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Did the Dodgers Poison Their Relationship with Kenley Jansen?

When the ninth inning rolls around in a tight game, and the Dodgers need someone to come in, save the game, and nail down the win, who does the Dodger Nation want to see take the mound? Fans from every corner of Chavez Ravine will surely shout, “Kenley Jansen!”, in unison.

Unfortunately, this may be the last year that Jansen will be that ninth inning hero in blue, as Thursday morning he declined to commit to remaining a Dodger after this season, when he will become a free agent.

Kenley Jansen is just 28 years old, and has firmly established himself as one of the premier, lights-out closers in the major leagues. He was originally signed as a catcher by the Dodgers in 2005, and was converted to a pitcher in 2010. In 2012 Jansen became the Dodgers’ closer after Javy Guerra (now pitching for the Los Angeles Angels) struggled, recording 25 saves.

In 2013 the Dodgers brought in Brandon League and relegated Jansen back to set-up duties. The expensive League experiment failed, and Jansen was once again promoted to closer. In 2014 he recorded 101 strike outs and 44 saves, making him just the fourth Dodger pitcher in history to record more than 40 saves in a season.

Jansen started 2015 by breaking Dodger pitching records (set by Jay Howell) for games (13) and strikeouts (23) without a walk to begin a season.  He made 54 appearances and earned 36 saves, striking out 80 batters and only walking 8 all season. At the end of 2015 Jansen became the first Dodger relief pitcher with five seasons of 80+ strike outs.

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Kenley Jansen has been rewarded for all of this with one-year contracts since the 2014 season.

During the 2015-16 off-season the Dodgers took a shot at a big baseball splash by attempting to acquire closer Aroldis Chapman from the Cincinnati Reds. That’s right, despite weak links in the infield, at least two outfield positions, in the starting rotation and throughout the bullpen, the Dodgers’ brain trust and numbers crunchers decided getting a new closer to be their priority. They certainly weren’t thinking of Chapman as a set-up man, were they?

The Dodgers eventually backed away from the deal when domestic violence allegations arose against Chapman, and he was eventually traded by the Reds to the New York Yankees.

If you’re Kenley Jansen, what would your thoughts be about how much the Dodgers value your efforts and accomplishments? Would it look to you like your employer is committed to you? At this point of their stewardship, I’m not exactly sure what they’re committed to.

Jansen seems to have come to his own conclusions and had this to say to Bill Shaiken, Contact Reporter for the Los Angeles Times,

“This game is a business…There are a lot of teams out there. I’m here right now.”

Kenley has decided he won’t talk to the Dodgers about any new contract terms until after the 2016 season. The game is a business, and that certainly is his prerogative – but it seems to me Jensen will be playing this season with an eye toward free agency and the kind of jump from the Dodgers to a new team that Zack Greinke recently made.

It’s been said that pitchers are a particular breed of athlete, with many of them being eccentric and sensitive. I’m not inside Jansen’s head, but one doesn’t have to be particularly sensitive to feel undervalued when one is at the top of his game, let alone his profession, but his employer actively seeks a replacement.

Oscar Martinez

I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

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Oscar Martinez
I was born in the shadow of Dodger Stadium and immediately drenched in Dodger Blue. Chavez Ravine is my baseball cathedral, Vin Scully was the golden voice of summer all my life, and Tommy Lasorda remains the greatest Dodgers manager ever. My favorite things are coffee, beer, and the Dodgers beating the Giants. I also blog about my baseball card hobby at All Trade Bait, All the Time.

26 thoughts on “Did the Dodgers Poison Their Relationship with Kenley Jansen?

  1. Oscar, you haven’t tried the Kool-Aid yet, have you? When I suggest the Dodgers might want to offer their better players extensions, especially when there is no one in the system who looks ready to take their place, I’m called an idiot. Whatever. No matter how smart our FO may be, you have to understand people to be successful. Jansen is already halfway out the door, and he was pushed.

  2. It was also suggested that the Dodgers should have offered Greinke an extension. Yeah, that would have worked. Jansen isn’t going to sign an extension. He’s one of the best relievers in baseball. Just like Greinke, he HAS to test the market. He’s liable to get a 5 year/$70 million deal… and yes, it won’t be the Dodgers paying it.

    I won’t say you are an idiot, but you are naive if you think he would have accepted anything but top dollar!

  3. If the Dodgers don’t re-sign Jansen after this year, it won’t be because his feelings are hurt – it will be because they didn’t offer the most money. Take the pick and let him walk. That’s modern day baseball – like it or not!

    1. they could have made him an offer already instead of signing him to a 1 year deal year after year during his arbitration eligbility

  4. Why would anyone do that?

    You have to sign someone to an extension at least TWO years before they are eligible. You can buy out the last two years and maybe an option year, but that’s it… unless the guy is no good!

    This isn’t on THIS front office – it’s on Ned!

    That said, closers are easy to find. I wouldn’t pay the crazy dollars for them. Next year, it could be Anderson, Sierra, Montas, Garcia or Baez.

    1. actually, Friedman did this with his 3B, Longoria, in Tampa. Lots of sharp teams wrap up their best players early to avoid paying bigger salaries down the road and to keep their best players rather than keep them for 3 or 4 years and then lose them to someone else.

