Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has cashed in in a big way on the free agent market, reportedly agreeing to a five-year, $80 million contract to return to the Dodgers, per Jim Bowden of ESPN, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, and Andy McCullough of the LA Times.
The deal hasn’t been finalized yet.
LA reportedly beat out the Marlins and the Nationals for Jansen’s services, with Miami having a reported “monster offer” of at least $80 million over five years on the table.
Jansen can opt out after three years, per Tim Brown of Yahoo.
The Marlins, in addition to their contract proposal, offered Jansen some semblance of familiarity with his former manager Don Mattingly and former Dodgers coaches Tim Wallach and Lorenzo Bundy, his former catcher A.J. Ellis, and former second baseman Dee Gordon.
Jansen had the stage to himself after fellow closers Mark Melancon (4 years, $62 million with Giants) and Aroldis Chapman (5 years, $86 million with Yankees) set new records for contracts for relief pitchers.
Jansen comes in as the second-highest-paid relief pitcher ever, both in total value of contract and in average value.
Before this season, the most lucrative total contract signed by a reliever was the four-year, $50 million deal signed by Jonathan Papelbon before the 2012 season. The highest average annual value was by Mariano Rivera, with a pair of deals that paid the future Hall of Famer $15 million per season.
Jansen made $10.65 million in 2016.
The right-hander, who turned 29 in September, had arguably his best season in 2016 with a 1.83 ERA and 1.44 FIP, with 104 strikeouts and 11 walks in 68⅔ innings. Jansen set a career high with 47 saves, and during the season set Dodgers franchise records for career saves (now 189) and strikeouts in relief (632).
Jansen was dominant in the postseason as well, posting a 3.09 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 11⅔ innings, and proved versatile with outings of 2, 2⅓, and 3 innings in October. Opposing batters hit just .125/.239/.250 against Jansen during the playoffs.
Jansen was signed by the Dodgers as a catcher, an amateur free agent out of Curacao in 2004, just before his 17th birthday. He converted to pitching in mid-2009, and was in the Dodgers bullpen to stay less than one year later.
"Kenley's had a tremendous career as a Dodger that we hope will continue,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in October. “He's been a big part of our past success, and we hope he's a part of our future success.”
The Jansen news comes along with reports that the Dodgers are also closing in on a four-year deal with Justin Turner. If/when both are finalized, the Dodgers will need to make a corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster, which currently stands at 39.