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Dodgers agree to deal with reliever Tommy Kahnle, who might not be available until 2022

Tommy Kahnle warms up  while wearing a New York Yankees uniform.
The Dodgers have agreed to a two-year deal with reliever Tommy Kahnle, who underwent Tommy John surgery in early August.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Bolstering the bullpen for the 2021 season is one of the top two items on the Dodgers’ checklist this offseason. On Wednesday, they looked ahead to 2022.

The Dodgers agreed to a two-year deal with reliever Tommy Kahnle, according to two people with knowledge of the situation who were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, even though Kahnle isn’t expected to pitch next season. The contract is worth $4.75 million guaranteed plus incentives and includes a $550,000 signing bonus. Kahnle could make $750,000 in incentives in 2021 and an additional $3.45 million in 2022.

The deal is pending a physical.

Kahnle, 31, underwent Tommy John surgery in early August after appearing in one game for the New York Yankees. Rehabilitation for the procedure usually takes more than a year for pitchers. The Dodgers don’t plan on having Kahnle available in 2021.

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Signing Kahnle is a low-risk, high-reward investment in a reliever who has been dominant at times in his career. The right-hander was one of the best bullpen arms in the majors in 2016 and 2017 when he logged a 2.60 earned-run average in 98 appearances for the Chicago White Sox and Yankees.

Jairo Castillo was a well-liked scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers and a champion for Mexican players. He died from COVID-19 complications Dec. 6 at age 31.

Kahnle then missed most of the 2018 season with shoulder tendinitis. He posted a 6.56 ERA and issued 5.8 walks per nine innings in 24 games for the Yankees. He rebounded in 2019 with a 3.67 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a 4.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio in New York.

Kahnle is the second reliever the Dodgers have added on a major league contract this offseason. The club acquired right-handed Corey Knebel, an All-Star closer in 2017, from the Milwaukee Brewers minutes before the non-tender deadline earlier this month. The team also recently signed right-handers Jimmy Nelson and Brandon Morrow to minor league deals.

The Dodgers probably aren’t done addressing the relief corps. Last week, manager Dave Roberts said the team wanted to add another leverage reliever for next season. Kahnle might fit the description, but not until 2022.


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