The Dodgers are re-signing right-hander Ryan Brasier, reports Jon Heyman of The New York Post. It’s a two-year, $9MM deal for the ALIGND Sports Agency client, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, with the possibility for Brasier to earn a total of $13MM via incentives.
Brasier, 36, has had an inconsistent career and that was reflected in his 2023 season. The year began with the Red Sox but he was lit up in his first 20 outings of the year, allowing 7.29 earned runs per nine innings. He likely didn’t deserve such an unsightly number, as his .344 batting average on balls in play and 52.8% strand rate were both on the unfortunate side of average. But his 18.9% strikeout rate was still subpar and the Sox decided to move on, releasing Brasier in May.
He landed a minor league deal with the Dodgers but was added to their roster a couple of weeks later, which gave him the chance to turn his season around. He made 39 appearances for the Dodgers with a miniscule ERA of 0.70. Part of that was a reversal of fortune from the baseball gods, as his BABIP dropped to .183 and his strand rate jumped to 83.3% with his new club. But it wasn’t just luck, as his punchouts jumped to 26.6%, his walk rate dipped from 9.5% to 7% and his ground ball rate climbed from 33.3% to 51.1%. He earned enough trust with the Dodgers to earn a save and nine holds, as well as a postseason roster spot.
That capriciousness didn’t come out of nowhere. Since returning from a stint in Japan by joining the Red Sox in 2018, Brasier has often oscillated between total dominance and apparent struggles. He posted a 1.60 ERA in that 2018 season and continued pitching well through Boston’s World Series run, but then his ERA jumped to 4.85 in 2019. His results improved in the shortened 2020 season but then a left calf strain limited him to just 12 innings in 2021. In 2022, his ERA spiked all the way to 5.78, though that could have been another instance of poor fortune with his BABIP at .335 and his strand rate at 56.2%.
The Dodgers will take a shot on Brasier, banking on the belief that most of his struggles were not of his own doing. In 268 career appearances in the big leagues, he has a 3.88 ERA with a 24.1% strikeout rate, 7.4% walk rate and 39.8% ground ball rate.
The Dodgers are set to be a third-time payor of the competitive balance tax in 2024 and have already blown past the top tier with their incredibly aggressive offseason. Thanks to mega deals for Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, as well as contracts for Teoscar Hernández and James Paxton, their CBT number is now pegged by Roster Resource at $310MM. That’s well beyond the $297MM top tier and comes with a 110% tax rate, meaning the club will be paying more than twice the amount that Brasier will actually receive.