Relief pitchers are signing lucrative contracts left and right this offseason. Earlier in the week, Kenley Jansen became the latest one to land a huge deal.
On Monday, Jansen agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 29-year-old closing pitcher will now remain with the team that he has spent the past seven seasons with.
Back in November, Jansen rejected the Dodgers’ one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer. He wanted to test the free agent market and see if he could land a lucrative, long-term contract. The Dodgers clearly did not want Jansen to slip away, so they gave him what he wanted.
Jansen’s value to the Dodgers cannot be understated. This past season, he saved a career-high 47 games while posting an ERA of 1.83. He also recorded 104 strikeouts over the course of the year. Jansen’s 47 saves tied Mark Melancon for second-most in the National League during the 2016 season. Only Jeurys Familia of the New York Mets had more. Familia saved 51 games.
If the Dodgers had decided to let Jansen walk away, another team would have almost certainly jumped at the opportunity to sign him. He was reportedly being pursued by the Miami Marlins and Washington Nationals, as well as the Dodgers. Relief pitchers have been getting paid a lot of money this offseason, especially closers. A few weeks ago, Melancon signed a four-year, $62 million contract with the San Francisco Giants. Like Jansen, Melancon is also coming off a great season. This combined with the fact that the Giants desperately needed a closer helped Melancon land a large deal. The Nationals were also apparently attempting to sign him, but were unsuccessful in their efforts.
Just last week, Aroldis Chapman reportedly agreed to a five-year, $86 million deal with the New York Yankees. Back in July, the Yankees traded Chapman to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for reliever Adam Warren and minor league prospects Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney and Rashad Crawford. He will now be their closer once again. Chapman’s new contract is worth slightly more than Jansen’s, but is for the same amount of years.
Bret Cecil is another reliever that cashed in during this offseason. The former Toronto Blue Jay agreed to a four-year, $30.5 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals back in November. Although he is not a closer, Cecil is a left-handed pitcher. Teams like to have a dependable lefty in the bullpen.
Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman made a smart decision in re-signing Jansen. Closers who are consistent from year to year are rare nowadays. Although the move did cost the team a lot of money, it will definitely pay off in the long run.