The Marlins are perhaps the most surprising team bidding on the offseason’s top free agent closers, though other teams believe Miami is ready to back up its desire for a bullpen upgrade with some serious money. According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link), rival teams believe the Marlins are willing to offer Kenley Jansen five years and $80MM. Since Jansen rejected the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, signing the closer would also cost Miami their first-round draft pick (14th overall), but the Fish are prepared to lose that pick to bring Jansen into the fold. The Marlins themselves say they’re still discussing the matter.
Jansen was first linked to the Marlins a few weeks ago, with MLBTR’s Steve Adams noting that it was just one offseason ago that the Fish signed a big qualifying offer free agent in the form of Wei-Yin Chen (who was also, interestingly, signed to a five-year, $80MM contract). Miami also had to surrender a draft pick to sign Chen, though it was only a second-rounder, as the team’s first-round pick was protected. It would be a much taller order to surrender the 14th overall selection, which is why perhaps it’s somewhat curious that the Marlins seem to be primarily targeting Jansen over Aroldis Chapman or Mark Melancon, both of whom were dealt last season and thus weren’t subject to the qualifying offer.
While five years and $80MM would be the biggest contract ever signed by a closer (at least until Chapman signs), it is actually a bit less than MLBTR’s projection for Jansen, which was five years and $85MM. Chapman was pegged at five years/$90MM and Melancon for four years/$52MM, though Melancon has reportedly already received four-year offers topping $60MM from the Nationals, Giants and an unknown third team, who could possibly be the Marlins. If Miami is indeed the mystery team, I wonder if the Marlins would perhaps just boost their offer to Melancon (to $65MM? $70MM?) with the logic that it would still be cheaper than what they’re reportedly willing to give up both financially and draft-wise to land Jansen.
Though the Marlins have a larger need in the rotation than in the bullpen, the team’s plan is to double down on its relief strength in order to shorten games and take pressure off its pen. The Fish have already signed Edinson Volquez and they’ve been linked to such other relatively inexpensive starting options as Doug Fister, C.J. Wilson, Travis Wood and Dillon Gee as they look to rebuild the rotation on a budget while saving its big dollars for an ace closer.