The Dodgers 2022 could be a year of firsts for a franchise built on stability. It might be the first time since 2007 that starter Clayton Kershaw isn’t in Dodger blue. It could also be the first time that Kenley Jansen is not closing games for LA since 2009.
Both pitchers are free agents stuck in purgatory due to the MLB lockout.
When it comes to Jansen, the Phillies and Blue Jays are just a few of the teams that could have interest. One east coaster writer believes an AL East powerhouse should pounce on the veteran closer.
John Tomase of NBC Sports Boston propositioned the idea of the Red Sox adding Jansen to solidify the backend of their bullpen. Tomase reasons that Jansen’s peripheral stats suggest that Kenley still has some good years left in the tank.
“Outside of velocity and walk rate, the 34-year-old remained elite in virtually every Statcast metric, ranking in the top 10 percent of baseball in exit velocity, hard hit percentage, barrel rate, whiff rate, spin rate.”
Tomase views Jansen as a pricey veteran closer upgrade who’s worth the cash.
“But if you’re looking for a battle-tested arm to lock down the ninth inning, few have been better over the last decade than the three-time All-Star.”
Last season, the Red Sox relied on a combination of Matt Barnes and Adam Ottavino to close games. Both struggled mightily in the second half of the season. In an odd twist of numerology, Barnes and Ottavino both logged identical ERAs in the second half of 2021 (6.48). Barnes is signed through 2023 with a club option for 2024. Ottavino, like Jansen, is a free agent.
Final Jansen Thoughts
Jansen’s days of posting a sub-2.00 ERA are likely behind him, but he’s likely a better option than what the Red Sox had last year. For context, Kenley had a 3.31 ERA in the second half of 2021.
Nonetheless, Jansen returning to the Dodgers is still in play. LA reportedly tried to re-sign their franchise all-time saves leader before the December 1 lockout.
The Dodgers potentially losing Kenley to the club that beat them in the 2017 World Series would be a gut punch.
Whenever the lockout ends, there should be plenty of teams vying for his services. Including the team he’s pitched his entire major league career for.
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