Cardinals could steal Kenley Jansen from Dodgers once lockout ends

Thomas Carannante
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 06: Teammates greet Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the dugout after the top of the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card Game at Dodger Stadium on October 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 06: Teammates greet Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the dugout after the top of the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during the National League Wild Card Game at Dodger Stadium on October 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
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After the Los Angeles Dodgers failed to come to an agreement with Kenley Jansen before the lockout, it was assumed the two were going to part ways. A report not longer after emerged suggesting the Dodgers weren’t planning on bringing the star closer back and that the Miami Marlins were willing to bid high in free agency when the time came.

But then it was reported the Dodgers actually tried to work out a deal with Jansen but ran out of time … and that there still are plans to potentially keep him as the ninth-inning man. We wouldn’t doubt it since LA has lost a number of other bullpen arms this offseason.

The Dodgers do face an obstacle, now, however, which comes in the form of the post-lockout free agency frenzy. That will be characterized by expedited deals and desperate teams trying to upgrade before Opening Day with little time to spare.

Fans learned on Tuesday that the St. Louis Cardinals might be one of the teams that hops into the bidding for Jansen; a concerning development because they have room to spend more money and are desperate for bullpen help.

Could the Cardinals steal Kenley Jansen from the Dodgers in free agency?

Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are eyeing “‘high-leverage’ arms — ones who could be used as a closer, but not only a closer.” But would they really pass on the opportunity to sign Jansen because they have Alex Reyes as their closer?

The young right-hander ended up falling off a cliff toward the end of last season, and we wouldn’t be investing a ton of confidence in his concerning 1.36 WHIP and 4.40 FIP. His 3.24 ERA and 120 ERA+ were respectable, but he’s far from a complete pitcher built to handle countless high-pressure situations.

If the Cardinals signed Jansen, they could bump Reyes down to setup man (and as a part-time closer when Jansen needed rest) and further deepen their bullpen with Giovanny Gallegos, Genesis Cabrera, TJ McFarland and others behind them. Isn’t that the idea, rather than finding a guy who has the “capability” to close games? We know Gallegos ended up taking over for Reyes in the second half, but the right-hander has only 48 games finished to his name. Is that enough to convince you there’s a definitive closer on this roster?

With just $150 million committed to the 2022 payroll and few glaring needs after a season that saw them surge ahead to make the postseason, the Cardinals can afford to overpay here a little bit and potentially bump the Dodgers, who have $232 on the books for next year as well as Trevor Bauer’s salary hanging over their heads.

It might feel like Jansen should be a Dodger for life, but with one last payday coming his way and plenty of suitors heading into next season, LA needs to be tailing him closely if they’re serious about a reunion.

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