Dodgers, unable to make trade, release Brian Wilson.

Brian Wilson

Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson blew four of five save opportunities in 2014. The Dodgesr will pay him $9.5 million next season to pitch for another team. (Getty Images)


The Dodgers released right-handed pitcher Brian Wilson, who was designated for assignment Tuesday. That means the Dodgers will be responsible for paying the vast majority of Wilson’s $9.5 million salary for next season — probably all but the major-league minimum ($507,500), which will be paid by whatever team claims him.

At that price, Wilson isn’t likely to remain a free agent for long. Only 11 active major league pitchers have saved more games than Wilson (172).

After signing a one-year contract with the Dodgers for 2014, Wilson went 2-4 with a 4.66 earned run average in 61 games. He blew five saves in six opportunities and couldn’t hold the eighth-inning job that was his when the season began. Of greater concern, his velocity decreased as the 2014 season went along. It was Wilson’s first full season since undergoing a second Tommy John surgery in 2012.

Wilson exercised a player option in his contract for 2015 at $9.5 million. The Dodgers could not find a team willing to take Wilson in a trade. He was designated for assignment Tuesday in order to clear a roster spot for Brandon McCarthy.

Brian Wilson exercises player option for 2015.

Brian Wilson

Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson blew four of five save opportunities in 2014. He will make $9.5 million next season. (Getty Images)

Brian Wilson exercised a player option in his contract that will pay the right-hander $9.5 million in 2015.

Wilson made 61 appearances in 2014, all but six of which came in the eighth inning or later. He began the season as the primary set-up man to Kenley Jansen, but finished the season as more of a situational eighth-inning reliever. Wilson struggled to retire left-handed hitters all season (.914 OPS) and blew four of the five save opportunities he was given.

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Dodgers announce NLDS roster; Paco Rodriguez, Joc Pederson, Darwin Barney cut.

The Dodgers will carry 12 pitchers and 13 position players on their roster for the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Among the final cuts were left-hander Paco Rodriguez, outfielder Joc Pederson and infielder Darwin Barney.

The Dodgers will carry four starting pitchers and eight relievers, including two left-handers: Scott Elbert and J.P. Howell.

Here is the complete roster:
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Carlos Frias could force Dodgers to re-think middle innings in October.

Carlos Frias

Carlos Frias shut out the Washington Nationals for six innings in his first major-league start Wednesday. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff photographer)


Call it rational thought, but when Carlos Frias arrived in the Dodgers’ clubhouse in August, the tendency was to force the rookie pitcher into a limited array of roles.

Emergency spot starter.

Long reliever, preferably during an inconsequential blowout.

That’s what happens to 24-year-old rookies who had never pitched above Double-A baseball prior to the current year, who had an ERA in the fives during his first Triple-A season, right?
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Why is Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen pitching so much?

Kenley Jansen

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is on pace to appear in 110 games this season. (Getty Images)

In the eighth inning Wednesday with the Dodgers leading the Phillies 5-2, right-handers Kenley Jansen and Chris Perez were warming up in the bullpen.

The decision of who would pitch the ninth inning literally came down to the final moment. Had Adrian Gonzalez delivered an RBI in the final at-bat of the inning, Perez would have gotten the ninth. Instead, Gonzalez flied out to deep center field and Jansen got the ball. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his eighth save.

It was Jansen’s 15th appearance of the season, which leads the major leagues.
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Dodgers place Brian Wilson on the disabled list, Jose Dominguez up for series finale in San Diego.

Brian Wilson

Dodgers pitcher Brian Wilson faced five batters without recording an out Sunday in San Diego. On Wednesday, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with right elbow ulnar nerve inflammation. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff photographer)

Jose Dominguez was back in the Dodgers’ clubhouse Wednesday, making it safe to say a trend has emerged.

Five games into the season, the Dodgers haven’t had the same 25-man roster for more than two games in a row.

Brian Wilson was placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to March 31, with right elbow ulnar nerve inflammation. Dominguez was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque, where he did not make an appearance, and is available for tonight’s game at 7 p.m. Dominguez allowed three runs in one-third of an inning March 23 in Sydney, Australia.

Dominguez was optioned to Albuquerque during the seven-day downtime that followed. Clayton Kershaw was placed on the 15-day disabled list. With Kershaw out and Josh Beckett expected to make a rehab start in Rancho Cucamonga, the rotation for this weekend’s series against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium became official.

Hyun-Jin Ryu starts Friday against Ryan Vogelsong, Paul Maholm starts Saturday against Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke starts Sunday against Matt Cain.

Looking a couple days ahead: The Dodgers announced that tickets are still available for Friday’s game at Dodger Stadium with the purchase of a 30-game miniplan. Of course, the secondary ticket marketplace is rife with single-game ticket options (see here, here, here and here). The public address announcer will be a familiar voice: Ross Porter, who spent 28 years as a Dodgers broadcaster beginning in 1977.

Here are the lineups for both teams for the rubber match of the three-game series at Petco Park:
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Daily Distractions: Chad Billingsley’s best-case scenario is still in play.

