So here’s a thing that I can guarantee you that you absolutely did not see coming: according to Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers have signed righty reliever Todd Coffey to a one-year, $1.3m deal, with an option for 2013. We’ll talk about what Coffey adds in just a second, but first let’s get to the only reason anyone knows who Todd Coffey is – because he’s a large man famous for sprinting in from the bullpen:
Got that out of our systems? Good. As for Coffey the pitcher, he’s an eminently usable bullpen piece. 31 last September, he’s a veteran of seven MLB season with the Reds, Brewers, and Nationals, and he’s known more for his durability than anything else, having entered at least 69 games in each of the last three seasons and setting a career high with 81 in 2006. His career 4.17 FIP (which he’s beaten in two of the last three seasons) closely matches his 4.08 ERA, and he’s generally induced more grounders than flyouts over his career. Coffey heavily relies on his slider, throwing it 44.3% of the time in 2011 for Washington, and it’s really the only pitch he throws alongside a fastball that averages 93 miles per hour. He’s struck out about 2.3 times as many as he’s walked over the last two seasons, but most importantly, he’s got a huge platoon split, crushing righties (.540 OPS in 2011, .725 career) while being unusuable against lefties (.867 in 2011, .859 career), which is basically what we call “the Octavio Dotel special”.
So a durable, pudgy, entertaining ROOGY for $1.3m? Can’t argue that, even if you can make a pretty convincing argument that he’s a better reliever (younger, better FIP, higher K/BB in 2010-11) than Matt Guerrier, who received 9.2x as much cash last winter over three years. But that’s neither here nor there at this point; more important is what this does to the complexion of the bullpen. It was just yesterday that I was wondering what would change on a roster that seemed all but complete, and Coffey’s addition would seem to round out the seven-man bullpen. This may mean that the club isn’t convinced that Blake Hawksworth‘s elbow surgery will allow him to be ready to start the season – though it happened early enough in the winter that it really shouldn’t be an issue – but it certainly does complicate matters for Josh Lindblom or any of the non-roster guys who were hoping to have a shot at breaking camp with the club. That’s without even considering the case of Ronald Belisario, who is already in Arizona at the team’s complex, but will have to sit out the first 25 games of the season serving his suspension.
I’m not entirely sure that another veteran bullpen arm was strictly necessary at this point, but Coffey is useful enough and for the $1.3m he’s getting, you can’t really argue with it. Works for me.
Update: Carlos in the comments reminds me that the Dodgers already had a full 40-man roster, so someone’s going to have to go unless there’s another move in the works. The bell tolls for thee, Trent Oeltjen? Ramon Troncoso probably shouldn’t get too comfortable either.