HomeMLB RumorsRoberts: Daniel Hudson Will Be In Dodgers' Bullpen

Roberts: Daniel Hudson Will Be In Dodgers’ Bullpen

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told members of the media, including Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times and Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, that reliever Daniel Hudson will be in the club’s bullpen. Hudson is in camp on a minor league deal and has a March 15 opt-out but Roberts says there’s no “hard date” for adding him to the roster. The club will need to make a corresponding 40-man roster move whenever Hudson is added.

Hudson, who turns 37 on Saturday, signed with the Dodgers going into 2022. He and the club agreed to a one-year, $7MM deal with a club option for 2023. He was excellent for the first few months, posting a 2.22 earned run average over 25 relief appearances. He struck out 30.9% of batters faced, only gave out walks at a 5.2% clip and kept 53.4% of balls in play on the ground.

Unfortunately, he tore the ACL in his left knee in June of that year, prematurely ending his season. The Dodgers had enough faith in him that they agreed to an extension in September of that year, effectively triggering the 2023 option early and adding another option for 2024. But in the winter heading into 2023, he developed ankle tendinitis as well as patellar tendinitis in the knee. He was on the injured list until June and then made just three appearances before suffering a sprained MCL in his right knee, ending his season early yet again.

The club turned down their option on Hudson’s services for 2024 but brought him back via a minors pact, which comes with a $2MM base salary and $2MM worth of incentives. He’s been healthy enough to make four appearances already this spring and it seems the club plans to put him back on the roster at some point. The Dodgers are set to be a third-time payor of the competitive balance tax this year and are well beyond the fourth and final line of the tax. That means they are facing a 110% tax rate on any additional spending so they will effectively be paying $4.2MM to add Hudson’s salary onto their books.

Hudson is an Article XX(B) free agent, which is a player with at least six years of service time who finished the previous season on a major league roster or injured list. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, any such player who signs a minor league deal more than 10 days prior to Opening Day can opt out of that deal at three points if they haven’t been added to the 40-man roster: five days before Opening Day, May 1 and June 1.

Most clubs open this season on March 28 but the Dodgers start early when they play the Padres in the Seoul Series March 20. It’s unclear whether Hudson’s March 15 opt-out is the “five days before Opening Day” opt-out that he is guaranteed or if it was a contractual stipulation and he will have another chance on March 23, five days before the wider Opening Day. Regardless, he will have two other opt-out chances and it seems as though he and the Dodgers have a good relationship anyway. With Roberts’ suggestion that there’s no “hard date,” perhaps Hudson and the club have some kind of understanding whereby he won’t feel compelled to trigger his early opt-out.

Adding Hudson will make the Dodger bullpen a bit crowded to start the year. Closer Evan Phillips is out of options while veterans like Hudson, Joe Kelly, Ryan Brasier, Blake Treinen and Ryan Yarbrough can’t be optioned by virtue of having more than five years of service time. That group would account for six of the eight bullpen slots. Brusdar Graterol has options but would certainly have a spot with the big league club after posting a 1.20 ERA last year while racking up seven saves and 19 holds. Yarbrough is the only southpaw in that group and he’s a long relief guy, so the Dodgers will probably want a spot for Alex Vesia for when they need a situational lefty.

Unless Yarbrough winds up in the rotation or someone goes on the injured list, it’s possible that someone like J.P. Feyereisen gets squeezed out and optioned to the minors. The Dodgers acquired him from the Rays prior to 2023, knowing that he had undergone shoulder surgery and was facing a significant absence. He didn’t pitch at all last year but has a 2.31 ERA in his 89 2/3 innings pitched in his career.

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