April 19, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Dodgers, Corey Knebel agree on one-year, $5.25 million deal

The Dodgers avoided arbitration with reliever Corey Knebel on Thursday, agreeing to terms with the veteran right-hander on a one-year, $5.25-million deal a day before Friday’s deadline for arbitration-eligible players and teams to exchange 2021 salary figures.

Knebel, 29, was acquired Dec. 2 from the Milwaukee Brewers for a player to be named after a subpar 2020 season in which he compiled a 6.08 ERA in 15 games. He allowed nine earned runs on 15 hits, including four homers, struck out 15 and walked eight in 13 1/3 innings.

Knebel was an all-star closer in 2017, when he notched 39 saves and a 1.78 ERA, striking out 126 and walking 40 in 76 innings of a league-high 76 appearances, and a reliable setup man in 2018, when he went 4-3 with a 3.58 ERA and 16 saves in 57 appearances.

But he missed the entire 2019 season because of Tommy John surgery and struggled to regain the velocity of his fastball in 2020, when his signature pitch dropped from an average of 97.4 mph in 2017 and 96.9 mph in 2018 to 94.4 mph last season.

Knebel will get a slight raise from the $5.125-million salaries he was paid in each of his first two arbitration years. He will be a free agent after the 2021 season.

Knebel’s fastball showed a slight uptick in velocity after returning from a hamstring injury in September. The defending World Series-champion Dodgers, who have been aggressive in their pursuit of underperforming veteran relievers, are confident that with good health Knebel will rebound in 2021 and fortify a deep bullpen that also includes Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Brusdar Graterol, Victor Gonzalez, Adam Kolarek and Joe Kelly.

The Dodgers have six remaining arbitration-eligible players who, if they don’t come to terms, will exchange salary figures Friday: shortstop Corey Seager, center fielder Cody Bellinger, catcher Austin Barnes, and pitchers Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Dylan Floro.