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Dodgers acquire RHP Corey Knebel from Brewers for PTBNL or cash

MLB Trade Rumors logo MLB Trade Rumors 12/3/2020 Steve Adams, MLB Trade Rumors
a baseball player throwing a ball: Corey Knebel is heading to L.A. after getting non-tendered by the Brewers. © Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports Corey Knebel is heading to L.A. after getting non-tendered by the Brewers.

The Dodgers announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Corey Knebel from the Brewers in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. The trade comes after Knebel was reportedly set to be non-tendered, but it appears that the Brewers instead found an eleventh-hour trade for the former All-Star closer. He’ll still be eligible for arbitration with the Dodgers.

Knebel, 29, struggled this past season in his comeback from 2019 Tommy John surgery. The 2017 All-Star was rocked for a 6.08 ERA with a 15-to-8 K/BB ratio in 13 1/3 innings — his first action on a big league mound since the end of the 2018 campaign.

There were plenty of red flags for Knebel in 2020, most notably a 94.4 mph average fastball velocity that sat three miles per hour shy of its 2017 peak. That said, Knebel’s velocity began to trend upward late in the season, which could have been enough to give the Dodgers hope that he’ll regain some of the life on his heater next year when he’s another season removed from surgery.

Knebel’s struggles in 2020 should prevent him from taking home much of a raise on his $5.125M salary from this past season, so he’ll be an affordable, high-upside roll of the dice for a Dodgers club that hasn’t been afraid to take chances when it comes to buying low on formerly elite relievers.

From 2017-18 with the Brewers, Knebel racked up 55 saves while pitching to a 2.54 ERA and 2.74 FIP over the course of 131 1/3 innings. Along the way he emerged as one of the game’s premier strikeout artists, averaging an obscene 14.7 K/9 and punching out 40.2 percent of the hitters he faced on the whole.

Obviously, that was two years and one major surgery ago, but the Dodgers will hope for a return to form in what will be Knebel’s final season prior to free agency. If they can successfully round him into form, he’ll join a late-inning mix featuring Kenley JansenBrusdar Graterol and Joe Kelly, although the Dodgers figure to further supplement that group between now and Opening Day.

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