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Dodgers, Marlins try to close deal with Kenley Jansen

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Miami Marlins Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

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 Marlins were in play for Chapman, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports and Joel Sherman of the New York Post, and will now turn their efforts to Jansen.

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.

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?

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.

Whatever the Dodgers’ decide, we will likely find out tomorrow.