3 teams that could steal Kenley Jansen from Dodgers in free agency

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 20: Closer Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 20: Closer Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /
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Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pulls on the beard of closer Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

We wrote off Kenley Jansen returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers in free agency so long ago that we’ve started to ignore the fact that … he really might be back after all.

No, there hasn’t been a cataclysmic shift in LA’s front office. Andrew Friedman hasn’t suddenly come out in favor of overpaying established and aging relievers rather than remaining fungible in the back end of the bullpen.

But what has happened is … the rest of the league has gotten more disciplined, too. Though the Dodgers won’t be playing in the deepest end of the pool on Jansen’s next contract, neither will their competitors.

We’ve heard, for example, that the St. Louis Cardinals, desperately in need of back-end bullpen help, haven’t checked in on the 34-year-old, other than perhaps in a cursory manner at the very start of the process. If that’s the case … who’s actually in, other than the Dodgers? Can they get this done on a two-year deal at a reasonable price, then take things year by year for the remainder of Jansen’s career?

Though it seems more and more realistic by the day that LA could come to some agreement here with a ~$10 million AAV — yes, even after Jansen’s successful 2021, which advanced metrics didn’t love — these three teams are still lurking in the corner of the picture with potentially more lucrative offers.

These 3 teams could steal Kenley Jansen from the Dodgers in free agency.

3. Detroit Tigers

Is this “THE YEAR” the Tigers transcend their projections and take the next step, even with Javier Baez in the space reserved for Carlos Correa?

If so, they’re going to need to beef up that bullpen.

As of now, the depth chart looks a lot like the one an inferior Detroit team would’ve brought to battle these past few years. 2021 All-Star (by default) Gregory Soto is currently penciled into the closer spot, with roving ace Michael Fulmer right behind him — a free agent after 2022, and someone we’ve speculated could be a trade candidate preseason or midseason if he doesn’t have a future in Big D.

Soto’s neither a rock-solid closer nor is he enough of a reason to pass on adding a veteran like Jansen at something approaching the right price. If it takes a tiny overpay to secure his services, the Tigers still aren’t in a position to rule that out; after all, that’s how they secured Eduardo Rodriguez, outbidding the Red Sox and other interested parties.

Detroit is a potential AL Central threat with no one other than a 2021 breakout option and a former starter to be trusted to secure late-game leads. There should be no half-measures here. Either they’re good enough to splurge, or they’re waiting until 2023, when Fulmer will already be gone and the ‘pen will be even thinner.

It’s not their fault Correa turned down their money, while E-Rod accepted it. Seeing as they’re already part of the way towards contention, why stop now?