The Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly signing free-agent reliever Tommy Kahnle to a two-year contract, according to the Athletic. Kahnle, 31, was released by the New York Yankees and granted free agency after the 2020 season. He pitched only one inning in 2020 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, which will likely keep him sidelined for 2021. With this signing, the Dodgers are betting on Kahnle to come back in 2022 as an elite late-inning reliever.
Free-agent reliever Tommy Kahnle in agreement with Dodgers on two-year contract, source tells The Athletic. Kahnle underwent Tommy John surgery in August.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 23, 2020
Kahnle Dodgers deal is for $5.25M for 2 years. He had Tommy John surgery in August.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2020
Dodgers bet on Kahnle’s 2022 return
Tommy Kahnle made his debut with the Colorado Rockies in 2014. After being traded to the Chicago White Sox following the 2015 season, Kahnle established himself as an effective relief pitcher. Since 2016, with Chicago and New York, he has a 3.48 ERA in 175 2/3 innings. In that time, he’s averaged 12.4 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9.
Also, Kahnle has been effective in two postseason runs with the Yankees. In 2017 and 2019, he totaled 18 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings of work in October, notching an ERA of 2.33. The Dodgers will be hoping Kahnle continues to be a playoff performer when he recovers from surgery.
Kahnle is a hard throwing right-handed pitcher, with an average fastball velocity of 96.8 MPH since 2016. His changeup, which hovers around 90 MPH, has seen increased usage since 2016, up from 16.2% to 52.4% in 2019. In 2019, he ranked in the 96th percentile of MLB with a strikeout rate of 35.5%. If Kahnle can replicate his success of 2017 and 2019 specifically, he will be a valuable bullpen piece.
From the Dodgers’ perspective, this signing indicates the low-risk, high-reward strategy that has paid off in the past, with the likes of veterans Brandon Morrow and Blake Treinen. Closer Kenley Jansen‘s contract is up after 2021, and the club can choose to move on from Joe Kelly, which leaves two openings in the bullpen. Kahnle will likely compete for a bullpen spot with a group that will include Brusdar Graterol, Victor Gonzalez, Dylan Floro, and Adam Kolarek in 2021.
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