It really seemed like Major League general managers were starting to get the hang of the whole “don’t pay middle relievers like starting third basemen” thing, but we always have Ned Colletti and the Dodgers to realign our perception of monetary values. The Dodgers, who seem to think the only way to win is to spend every last cent they have access to, have given reliever Brandon League a three-year, $22 million deal that may include a fourth year worth $7.5-$9 million if he completes at least 55 games in 2015.
Okay, let’s talk a little bit about Brandon League. Brandon League is a solid if unspectacular reliever, the kind of guy you’re fine handing a comfortable seventh inning lead to without chain smoking or saying a prayer afterward. League doesn’t miss many bats (career 6.71 K/9), and he’ll turn 30 next March. He’s very good at getting ground balls and having tattoos. Brandon League is a nice reliever to have, but only if you’re getting good value. There are plenty of guys in the league, many of them who wouldn’t cost much more than the league minimum, who can offer a close approximation of the service he offers. And yet, here’s Ned Colletti making this deal happen.
League has even been getting worse. In 2012, his strikeout rate remained middling even as his walk rate soared to 4.13/9. A ridiculous strand rate and virtually no long balls allowed helped League to keep his baseball card numbers in order, but a correction may be on the way. And even if it isn’t, even if League keeps churning out ERA figures below 3.00, he’s a relief pitcher and therefore just isn’t worth this kind of money. The Dodgers have made another big mistake. Maybe this team just has infinite dollars to spend with its new ownership group, but even if it does have a blank check there are plenty of better ways to allocate the money. There are a whole lot of merely acceptable players on this team making star player money, and that kind of thing never works.