Kenley Jansen has hit free agency for the first time since signing a five-year, $80 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016. The franchise all-time saves leader (350) is coming off a resurgent 2021 season where he posted a 2.22 ERA, 3.08 FIP and recorded 38 saves in 44 chances.
The 34-year-old closer was especially dominant after leaving the mound to a chorus of boos at Dodger Stadium, following a blown save against the rival San Francisco Giants in late July.
After blowing his third consecutive save since the All-Star break that night, Jansen was absolutely lights out for the rest of the way. From July 23 until the end of the season, Jansen was among the league leaders in 1.17 ERA (9th), 0.72 WHIP (4th) , 2.35 FIP (15th), 36.2 K% (9th), 1.0 fWAR (4th). Opposing hitters batted just .114 against him, which was the lowest mark in the league against qualified relievers during that stretch.
Most importantly, Jansen never blew another save the rest of the way going 17-for-17 in save opportunities. Further, the dominance ‘The Big Fella’ displayed during the last two-plus months of the season carried over into the postseason, where didn’t allow a run in seven innings of work, with 14 strikeouts to just one free pass.
The two-time NL reliever of the year benefitted from a more dynamic pitch mix that saw his cutter usage drop to a career-low 58% and his slider usage increase to a career-high 15.4%. Additionally, Jansen continued to build confidence in his sinker that he threw at a 26.6% clip that served as his best put away pitch at 29.6%.
With Jansen continuing to build confidence in his newly refined secondary pitches along with an uptick in velocity across the board, should the Dodgers attempt to re-sign Kenley Jansen? Well, if they do, don’t look for Jansen to be giving LA any sort of discount.
According to AM 570’s David Vassegh, the three-time All-Star is going to follow the money in free agency.
“I could see Blake Treinen becoming the Dodgers’ closer if the price gets too high for Kenley Jansen. He is going to take the largest contract he possibly can because for all intents and purposes, this is his last opportunity at a big contract in free agency after being arguably the best closer in baseball last year. An old friend, on Mattingly, has engaged Kenley Jansen in talks. The Marlins and Jansen are in talks.”
We discuss if the Dodgers should make an aggressive offer to Kenley Jansen and how much it would likely cost to retain him. Plus, who would be the team’s new closer if Kenley Jansen signs elsewhere?
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