As a major talking point during the 2014 season due to their inconsistency, improving the bullpen was one of the focal points for the Los Angeles Dodgers this offseason.
While president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi reworked the group of relievers on the roster, they were dealt a major loss Tuesday as the Dodgers announced closer Kenley Jansen will miss the next 8-12 weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a growth from a bone in his left foot.
The 27 year old is expected to be on crutches for an estimated 10 days followed by a wearing a boot for 3-4 weeks. Should Jansen manage to recover in time to return in eight weeks, he only would have missed the first one or two games of the 2015 season. A 12-week recovery entails the Dodgers being without Jansen for roughly 30 games.
Jansen reported feeling discomfort last week and subsequently underwent multiple tests, which revealed the growth. The power right-hander converted a career-high 44 saves last season and moved up to fifth on the Dodgers’ all-times saves leaders list. One day prior to news of Jansen’s surgery, the Dodgers were reported to have been searching for another reliever.
It was the second such time since January there’s been a report of that kind, though Monday’s appears to have come with the Dodgers expecting to not have Jansen for the foreseeable future. While the Dodgers have managed to add new reliever to the roster, they lack an odds-on favorite to replace Jansen for the time being.
Brandon League has significant experience as a closer, but struggled in the role since being traded to the Dodgers in 2012. Chris Hatcher, J.P. Howell, Joel Peralta are likely other relievers who will be given an opportunity to assume the role.
If the Dodgers are to look for an answer currently outside of the organization, Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano are available free agents. They managed to win 94 games and the National League West division last season despite losing Clayton Kershaw for the first six weeks and they are now tasked with succeeding without Jansen.
Dodgers pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training on Thursday.