Will the Dodgers extend the contract of their star closer Kenley Jansen? With the extension talks stalled and the interest in Aroldis Chapman that they had, it is questionable if Jansen will be with the Dodgers next year.
Even though I still think that the part of a closer is vastly overrated, he is part of the game for decades now. I still think that with a couple of relievers platooning for that spot, you can have the same result. But okay, the closer role is a part of baseball; even I cannot deny that.
Earlier this year the Dodgers and Jansen agreed on a one year deal. Around that period it became clear that the Cincinnati Reds wanted to get rid of Aroldis Chapman. So after they put him into the shopping window, several clubs showed interest, even after the alleged beating of his girlfriend. Also the Dodgers appeared to be interested but after the Cuban closer was a suspect in this molestation case, the Dodgers backed out.
Why did they want to acquire Chapman while they had one of the best closers around already? Sure Chapman may be THE premier closer at the moment, but don’t say that Jansen is a lot worse. On the contrary. If you devide the number of saves of both pitchers through the number of opportunities that they had, Chapman is just slightly better with 89% while Jansen converted 88% of his save opprtunities into saves.
The main difference between the two is the pitch speed. Where Chapman often surpasses the 100 mph mark, Jansen’s pitches top 95-98 mph. Both have a different arsenal of pitches. Chapman masters the four seam fastball, the slider and a change up. Jansen on his turn throws a cutter, a slider and a sinker. Both pitchers are pretty effective with it.
If the Dodgers would have managed to acquire Chapman (At what cost? Corey Seager?), Jansen would have settled for the set up role. He doesn’t have such a big ego that he claims the position of closer. With that attitude he deserves a lot more respect than the Dodgers are giving him. Jansen felt that his trust was betrayed when former GM Ned Colletti signed Brandon League to a three-year deal when Jansen was diagnosed with and treated for an irregular heartbeat. He didn’t mind the possibility of the Dodgers adding Chapman this winter, stressing that he only asked that Andrew Friedman be up front with him about what might happen. A post on MLBtraderumors.com from February stated that the Dodgers even did not bother to talk about a multi-year contract extension. All the Dodgers wanted was to avoid salary arbitration in Jansen’s final year of arbitration eligibility. Apparently the team is counting on it that Jansen will leave after the season.
Despite his heart problems, Jansen has been a constant factor for the Dodgers in the past seven seasons. If they are using the heart thing as an excuse not to sign him, it is a lame one. Since he was treated for it, it never occurred again.
You can bet that Jansen will test the market to look for greener pastures now. It is expected that he may ask for a multi-year deal worth around $12 million per year. He may very well be a lot cheaper than Chapman, who is also in the final year of his contract.
There is one thing that can be said in favor of the Dodgers. Jansen did not want to talk about a contract extension during the season. Jansen feels he has earned his one opportunity at a lucrative deal as a free agent and wants to go to the highest bidder.But the Dodgers knew this and they had their chance to avoid this in February.
Perhaps Jansen will get the credit that he deserves elsewhere.
P.S. I know that baseball is a cold hard business.