The insanity needs to stop today. Kenley Jansen is MLB’s most dominant closer, and leaving him hanging without a long-term contract is a big mistake.
Kenley Jansen is a gentle giant. He is quiet when he signs autographs, and he is a silent assassin when he mows down hitters in the ninth inning, amassing save after save. It just seems to be in the man’s nature not to ruffle feathers, to the point where it wouldn’t be surprising to see him clear out his locker at the end of the season, and let his agent deliver the news to the Dodgers that they shouldn’t even bother offering him a new contract. And really, can you blame him?
The Dodger front office hasn’t given Jansen any reason to come back next season despite the fact that he is clearly one, if not the, top closer in MLB. Let’s start with the clear disrespect they showed him by trying to sign Aroldis Chapman last winter, which would have demoted Jansen to the setup role even though his 2015 stats were staggering (36 saves in 38 opportunities/80 strikeouts in 59 innings/8 walks/0.78 WHIP). Then when the two sides met to smooth over hurt feelings and to avoid salary arbitration, the Dodgers opted not to discuss a multi-year deal to keep him off the free-agent market after the season. What gives?
Word has it that the Dodger brass doesn’t like the model of handing out big contracts to closers, and that they feel that there are some cheaper closers-in-the-making sitting in the current Dodger bullpen. Really? If they were thinking along the lines of Chris Hatcher or Pedro Baez taking over (that’s the buzz), they might be reconsidering that plan right about now, as neither of these guys is demonstrating anywhere close to Jansen-dominance. Just the opposite, really.
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The way Jansen is closing like a killer again this season (MLB-leading 9 for 9 in saves/0.00 ERA/11 K’s/1 BB/0.41 WHIP), the Dodgers just have zero excuse for not giving him a new deal right this minute. Please, Dodgers, don’t try to play the “we don’t negotiate during the season” card; because if this happens, Jansen could very well end up in San Francisco (Santiago Casilla is losing favor there), and that might be even worse than watching Dave Roberts signal for Hatcher or Baez in the ninth.