In not-at-all unexpected news: J.P. Howell is going to be the newest member of the Dodger bullpen, reports Dylan Hernandez. I say not unexpected because I’ve been alluding to it for a while, and I might have actually had this news out hours ago had I not been out of touch at a concert… but hey, if my choices are watching Weezer’s entire Blue Album being performed by a band who isn’t Weezer or trying to break news about a lefty reliever, I’m not too disappointed with my selection.
Back to Howell, the California native was one of the better lefty relievers in baseball in 2008-09 before missing all of 2010 and part of 2011 with shoulder surgery. He spent much of that time rehabbing in Los Angeles, where he and his wife met while freshmen at USC. (Howell spent just the one year there before transferring to the University of Texas.) He struggled badly while attempting to return in 2011 and was somewhat better in 2012 (3.04 ERA / 4.78 FIP), though not close to his peak. Still, he held lefties to just a .200/.306/.306 line in 2012, and that’s something this bullpen badly needed since Scott Elbert isn’t a true LOOGY (and his coming off surgery of his own).
Howell reportedly will get $2.85m, and while you could argue that’s a lot for a good-but-not-great reliever, this is also a world where 78-year-old Randy Choate gets three guaranteed years, so I can’t find a lot to argue with here. His signing, once official, would fill the 40-man roster, so a move would need to be made if and when other additions happen. This also almost certainly bumps Paco Rodriguez to the Isotopes.
This is now the fifth move the Dodgers have made this winter, four of which have come on the pitching side. I’m guessing it’s safe to say the next move will be to add a position player, whether that’s a righty outfielder or a first base option.