Left-handed relievers have come at a premium this offseason and it would appear as though another is about to come off the market, as J.P. Howell and the Los Angeles Dodgers are close to finalizing a multi-year deal. MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports that the sides are nearing a two year deal, worth $11.25 Million that will likely contain a vesting option for a third season. Howell will need to make 120 appearances over the next two seasons in order to trigger the $6.25 option.
A routine physical exam appears to be all that remains from the deal being completed.
Having joined the team the previous offseason, Howell pitched very well out of the Dodgers bullpen this past season. Across 67 appearances he’d boast a 2.03 ERA and 1.048 WHIP in 62.0 IP. He’s hardly just a typical LOOGY, however, but his splits against left-handed batters were nothing short of impressive – holding hitters to a mere .167/.225/.227 line across nearly 120 PA.
Howell, now 30, had spent his entire career with the Tampa Bay Rays prior to joining the Dodgers. He’d shown some flashes of dominance in the past, but was far more inconsistent than anything else. Coming off what could arguably be considered a career year, there has to be some question about how likely he is to repeat his 2013 performance in each of the next two seasons. Los Angeles has assembled a solid mix for their bullpen – with Howell joining the recently re-signed Brian Wilson along with Brandon League and Paco Rodriguez ahead of closer Kenley Jansen.