Heading into the 2014 season, the backend of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting rotation was a in bit of limbo. The time signed Dan Haren as the fourth starter, which left the final spot up for grabs.
While Chad Billingsley was still recovering from Tommy John surgery, he eyed a return to the mound last season after managing to make just two starts in 2013 before undergoing the season-ending elbow surgery. The right-hander was unable to make a full recovery and opted for surgery in June to treat a torn flexor tendon that agin cut his season short.
Mired by injuries, the Dodgers announced Friday they have declined their team option for 2015 on Billingsley’s contract, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times:
Billingsley a free agent. Dodgers declined his option.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) October 31, 2014
Had the Dodgers elected to exercise it, the Dodgers would have paid Billingsley $14 million next season. Instead, they bought out the final year of his contract for $3 million.
Seemingly each time Billingsley attempted to throw a bullpen session or rehab assignment, it was met with some form of a setback. He received a platelet-rich plasma injection back in April one week after throwing a bullpen session.
After a rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, Billingsley experienced more elbow discomfort, which wound up being due to the torn flexor tendon. The Dodgers drafted Billingsley 24th overall in 2003 and he made his debut three years later.
Billingsley spent a total of eight seasons with the Dodgers and finished with a career mark of 81-61 and a 3.65 ERA. The right-hander won a career-best 16 games in 2008 and earned his lone All-Star bid in 2009.
While Haren exercised his option for 2015, the Dodgers head into next season without Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Paul Maholm, Kevin Correia and Roberto Hernandez on the roster. Without those players, it leaves the Dodgers needing to address starting pitching heading into 2015.