      1. He did it B4 his third year. That makes sense, but if he had waited Longoria wouldn’t have done it. Jansen was at an entirely different juncture.

  5. The plot continues . . . if the Dodgers do not pay to keep Jansen — best see a plan for them to replace Jansen — or this plot continues. Might call it the Passover Plot. Meaning, pass on big salaries because you do not want to afford them.

  6. New Theory on Puig.

    Back in his first year 2013, after the game on Sept 18 — Puig was kidnapped by someone and a look-alike person took his place in life, on the team, etc. Beginning Sept 19, that player went 0 for 4. The average went from .336 down to .319 over those last 10 games.

    In those 10 the player taking Puig’s place got a total of 4 hits.

    And the real Puig is still missing.

    This is the only real reason I can figure out just why Puig has lost his ability to hit the baseball.

  7. Yes, our hitters have been poor in this series. I am just hoping when opening day comes, and the juices start to flow, the bats will wake up.

  8. Well the Dodgers had their injuries early, the Dbags got theirs tonight. A.J. Pollock broke his elbow sliding into home and needs surgery no mention of a timeline for his return yet.

  9. I would have offered an extension. We had this discussion before about numbers. I’m not sure where 70 mil comes from. If someone wants to pay that, good luck on that one. Comps for top closers are in the neighborhood of 12-13 mil. If you give him 3/36, that gives him the opportunity to sign for another payday if he’s still pitching well at 31. That just might be enticing enough for him to stay. Chances are, someone else will be dumb enough to offer him significantly more than that and effectively blow up the market for relievers. Papelbon stinks and Kimbrel is losing a little of the edge off his velocity. There will always be a team out there that will pay for reputation.

    I’m not sure what the FO is thinking here. He’ s really the only player in the pen who offers stability. Having him on the team for a few years is just one less question mark. It might be too late now to get him at 12-13 and he’ll be gone. Hopefully a Montas with one less rib is good enough,.

    1. I can guess where the $70M came from. I say you don’t know what a player will sign for if you don’t try. One thing’s for sure, it’s going to be all about the money now. Keep rooting for Guggs, Mark.

  10. After the first two games against the Angels, the Dodgers look like a 75 win team.

    I think they can be better than that. So far Seager looks like a rookie.

    The Dodgers gave Thompson lots of rope and it looks like he used it to start the season in OK. Had he hit well he might have been able to take Crawford’s spot on the 25 but he didn’t.

    Kendrick is playing old and Utley is old. Second base is unsettled.

    AZ’a wins total took a hit with Pollock out.

    I think Kazmir and Maeda will both be healthier than the Giant’s k8o will be this year.

    1. Bum I think Cory is doing good, especially for being out so long. He has three hits, in the last two games, and that is better, then most of the players, that participated in spring training, much more then Cory.

      He did strike out, but he is coming back, and having a better at bat, the next time he is up. And Utley didn’t play yesterday, but when he played in the game before, he hit.

      And actually, Kike didn’t hit in this last game, but he is hitting line drives, and hit in the first game. And Kike didn’t hit well, in spring training, but he looks ready to hit now. Turner hasn’t hit much, in these last two games, and we need him to hit, but he will be fine.

      And Maeda pitched a good game. I am suprised that AJ, didn’t catch on, to the first pitch hits, sooner, but it is better, to learn in a practice game.

      I do agree it gets boring, but Roberts is still experimenting with the line up. He is trying to see how certain players, handle batting against a lefty, or a righty.

  11. Yep, Arizona has been damaged. Bummer for them. Pollock is one of the best young players in the NL.

    Yes Bum, we’re old. It’s part of the plan.

    Jansen. Free agent. He pitched 52.1 with a 1.4, WAR. His best year was age 25. He will be 29 in September, so he probably has 3 good years left. Probably. Who knows, but it’s quite possible, maybe even likely, FAZ believes he’s had his best years already. He’s been paid well, making $10.65mm this year. 3 at $36 is reasonable, $70 million is insane. He says he won’t negotiate during the season. Maybe he wants out. I wonder – if given a QO, first how high will that figure be for next year – $16 million maybe? – would he take it? $16 million would make him the highest paid closer by quite a margin. I sure hope he has a great year. Those negotiations, when they finally happen, will be very interesting.

    2 for 18 WRISP in this series. Yeah, we look like the same team as last year. That team won the Division, so being non-clutch isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. It’s just boring.

    I’m thinking we should carry an extra arm in the bullpen. It’s quite possible we won’t see a lot of 7, or even 6, inning starts.

    1. I already thought that Arizona shouldn’t have traded Incararte, and now Pollock is gone, and that will affect both there defense, and there offense. Wasn’t last year, the first year, that Pollock had really been healthy, for the entire year? He really hit well, and still hit twenty HRs. I still think a batting average is important.

      1. Pollock is 28. And yeah, last year wad his first full year, 673 PA’s. He’s the real deal, 7.4 WAR with positive numbers on offense and defense. Huge loss for them.

  12. I will have to side with “money talks”. It’s a career, a job. Loyalty is to the team you are on. In the work place every one misses you when you’ve moved on but you are better off.

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