The Los Angeles Dodgers face the possibility of several core players leaving in free agency this offseason, including Kenley Jansen, who is on the open market for the first time since 2016.
The right-hander has been part of the organization since he was signed as an amateur free agent out of Curacao in 2004. Jansen began his Minor League career as a catcher before transitioning to a pitcher, which wound up being the best decision for both him and the club.
It didn’t take long for Jansen to establish himself as one of the better relievers in all of baseball. In 12 seasons with the Dodgers, he earned three All-Star selections and became the franchise’s all-time leader in saves.
Jansen now is entering his age-34 season and figures to have a strong market with many teams searching for bullpen help. He is in line to sign another lucrative contract, but it remains to be seen if L.A. will want to engage in a potential bidding war to retain him, especially with other relievers already on the roster who can take over the closer role.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman believes Jansen has earned the right to take all the time he needs and make a decision that’s best for his family, via Juan Toribio of MLB.com:
“He had an unbelievable year; he’s had an unbelievable Dodgers career up to this point,” Friedman said. “For him, it’s just about figuring out what’s best for him and his family. Obviously, what offers are and how it compares to other offers are a big variable in that. … If he’s back with us, we get to continue moving forward and trying to win a championship. And if not, we can speak more about what he has meant to this organization. But it’s early.”
While the Dodgers presumably prefer keeping Jansen around for the remainder of his career, it sounds like they would be understanding if he ultimately signs with another team this offseason.
Jansen has battled inconsistencies in recent years but is coming off a bounce-back season in which he posted a 2.22 ERA, 3.08 FIP and 1.04 WHIP with 38 saves across 69 innings pitched (69 appearances).
Potential replacements at closer if Jansen departs
If Jansen signs elsewhere in free agency this offseason, the Dodgers have several internal options who potentially can fill the void at closer.
The most obvious replacement is Blake Treinen, who notched seven saves this past season while pitching to a 1.99 ERA in 72 games. Brusdar Graterol has long been viewed as a future closer as well, but he struggled to the tune of a 4.59 ERA in 34 games.
If the Dodgers decide to go in another direction, they can look to re-sign Corey Knebel, who is coming off a solid, but injury-shortened debut season with L.A. Other notable free-agent relievers include Raisel Iglesias, Kendall Graveman and Mark Melancon.
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