Baseball is in a holding pattern, but that hasn’t stopped the free agency chatter. Once MLB and the MLBPA agree to a new CBA, which could be a while, free agency will likely be a world wind. Clubs will be mobilizing their MLB players to open spring training and ,at the same time, negotiating with free agents. Jim Bowden of The Athletic believes that the Dodgers first priority needs to be re-signing Kenley Jansen.
“They need to bring back Jansen, who really improved last year after learning a new curveball. Jansen, 34, wants to re-sign with the Dodgers, and they can probably get it done on a two-year deal with a $20 million average annual value, which is what Jansen made in 2021.”
$20M is not a cheap price tag for Jansen, but this the Age of the Reliever. It has quickly become a premium position where clubs are willing to spend top dollar for upper-echelon players. Last offseason, the White Sox signed All-Star closer Liam Hendricks to a three-year, $54M deal. The Orange County Angels signed Raisel Iglesias to a four-year, $58M deal.
The question is, do the Dodgers think 34-year-old Jansen is worth spending that kind of money?
In 2021, Jansen ranked 6th in ERA (2.22) and 10th in WAR (1.8) among closers with double-digit saves. It was his lowest ERA since his All-Star season in 2017. Kenley also didn’t blow save in the final two full months of the season.
As Bowden mentions, Jansen’s pitch mix certainly played a role in his resurgent season. Kenley threw his cutter only 58% of the time – a career low. Kenley’s ability to refine his secondary pitches will define the rest of his career in MLB.
Reports surfaced in January that the Dodgers did attempt to re-sign Kenley before the December 1 lockout.
Time will tell if the Dodgers are true believers in Jansen 2.0.
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