J.P. Howell exercises contract option, keeping him with Dodgers in 2016.

J.P. Howell

Dodgers reliever J.P. Howell exercised his 2016 contract option. (Getty Images)

Pitcher J.P. Howell exercised the $6.25 million option in his contract for 2016, electing to stay with the Dodgers rather than become a free agent.

Howell, 32, went 6-1 with a 1.43 earned-run average in 65 games in 2015. His 1.97 ERA in three seasons with the Dodgers is the third-lowest of any relief pitcher with at least 200 appearances since 2013.

Howell signed a two-year contract prior to the 2014 season. His 2016 contract option became a player option when he pitched his 52nd game of the season in August, then finished the season on the active roster.

No Dodgers pitcher made more appearances in 2015 than Howell. He was the primary left-hander in a bullpen that also included Adam Liberatore and Luis Avilan, who arrived in the July trade that sent southpaw Paco Rodriguez to the Atlanta Braves.

Avilan is eligible for arbitration and Liberatore is under team control, which increases the likelihood that the Dodgers’ top three left-handed relievers will return in 2016.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.