Among all the Dodgers eligible for salary arbitration this offseason, Kenley Jansen will be the highest-paid player. Now it's just a matter of figuring out how much the closer will make in his final season before free agency.
Jansen has been so valuable to the Dodgers, and his combination of youth (he's only 28) and relative low mileage on his arm (having only been pitching since mid-2009) make him a prime candidate for a multi-year contract extension.
But whether the Dodgers decide to extend Jansen or let him leave as a free agent, there is still the matter of figuring out his salary for 2016.
Jansen had a 2.41 ERA and saved 36 games in 38 opportunities in 2015, with 80 strikeouts and just eight walks. He ranked eighth among MLB relievers in FIP (2.14), fourth in xFIP (2.29), second in SIERA (1.43), third in strikeout rate (40 percent), seventh in walk rate (4 percent) and first in K-BB% (36 percent).
He has been one of the top closers in the game pretty much since assuming the role with the Dodgers, with Jansen likely nestling in comfortably in third position, behind Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman.
Kimbrel would have been a free agent after 2016 like Jansen and Chapman, but he signed a multi-year extension before the 2014 season, his first year of arbitration eligibility. That makes it tough to use Kimbrel as a comp for Jansen, because the Braves, Padres and now-Red Sox closer, it could be argued, took some sort of discount in exchange for the security of a long-term deal, which in Kimbrel's case was for four years, plus a club option for a fifth year (2018).
Chapman has gone year-to-year in arbitration, but has earned between eight and 16 percent more than Jansen through the process.
|The Big 3 during their arbitration years|
Jansen saw a 72.7-percent increase in salary from 2014 to 2015. That same increase in 2016 would net Jansen about $12.8 million. With the 61-percent Chapman got last year, Jansen's 2016 salary will be $11.95 million.
But let's see if there are some other relatively recent closers with career numbers similar to Jansen.
|Recent closers comparable to Kenley Jansen|
You could look at these comps in a couple of ways. For one, Jonathan Papelbon had a better track record (remember, saves get you paid) so his $12 million salary through arbitration in 2011 could be seen as a sort of ceiling for Jansen, perhaps with inflation factored in.
On the other hand, those four closers saw an average increase in salary in their final arbitration year of 41.6 percent, which would suggest a 2016 salary for Jansen of $10.5 million.
My guess is Jansen beats that, settling in at $11.1 million for 2016, a 49.5-percent increase over 2015.