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Closer or not, Brandon League says he wanted to stay with Dodgers

October 31, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Brandon League signed a three-year, $22.5-million deal to be the Dodgers closer.
Brandon League signed a three-year, $22.5-million deal to be the Dodgers… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Under the swelling file of “Funny How Life Works,” you can add Brandon League's 2012 season.

He started as the Mariners closer, lost the job before the end of May, was traded to the Dodgers before the nonwaiver trading deadline, had a 10.80 ERA in his first seven appearances for Dodgers and then finished closing out the ninth inning.

Oh yeah, and on Tuesday he signed a three-year, $22.5-million deal to be the Dodgers closer.

“You can’t make this stuff up,” League said.

League said in a conference call Wednesday that he had little interest in testing the free agent market, since this is where he wanted to be. He liked the organization, his teammates, and playing for Manager Don Mattingly.

“The Dodgers were No.1 on my list and it would have made absolutely no sense to waste the time of other teams,” he said.

Of course, it’s not like he signed under market value. Still, those screaming that the Dodgers vastly overpaid at $22.5 million best take a look at who’s available and the going rate.

Last season League earned $5 million, so in his first year of free agency he was due a raise. And probably the only better free-agent closer is the Yankees’ Rafael Soriano, who just opted out of his contract that would have earned him $14 million in 2013.

Otherwise, teams could be looking at Brett Myers, Jose Valverde and Joakim Soria.

“It's just my opinion, but it's not a robust market,” General Manager Ned Colletti said Tuesday. “It's not like you have eight, 10 choices.”

And, repeat after me: It’s not my money! As long as it doesn’t dry up the well for a more significant addition, slightly overpaying for League is tolerable, particularly if he pitches anywhere near the way he did in September – converting all six save opportunities and sporting a 0.40 ERA over his last 21 appearances.

League, however, said re-signing with the Dodgers was not necessarily dependent upon him being named the team’s closer.

“If that’s where they see me, then so be it,” he said. “If not, I’m OK pitching anywhere else. But pitching in the ninth inning is where I feel comfortable, and kind of showed that the month of September.”

League’s turnaround with the Dodgers was credited to working with pitching coaches Rick Honeycutt and Kenny Howell to correct a mechanical flaw in his delivery. League, who turned 29 last month, is confident the problem will no longer be an issue.

“Now we know what to look for, whereas when I was with Seattle, I had no idea what I was looking for,” he said. “I was trying to correct problems that weren’t even problems.”

Regardless of the Giants’ championship, League believes with all the talent the Dodgers have added, they will be in other teams' crosshairs.

“I think before we start talking about the World Series, that we have a lot of work this off-season,” he said. “We have to look at the playoffs first. We are definitely the team to beat next year.”

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