Dodgers Roundtable: Sign Aroldis Chapman Or Kenley Jansen?
Dodgers Roundtable: Sign Aroldis Chapman Or Kenley Jansen?

With applicable players formally deciding on accepting or rejecting the one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer by 2 p.m. PT on Monday, the MLB offseason is inching closer to kicking into full gear.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are among the multiple clubs pursuing a closer this winter, and available are three attractive options in Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. The Dodgers thus far have most prominently been linked to Chapman and Jansen.

They’re said to have a high view of the former, while the latter is the franchise all-time leader in saves. If Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman were to break from his history of not signing a reliever to a significant, long-term contract, this would be the instance.

Considering the Dodgers can essentially pursue Chapman and Jansen in free agency with the same level of aggressiveness, the staff was asked which closer the club should sign.

Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015)

As others noted, there isn’t a wrong answer to this question. Chapman and Jansen are both elite and would anchor the Dodgers bullpen just fine.

Where it gets tricky is with Chapman’s off-the-field past. But for me, the discussion doesn’t need to extend beyond the field.

Throughout much of the season I held a strong belief the Dodgers would extend the qualifying offer to Jansen, allow him to sign elsewhere, get a draft pick and sign Chapman. Now, I’m not nearly as certain.

Jansen endured some bumps throughout the regular season but he was phenomenal during the postseason. His willingness to take the ball whenever needed and effectiveness despite being used in a non-traditional role can’t be understated or overlooked.

Jeff Spiegel (@JeffSpiegel):

Rather than open with my decision, allow me place two anonymous players in front of you and let you decide. If given the choice, which of the following would you rather have? (Note: the players are five months apart, so age isn’t really a factor here).

Player A

2014: 54 IP, 2.00 ERA, 0.89 FIP, 2.8 WAR, 106 strikeouts, 36/38 saves
2015: 66.1 IP, 1.63 ERA, 1.94 FIP, 2.5 WAR, 116 strikeouts, 33/36 saves
2016: 58 IP, 1.55 ERA, 1.42 FIP, 2.7 WAR, 90 strikeouts, 36/39 saves

Player B
2014: 65.1 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1.91 FIP, 1.7 WAR, 101 strikeouts, 44/49 saves
2015: 52.1 IP, 2.41 ERA, 2.14 FIP, 1.7 WAR, 80 strikeouts, 36/38 saves
2016: 68.2 IP, 1.83 ERA, 1.44 FIP, 3.2 WAR, 104 strikeouts, 47/53 saves

Player A has had a better ERA and FIP every season, as well as a better WAR and more strikeouts in two of the past three seasons. As for saves? Both have converted them at basically the same rate for the past three seasons, so we’ll call that and innings pitched a push.

So, it seems like Player A is the correct choice, no? Well, Player A is Chapman. Is this an open and closed case? Of course not.

Chapman was accused of (but not charged) domestic violence last winter, which led to the Dodgers backing away from a trade agreement with the Cincinnati Reds that would have landed him in Los Angeles.

On the flip side, signing Chapman and letting Jansen walk means receiving an elite closer and a compensation pick thanks to the qualifying offer extended to Jansen.

The verdict? You can’t go wrong, but if we’re talking strictly baseball — strictly on-the-field stuff — give me Chapman.

Matt Borelli (@MattDodgerBlue):

While you can’t go wrong with either pitcher, I hope the Dodgers retain Jansen for various reasons. For one, he’s been with the organization for over a decade.

Fans have watched Jansen evolve from his early days as a catcher in the Minors to the dominant closer he is today. At the age of 29, Jansen is already the all-time Dodgers save leader. That is remarkable, considering how long the club has been around.

Re-signing Jansen to the big contract he deserves while keeping him around for the prime years of his career benefits everyone involved, including the player, team and fans.

Secondly, while Chapman might be more exciting to watch given his record-breaking fastball velocity, I’m just not sold that he’ll be able to sustain his dominance over time.

On the flip side, Jansen relies on movement more than anything else. His cutter is practically unhittable and some have compared it to Mariano Rivera’s legendary pitch.

Given each closer’s respective skill set, I’m betting that Jansen is more likely than Chapman to continue posting elite numbers in the latter half of their respective careers.

Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):

If the money were the same I would probably choose Chapman over Jansen. Both are dominant closers, so the Dodgers can’t go wrong either way, but baseball has never seen anything quite like Chapman and his fastball that consistently reaches over 100 mph.

He has blown just 18 saves since becoming a closer in 2012, while Jansen has blown 24 in that same span. Additionally, since 2012, Chapman has allowed 17 home runs compared to 27 for Jansen.

While Jansen showed his worth in the playoffs, proving that he can throw multiple innings at any point in the game, Chapman demonstrated he is capable of doing the same.

So in a close postseason game, I would feel just as comfortable giving the ball to Chapman as I would with Jansen.

Eric Avakian (@AvakEric):

Between the two I would definitely lean in favor of Jansen. He demonstrated elite pitching ability in the postseason, even in the Dodgers’ losing effort. With the Dodgers pretty much eliminated in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, Jansen still took the hill and delivered three scoreless innings (with four strikeouts).

Jansen’s noted performance in Game 5 of the NL Division Series was another strong showing as he carried the team until he gassed out. Chapman also has elite stuff, but this postseason showed that making contact should be the focus on a fastball over 100 mph.

The Dodgers, Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants were all able to have success off of Chapman. In comparison, teams were unable to connect on Jansen’s devastating cutter, which may be the best one seen since Mariano Rivera.

The ever-growing use of analytics and sabermetrics seems to favor Jansen, with his cutter (2550 RPM) topping out well over the Major League average (2205 RPM). The converted catcher seems to only improve with each season, as his repertoire continues to develop with another season under his belt.

The Dodgers should put Jansen atop their priority list in regards to closers. The market of available relief pitchers is relatively thin, and the Dodgers would face some trouble if Jansen isn’t re-signed.