Will Dodgers Pursue a Contract With Kenley Jansen When Lockout Ends?

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.

21 thoughts on “Will Dodgers Pursue a Contract With Kenley Jansen When Lockout Ends?

  1. I would have been fine with Kenley’s leaving until he re-made himself the second half of this year. By adding a couple of extra pitches to his arsenal and being willing to use them on a regular basis, I think he’s added a good 2-3 years to his career and has made himself a very effective closer again.

    I much prefer Treinen used in a highest leverage situation instead of the 9th inning. We’ve signed Daniel Hudson but I’m not thrilled with the idea of him being our closer all year.

    I’m not ready to turn over the job to any of Graterol, Vesia, Bickford, Vgon, Kahnle or Fergie.
    All of the above guys PLUS Kenley makes for a very strong bullpen and since we know at least one or two of those guys will falter or be injured.

    I’m sure that Kenley will get a minimum of two years from someone, quite possibly three. I’d be more than happy to offer him 3/36 and take a chance that he won’t last all three years. But then, it ain’t my $$$$$ I’m spending.

    1. If Friedman would give us an indication of how much he intends to spend, it would make all this speculation easier. On the other hand, maybe he still doesn’t know until he finds out whether he needs to pay Bauer.

      1. Anyone coming off a good year will generate interest. I’d like to see him back, but I think he will be offered more somewhere else. Better a year too early than a year too late. I’d give him 2 years. And then somebody will offer 3.

    2. I am with you on this Jeff. Jansen remade himself and became relevant again. I agree with a 2-3 year deal. If they get Jansen back and hopefully with the addition of Kahnle and Ferguson from injury plus Graterol, Vesia, Bickford, Gonzalez, etc the bullpen would be a plus group.
      The Bauer Nightmare continues to hang there. Hard to believe the DA cannot or will not decide to charge or drop. All the MLB people and pundits say irregardless Bauer will be suspended for 2022. But no one knows until it happens.
      I say the strike will take part of the 2022 season. Possibly a big part of it. Neither side trusts or likes the other and that adds up to a long strike as there are basic fundamental changes the players are demanding that the owners do not want to change. The players feel they gave up too much last time so I do not think they will make a deal quickly.

  2. I agree with Jeff. The addition of pitches to compliment his slider returned Kenley to be one of the exceptional closers in baseball. I’m hopeful he returns.

    1. Muncy’s injury is to his non-throwing arm so that may not be a problem, but he’s now rated as an above average first baseman and a below average second baseman so I don’t see any reason to mess with that. If they sign Freeman I supposed they could rotate JT, Max and Freddie into the DH spot to give them each playing time in the field as well, but I get the distinct feeling that both Muncy and Freeman would like to be playing first base every day and neither is ready to play DH half the time. Muncy doesn’t embarrass himself at second base but we have other guys who play the position better.

  3. I think AF will have conversations with his agent, and maybe even Kenley himself. If he still wants 20 mil a year or more, he will not be a Dodger. They need to know what the CBT will be and they need to know if Bauer is going to be suspended or if he is allowed to play. Two very huge pachyderms in the room. And he has to address his weak bench.

  4. I agree that Muncy’s best position is first, but where else are going to get an impact bat like Freeman’s, and please don’t say Correa, because signing him, then moving Turner back to second, is pushing TT out the door. I’d much rather have TT at short in the future than Correa.

    1. Good questions Keith

      You know, Muncy is only a year younger than Freeman. Who would you rather see at first for the next 5 years? And second base? I don’t think so. That’s Lux’s spot. If Freeman is signed, I think someone has to go.

      I understand why many don’t want Correa. He’s better defensively, hasn’t put up the oWAR Turner has, And TT may be out the door anyway.

      I don’t have a clue what the plan is, but it’s going to be interesting.

  5. I agree Muncy is a great player, and first base is his best position, but I think we are a bat short, I know defensively Freeman throws a monkey wrench into things, but offensively he is a perfect fit, He’s one of the top hitters in the NL, I can’t believe Atlanta has left the door open for other teams, I never expected him to be taking serious offers from anyone.

    I’m open to a somebody besides Freeman, but I don’t know who it would be.

  6. I was just reading a little about negotiations today, with MLB wanting to make more stringent penalties for teams going over the CBT (loss of a 3rd round pick and raising the first tier penalty from 20% to 50%) the owners are basically trying to in-act a salary cap, without calling it a salary cap. There is no way the players are, or should go for that, so I’m not holding out much hope for a full season, unless there is a huge swing in attitudes, especially from the owners, which is very unlikely.

    1. You would think the large market teams would be against that kind of cap and we know the players are, so it would seem as though the small market teams are getting their way here. They won’t let the big teams spend money and then they take the money those teams are forced to share with them and don’t spend it on payroll.

      Monfort (Rockies owner) made a comment today about how expensive it is to run a team, trying to explain away why some owners don’t spend money on payroll. Then sell your team! There are enough billionaire sports fans out there that no struggling owner would have a problem finding someone to sell his team to. Instead of trying to limit how much a team spends, find ownership that has the money to spend with the big boys.

  7. What we have here is the tail wagging the dog, MLB is letting all of the small market teams dictate how baseball should be ran.

    I agree Jeff, all of these owners are billionaires with multi billion dollar businesses/teams. I’m sure it is expensive to run these teams, I think I read somewhere the dodgers have 400 employees, although a lot of them are part time, but they get A LOT of money from attendance, parking, concessions, and television. One thing owners never talk about is, how much their investments accrue. The lowest estimated valued team, I can find is the Marlins at $1.12 billion. The Dodgers are valued at $4.62 billion. We know the Dodgers were purchased for $2.2 billion in may of 2012. In just under ten years the Dodgers ownership group has increased the value of their investment by $2.42 billion, so even if they don’t make a profit they are making $242 million per year when they sell. I personally don’t believe any of these teams are not making a seasonal profit, all of the owners have their teams broken up into multiple entities ( I think I read somewhere the Dodgers are broken into over thirty entities) so maybe the team isn’t making money, but the entities are raking it in.

    Now let’s take Montfort for example. He took full control of the Rockies in 2005, at that time the team was valued at $298 million by Forbes. Now they are valued at $1.37 billion, that’s a added value of $1.072 billion, over 17 years, so I really don’t feel too sorry for the Montfort brothers, I’m not to worried, that they are going to go bankrupt, and end up in the poorhouse.

    I do believe the teams make an over all profit each year, some years more than others, and some teams more than others. If these teams are losing money every year, like they would like us fans to believe, why are there always new owners willing to buy these teams, when ever one becomes available? What business man, or corporation would invest in a product that loses money every year, and finally how stupid do the owners think we fans really are.

  8. Find a middle ground, let the owners have their expanded playoffs ( they had a $300 million deal in place for last season if the players had approved) let the players make a little more money somehow, we don’t want to hear all the BS, just give us our game back.

  9. I’m on a roll now,

    I read recently, the value of all of the MLB teams combined, is approximately $66 billion dollars. That’s over $2 billion per team average. With those overall team values how can the owners like Montfort cry broke, and keep a straight face.

    1. Some good comments Keith. I’ve arranged a seat at the bargaining table for you at the next meeting. Hope you can take some time off to go to NY. Maybe you just need to threaten to bury them all in concrete.

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