The Los Angeles Dodgers saw several key contributors from their bullpen reach free agency the morning after the World Series concluded, including Kenley Jansen and Corey Knebel. Joe Kelly later joined the group after his $12 million team option for the 2022 season was declined in favor of a $4 million buyout.
Jansen is coming off a bounce-back season as he posted a 2.22 ERA, 3.08 FIP and 1.04 WHIP with 38 saves across 69 innings pitched (69 appearances).
As for Kelly, he enjoyed his best campaign with the Dodgers after pitching to a 2.86 ERA and 3.08 FIP in 44 innings across 48 appearances. Even though his team option was declined, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman indicated L.A. will be in the mix to re-sign him.
With many teams searching for bullpen help, Jansen and Kelly figure to have multiple options this offseason. Justin Turner recently told to David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports that he did discuss fee agency with the two relief pitchers during their visit to the new Apple Store at The Grove but not for the purpose of applying pressure:
“I was actually with Kenley [last Friday] morning, and Joe Kelly. Those were conversations that we had, talking about the experience and what they were going through. Being a free agent is difficult for guys. Especially for someone like Corey or Kenley, who’s been with this organization their entire career. That kind of anxiety or fear of maybe having to go somewhere else and not knowing what’s going to happen is difficult. But it is something that they’ve earned.
“It’s something they need to take advantage of and put their families in the best position they possibly can. I know I certainly hope — and I’m sure you do as well — that it ends up being in Dodger Blue. But they’ve got to make decisions for what’s best for them. … I don’t think they’re really counting on me to help them make their decisions, but I like to be here and available for them if they have questions or conversations. I’ve been through it a couple times and like I said, it’s not all peachy like it should be. It’s pretty difficult and there’s some tough decisions ahead for these guys.”
Having been a free agent on three occasions, Turner knows how difficult the process can be. Players may want to remain with an organization, but that doesn’t always happen, especially if salary is the biggest factor.
Jansen is on the open market for the first time since 2016 when he signed a five-year contract to remain with the Dodgers. Kelly, meanwhile, is a free agent for the first time since 2018 when he joined L.A. on a three-year contract.
Phillies among teams interested in Jansen
The Philadelphia Phillies have been one of the more aggressive teams in the bullpen market thus far as they look to fill their void at closer. Jansen reportedly is among the options they’re considering, along with a potential trade for Craig Kimbrel or Josh Hader.
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