Dodgers Rumors: Freddie Freeman’s Contract & Luxury Tax Threshold Were Factors With Kenley Jansen

For the first time in over a decade, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be without Kenley Jansen at the backend of their bullpen. Despite mutual interest in a reunion, Jansen signed a one-year, $16 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.

The converted catcher signed with the Dodgers in 2004, and his switch to pitching allowed him to reach the big league level in 2010, where he firmly entrenched himself as the team’s closer four years later. That of course was a role Jansen held onto during his entire tenure in L.A.

The Dodgers’ all-time saves leader faced a tough decision this past offseason with free agency. Despite being in the back half of his career, Jansen reportedly wanted to sign a three-year contract.

Jansen was open to remaining with the Dodgers but the recent signing of Freddie Freeman made a reunion difficult due to luxury tax threshold implications, according to Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:

“To keep their payroll under $290 million and avoid the resulting 80% tax rate, the Dodgers wanted Jansen to wait until they shed payroll before signing.”

The Dodgers were one of the few teams to make a contract offer to Jansen — reportedly for two years — but with Spring Training already underway and clubs wanting to finalize additions to their rosters, his timeline to sign was accelerated.

With uncertainties surrounding Trevor Bauer and his large hit to the Dodgers’ payroll, the club could not commit to Jansen without a few moves needing to play out. Along with a ruling from MLB on Bauer, the Dodgers presumably looked to shed salary by trading AJ Pollock or David Price.

Who will replace Jansen as Dodgers closer?

Although retaining Jansen would have been beneficial for the Dodgers, the team is still in a good place without him.

L.A. no longer has a clearly defined closer, but their roster allows for any combination of Phil Bickford, Brusdar Graterol, Daniel Hudson, Blake Treinen Tommy Kahnle and Alex Vesia to pitch in late innings.

Manager Dave Roberts had already suggested the Dodgers would likely rely on a closer-by-committee approach if Jansen was not re-signed because of the value Treinen brings in the fireman role.

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.

Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? Be sure to ring the notification bell to watch player interviews, participate in shows and giveaways, and stay up to date on all Dodgers news and rumors!