The last big name remaining in the closer section of free agency is Kenley Jansen, who is still most likely going to head back and pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but is getting offers from the Washington Nationals and Miami Marlins.
The winter meetings changed the closer market, first with Aroldis Chapman signing with the New York Yankees, while the Chicago Cubs landed Wade Davis and the San Francisco Giants signing Mark Melancon. Fernando Rodney also came off the board. Jansen was always listed as the number 2 closer among the free agent closers, with a slight problem of the draft pick teams were going to give up for him. But he was always going to get paid this winter.
Chapman got $86 million over five seasons from the Yankees. Where does this leave Jansen? He’s reportedly considering a $80 million, five year deal from the Marlins, who are now spreading rumors they’re looking into Neftali Feliz in order to put pressure on Jansen to make a decision. The Dodgers, who Jansen would prefer staying with, are letting it be known they won’t match the Marlins offer, but that isn’t a certainty yet. The Nationals are also hoping Jansen prefers a proven playoff team to the developing project in Miami, suggesting they’re not enthusiastic about spending so much money on a closer.
There are other teams (Twins, Pirates, Rockies) who are into a closer, but are nowhere in the financial realm of competing for Jansen. There are cheaper options out there: Feliz, Greg Holland, Brad Ziegler, Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Jonathan Papelbon, before we mention players on the trading block like David Robertson (White Sox) and Alex Colome (Rays), but we might not see movement in that area until one of the three mentioned teams completes Jansen’s signing, who shouldn’t wait for too long.
The 29-year old out of Curacao is coming off another brilliant season, which included his first All-Star appearance. Jansen posted a 1.83 ERA, his best in a full season, along with a 0.670 WHIP. He remains terrific at striking out batters (13 or more per nine innings in each season since 2010) and walked only 1.4 batters per nine innings for the second straight season. There will always be a discussion about whether it’s easier developing a closer or signing one, and the draft pick is a separate argument, but in the closer’s market and relief pitching in general, there’s no one better available for signing or trade than Jansen.