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Report: Dodgers are considering Neftali Feliz

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Despite tying up a significant portion of their payroll in Kenley Jansen last month, the Dodgers are still looking for bullpen help. According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the club is reportedly considering free agent right-hander Neftali Feliz among other late-inning candidates.

Feliz, 28, signed a one-year, $3.9 million deal with the Pirates prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to a 3.52 ERA over 53 2/3 innings with Pittsburgh, nearly halving his 2015 ERA and recording a career-best 10.2 SO/9 to boot. Although he was shut down for the last month of the season due to arm discomfort, no structural damage was found and the right-hander appears to have a clean bill of health as he approaches a 2017 run.

The Nationals were connected to Feliz in early December, but no serious contract talks have been reported as of yet. While the 28-year-old has a lengthy history of arm/elbow injuries and less-than-stellar command, his improved velocity, recent success off the mound and relatively young age should give the Dodgers some peace of mind should they choose to pursue him.

James Paxton will “nerd out big-time” to stay healthy next year

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To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.

So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”

When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.

Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.