This isn’t very surprising news, as every vying team is still interested in improving their pitching arsenal as the trade deadline approaches. What’s surprising is that the Dodgers find themselves three games behind the Giants in NL West, a team few picked as division favorites at the start of the season. And that divisional roster is at least in part attributable to the Dodgers losing to the Giants by losing their ninth inning lead over the past two nights.
Overall, the bullpen has not been a glaring weakness for the club this year. The Dodgers relievers, as a whole, have a 3.73 ERA, the Majors’ 10th best. But they’ve also taken a few hits lately, with Jimmy Nelson and Alexandre Scott towards the injured list. David Price also had to switch from the pen to the rotation, in order to cover the recent injury of Clayton Kershaw.
For Kennedy, it seems certain that he will change his jersey next week. He is a free agent at the end of the year and currently plays for a Rangers team that is 35-62, behind every team in the American League except the Orioles. So far, he’s pitched 31 1/3 innings for Texas, racking up 15 saves with a 2.59 ERA. Advanced metrics are somewhat skeptical, with xERA, FIP, and xFIP setting it at 3.40, 3.80, and 3.88, respectively. But he has excellent strikeout and walk rates of 26.8% and 5.7%.
Kenley Jansen has been closer to the Dodgers for a decade now, and will likely continue in that role. But there are reasons for pessimism in his profile this year. Despite 21 saves, a 3.05 ERA and a 27.2% strikeout rate, Jansen has a horrific 16% walk rate, more than double his career rate. This is probably why some advanced metrics think its ERA is a mirage, with xFIP placing it at 4.79 and SIERA at 4.56.
It’s possible that this is just a small sample of noise, as we’re only talking about 38 1/3 innings and Jansen’s Statcast profile still looks pretty healthy. But since Jansen is in the final year of his contract and will be 34 at the end of the season, the Dodgers don’t need to be invested in Jansen in the long run and could certainly switch to an alternative like Kennedy’s. they felt they had to.
On the money side, Kennedy is playing on a salary of $ 2.15 million this year, which leaves less than a million to shell out. The Dodgers don’t have to worry about tiptoeing under the luxury tax because they’ve already passed the $ 250 million mark. (Roster Resource currently has their luxury tax calculation at $ 262 million.) But that means they pay a whopping 62.5% tax on any extra wages they receive, which could make a contract modest like Kennedy’s more attractive than a more expensive addition such as as Craig Kimbrel, who still owes more than $ 6 million from his $ 16 million salary this year.