The Los Angeles Dodgers were dealt a major system shock as the MLB season starts to draw closer. Kenley Jansen figured to be a major part of what LA wants to do in the bullpen, but he reversed course and signed with the Atlanta Braves on a one-year, $16 million deal.
When looking at his Dodgers career in totality, the fact that he is one of the best relief pitchers in Dodgers history is inarguable. Not since the days of Eric Gagne in the early 2000s have the Dodgers had such a dominant ninth inning door-slammer.
Jansen found success thanks to a cutter that was so dominant that knowing the pitch was coming did little to help a parade of befuddled hitters. Now that Jansen has decided to leave Los Angeles in search of slipping a second championship ring on his finger in Atlanta, he made sure to thank the organization he gave so much to.
Jansen thanked the Dodgers organization and fanbase for helping “make me the man I am today” in a touching tweet. For half of his life, Jansen has been a member of the Dodgers organization. No matter what the Braves offered in contract talks, leaving LA was always going to be difficult.
Kenley Jansen appreciated his time with the Dodgers.
Jansen’s story sounds like something out of a fairytale. Plucked from Curacao at 17, Jansen spent his first few seasons in the minors as a catcher. Despite moving to pitcher late and relying overwhelmingly on just one pitch, Jansen has become one of the best relief pitchers in MLB history.
Jansen’s 350 saves rank 13th on the all-time list. With another strong season, he could easily jump into the top ten. At an age where most fireballers start to slow down, Jansen has recorded 38 saves while posting a 2.22 ERA. Atlanta is getting a closer that is still at the top of his game.
Jansen joined a loaded Braves bullpen that features Will Smith, Kirby Yates, and Tyler Matzek. Jansen’s one-year deal shows that he is interested in chasing a championship with these Braves in his age-34 season. That cutter is still cutting, so he should assume the ninth-inning role.
While Jansen was prone to fits of inconsistency, he gave a champion Dodgers team the consistency at the back end of the bullpen some teams spend a decade trying to find. While names like Blake Treinen or Jimmy Nelson will try to replace him, they have a long way to go before they can be held in that same tier.