Despite losing Corey Seager and dealing with Clayton Kershaw’s uncertain future, the Los Angeles Dodgers really are in good shape for 2022 as long as they make a few necessary additions once the lockout ends.
Starting pitching? Need it. Bullpen help? You bet. Bench depth? Yes please. But in terms of urgency and money spending, perhaps that focus should be on a more premium, impactful position … which is why we disagree with The Athletic’s Jim Bowden’s suggestion for the Dodgers’ first post-lockout move.
On Thursday, he released his column “The first move each NL team should make when the lockout ends” (subscription required) and fans were eager to see what he had in store for the Dodgers, who are usually willing to chase the big-name free agents regardless of their payroll situation or make blockbuster trades because of their deep and high-end farm system.
But once you scrolled down to the Dodgers blurb, you’d probably be lying if you said you weren’t totally underwhelmed.
Jim Bowden thinks the Dodgers need to sign Kenley Jansen once the lockout ends.
Here’s what Bowden wrote:
"“First move they should make post-lockout: Sign closer Kenley Jansen to two-year, $40 million deal“The Dodgers lost reliever Corey Knebel in free agency to the Phillies and probably will lose Joe Kelly as well. They need to bring back Jansen, who really improved last year after learning a new curveball. Jansen, 34, wants to re-sign with the Dodgers, and they can probably get it done on a two-year deal with a $20 million average annual value, which is what Jansen made in 2021.”"
Wait a second?! Pay Jansen MORE on an AAV basis than he was making previously on his five-year, $80 million contract?! Have we gone mad? While we’re not going to sit here and say bringing back Jansen isn’t intrinsic to what the Dodgers are trying to accomplish, it’s hard to endorse this as the first post-lockout move at this price.
Jansen has largely regressed over the last three years, and even though 2021 seemed as if it was a big near-flawless rebound, the right-hander’s FIP was nearly a full run higher than his ERA and he was among the bottom 8% of relievers in the league in walk percentage. Though countless other metrics were impressive, investing a record AAV amount to a closer who’s entering his age-34 season just doesn’t seem prudent.
And did we forget about Clayton Kershaw? The No. 1 Dodgers legend? Who’s still unsigned? Truth be told, even though the Dodgers frequently seem to have a shaky bullpen (and there’s no denying the losses Bowden mentioned will have the Dodgers doing a lot of replacement work), Andrew Friedman always seems to figure it out, one way or another.
The rotation’s infinitely more important to the Dodgers’ success. Many would even argue adding Freddie Freeman would put the Dodgers in a much better place. But when they have Blake Treinen ready to slip in the closer role if need be, this type of investment in Jansen to kick off post-lockout life isn’t exactly what fans are envisioning.