1. Kenley Jansen
What does a Dodgers season even look like without a healthy Kenley Jansen debate about his ninth-inning readiness when push comes to shove?
At one point this season, we suggested the (somewhat silly) idea of a “contract for life” between Jansen and the Dodgers. Not in the iron-clad sense, but similarly to the way Derek Jeter and the Yankees operated in the shortstop’s later years.
At 34, is Jansen going to get more than a three-year deal from anyone? No. So why don’t he and the Dodgers just hammer out a two-year pact that makes sense, then keep adding on one year at a time until both parties are ready to walk away?
Well, it’s not that simple. There are plenty of Dodgers to pay. Sure, Jansen’s having his best season since 2017, but that’s in terms of ERA — not FIP, where he’s lagging nearly a full run behind his production (2.30 to 3.19). And his role in this glorious era of Dodgers baseball is undeniable.
But this year, around the final year of Jansen’s five-year, $80 million deal, Andrew Friedman mostly assembled a bullpen packed with one-year veteran wild cards like Jimmy Nelson, Corey Knebel and the recovering Tommy Kahnle, who never came back but should theoretically be ready in 2022. Perhaps next year he’d rather use Jansen’s salary on a cheaper closer, then swing a trade for some underrated bullpen help from an organization that doesn’t need it?
A “lifetime” wait-and-see deal seems silly, with so much else going on. Something tells us this team’s braintrust can find a better way to build a bullpen.