The Dodgers are close to a deal to bring back closer Kenley Jansen, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). It would seem that Monday has the makings of a big day for the Dodgers and their fans, as multiple reports today have indicated that the Dodgers are also progressing toward a four-year deal to re-sign Justin Turner. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets that Jansen’s deal is expected to be a five-year pact.
Los Angeles entered the offseason with a number of free agents coming off the books, but the three priorities for the team were long said to be Jansen, Turner and Rich Hill. If both the Turner and Jansen deals are completed, the Dodgers will have succeeded in bringing back their three top free agents, though, clearly there’ll still be some work to be done over the remainder of the winter. Notably, the club could look for upgrades at second base, in the corner outfield and in the bullpen (even after bringing back Jansen).
The 29-year-old Jansen pitched to a scintillating 1.83 ERA with 13.6 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and a 30 percent ground-ball rate in 68 2/3 innings with the Dodgers last season. That performance led his first All-Star selection, although the very fact that it was just the first of his career is somewhat remarkable. Jansen has been one of baseball’s very best relievers since the moment he debuted as a 22-year-old in 2010, logging a career 2.20 ERA with 13.9 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 in 408 2/3 regular-season innings. He ranks fourth in strikeout percentage and third in total strikeouts among qualified relievers in that time, and only six relievers have mustered a better earned run average in that time frame.
In addition to the Dodgers, Jansen drew interest from the Yankees, Nationals and Marlins this winter, though the Yankees’ bid to land him likely ended when they inked Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86MM contract. While Miami’s emergence as a suitor for Jansen came as a surprise, their efforts to land a top closer appear to be legitimate; they reportedly offered Chapman $87MM over a five-year term, and Marlins skipper Don Mattingly has been said to be personally recruiting Jansen. Signing in Miami would’ve reunited Jansen with not only Mattingly but also former teammates Dee Gordon and A.J. Ellis (who agreed to a deal with Miami last week), but it appears that Jansen’s sights are set on remaining in Dodger blue.
It’ll be interesting to see if Jansen is able to top Chapman’s overall contract, which currently stands as the all-time record contract issued to a reliever. If he’s able to do so, he’ll join Chapman and Mark Melancon as the third reliever this year to set a new benchmark for largest contract ever, although there are other considerations at play as well. Notably, Chapman received an opt-out clause after the third year of his contract, and one would expect that Chapman’s representatives at Wasserman sought the same type of provision, which has become increasingly common throughout baseball contracts.