After signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers as an amateur free agent catcher out of Curacao in 2004, Kenley Jansen made his debut in 2010 as a 22-year-old relief pitcher, and he went on to become one of the most successful closers in MLB history.
Jansen quickly became a high-leverage option for the Dodgers and ultimately took hold of the ninth-inning role, earning 25 saves in 2012, which was one year after his first full season of work. Jansen remained Dodgers closer for the next decade.
The right-hander ended up spending 12 seasons with the Dodgers before signing with the Atlanta Braves on a one-year contract for the 2022 season.
Now with the Boston Red Sox, his third MLB club, Jansen said he never envisioned himself wearing any uniform other than the Dodgers and expected to always play alongside Clayton Kershaw, via Christopher Smith of Masslive:
“I’m not going to lie about that. Yeah, for sure,” Jansen told MassLive on Tuesday. “I thought guys like me and Kersh (Clayton Kershaw) for sure would be playing in one uniform. But yeah, it didn’t happen.”
Originally a catcher, Jansen worked with Kershaw during the early days of their respective Minor League careers.
When Jansen entered free agency after the 2021 season, he was looking for a three-year deal, but the Dodgers reportedly only offered him two.
The Dodgers had also signed Freddie Freeman, so the impending luxury tax threshold penalties made retaining Jansen something they were uncomfortable doing without moving other pieces around.
While it was a disappointing result, Jansen still has love for his former teammates and understands baseball is a business at the end of the day:
“I love all my guys over there,” Jansen said. “They will forever be my brothers. I love every single one of them. It’s just business. If they really wanted me, they probably would have paid me. I can’t be waiting for one team and a good opportunity passes by. So I did what’s best for my family.”
Over his career with the Dodgers, Jansen was named to three All-Star teams, won two National League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award and capped it off with a World Series championship in 2020.
He holds the Dodgers record with 350 saves, along with pitching to a 2.37 ERA in 705 innings with 1,022 strikeouts.
Kenley Jansen thanked Dodgers staff after 400th save
Jansen recorded the 400th save of his career earlier this season, making him the seventh pitcher in MLB history to achieve that feat since it became an official stat in 1969.
Jansen joined Mariano Rivera (652 saves), Trevor Hoffman (601), Lee Smith (478), Francisco Rodríguez (437), John Franco (424) and Billy Wagner (422).
While reflecting on his accomplishment, Jansen thanked former Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Charlie Hough, De Jon Watson and others from the organization who were instrumental in converting him to a relief pitcher.
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