about joining the Dodgers. In an interview with Brewers reporters following the trade, he remarked
“Look, I didn’t perform the way that I should have performed in 2020, so there’s no reason for the Brewers to want to pay me. I have nothing but respect for [Brewers president of baseball operations David] Stearns and [GM Matt] Arnold and [manager Craig] Counsell over there. They’ve been great to me and I loved being over there with them. I understand every point of view for this. But like I said, I am very grateful for the Dodgers to give me this opportunity and I’m excited to be over there with them.”
In an additional interview with MLB Network Radio, he said:
“I’d kinda known I might be non-tendered already a few days ago, and it just happened I got a text from my agent tonight, saying the Dodgers might be interested, and the next thing I know I’m getting a call from Stearns. It all happened in about five minutes…if there’s one thing you want it’s to go to a World Series team. I mean they’re not losing to anybody. This team is stacked. I couldn’t be more excited.”