In one of the biggest surprises of the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers had a deal in place with the Cincinnati Reds to trade for Aroldis Chapman, which would have put two of baseball’s most dominant closers in one bullpen.
Among all relief pitchers who threw a minimum of 40 innings last season, Chapman (15.74) and Kenley Jansen (13.76) ranked first and fourth, respectively, in strikeouts per nine innings.
The Dodgers’ trade for Chapman was put on hold as a report surfaced detailing his involvement in a domestic violence incident. Los Angeles soon after decided it was best they move on from the talks, and Chapman was eventually traded to the New York Yankees.
Although the Dodgers were on the verge of pairing Jansen with another elite closer, something that is far from being common, the Curacao native said recently he didn’t get upset or hold a grudge over the club’s near trade.
Jansen and the Dodgers avoided arbitration last month by agreeing to a one-year, $10.65 million contract. It was the second consecutive year Jansen signed a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
The 28 year old is eligible for free agency after the 2016 season and the Dodgers haven’t approached their closer to discuss a multiyear contract. Should they experience life without Jansen, he believes relievers on the Dodgers roster are capable of succeeding him, according to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register:
“They can close, I’m telling you. Hatch, Yimi, Pedro,” Jansen said, listing setup men Chris Hatcher, Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez. “I’m not mad off that. If that’s the road they want to go – who knows? On this day, I’m a Dodger. I’m just going to keep improving myself, keep trying to help the team win, try to get better every day. I’m very proud of wearing a Dodger uniform every day.”
Over the past two offseasons under president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers have not signed a reliever to large contract. Jansen presumably would command a multiyear contract similar in the neighborhood of $35-40 million over three or four seasons.
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. He currently ranks second on the Dodgers’ all-time leaders list with 142 saves, which trails Eric Gagne’s 161.