Hey, remember Jamey Wright? This is not a rhetorical question. I’m literally asking if you remember that Jamey Wright exists on this planet and once pitched for the Dodgers. In fact, not only did he pitch for the Dodgers, but he was the only reliever to stick on the active roster in 2012 from Opening Day through Game 162.
He’s approximately 75 years old (okay, 39 on Christmas Eve), he’s famously made teams in each of the last nine seasons without a guaranteed contract… and he’s relevant because Ken Rosenthal reports that he’s currently choosing between the Dodgers and the Rays, for whom he pitched in 2013. Wright hasn’t signed with a new team before January since 2004, so my guess is that if he’s choosing between offers this soon and has more than one, it’s a major league deal for once.
Wright is fantastically unexciting, so you’ll be excused if you hope he chooses Tampa Bay. But before you root on that too hard, know these two things:
1) The Dodgers have only three-and-a-half relievers right now…
Kenley Jansen and Brian Wilson are locks, and Chris Withrow is pretty close. Paco Rodriguez is too, though I’m more than a little worried by how badly he finished the year. (Hence the half.) I suppose Brandon League is as well, but I try to pretend he doesn’t exist.
And then… what? Scott Elbert will be on the disabled list. Jose Dominguez missed so much time that he could easily start in Triple-A, and Onelki Garcia is so inexperienced. Javy Guerra is still floating around, I guess. When Ned Colletti says things like “three more relievers,” well, you can understand why.
2) …and Wright is better than you think he is.
Again, guys in their late-30s who don’t throw hard and bounce to new teams every year as NRIs are far from flashy. But Wright somehow keeps improving. I mean, his K/9 went from 4.36 (!) in 2010 with Cleveland and Seattle to 6.32 in 2011 with Seattle to 7.18 in 2012 with the Dodgers to 8.36 in 2013 with Tampa…. and he dropped his BB/9 below three for the first time ever last year. His FIP marks the last two years have been 3.39 and 3.13; his ERA the last three years is 3.32.
He’s not throwing harder; if anything, he’s throwing softer than ever. What he’s done is nearly entirely ditch his traditional fastball in favor of a cutter, and incorporating a changeup that he rarely used before:
Now if it turns out he’d rather be a Ray, that’s fine. I won’t mourn him too much, by which I mean “at all”. But I can’t imagine he’s coming for anything more than a year at under $2m at his age, and he’s showed continued — hell, improved — utility while throwing 60 games or more in five of the last six years. That’s a guy every team could use. It’s especially a guy this team could use, with their bullpen uncertainty. And if he comes in and turns into a pumpkin? Well, then you DFA him, because the cost will be (presumably) so minimal.
You know what? That works for me.