It has been a profoundly sad week for the Los Angeles Dodgers family and the entire baseball world. The passings of Tommy Lasorda and Sandra Scully have left everyone with heavy hearts and prompted solemn reflection.
That the Dodgers were able to end their prolonged championship drought so soon before these two treasures departed seems tragically poetic.
The love and support flowing towards both the Lasorda and Scully families during these unspeakable circumstances are powerfully moving. It might be the one bit of solace throughout all this.
We love you, we’re with you, and please know that a big part of why this is such a terrific franchise is because of all you’ve done. Thank you.
This extended Dodgers family unites by a shared love of all things Dodgers. We all remember moments shared with loved ones through the good times and the bad, and this most recent championship was certainly a cathartic release of both pent up frustration and unbridled joy.
The Dodgers are now on a pursuit to defend that championship. It is always a balancing act to look towards the future while never forgetting the past.
This upcoming season will find various ways to honor these two icons, and their shared love of all things Dodgers can be potent fuel.
One of the primary goals was to tinker with the bullpen. Numerous possibilities have arisen to address that area, including Kirby Yates.
There’s an article by Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times that details the Dodgers plans with addressing that bullpen.
The Dodgers were interested in Liam Hendriks, widely considered the top reliever on the market this offseason, but that potential acquisition is starting to appear less likely.
Hendriks is reportedly seeking a four-year contract, and the Dodgers don’t appear to have any interest in that type of commitment this offseason for a relief pitcher.
With Hendriks seemingly out of the equation, the Dodgers are looking towards alternatives, the main option being someone like Brad Hand.
While Hand wouldn’t be as expensive as Hendricks, the Dodgers are also reportedly interested in an intriguing option that’d be cheaper than Hand.
Yates looked dominant from 2018-2019. However, he ended up missing a huge chunk of 2020 due to undergoing elbow surgery back in August.
That recent injury history is what’s going to make the price tag on Yates fall relative to those other bullpen options on the market.
However, Yates has been excellent when healthy, and bringing him abroad seems like the type of move this front office likes to initiate.
Buying low on receivers with tremendous upside is becoming a familiar pattern that has reaped benefits for the Dodgers as of late.
Yates will seemingly be ready to go for the start of the 2021 season. He should be able to provide an immediate impact for whichever club signs him.
Yates led the entire Major Leagues in Saves in 2019, and getting that type of proven asset for a diminished cost is enticing.
It’s all a question of whether Yates will be the same player coming off that surgery, and the front office and medical staff need to do their due diligence exploring all that.
It feels like it could be a golden opportunity to get a decreased price on the type of player who could be the top receiver on the market in any given offseason under normal circumstances.
From 2018-2019, Yates threw a combined 123.1 innings and registered a 1.67 ERA, a 0.91 WHIP, and averaged 13.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
Just for comparison’s sake, from 2019-2020, Hendriks threw a combined 110.1 innings, registered a 1.79 ERA, a 0.90 WHIP, and averaged 13.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Hand has a longer track record of success compared to both Hendriks and Yates but hasn’t achieved the statistical peaks of either one.
From 2016-2020, Hand has thrown 320 combined innings, registered a 2.70 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP, and struck out 12.2 batters per nine innings.
When last healthy, Yates put up even better stats than what Hendriks is now using to command what would probably be the top deal for a reliever this offseason.
The main differences are that Hendriks will turn 32 before this upcoming season and is healthy, while Yates will turn 34 before this upcoming season while coming off elbow surgery.
Hand is the youngest option of the three, set to turn 31 before this upcoming season, and has put up closer-type stats longer than either Hendriks or Yates.
If the market develops as such that Hendriks gets more than Hand, and Hand gets more than Yates, it will be interesting to see the discrepancies in those three eventual deals.
There’s a case to make that when healthy, Yates is better than both of those two, and if he ends up getting significantly less than Hendriks, that team signing Yates could be getting a steal.
Worst-case scenario, Yates is not as effective post-surgery, but it’s not like the market developing for him will make any team commit long-term.
The rewards could end up being impressive for a relatively cheap cost. If Yates is considered the fallback option, then a team like the Dodgers unwilling to go long-term to the extent Hendriks supposedly wants can be confident that they could potentially land someone who could put up similar numbers out of the bullpen for a fraction of the price.
(Featured Image: Jon SooHoo)