Update: Jon Heyman reports the deal is done, and that the third year is actually a mutual option that becomes a player option if Howell makes the 120 appearances.
As usual, I leave the house for a few hours, and things begin to happen. First and foremost, it sounds like J.P. Howell might be on the verge of returning, reports Ken Gurnick. The deal would reportedly be for two years and $11.5 million, with a vesting option for $6.25 million in 2016 if he managed to hit 120 appearances in the first two seasons.
If true, that would seem to be great news for a Dodger bullpen that badly needed a lefty, since Scott Elbert won’t be ready to pitch for a while and Paco Rodriguez has much to prove after flaming out so badly down the stretch. Howell was a very useful piece of the 2013 team, and the reported terms make even more sense when you compare Howell’s 2013 against Boone Logan and the $16.5m he received over three guaranteed years from Colorado last week.
Assuming Howell returns, this leaves the bullpen looking something like this:
With Jose Dominguez, Javy Guerra, and (I guess) Seth Rosin in the mix, and likely one more addition to be made, probably someone with “closing experience” as we talked about the other day. That’s shaping up to not be a bad bullpen at all, isn’t it?
Unrelated but entertaining, the team has also welcomed back old friend third baseman Josh Bell, who gets a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. (Per the team, the six who have invites to camp are Bell, J.C. Boscan, Sam Demel, Brendan Harris, Daniel Moskos, and Clint Robinson, each of whom we’ve discussed previously.)
If you don’t remember Bell, he was a fourth round pick of the team in 2005 who put up some decent stats in the minors before being traded to Baltimore for George Sherrill in 2009. (I liked the trade at the time, for the record, and Sherrill went on to be outstanding down the stretch before being mismanaged by Joe Torre in 2010.) Bell saw time in 100 big league games between 2010-12 for Baltimore and Arizona, but hit only .195/.223/.265, and was released by both the White Sox and Yankees’ Triple-A teams in 2013, not playing after July. He exists only because Albuquerque needs someone to play third base, and even that’s no guarantee at this point, though he is only 27.