2. Kenley Jansen
Are you prepared to pay Kenley Jansen as an elite closer on a long-term deal? Because he still is one, and there hasn’t been nearly enough regression for the Dodgers to be able to snag him on a hometown discount at two years for $30-ish million.
Unless he really, really wants to. There will be more years of security out there, if he’s willing to look.
Sadly, the same principles that apply to Kelly apply to Jansen, though in a far less declarative manner. Year-to-year, relievers probably shouldn’t be paid big money unless they’re the absolute cream of the crop, so long as you bake in payroll restrictions.
If the Dodgers are willing to blow by anything and everything? Sure. Jansen can return. But he’ll be behind Taylor, Scherzer, and the No. 1 item on this list in the free agent/extension pecking order, and there are plenty of young Dodgers about to watch their arbitration figures escalate.
The downside to letting Jansen walk is…they haven’t exactly been able to make the bullpen function even with the reliable closer at the back end. Do you really want to evacuate the guy at the end and attempt to patch the whole thing up again?
Jansen is 33, nearly 34. He’ll have leveled up a year by the time October rolls around. Though he’s still been a borderline-All-Star closer, his WHIP has continued its annual escalation this year, from 0.991 in 2018, his first semi-tough year, to 1.063 in 2019, 1.151 in 2020, and now a worrisome 1.283 this year.
He’s a Dodger for life, but he’s not quite the same Dodger he’s always been. Don’t think they ultimately settle on the right dollar figure.
Especially with another big issue…