10:09am: The Padres have officially announced that they’ve signed Janssen to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite.
9:36am: It appears possible the Padres have agreed to terms with veteran righty Casey Janssen, perhaps on a minor league deal. Janssen currently has a locker at the Padres’ Spring Training facility, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets. Janssen is an ACES client.
The 34-year-old Janssen spent 2015 in the Nationals bullpen, pitching 40 innings while posting a 4.95 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. The Nats declined their option on him after the season. Janssen, who collected 20-plus saves with the Blue Jays in each season from 2012 through 2014, has maintained his walk-limiting abilities in recent years but has suffered a steep decline in his strikeout rate, likely due in part to a dip in average fastball velocity from about 92 MPH in 2011 and 2012 to below 89 MPH last year. He’s also become a fly ball pitcher, with his ground ball rate dropping from 47.9% in 2013 to 29.4% last season and his home-run rate doubling during that time.
Those factors would appear to make Janssen quite vulnerable going forward, but given his solid control and his history as a closer, it’s not surprising he found a landing spot. After trading Craig Kimbrel to the Red Sox, the Padres currently have Fernando Rodney (who, like Janssen, is a veteran with a dicey recent history), penciled in at closer. It seems possible that they could turn to Janssen in the role if he makes the team and Rodney falters.