(Photo Credit: MLB.com)
Quite a few rumors around the league are beginning to pick up steam as MLB’s Winter Meetings creep ever so closer, and the Marlins‘ interest in free agent reliever Kenley Jansen could be one of the more surprising whispers around baseball’s front offices.
Jon Heyman from fanragsports.com was the first to report the news of Miami’s intentions on Thursday, indicating that the Fish are considering the idea of putting together a “super-bullpen” since there aren’t the types of starters available in the market at reasonable cost to help them upgrade their decrepit starting rotation.
The Marlins could have a geographic edge in the Jansen sweepstakes since he’s a native of Curacao and “might not mind Miami,” Heyman explained. The Marlins also have a managerial advantage — Don Mattingly was Jansen’s skipper right at the point when the closer’s career began to take off with the Dodgers.
Jansen had a career-high 47 saves and career-low 0.67 WHIP with Los Angeles last season. The 29-year-old righty recorded a 1.83 ERA in 71 appearances, striking out 104 batters in 68 2/3 innings of work. In addition to being named an All-Star for the first time, Jansen was also named the National League Reliever of the Year just before the conclusion of the World Series.
Many baseball executives speculate the price to snag Jansen could be extremely high, however, estimating that Jansen will compete with fellow closer Aroldis Chapman this winter to sign the most expensive contract in baseball history for a relief pitcher.
At the general managers meetings in Scottsdale last week, Dodgers’ GM Farhan Zaidi told reporters that his management team may be re-exploring options in acquiring Chapman in addition to making Jansen a high priority. Long time Pirates closer Mark Melancon, who was dealt to the Nationals at the 2016 trade deadline, is also believed to be a bullpen option for the Dodgers.
“We have interest in both guys,” Zaidi said. “But it’s no certainty that we would be able to sign either. So we have to be open to alternatives.”
The Dodgers gave Jansen a qualifying offer, which he eventually rejected. As a result, if a different club signs Jansen, that team will be forced to sacrifice a draft pick. If the Marlins were to sign Jansen, they would be forced to part with the 14th overall pick next season. For a team with limited minor league depth and a main goal of building from within, such an acquisition may not be optimal.
Along with the Dodgers and Marlins, the Yankees, Cubs and Giants are all making a run at Jansen, who anticipates on landing a payday in excess of $100 million.
Furthermore, besides working the free agent market, the Marlins are reported to be exploring the trade market, conceivably being open to package outfielder Marcell Ozuna and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria for solid pitching help.