While the lockout has still frozen all big-league transactions, many of us continue to speculate how the Dodgers will fill out their active roster when the players and the owners reach a new collective bargaining agreement.
Two of the team’s biggest roster needs right now seem to be the starting rotation and the bullpen. We still no nothing about the future of Trevor Bauer, and there hasn’t been much reporting about Clayton Kershaw, specifically regarding his recovery from an elbow injury that ended his season prematurely last year.
On the bullpen front, there may be a chance the club is without the services of Kenley Jansen for the first time in 13 years. At the beginning of December, Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times wrote that “Jansen, the franchise’s all-time saves leader, is not expected to return.” However, aside from the speculation, there hasn’t been much to support those claims so far.
There’s no question Kenley will garner serious consideration across the league when player signings resume. In the days leading up to the lockout, we heard teams like the Phillies, Blue Jays, Cardinals and even the Astros having interest. Nevertheless, at age 34, it’s tough to tell just how much Kenley might have left in the tank.
After having a bit of a roller-coaster first half in 2021, Jansen settled down to post a 2.22 ERA over an even 69 innings of work, which was the first season he registered a sub-3.00 ERA since 2017. In addition, his 1.043 WHIP last year was his lowest since his 2018 campaign.
Still, for as much as Kenley goes through with criticism in Los Angeles, it wouldn’t be surprising if he lands elsewhere. If you’re a fan of the Dodgers, either you like Kenley or you don’t. It’s not uncommon to hear boos in the Los Angeles bleachers when he has a bad outing, despite being one of the most successful closers in franchise history.
In a recent fan poll conducted by our friends over at MLB Trade Rumors, the results far and away show Kenley remaining with the Dodgers.
Jansen is coming off a five-year, $80 million deal with the Dodgers that ended with him making $20 million of that total last season. Of course, he won’t land anywhere near the $20 million in his new deal, but a sum between $10-15 million for two years is definitely realistic. Last year, Jansen’s 69 regular season appearances were tied for 12th in the National League.
Coincidentally, Blake Treinen’s 72 appearances were good enough for first on the club and fifth-best on the senior circuit.
Heading into the 2022 season, Treinen has one more year left on his deal, and there’s no question he’ll be the frontrunner for the closer’s role if Jansen lands elsewhere. As we already know, Corey Knebel signed with the Phillies, leaving the door open for pitchers like Brusdar Graterol, Phil Bickford and Alex Vesia to throw in closing situations. Re-emerging seasons from Victor Gonzalez and Daniel Hudson are also not off the table.
Whatever the case may be, it will be interesting to see where Jansen lands and whether Castillo’s insider information was accurate. If Kenley signs elsewhere, it will no doubt be odd seeing him throw in a different uniform in the twilight years of his career.