Tonight the Dodgers announced that they have inked heavily tattooed relief pitcher Brandon League to a three-year $22.5 million deal with a vesting option worth $7.5 million for 2016. The option vests if League plays in at least 55 games in 2015.
The Dodgers traded minor leaguers Logan Bawcom and Leon Landry this past July 30th to Seattle in exchange for League after they had dealt Josh Lindblom to Philadelphia for Shane Victorino. League was somewhat of a project since he had fallen out of his closer role for the Mariners after having some mechanical issues. When Kenley Jansen‘s irregular heartbeat forced him to the disabled list, Brandon League took over the closer duties for the Dodgers. League, with help from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, seemed to get back on track and finished with a perfect 6-for-6 in save opportunities with Los Angeles. The 29-year old right-hander went 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 48 games with the Dodgers.
League came up with the Toronto Blue Jays organization where he played for six years before being traded to Seattle in December of 2009. Over League’s nine seasons, he is 19-28 with a 3.60 ERA.
Ned Colletti said, “We think, after what he did, closer is the role.”
Kenley Jansen, who took over as closer after Javy Guerra faltered this season, shouldn’t be ruled out as the Dodgers’ closer even with the League signing. Mariner fans let me know throughout the season how sketchy League had pitched in Seattle before he was traded. Hopefully Honeycutt and Howell have corrected his mechanical issue so that he can regain his 2011 form when he saved 37 games for Seattle and was named an All-Star.
Colletti is still looking to sign lefty Randy Choate and veteran Jamey Wright as well as one more reliever this winter. Returning for 2013 and still under contract are Ronald Belisario, Matt Guerrier, Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra, Shawn Tolleson, Paco Rodriguez, and Josh Wall.
League’s main pitch is a very hard sinker and a wicked splitter. In 2011, he had the hardest sinker of any relief
pitcher at 97.3 mph.
League was born in Sacramento, CA and lives in Encinitas but he grew up in Hawaii. He is of mixed Asian (Japanese) and Pacific Islander ancestry. The free-spirited League sometimes sports a Mohawk, and he his arms and necks are adorned with tattoos. He likes to surf, him and his wife Sasha and have three daughters.
Whether you think the Dodgers overpaid for League or not, he is definitely a solid arm out of the pen. Kenley Jansen has said that he feels better than ever after his heart surgery and that he should be ready for Spring Training, but if you take into consideration Jansen’s heart condition along with Belisario’s frequent drug and Visa problems, Elbert’s elbow, Javy Guerra’s oblique tear, Matt Guerrier’s expensive uselessness, and plus the other relievers available who I’m not sure are Major League ready just yet, then League’s contract doesn’t look so bad. The owners have already said that money isn’t an issue, so there should still be plenty of dough left to sign a top starter for the rotation.
It’s official! Couldn’t be more proud and happy to call LA my home for the next 3 years! Looking forward to seeing everyone this spring.
— Brandon League (@BrandonLeague31) October 31, 2012