LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As the Dodgers look to try to replace Brandon Morrow, while being hamstrung by a luxury tax that makes spending big money on the bullpen dicey, the best solution would be to find the next Morrow.
The Dodgers signed Morrow to a minor-league deal late last January, guaranteeing him a modest $1.25 million if he made the team. Morrow became one of the team’s best relievers, parlaying his season into a two-year, $21-million deal with the Chicago Cubs.
Asked what the Dodgers saw in Morrow that allowed them to make something out of nothing, General Manager Farhan Zaidi confessed.
“We got lucky,” Zaidi said Wednesday, another quiet day for the Dodgers at the winter meetings. “That’s not the whole story, but it’s a fairly big part of it. … We should have probably given him a longer deal if we knew he was going to be that good.”
If the Dodgers are going to get lucky again, they could try to follow a similar blueprint to the one that brought them to Morrow.
“The starter conversion story is pretty compelling,” Zaidi said, referring to Morrow spending the bulk of his career as a starter before flourishing out of the ’pen.
A year earlier, the Dodgers did the same with Joe Blanton.
“It’s kind of proven over and over that guys’ stuff plays up, and guys can have more success going from one role to the other,” Zaidi said.
While the Dodgers have mostly been sitting out the relief market, they have watched a handful of relievers sign significant deals in the past couple days, from Tommy Hunter (two years, $18 million) to Pat Neshek (two years, $16.25 million) to Juan Nicasio (two years, $17 million).
Zaidi said it’s been puzzling to watch.
“To some degree the relief market is a beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” he said. “Different teams are looking for different things. Someone who might be a one-year deal for one team is a three-year deal for someone else. I think it’s probably the area where teams vary most…