Dodgers Add John Grabow

‘Tis the week before Christmas, and the Dodgers are done with their holiday shopping, setting us up for two long, cold, quiet months before spring training starts. You know what that means? It means that the club signing another in a long line of veteran non-roster types is worthy of its own post. Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors has the news…

Dodgers signed John Grabow to a minor league deal, I have confirmed. More on MLBTR in a bit.

Grabow, 33 last month – that’s right, he’d qualify for the over-the-hill gang we talked about on Saturday – is a veteran of parts of nine seasons with the Pirates and Cubs, and was part of the 2009 Tom Gorzelanny trade that also included recent Dodger minor-league signing Jose Ascanio. You can check his stat line to get the story, that he was once an effective (if wild) lefty specialist who actually managed to get a 2/$7.5m contract from the Cubs before providing little value thanks to knee and shoulder injuries, and he’s coming off the lowest average fastball velocity of his career. As you can imagine, giving that kind of money to a decent-but-not-elite reliever was laughable even before he started to decline:

Once again, we’re witness to the power of ERA as a negotiating tool. Over the last two seasons, Grabow’s thrown nearly 150 innings and posted an ERA of 3.09, giving the impression that he’s a high quality LH reliever. Yet again, ERA misleads.

Grabow’s FIP the last two years? 4.37, thanks to an atrociously high walk total. The entirety of his low ERA over the last two years is driven by an 82 percent rate of stranding runners, which is just not sustainable. He’s succeeded by putting men on base and then wiggling out of jams, but that’s not the same thing as pitching well.

Reportedly, the Dodgers showed interest in acquiring him back in 2009 – fortunately for us all, it didn’t happen, because I’m assuming that Dee Gordon probably would have been the price – but ultimately, he’s a perfectly acceptable minor-league invite type to compete for a spot in the bullpen as a second lefty to go with Scott Elbert, assuming Hong-Chih Kuo doesn’t return.

This is all well and good. It’s also not all that interesting, since this type of signing happens a dozen times a year. However, I did find two fun facts about Grabow, unless you also want to include the disturbing item that every time I say his name, it reminds me of “Jason Grabowski“, and that’s just unacceptable.

First, this entry from Wikipedia, which as we all know is a completely unimpeachable source of facts.

Grabow grew up a Giants and Dodgers fan, playing first base and emulating Will Clark.

Not cool. Second, his list of comparables from Baseball Reference is a who’s-who of mediocre lefties that may have briefly entered your consciousness, only to drift away, presumably never to be thought of again. Aaron Fultz! Joe Beimel! Jamie Walker! Trever Miller! Scott Sauerbeck! Ron Mahay!

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Update: I briefly considered adding a “hey, at least it wasn’t the Dodgers who laughably gave Jason Kubel 2/$15m like the Diamondbacks did” joke, and decided against it. Turns out, that might have hit closer to home than I thought; according to KTAR’s John Gambadoro, Kubel “considered the Yankees and Dodgers before deciding on Arizona”. (h/t to Eric Stephen for the link.) How is it a bankrupt team is in on every mid-level free agent again?