Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell went 4-1 with a 2.18 earned-run average in 67 games for the Dodgers in 2013. (Getty Images)
For a left-handed set-up man like J.P. Howell
the market has pretty much been set. Right?
Javier Lopez got three years and $13 million from the San Francisco Giants.
On Friday, Boone Logan got three years and $16.5 million from the Colorado Rockies.
Howell was just a nudge better than those two in 2013 while doing essentially the same task, retiring left-handed batters in close games before the ninth inning. He’s 30; Logan is 29 and Lopez is 36. If the market trend continues, Howell can probably make a good case to earn a little more money than Logan. Say, three years and $18 million.
The Dodgers don’t necessarily see it that way.
They have one left-handed specialist in Paco Rodriguez. Another, Scott Elbert, could be ready to join the team at midseason. Right-hander Carlos Marmol has had good historical success against lefties as well, though the Dodgers haven’t had much communication with him since the off-season began.
Would they like Howell back? Sure. They’ve been more talkative with Howell’s camp than perhaps any left-handed reliever to this point. But general manager Ned Colletti suggested Saturday he isn’t as desperate for help in that area as the Giants and Rockies were when they signed Lopez and Logan, respectively.
“You have to make the right decisions despite sometimes what other teams were doing,” Colletti said, speaking generally about the market for left-handed relievers. “Some teams do it because they don’t have anybody else. It’s something done out of desperation. I get that. We’ve had to do it too from time to time. But (Howell) is another guy we’ve had a lot of conversations with. We’re still trying to get him signed.
“Whether we do or not, we’ll always figure it out. We might not figure it out on Dec. 14.”
After reportedly signing Juan Uribe on Saturday, bolstering the bullpen is Colletti’s top task. The market seems to be pointing in one direction for Howell, but the Dodgers might ultimately decide to go a different direction.
Some bullet points for a Monday morning: