The Los Angeles Dodgers and Kenley Jansen avoided arbitration this offseason but not trying to sign the closer to a long term contract means the biggest spenders in major league baseball are probably headed in a different direction when this season is over.
The 28-year old Jansen and the Dodgers agreed to $10.6 million in 2016, the final year before he hits free agency. Janses spoke to MLB.com about the matter, hinting that he expects the team to try and keep him with a multiyear deal, but he accepts the situation as it is, which probably means that at the end of this season, he’ll be looking for somewhere else to star in the bullpen.
It’s just business. I’ve got to move forward. Who knows what’s going to happen after this year? It’s not in my control. All I can do is stay healthy, help my team win and when the year is over, I can’t predict the future. If that’s the road they want to go, who knows? This day I’m a Dodger. I’ll just continue to keep improving and help the team win and be better every day.
Janses has been very productive over the last four seasons for the Dodgers as their closer, posting a 2.33 ERA with 133 saves in 259.1 innings, while posting a 13.9 strikeout ratio per nine innings, while also striking out 5.84 batters per walk. Except for Aroldis Chapman, who is also a free agent at the end of the season, Jansen is the best bullpen player to hit the free agency market once the 2016 season ends. In the playoffs last season he appeared in three games for the Dodgers, picking up two saves and not allowing a single run. In 10 career postseason games, he has a 2.08 ERA.
It might be a little less surprising as to why the Dodgers didn’t try to sign him on a long term deal considering who is making the decisions. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman used to work with the Tampa Bay Rays, and although he has a lot more money at his disposal in Los Angeles, he might believe that the way to build your bullpen is by making low price signings due to the instability of the bullpen free agency market, giving the Dodgers more flexibility with easier positions to predict.
It’s worth noting that the Dodgers did try to make a trade for Chapman during the offseason which eventually didn’t work out. If that would have gone through, Jansen would have been relegated to a setup man role. According to Jansen, Friedman contacted him to discuss the failed Chapman trade once the news broke.