A key member of the the Dodgers’ World Series-winning bullpen is returning to Los Angeles next season.
The Dodgers announced on Tuesday that they have signed reliever Blake Treinen to a two-year deal. Los Angeles did not disclose the contract’s value, but a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand that it is worth a guaranteed $17.5 million and includes an $8 million club option or $1.5 million buyout for the 2023 season.
Treinen, 32, was a key bullpen piece for the Dodgers’ run to the World Series title in 2020, and he was considered one of the better free-agent arms available in the relief market this winter. The right-hander finished the abbreviated campaign with a 3.86 ERA and 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings across 25 2/3 innings in a comeback effort from a down year with the A’s in ’19. Treinen then recorded a 4.76 ERA across 11 postseason appearances and earned a save in Game 5 of the World Series.
“Any time the best team in baseball wants to sign you, it’s a blessing,” Treinen said. “They know me from last year, we were able to work on things and get to a point to be even better this year. I’m very excited to be back with the Dodgers.”
Treinen is expected to once again fill an important setup role in the Dodgers' bullpen alongside Brusdar Graterol in front of veteran closer Kenley Jansen. Los Angeles finished the 2020 regular season with the National League’s best team relief ERA at 2.74.
Of course, Jansen struggled down the stretch last season, and Treinen was asked about the possibility of filling the closer role. He mostly brushed it aside, citing his desire simply to pitch in high-leverage spots -- regardless of when those moments come.
“I thoroughly enjoy just throwing in meaningful innings and getting big outs,” Treinen said. “The Dodgers gave me every opportunity to do that last year. Obviously closing is an iconic role, you really enjoy having that opportunity to be a closer. I would invite being a closer. But I also really enjoy winning, and being on that team with L.A. was phenomenal, because everybody just wanted to win and do what it took.”
Treinen has plenty of experience in the closer role. As recently as two seasons ago, he was arguably the sport’s best reliever. With Oakland in 2018, he recorded 38 saves and posted a 0.78 ERA across 68 appearances and finished sixth in voting for the American League Cy Young Award. He slumped in ’19 for Oakland, which allowed the Dodgers to sign him to a relatively affordable one-year, $10 million deal.
In a shortened 2020 season, the Dodgers evidently saw enough to make Treinen a part of their long-term bullpen plans. His numbers were solid, but a few of Treinen’s peripheral metrics indicate he might have been even better than those numbers indicated.
According to Statcast, Treinen recorded an 84.8 mph average exit velocity and 1.3 percent barrel rate, both of which ranked among the top five percent in the sport. The sinkerballer also induced a subzero average launch angle and a 64 percent ground-ball rate.
Treinen joins Corey Knebel as high-profile Dodgers bullpen additions this winter, though Los Angeles might still be searching for relief help with Pedro Báez and Jake McGee having hit free agency. Los Angeles also signed righty Tommy Kahnle, though the right-hander will miss the 2021 season following Tommy John surgery, and the club traded for lefty prospect Garrett Cleavinger from Philadelphia.
Without question, the Treinen signing is the Dodgers’ highest profile bullpen transaction this offseason, and the two sides clearly love the fit.
“It’s a great organization, and I had such a blast with the players and with the staff members,” Treinen said. “My family really enjoyed being in L.A. We’re excited to be back.”