Can Tommy Kahnle Help the Dodgers’ Bullpen in 2022?

With the venue to the MLB lockout talks shifting to Florida on Monday, there’s still not much light at the end of the tunnel as far as a collective bargaining agreement goes. As it stands, the MLB on Friday cancelled spring training games between February 26 and March 4.

Writers and bloggers have gotten creative during the time off, as the roster freezes have put a halt on major league player transactions. Our friend Steve Adams over at MLBTR last week put together an interesting story surrounding eight pitchers who could make an impact in 2022.

Although Adams didn’t mention Caleb Ferguson, who should be able to contribute at the beginning of the season, he did discuss the return of Tommy Kahnle, who also should be ready to go once all this CBA chaos is settled.

Just before the 2021 season began, the Dodgers signed the righty Kahnle knowing that he’d sit out a full year after having undergone UCL surgery the previous August. The deal was for two years and $4.75 million. At the time, there were expectations he could pitch by the end of the 2021 season, but those plans were void not long after the All-Star break.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pound righty hasn’t thrown a full season of work since 2019 with the Yankees when he made 72 appearances, posting a 3.67 ERA and a 1.060 WHIP with 88 punchouts and 20 walks over 61 1/3 innings of work.

Kahnle’s best year as a big leaguer came in 2017 when he split time between the Rockies and White Sox as a 27-year-old, posting a combined 2.59 ERA with 96 strikeouts over 62 2/3 innings.
Now, at 32, the New York resident looks to get back on track in his final contract year with the Dodgers.

Kahnle throws primarily a four-seam, a changeup, and a slider. While most pitchers — especially relievers — often avoid throwing changeups to same-handed batters, Kahnle will throw it anywhere, at any time. It’s that good.

He’s about 50/50 heat and off speed; his fastball touched as high as 98 MPH before his surgery in 2020.

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While we know that Kahnle should be healthy, it’s tough to say where he’ll fit into the bullpen without seeing how effective he can be post-surgery. Corey Knebel landed in Philadelphia, and there’s still a ton of uncertainty around a potential Kenley Jansen return. As it stands, veteran righty Blake Treinen quite possibly could open the season as the closer, but the high-leverage crew could be a fight between guys like Ferguson, Brusdar Graterol, Phil Bickford, Alex Vesia and maybe even Daniel Hudson.

Either way, we can be sure Kahnle gets his fair share of looks.

20 thoughts on “Can Tommy Kahnle Help the Dodgers’ Bullpen in 2022?

  1. Kahnle should be a great help. I believe the Dodgers will sign Jansen. Jansen admitted last year he had not been open to a different pitch mix earlier. Now that he has opened up his pitch mix his cutter is more effective.
    Treinen, Vesla, Bickford, Graterol, Gonzalez, Clevenger, Ferguson the bullpen should be fine. Plus there is true talent at the Farm Level with guys like Pepiot, Knack, Miller, etc that could come up and pitch out of the pen. I would like to see the Dodgers give one or two of the young pitchers a shot at the rotation as there are several of them on the cusp of the MLB. If and When the season starts LOL…


    1. We’ve signed Daniel Hudson and, unless he becomes injured, he’s more likely to be on the roster than is Clevenger.

      I also hope we bring back Kenley as closer, but even if we don’t I think it would be a waste to use Treinen in that role. Use Treinen to face the toughest part of the order in the last few innings or to put down a rally with men already on base. That’s a much tougher job than being the closer and starting the ninth inning with the bases empty.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m ready to move on from Kenley therefore I would only offer a one year contract that had incentives.


      2. You’re certainly entitled to feel that way, Fred, but if you offer him a one-year contract you’re basically telling him you don’t want him back.

        I’m guessing he’ll receive multiple 2 or 3 year offers.


  2. Jeff, what do you think it’s going to cost to resign Kenley? With the closers role being shared more and more these days, I wonder how much Andrew will be willing to pay.


    1. Under normal circumstances, I think Andrew would be willing to pay as much as anyone else, but these aren’t normal circumstances because of the Bauer situation, and we also have no idea what CBT penalties will be in the new CBA.

      Just a wild guess, but I would say KJ will wind up signing for something like 2/28 or 3/40, something with an AAV of about 13-14 mil per year. Based on the way he threw during the second half last year, he’d be worth it. Liam Hendriks, who is a year younger than Kenley signed a 4 year deal with the White Sox last year at about the same AAV and they both had the same number of saves last year and very similar bWARs.


      1. You think someone will pay substantially more than what Liam Hendriks got last year?
        Unless the Mets decide to go berserk who else might pay all that much more?
        I figure we’ll be competing against the Phillies, Marlins, Giants, Red Sox and a couple of others but I just don’t see him getting all that much more than $13-14MM per year over 2 or 3 years. I could be totally wrong, though. We shall see.


      2. Marlins, Phillies, Nationals, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Giants, Rangers….. who am I missing?

        Jansen is coming off a solid year. He’s averaged $19 million the last 3 years. He could get 3 more at only a little less than that. He’s 34. Yeah, we’ll see. It seems there’s always somebody who will overpay. Hopefully the Dodgers will be competitive and he stays.


      3. Nats won’t pay him that kind of money. They won’t be competitive this year.
        Rangers may not be either but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them do it anyway.
        Farhan might enjoy doing that to us.
        OK, with the over-under at $15MM AAV, you’re taking the over, I’m taking the under.


  3. If Kenley is in that price range, I can see AF bringing him back. I hope Kenley doesn’t price himself out of the Dodgers’ budget.


      1. Robbie Erlin. LHP Was drafted by the Rangers in 09. Played parts of 7 seasons in the bigs. Last year was in the KBO. Has started around 45 games in the majors. Pitched out of the pen last year.


  4. As I understand it, the players now want 80% of players to be arb eligible after 2 years with some sort of a performance stat to determine who those 80% are. They had said they would stop negotiating on arbitration and then came back and included this issue as part of issues to be negotiated. That is canceling a step forward and replaces it with a step backward in regard to coming up with a new contract.

    I think a rookie pitcher who pitches 150+ innings and has 80% quality starts should get more than the minimum. They could be one of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues for two or three years, get injured, only make 2% of their worth, and be out of baseball. That is wrong!

    The bonus pool should be large enough to take care of top performers in their pre-arb years. If that bonus is capped at $5MM per such player instead of a lid on the total pool, that would seem more fair. Plus, make sure it is a bonus and not a salary increase so that it has to be earned each year until arb eligible.


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