The Dodgers joined the rest of the league when they started bullpening in the 2017 post-season. Relievers seem to be going up in value by the season.
The Dodgers locked Kenley Jansen up to a five year 80 million dollar contract after the 2016 season and at the time that looked like a lot of money for a reliever. The deal now looks to be the market value after the Rockies signed closer Wade Davis to a three year 52 million dollar contract in the past week.
That got me thinking if Jansen will opt out of his current deal after the 2019 season. As his contract is constructed, Jansen will only make ten million dollars in 2018, but after that, his contract will pay him 18.8 million dollars a season if he doesn’t opt out following the 2018 season. The 18.8 million dollars a year would be from his age thirty-one to thirty-three seasons. Would Jansen be able to beat that 18.8 million per year if he were to utilize his opt-out clause?
For comparison’s sake, Davis signed his new deal at age thirty-two and Jansen would be thirty-two for the 2020 season which would be his first year of a new deal if he did opt out. Jansen should be able to land a four to five-year deal around 90 or 100 million dollars the way that the reliever market is trending. The Dodgers were one of the teams that used a strong bullpen to shorten games and not rely on their starting rotation as much in 2017. As the importance of relievers goes up, so will their annual value.
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Another thing Kenley Jansen has going for him is the fact that he has no history of injuries. Davis has had forearm strains in the past and while they didn’t end up being significant injuries, a forearm strain often is a precursor to an elbow ligament injury. Jansen has been a workhorse for the Dodgers and in the post-season has routinely converted multi-inning save opportunities. If there was an image of the definition of durability, Kenley Jansen would be it as far as relievers go.
I expect Kenley Jansen to opt out after the 2019 season and forgo the last two years of his contract in order to attempt to sign a four or five-year deal. The way the contracts in baseball are going, and the way that even setup men like Bryan Shaw are landing high paying three-year deals, I see no reason why Jansen can’t beat his current contract after 2019. Further boosting his leverage is the fact that Jansen is the MVP of the Dodger bullpen and maybe even one of the MVPs of the entire Dodger team.
If Jansen were to leave, who would take the role of the Dodgers’ closer? Brandon Morrow is now gone and the free agent market has been unkind to the Dodgers when it comes to relievers on high paid contracts. Brandon League, Brian Wilson, I’ll just stop there before I cause Dodgers fans to feel nauseated. It will be interesting to see what Jansen does after the 2019 season, but as the market currently stands, he will most likely opt out and command a bigger contract.