The biggest moves the Los Angeles Dodgers could have made this year didn’t involve looking outside their organization. Instead of trading prospects for a big name star, the Dodgers opted to keep their free agents in place. One of those free agents represented their elite major league closer, which has become a very rare commodity. This deal wasn’t all on the front office, however. A huge reason this deal got done is Kenley Jansen’s commitment to Los Angeles.
Kenley Jansen Shows Dodgers Rare Loyalty
Jansen could have easily snubbed the Dodgers. Last winter, the Dodgers almost did exactly that – they almost snubbed him. At the 2015 Winter Meetings, the Dodgers were going to trade for Aroldis Chapman. Had that acquisition gone through, Jansen likely would have been moved into a setup man or middle inning relief role. After a domestic violence incident with Chapman’s name written all over it, the Dodgers backed out of the deal with Cincinnati Reds. This allowed Jansen to carry on his usual role as the closer and more. In 2016, Jansen finished third in the National League in saves, appeared in seven games in the postseason in 11.2 innings, and ultimately won the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of The Year Award.
Jansen is still receiving his pay day, but could have been taking in more. Even though he had an offer on the table for $80 million from the Miami Marlins, and had spoken to other teams like the Washington Nationals, Jansen opted to let the team who converted him to a pitcher from a catcher match it and make him the second highest paid free agent reliever in Major League Baseball history. This came after Chapman, the guy the Dodgers were eyeing over a year ago, set the record for free-agent relief pitcher salary a few days prior with the New York Yankees.
As more details have come out about Kenley’s contract and what other teams offered, it has become clear that Jansen didn’t want to just focus on the money. Quite the opposite, in fact, from a certain situation for which one doesn’t have to look too far back, when the Dodgers lost out Zack Greinke to the Arizona Diamondbacks the previous offseason. Greinke clearly went for the money, with no guarantee that the Diamondbacks would turn into a postseason team any time soon. Jansen in his prime, however, decided not to follow Greinke’s course.
Jansen will likely have a player option to take another look at free agency in a couple years. If he does take an option and leaves, but continues to pitch as well as he has until then, Kenley Jansen will solidify himself as one of the true organizational players in Dodgers history.