Chad Billingsley

Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley still hasn’t thrown a cut fastball off a mound since having Tommy John surgery last year. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Chad Billingsley sat at his locker at Camelback Ranch on Friday, demonstrating the difference between his slider and his cut fastball with an imaginary baseball.

One pitch involved a twisting motion that began with his fingers and shot up his forearm to his elbow. The other pitch did not — just a flicking motion with his wrist, nothing violent or severe.

Yet he’s been allowed to throw the former pitch, his slider. He still hasn’t thrown the latter, his cut fastball, and isn’t sure when he will. That’s the bad news.

The good news for Billingsley is that he can count on one hand the number of benchmarks still to cross off in his recovery from Tommy John surgery in April 2013. He still hasn’t thrown a cutter off a mound and he still hasn’t faced live hitting or pitched in a game.

Even that will change soon. The plan calls for Billingsley to throw to minor-league hitters at Camelback Ranch sometime next week, around the time the Dodgers play the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sydney, Australia. When he throws “depends on whether I get four or five days’ rest” after his next bullpen session Monday.

Billingsley reported no setbacks one day after throwing a 36-pitch bullpen session Thursday. He hasn’t had any major setbacks yet. The best-case, late-April/early-May return to the majors that Billingsley projected  at the start of camp is still in play.

Some bullet points for a Pi Day:
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Dodgers’ intrasquad game is in the books; Dee Gordon, Hanley Ramirez make some noise.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed home runs to Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez in the first inning of the Dodgers’ intrasquad game on Sunday. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dee Gordon and Hanley Ramirez hit home runs against Hyun-Jin Ryu in the first inning of the Dodgers’ 4-inning intrasquad game Sunday at Camelback Ranch. Those accounted for all the runs in a 3-1 victory for Team Wills (drafted by Matt Kemp) over Team Koufax (drafted by Zack Greinke.)
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Daily Distractions: Reviewing the Dodgers’ unsurprising off-season.

Brian Wilson

Reliever Brian Wilson re-signing with the Dodgers might constitute the biggest surprise of the off-season. (Getty Images)

Accountability matters here, so I decided to take a look back at a little list I made in October.

In it, I ranked the Dodgers’ 12 in-house free agents in order of their likelihood of re-signing. Here’s how I ranked them:

12. Edinson Volquez
11. Mark Ellis
10. Chris Capuano
9. Jerry Hairston Jr.
8. Skip Schumaker
7. Brian Wilson
6. Michael Young
5. Carlos Marmol
4. Nick Punto
3. Ricky Nolasco
2. Juan Uribe
1. J.P. Howell

In light of Marmol’s contract with Marlins — he agreed to terms yesterday — that leaves only Capuano still unsigned among the 12 players.

Starting at the top of the list, it came as little surprise that the Dodgers re-signed Howell and Uribe. Nolasco was offered four years and $49 million from the Minnesota Twins. Since not many 31-year-old pitchers with a career history of below-average ERAs in the National League get four-year contracts from American League teams, Nolasco did the logical thing and signed the contract.

The Dodgers reached out to Punto about re-signing, but the Oakland A’s wanted him more. Billy Beane made a quick push and signed Punto for one year and a guaranteed $3.25 million. The Dodgers really didn’t have a chance to be interested in Marmol; they were more interested in Wilson and Chris Perez for set-up roles, and both pitchers accepted the Dodgers’ offers in December.

Young retired. So did Hairston. Schumaker and Ellis were swept away by better offers from a pair of NL Central teams, the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively.

Volquez got a one-year, $5 million contract from Pittsburgh, where he’ll compete for the fifth starter’s job on a good Pirates team. Not unexpected.

Come to think of it, as busy as it was, the off-season mostly stayed true to expectations. Clayton Kershaw re-signed. Don Mattingly got a new, longer contract. The Yankees threw a ton of money at Masahiro Tanaka.

In Uribe and Howell, the Dodgers re-signed the two players who were the best fits to re-sign. The Dodgers wanted a durable veteran to fill the number-four starter’s job on a short-term contract; Dan Haren is a durable veteran who was content with a short-term contract. Haren’s history shows less risk than that of Nolasco, who got the longer-term deal he wanted from the Twins.

Ned Colletti reached outside the organization for bullpen help from Jamey Wright and Chris Perez. Neither could be considered a real surprise: Perez replaces Ronald Belisario, who was non-tendered in his final arbitration year, and Wright becomes the long reliever the Dodgers never really had in 2013.

Even though the final bill hasn’t come in yet, the cost of building the Dodgers’ bullpen is already staggering. Together, Dodger relievers will earn roughly $26 million in actual salary in 2014. That doesn’t include deferred signing bonus payments, salaries for players with 0-3 years’ service time (such as Paco Rodriguez, Chris Withrow and Jose Dominguez), or the actual closer — Kenley Jansen, who has yet to re-sign. That’s an eye-popping number.

 

The biggest individual surprise might be Wilson, who drew interest from the Yankees and Tigers — two teams that expect to contend in 2014 — to be their closer. Instead, he chose to be baseball’s highest-paid eighth-inning man in Los Angeles for $10 million and a player option for 2015.

For a team that reached the NLCS in 2013, no major changes were needed. We got none.

My spring training preview runs tomorrow.

Some bullet points for a Grenadian Independence Day:

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