The Dodgers are set to add to their bullpen depth, nearing a one-year deal with free agent reliever Alex Reyes, according to a person with knowledge of the situation unauthorized to speak publicly.
Reyes, 28, is a hard-throwing right-hander who was an All-Star with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021 before missing all of last year with a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery in May.
The five-year MLB veteran hit the free agent market in November after he was non-tendered by the Cardinals, with whom he debuted in 2016.
Reyes is still recovering from his injury, a frayed labrum near his right shoulder socket that was initially treated with a stem cell injection last March before needing surgery.
He will likely miss the start of the season, but is on schedule to return to big league action before the All-Star break, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Reyes’ deal, which was first reported Saturday by MLB.com, will pay him a base salary of $1.1 million in 2023 and includes a $3 million club option for 2024.
The contract also has numerous incentives that could raise its total value to more than $10 million.
The low-risk, high-reward structure of the pact is reflective of Reyes’ raw talent, even amid his checkered history with injuries.
As a rookie in 2016, Reyes gave up just eight runs in 46 innings while striking out 52 batters.
Over the following three seasons, he made just five total MLB appearances following a 2017 Tommy John surgery.
In 2020 and 2021, Reyes returned to form, posting a 3.23 ERA, 30 saves and 122 strikeouts in 84 total appearances, emerging as a key cog for a Cardinals team that made the postseason in each campaign.
While he has struggled mightily with walks, registering one of the highest walk rates in baseball in 2021 and 2022, his combination of an upper 90s fastball and swing and miss slider helped him limit opponents to a sub-.200 batting average and .610 OPS during that stretch, as well.
Reyes’ most recent big-league outing was memorable for a different reason.
In the 2021 National League wild-card game against the Dodgers, the closer was summoned to face Chris Taylor with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with the score tied.
On his fourth pitch, Reyes threw a hanging slider that Taylor crushed to left for a walk-off home run, ending the Cardinals season and sparking the Dodgers’ run to the NLCS.
Now that he’s in Los Angeles, the Dodgers will be hoping Reyes can make a more positive impact this October.
Like many of their other additions this winter, he comes with risk and uncertainty.
But if he can get healthy and reignite his career — something the Dodgers have achieved with other talented but struggling pitchers in recent years — he could become one more intriguing piece in a Dodgers bullpen expected to be a key strength in 2023.