The Dodgers set baseball ablaze Monday, agreeing to terms with Kenley Jansen and nearing a contract with Justin Turner. Amid rumors of payroll slashing and wariness of the luxury tax, Los Angeles spent almost $200 million to retain the aforementioned two and Rich Hill.
MLB writers and analysts gave their thoughts on the Dodgers’ big day.
“Each contract represents a gamble, and the spending surprised rival executives who predicted an off-season of frugality from the Dodgers as the team attempted to avoid luxury-tax penalties. But the splurge also demonstrated the team’s internal belief in its roster. By effectively getting the band back together for 2017, Friedman’s front office delivered a vote of confidence to a group that finished two victories shy of the World Series in October.” –Andy McCullough, Los Angeles Times
“The Los Angeles Dodgers may hate the comparison, but no matter how much they want to believe they’re different, they’re nothing more than a modernized version of the old-school Yankees … So after all of the talk about fearing the new collective bargaining agreement’s heavy luxury taxes, and about complying with baseball’s debt service rule, the Dodgers are showing all of the restraint of an 8-year-old instructed to carefully open the wrapping on his Christmas presents.” –Bob Nightengale, USA Today
“Still, with almost all the Dodgers’ best prospects a year or two away, this is how a superteam is built. Between what the Yankees and Dodgers are doing, we haven’t seen a burgeoning East Coast-West Coast showdown like this since Biggie and Tupac. With the Cubs and Red Sox doing their own mega-power thing, the dawn of the big markets feels nigh.” –Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports
“The extent of the Nationals’ pursuit — cursory, serious, hopeful, etc. — was unclear as of Monday morning, as General Manager Mike Rizzo did not provide much clarity at Winterfest Sunday. But it was clear late Monday afternoon that their pursuit was dogged: The Nationals chased Jansen to the end, and in fact offered him more money than the Dodgers, according to a person familiar with the situation. But their offer, like so many of the offers they have made to big-name free agents over the last two years, included deferrals.” –Chelsea Janes, Washington Post
“The Jansen and Turner agreements would mean the Dodgers went 3 for 3 in their top offseason priorities by re-signing Rich Hill as well – an unexpected but highly successful outcome to the winter regardless of how they work out their remaining issues at second base and in the bullpen. It also would mean a combined total of $192 million in new salary commitments for a team hoping to bring payroll down. That payroll is expected to be in the neighborhood of $250 million next season – well over the luxury-tax threshold for a fifth consecutive season.” –Bill Plunkett, Orange County Register
“Jansen was the best reliever on the market this winter, and the only one I would have considered for a four-year deal, because of his age, history of health, and reliance on a single pitch. Even then, I really wouldn’t have wanted to go to that fourth year if I were a GM. The Dodgers have the money to fade pretty much any deal that goes south, but I’d be shocked if Jansen gave them more than three years of worthwhile performance on this deal.” –Keith Law, ESPN (insider required)
“While the Marlins’ bid to acquire Jansen would have strengthened their bullpen, it would have come at a heavy price for a franchise that typically doesn’t spend big. Not only would the Marlins been on the hook for an uber-rich contract for a closer, but they would have been required to give up next year’s first-round draft pick — 13th overall — in order to complete the deal.” –Clark Spencer, Miami Herald
“Monday was a step they had to take; the Dodgers would have been silly to settle for a Todd Frazier-David Robertson trade package from the White Sox when they had the ability to re-sign their own superior players, Turner and Jansen. The Turner deal seems reasonable by today’s standards; the Jansen deal reflects the going rate for ace relievers.” –Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports
“On Monday, it was Jansen’s turn to pass Rivera, with an average salary of $16 million. Jansen, a 29-year-old right-hander, had 47 saves in 53 chances last season with a 1.83 earned run average. He has averaged at least 13 strikeouts per nine innings in each of his seven seasons, doing so with impeccable command: In the last two years, Jansen has 184 strikeouts while walking just 19.” –Tyler Kepner, New York Times
“For years, the National League West was generally regarded as a top-heavy pitching division — a place where a free-agent starter could land for a year and rebuild his value by taking advantage of the big ballparks and soft competition. That may not be the case in 2017, or the next few years, with the NL West poised to contend with the AL East as Major League Baseball’s most competitive division, and maybe its best division.” –Buster Olney, ESPN