Dodgers: Kenley Jansen’s Contract Makes Liam Hendriks a Great Fit

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. 

Additional Notes

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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  1. Are you certain the Dodgers will try for one of the top tier relievers? I for one am not. Friedman has not gone after a top-tier, read expensive, reliever in his time with the Dodgers. Treinen & McGee were reclamation projects that performed., although they did sign Treinen for 10 Million. Guys like Knebel, Morrow, Stewart, and Nelson fit the profile. Will they re-sign Treinen or Baez? If they go after an additional reliever there are pitchers in the second tier like Colome’, Hand, Bradley, or Melancon.
    Friedman mentioned there were some relievers available in the trade market.
    I think this free-agent market is colliding with the reality of the entire MLB losing money last year and possibly this year.

  2. They don’t even know what the cap is going to be next year. Word is that it could actually go DOWN! In the $190’s. The Dodgers are already at $192…

  3. The Dodgers need a shutdiwn closer. NOW. Hendriks is a prime candidate. He should be pursued. That doesn’t mean you automatically give him 4 years. It means you negotiate with him. I do not beleive in closer by committee unless you have no choice. Although matchups should certainly be considered. I beleive in a shutdown closer who strikes out a lot of guys, and doesn’t allow anyone to even get on base. In short, I beleive in having a closer like Jansen was 5 yrs ago. Today Hendriks fits the bill, as does a very short list of others like Hand. We need a closer far more than another RHB.

  4. Jansen is good and bad, mostly bad when he tries to go 2 days in a row. Pitch Jansen every other day and don’t try to use him in a non save situation. Sign Hendriks or Treinen as closers along with Jansen. Also might want/need a replacement for Biaz someone like A . Bradley.

  5. Friedman is as bright a GM as there is in sports. He likely will strike quickly at the right moment and provide a strong diverse bullpen. 2 possibly 3 diverse arms most likely added with a couple of reclamation projects as well (Knebel + ?). I see 1 of McGee or Wood resigned for balance and depth. My guess is a 3 yr deal for stop closer such as either of (Hendricks/Rosenthal). Not all will be flame throwers for diversity and offsetting hitters approaches & balance. Excellent PR flexibility in play fir a few years with outstanding developmental talent in abundance!

  6. Jansen makes $20 million next year, Hendriks would want at least $20 million, that’s $40 million tied up in two relievers, how is that benefiting the Dodgers? This makes zero sense.

    1. The benefit would be back to back WS championships. At this point Jansen is dead money. Just because you’re paying a guy a lot money to close, doesn’t mean he can close. We don’t want to play Russian Roulette in the ninth inning of post season games in 2021. We need a reliable shutdown closer and will have to pay real money to get him. The closer spot is the weakest area on this Dodger team. Without Urias rising to the occasion last year we would still be looking for our first WS championship in decades.

  7. Regardless of what I have read from the sports writers, and the fans the Dodgers will sign Hendriks, and I believe someone like brad Hand would be a good Idea? I think we need to re-sign Blake Treinen, and I do not see Will Smith playing 3rd base period. I do believe the Dodgers will sign Turner, if it’s three years then the team will make the 3rd year work, even if you need to stretch out the contract to include after he has retired, their are plenty of players that include their payment to after they have retired, and that would be a could idea for the Dodgers, and Turner? I would like to see the Dodgers sign Dj Lemahieu, I think if we sign Dj that puts the Dodgers in a good position for years to come, as long as we focus on re-signing Seager, and Belli. to long term deals. Dj is either going to end up resigning with the Yankees, or signing with the Dodgers, but thats something Friedman will have to work out, this is the second chance we have had to sign Dj, I really hope we sign him this time??

    1. I think you have nailed it on all points. I agree with every one of your personnel choices here. And I’m not used to agreeing with people on all counts. Please apply for a job in the Dodger FO.

    2. Great thinking, however, I am not sold on Hendricks…in 344 innings his era is 4.08….and that is with the last two years, with a total of 39 innings being 1.79( 1.80 +1.78)….I would not take that gamble…not when we have who we have on the farm…resign the project Treinen….2 years 20…and the rest is great. Go Dodgers

  8. You and other writers that keep saying Urias doesn’t have third spot in rotation secured you don’t know baseball.If Dodgers didn’t have Urias they just wouldn’t have beaten the braves and never would have had a chance to win the series. He dominated the post season yet you and rest of writers keep denying Urias the credit he deserves cause clearly he pitched better than all dodger pitchers including your favorite Buhler rich by the way wasn’t available to close out braves or Rays cause he’s not effective with 3 days rest now COMPARE THAT JULIO DID IT WITH ONLY 2 DAYS REST. IF BAVES HAD JULIO THEY EASILY BEAT US.So start giving credit where credit is due and look forward and seeing Julio and Buhler Dominate baseball for next 10 years.

  9. Given the state of the MLB economy I think the Dodgers can pounce on some good players if they choose to. Hendricks can probably be acquired at $13-15m per year if the Dodgers decide to go that route. I could very easily see the Dodgers staying pat, resigning Treinan for another year at $7-9n and rolling with who they have along with the acquisition of Knebel. They could use another lefty though out of the pen. I’d love to see them go after someone like Amir Garrett from Cinci but I highly doubt they will since he’s probably Cisco’s closer now that Iglesias has been traded to the Angels.

  10. Ok, so we just lost 8 players, mostly pitchers to Rule 5 Draft…second and third tier for sure, still, odds are one or two will develop…Don’t see us spending money it would take to get a reliever, who, according to MLB Tonight, was released in 2018….
    Speculation this time of the year is fun, we get to Play GM…problem is none of us have all the info that Andrew has…Or know what pressure he has from ownership regarding budget….and keep in mind…Andrew comes from Tampa Bay, where loyalty to a player Cannot be there…Tampa doesn’t have the money, they are the A’s east…and with that in mind….Turner is gone…..then again I can see a package going to Tampa for their quick hooked 2 time Cy Young winning lefty, who 3 years of control left…

    1. Since you mention trading with the Rays, ESPN had an interesting article about what it would take to get Snell. Word is, you’d have to take CF Kevin Kiermaier too. In return, you could expect to send Ruiz, Gray, and Luke Raley to Tampa.

      With two CF’s, Belli could back to 1B and Muncy to 3B. That would be a lot of left-handed bats though. But, the pitching would be ridiculous!

      1. OK, so would you make that deal, and BTW….do you know who represents Snell?and oh speculation is the reason we signed Fed X is because Ruiz is probably on the block as we seem to be set at the ML level right now????

  11. “…you never know which version of Kenley is going to show up in any given year.”

    You actually don’t know which version is showing up game to game, let alone in a given year. It’s been like this for the past 3 years. He was once a great closer, but like all great closers, that ride comes to an end at some point, and oftentimes in a blink of an eye or 2-3 MPH off of pitches.

    And the idea of $40m going to two relief pitchers, one of whom may or may not be closer-capable, is a boatload of cash, especially when they have other guys they need to take care of, hopefully sooner than later.

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