The free agent market for Kenley Jansen gained a awful lot of clarity on Wednesday night, with fellow closer Aroldis Chapman signing for $86 million over five years to return to the Yankees. That leaves, by multiple accounts, two main suitors for Jansen — the Dodgers and the Marlins.
The big difference between the two teams relative to Jansen is that the Dodgers don’t have to forfeit a draft pick to sign him, while the Marlins would give up their first-round pick. Miami started the offseason with the 14th overall pick in the 2017 draft, which will disappear if Jansen signs with them.
The Dodgers if they lose Jansen would receive a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds. This would be the last time they would be able to gain such a high pick for the next five years, with the new collective bargaining agreement cutting into the compensation, especially for large-market teams.
The cost, including the draft pick, doesn’t seem to have deterred Miami, in their pursuit of Jansen.
Source: Marlins made big run at Aroldis Chapman. Kenley Jansen still in play, but there are worries about giving up 13th overall pick.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2016
There is familiarity in Miami for Jansen, with manager Don Mattingly along with former Dodgers coaches Tim Wallach and Lorenzo Bundy on his staff. Former teammate Dee Gordon is also there, as is A.J. Ellis, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Marlins on Wednesday.
Ellis has caught 195 of Jansen’s 410 career games.
Miami has an impressive array of young talent, but is also coming off a 79-82 season, and hasn’t posted a winning record since 2009.
Before the winter meetings, the record contract for a relief pitcher was $50 million over four years by Jonathan Papelbon with the Phillies before 2012. On an average basis, Mariano Rivera topped out at $15 million with the Yankees.
On Monday, both records were broken by Mark Melancon, who signed with the Giants for $62 million over four years. Then Chapman came along and obliterated those marks, averaging $17.2 million.
It is clear that Jansen, if he doesn’t beat Chapman’s contract, will at least approach it. Does it make sense to pay a short reliever that much money, even one as elite as Jansen?
Andrew Friedman: "If you're always rational about every free agent, you will finish third on every free agent."— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughTimes) December 6, 2016
Does that risk outweigh the risk of being left without a chair once the music stops, and having to scramble for another closer, possibly even having to trade prospects for one? One potential trade option was scooped up earlier Wednesday, with the Cubs acquiring Wade Davis from the Royals for outfielder Jorge Soler.
So the Dodgers either need to bid big, and give Jansen the largest contract of this front office regime, or they go out and make a trade.
There has been doubt among those in Chapman/Jansen race about how serious LAD are about paying big dollars to a closer. About to find out.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 8, 2016
Whatever the Dodgers’ decide, we will likely find out tomorrow.
Barring a change, Kenley Jansen is not expected to make his choice between the Marlins and Dodgers until Thursday afternoon. So go to bed.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2016