Dodgers sign Justin Grimm in hopes of bolstering bullpen

Reliever Justin Grimm, shown with Seattle last season, joins the Dodgers on a minor league deal.
(Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press)

The Dodgers added some interesting bullpen depth Sunday, signing Justin Grimm to a minor league contract in hopes that the veteran right-hander can bounce back from his worst season.

“He’s a five- or six-year major league player who gets right-handers and left-handers out,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s not really a length option. He’s more of a one-inning or one-plus-inning guy.’

Roberts considers Grimm a candidate for an opening-day roster spot, but the manager also said last week that he prefers the final bullpen spot go to a long man such as Brock Stewart or Dennis Santana, who have considerable experience as starters.

Grimm, 30, had his best season in 2015 when he had a 3-5 record with a 1.99 earned-run average in 62 games for the Chicago Cubs, striking out 67 batters and walking 26 in 49 2/3 innings. He was 2-1 with a 4.10 ERA in 68 games in 2016 to help the Cubs win the World Series.


Grimm, who mixes a fastball that sits between 93-95 mph with an 82-mph curve and 87-mph slider, was released by Chicago after a 1-2 and 5.53 ERA in 50 games in 2017. He split 2018 between Kansas City and Seattle, and finished 1-3 with a 10.38 ERA in 17 1/3 innings over 21 games.

“The biggest thing was health,” Grimm said of 2018. “I messed up at the beginning of the season and tried to throw through some things I probably shouldn’t have, and things went backwards really fast.”

What Grimm thought was a dead-arm phase in spring training morphed into shoulder inflammation in April and was eventually diagnosed as a shoulder impingement.

Grimm spent six weeks of the first half on the injured list and was released by Kansas City on July 7. He appeared in five big league games after signing with Seattle on July 19.


After an offseason of rest and rehabilitation — surgery was not necessary — Grimm felt he regained his form this spring with the Cleveland Indians, posting a 1.04 ERA in nine games, striking out nine and walking four in 8 2/3 innings.

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The slider he resurrected after not using it for all of 2016 and most of 2017 “was probably my best pitch this spring,” Grimm said.

Informed late last week that he would not be on Cleveland’s opening-day roster, Grimm opted out of his minor league deal Friday and found a new home 48 hours later.


“I just didn’t want to wait too long,” Grimm said. “Things have been going really well this spring. I was in a good rhythm, getting all the work I need. There’s always been some type of interest with this club over the last year or two. After a really good spring, I feel really confident.”

Short hops

Enrique Hernandez will be the team’s primary second baseman after spending four seasons as a super-utility player, but Roberts projected utility man Chris Taylor, who will play shortstop, second base, left field and center field, to get a comparable amount of plate appearances. “To have a guy we can plug and play like Chris is huge for us,” Roberts said. … Rich Hill, diagnosed last week with a knee ligament strain, has been outfitted with a brace that will allow him to play catch, but it will be at least two weeks before the left-hander returns to a mound.