As the Los Angeles Dodgers focus on retooling their starting pitching staff this offseason, they will need to make some decisions about the backend of the bullpen as well.
Kenley Jansen, Corey Knebel and Joe Kelly, who all played key late-inning roles, are free agents and should draw significant interest from other teams.
The Dodgers are considering trying to re-sign Jansen, but they are reportedly unwilling to pay a premium to retain his services. That may require Jansen to decide if he wants to return on a potential pay cut or sign for a more lucrative contract elsewhere.
While Jansen’s future is unclear, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman did say his re-signing would be to remain a closer unless manager Dave Roberts had a different view, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“For me, it would be in the ninth inning. Obviously, I’d want to hear Doc’s thoughts,” Friedman said of Manager Dave Roberts. “But from my perspective, it would be in the ninth inning.”
During the 2021 season, Jansen pitched to a 2.22 ERA and 3.08 FIP in 69 innings while striking out 30.9% of hitters and walking 12.9%. He also saved 38 games in 43 chances.
Jansen has spent the past 11 seasons with the Dodgers and with 350 career saves, he is the franchise’s all-time leader in that category.
Prior to the 2017 season, Jansen signed a five-year, $80 million contract to remain with the Dodgers.
If Jansen signs with another team, Blake Treinen would likely take over the closer role unless L.A. signs or acquires another top reliever.
Friedman: Jansen must figure out what’s best
Jansen has made it known he would like to return to L.A., but with so many teams looking for bullpen help, he is in line to sign another lucrative contract and other teams might be more desperate to add a closer than the Dodgers are.
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.
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