Yes, it’s come to this.
Tom Koehler was an interesting addition to the Blue Jays late in 2017, offering the team a chance to take a look at a guy who had once been a nice back-end starter, and who was arbitration eligible for 2018. Koehler’s season had gone completely sideways in Miami, but he’d managed to be a tick above replacement level over his three previous years with the Marlins (3.3 WAR over those three seasons per FanGraphs, 3.5 per Baseball Reference), and the hope was that a change of scenery might have allowed him to show enough to the Jays to make him an asset again going forward.
That wasn’t exactly what happened.
Koehler made just one start for the Jays, throwing five innings against the Rays in late August, allowing four hits, just one run, while walking three and striking out seven. Not bad, actually. But Koehler ended up getting crowded out of the rotation and spent most of his time with the Jays in the bullpen — where he was also pretty decent. In 12 innings out of the bullpen he allowed four earned runs, walked just three, struck out 11, and allowed just 12 hits. He also saw a little uptick in his velocity, working at 93-94 and touching 95.
Koehler looked like he could have been an interesting bullpen piece, even though MLBTR projected him to make $6 million through arbitration. The Jays, however, decided not to tender him a contract at that rate, making him a free agent. It was a decision that was mildly questioned in a few corners (though, to be fair, out here on the internet you can find a living breathing straw man for just about every dumb opinion imaginable), especially after Koehler was picked up by a very good, very smart team: the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The word on what the Dodgers would pay him has been very slow in arriving, which only deepened the intrigue (the very, very mild intrigue). What’s he going to get from L.A.? How close would it have been to the $6 million the Jays could have paid him? Have the Jays made mistake by not hanging on to this asset who Los Angeles is trying to make their new version of Brandon Morrow?
And the answer is: meh, not really.
Tom Koehler will be paid base salary of $2 million and can earn additional $1.25 million if he makes 25 starts or $500,000 if he appears in 60 games as reliever/starter with #Dodgers
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 20, 2017
Yeah, paying a guy twice the rate he ended up getting on the open market, even when we’re talking about such low numbers (for a free agent baseball salary, that is), would have been a mistake. Especially considering where Koehler would have landed on the Jays’ right-handed relief depth chart: certainly behind Roberto Osuna, Dominic Leone, Ryan Tepera, and Danny Barnes, and perhaps Carlos Ramirez, and (depending on how he’s used) Joe Biagini, as well.
So… whatever. Godspeed, Dodger boy.