The Dodgers didn’t talk about a multi-year contract while in negotiations over Kenley Jansen’s deal for 2016, the closer tells MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. The two sides avoided arbitration by settling on a $10.65MM salary in Jansen’s last year of arb eligibility, and he’ll hit free agency after the season.
As Gurnick put it, Jansen mentioned the lack of long-term talks with “the implication being that he wished [the team] had” discussed keeping him in Los Angeles beyond 2016. Still, Jansen seemed at peace with the one-year deal, saying “at the end of the day, 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.”
Though president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has far more financial resources available to him in L.A. than he did in Tampa Bay, Friedman’s modus operandi with the Rays was to acquire relief pitching at a low price, a tactic that often resulted in great success (i.e. Fernando Rodney, Kyle Farnsworth). Continuing this strategy would allow Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi to spend the Dodgers’ many millions on more stable positions than the often-inconsistent relief market. With Chris Hatcher, Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez already on board, Jansen himself would understand if one of the Dodgers’ current relievers will be his replacement.
“They can close — Hatch, Yimi, Pedro. I’m not mad at that. 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,” Jansen said.
Then again, the Dodgers also attempted to bolster their pen with a much more high-priced arm in Aroldis Chapman this past winter, before concerns over an alleged domestic violence incident involving Chapman scuttled the trade. Jansen said he had no hard feelings about a deal that would’ve relegated him to a setup role, saying that Friedman contacted him to discuss the failed Chapman trade once the news broke.
In terms of pure on-field performance, Jansen is certainly worthy of a multi-year commitment after four excellent years as the Dodgers’ closer. The righty has a 2.28 ERA, 4.89 K/BB rate and a whopping 528 strikeouts over 340 innings in his career, and he’ll be a big target on the open market next winter. (If not the biggest free agent closer, as Chapman is also in the last year of his contract.) One concern beyond cost for both the Dodgers and other teams could be Jansen’s history of heart issues, though those problems haven’t cropped up in the last few years.