Dodgers building bullpen, re-sign Treinen

By Jorge Castillo
Los Angeles Times/TNS

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Dodgers addressed one of their top priorities this offseason Tuesday by re-signing Blake Treinen to a two-year contract with a team option for the 2023 season.

Treinen is guaranteed $17.5 million over the next two seasons, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The club option is worth $8 million. He will receive a $4 million signing bonus, a $6 million salary each of the first two years, and a $1.5 million buyout if the Dodgers don’t exercise the option for 2023. The 32-year-old right-hander could earn up to $24 million over the next three seasons.

A year ago, the Dodgers saw Treinen as a low-risk, high-upside opportunity. Treinen was one of the best relievers in the majors with the Oakland Athletics in 2018 when he posted a 0.78 earned-run average and 38 saves in 68 appearances. He made the All-Star team and finished sixth in the American League Cy Young voting.

But the sinker specialist stumbled in 2019. His ERA ballooned to 4.91. His walk rate surged to 5.7 per nine innings. The Athletics, always looking to shave dollars, did not re-sign him. The Dodgers, confident they could remedy his struggles, pounced and gave him a one-year, $10 million contract.

The salary was reduced because of the shortened, 60-game regular season, but Treinen’s impact was substantial. He became one of manager Dave Roberts’ most trusted bullpen arms. He had a 3.86 ERA and allowed one home run in 27 regular-season games. He compiled just 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings - his lowest figure since he broke into the majors - but his walk rate dropped to 2.8 per nine innings.

In 11 postseason outings, Treinen was charged with six runs on nine hits with 10 strikeouts and one walk across 11 1/3 innings. He earned his first career playoff save in the Dodgers’ 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the World Series.

Treinen is the Dodgers’ third significant bullpen acquisition this offseason. The club acquired right-hander Corey Knebel, a former All-Star closer, from the Milwaukee Brewers in November as another reclamation project after a bumpy return from Tommy John surgery in 2020. Last week, they signed right-hander Tommy Kahnle to a two-year deal with 2022 in mind; he underwent Tommy John surgery in August and won’t pitch in 2021.

Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Blake Treinen celebrates after the final our in a 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the World Series at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, on Oct. 25, 2020.