Coming off his worst season as a closer, Kenley Jansen is looking for a bounce-back season. But should the Dodgers trade him before it is too late?
If there is one area of weakness in the Dodgers juggernaut over the past few seasons, it is in the bullpen. It hasn’t been bad, but to the high standards of the rest of the roster, it hasn’t been as strong.
Over the past two seasons, the Dodgers have the most blown saves in baseball. While part of that could be explained by the number of opportunities–when you are winning a lot of games, you have a greater chance to lose some of them–it is worth noting that the San Francisco Giants, who have been terrible, have the second most blown saves in that time.
Of course, the rhythm of the bullpen is mostly set by Kenley Jansen. After two exceptional seasons in 2016 and 2017, the Dodgers closer has come back down to earth over his past two campaigns, with 2019 his worst season since taking over the closing duties in Los Angeles. His inconsistent performance leading manager Dave Roberts to lose faith in him during the playoffs, perhaps costing the Dodgers the series against the Nationals when he was slow to pull reliever Joe Kelly in a decisive Game 5.
Jansen entered the offseason with some question marks surrounding his future with the only franchise he has ever known. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman giving a lukewarm response on his future shortly after the postseason.
However, it was Jansen, himself, and not Friedman, who controlled the closer’s destiny. He had an opt-out clause in his contract that would have allowed him to become a free agent. Instead, he wisely chose to stay the course and earn $38 million over the next two seasons.
With Jansen locked in, it turns out the Dodgers do have a decision to make on the closer. Do they keep him in Los Angeles as a mainstay in the bullpen for two more seasons? Or do they try to gain some assets and/or financial flexibility by trading him before it is too late?
What does too late mean? Glad you asked. Let’s start with why it might make sense to trade the 32-year-old right-hander.