Let’s make one thing clear from the start: this is not a “get Kenley Jansen off of my team” type of article. I fully appreciate all that Kenley has done for the Dodgers over his career, and truly believe we will look back on his time fondly. Jansen is by far the franchise leader in saves and has put up ridiculous numbers throughout his career.
But much like most things in life, this is a “what have you done for me lately” situation. The Dodgers could potentially have a really great bullpen in 2021. Unfortunately, you never know which version of Kenley is going to show up in any given year. That’s where the conversation starts to shift to talent outside of the organization.
Liam Hendriks is a name that has been linked to the Dodgers multiple times this offseason. While his reported contract demands of 4-years might seem out of the Dodgers’ desired range, it could actually make a ton of sense.
Kenley’s contract is set to expire at the end of the 2021 season. That means that there will be approximately $16 million in annual average salary coming off of the books. Joe Kelly has an option year for 2022 that the Dodgers more than likely will not be picking up, valued at $12 million. Although there is a $4 million buyout, they may still decide to cut him loose. All of this is dependant on how the 2021 season goes, of course.
With that in mind, losing out on those two guys opens up close to $25 million in annual average salary for the books. Signing Hendriks to a 4-year deal would not only fill much of that void but likely saves money long-term for the Dodgers. It also gives them the chance to move away from the conventional closer role, something I have advocated for since 2018. (That’s a conversation for a different day)
Obviously, Hendriks is just one guy and he cannot fill the role of twp pitchers. But looking at the depth the Dodgers have all over their organization, it makes a move much more likely. Tony Gonsolin might find himself as the odd man out in the rotation at any point, and perhaps even Julio Urias as well.
The Dodgers could also seemingly find a way to add in Hendriks while retaining Kelly or Jansen as well. At this point, it’s safe to say that nothing is really off of the table for Los Angeles at the moment.
David Price is slated to come off of the books after the 2022 season, so his spot in the rotation will need to be filled. Fortunately, the Dodgers have Josiah Gray and Mitch White(among others) ready to go in the minor leagues. Other arms to keep an eye on in the next 2 years: Edwin Uceta, Gerardo Carrillo, Michael Grove, etc.
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