The Los Angeles Dodgers began the 2016 with a rout of the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on Monday afternoon. Their 15-0 win is the largest blowout victory record in Major League Baseball history on Opening Day.
Given the comfortable lead the Dodgers held for much of the game and seven strong innings from Clayton Kershaw, they didn’t need to call on Kenley Jansen. The right-handed closer is coming off a spring in which he allowed four runs on six hits and had 14 strikeouts to just three walks over 10.1 innings pitched.
Jansen and the Dodgers avoided arbitration during the offseason by agreeing to a one-year $10.65 million. Jansen, who will turn 29 years old on Sept. 30, is eligible to become a free agent after the 2016 season for the first time in his career.
It was reported in late February Jansen and the Dodgers had not discussed a multiyear contract extension, and that still appears to be the case. According to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, Jansen does not want to discuss his contract during the season:
Jansen said there is “nothing going on” now and said he would not entertain contract negotiations once the season starts Monday. “I’m not going to talk about it,” he said. “They need me here right now. I’ll be the leadership for the bullpen. I’ll try to help the team win and get to the playoffs, and hopefully we can get to the World Series. I’ll just want to talk about that in October.”
Last season, Jansen recorded 36 saves with a 2.41 ERA, 2.14 FIP, 0.78 WHIP and 80 strikeouts to eight walks in 52.1 innings pitched. Entering Tuesday, he ranks second on the Dodgers’ all-time leaders list with 142 saves, which trails Eric Gagne’s 161.
The Dodgers and Zack Greinke did not hold contract discussions last season, and it was later referred to as a crucial mistake by the organization in the aftermath of Greinke signing a six-year, $206.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Given Jansen’s dominance in recent seasons, and the contract Andrew Miller and other elite relievers have signed, the Dodgers closer is in line for a lucrative deal this winter. However, he may be competing on the open market against Aroldis Chapman.