Who Will Replace Kenley Jansen As The Dodgers’ Closer?

On the same day the Los Angeles Dodgers finalized their signing of Freddie Freeman to a six-year, $162 million contract, they saw longtime closer Kenley Jansen depart for a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves.

The Dodgers and Jansen had mutual interest in a reunion, but Freeman’s six-year contract and luxury tax implications reportedly made one unlikely. L.A. nevertheless offered Jansen a two-year contract before he decided to join the Braves.

As it currently stands, the Dodgers no longer have a clearly defined closer. However, their bullpen flexibility and depth allows for any combination of Phil Bickford, Brusdar Graterol, Daniel Hudson, Blake Treinen and Alex Vesia to fill the role.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts didn’t rule out the possibility of a closer-by-committee to begin the 2022 season, but also left open the door for one of the aforementioned players to lock down the ninth inning, via Rowan Kavner of Dodger Insider:

Roberts said he has “a few guys” he thinks can finish a game, and the choice in the ninth inning may be based on the best matchup. But it’s possible one reliever separates himself.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be a closer by committee, but I just think that looking at the landscape of the pen right now, today, we have a lot good options,” Roberts said.

If the Dodgers do end up going with more defined roles, Hudson may be the favorite due to his experience closing and their desire to keep Treinen pitching in any high leverage spot they need him in.

Hudson most recently was the Washington Nationals’ closer during the shortened 2020 season. In 21 games, he went 3-2 with a 6.10 ERA, 6.29 FIP, 1.26 WHIP and 10 saves across 20.2 innings pitched. Hudson was on the mound when the Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in the World Series.

Turner, Bellinger bid farewell to Jansen

Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger were among the Dodgers to express their gratitude for Jansen after he signed with the Braves. The right-hander had been part of the organization since he was signed as an amateur free agent out of Curacao in 2004.

After struggling with inconsistencies over parts of the past two seasons, Jansen posted a solid 2.22 ERA, 3.08 FIP and 1.04 WHIP with 38 saves in 69 appearances last year.

In 12 seasons with the Dodgers, Jansen posted a career 2.37 ERA and converted a franchise-record 350 saves. He made three All-Star Games appearances, won a World Series, and twice was named National League Relief Pitcher of the Year.

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