The Los Angeles Dodgers signed impending free-agent relief pitcher Brandon League to a three-year, $22.5-million contract with a vesting option for 2016, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times. He figures to be their closer, at least when he reports to Spring Training next February. League does have 58 saves and a 3.14 ERA in the past three seasons, although his peripheral stats (especially a 17.7-percent strikeout rate from a single-inning reliever) don’t support the predictive validity of those outcomes. League pitched in forgiving Safeco Field in Seattle for the two and a half years preceding a July trade to the Dodgers. There, he has dominated hitters. He has a 2.52 career ERA, has fanned 3.2 batters per batter unintentionally walked, and has surrendered a mere .558 OPS to opponents in the spacious Safeco. Elsewhere, though, League has a 3.96 ERA. His strikeout-to-unintentional walk rate drops to 2.39. Opponents have managed a more respectable .692 OPS. The splits are similar when one looks at platoon advantages. Right-handed batters own a .590 OPS against League in his career. Lefties, though, run up a .765 figure. The Dodgers won’t get much chance to pitch League in Seattle, of course, so they’re not likely to get that 2.52 ERA from him over the life of this deal. They would be wise to focus not on having him close out as many games as possible, but on having him face as many right-handed hitters as possible. As for a skill set, League always works off his fastball, and always tries to keep the ball down. When he first came up, he was primarily a fastball-slider guy. He came to favor a change-up as his secondary offering a few years back, then shifted to a split-fingered fastball. In all seasons to date, he has thrown his 95-miles-per-hour fastball two-thirds of the time, and in all of them, he has pounded the bottom of the strike zone with it. League has never had fewer than half the balls put into play against him stay on the ground. He’s good at what he’s good at, in other words, but what he’s good at is a narrow band of baseball pitcher skills. Ground balls. Getting out same-handed batters. That’s a lot more info than is really necessary to analyze this deal, though. The pact will be broadly panned as a massive overpayment for an average relief arm. It is that. It’s also a signal of great things to come for the Dodgers, and Dodgers fans should be thrilled to hear about it. This contract completely eliminates any possibility that the Dodgers will cut costs to push their payroll under the luxury-tax threshold any time before 2016. It’s over. The only question now is how high the new owners will let that payroll rise, and this signing also signals that the ceiling is nowhere in sight. Stephen Drew or Kevin Youkilis will be in play for LA this winter. So will Mike Napoli or A.J. Pierzynski. Even Zack Greinke seems like a realistic target now, though the team’s rotation is hardly a weakness. The Dodgers have nowhere to go but up now. The way down is blocked by massive contractual commitments, wise and otherwise. Brandon League will not put the 2013 Dodgers over the top, but his signing makes clear that this team will spend without restraint or reservation to win in the near term. It’s going to be fun to watch, and when it comes to this particular strategy, there’s not really a law of diminishing returns at work. Spend on, O, lunatic spenders.

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