December is drawing closer, and that means so are the Winter Meetings. MLB fans know what that means. It is almost time for the MLB offseason to explode and the Hot Stove to heat up to scorching hot levels. This week the Arizona Diamondbacks and Seattle Mariners pulled off the first surprising trade of the winter, with Jean Segura going to Seattle and Taijuan Walker going to the desert.
But we are not here to talk about the trade market, but rather the free agent market. The closers market in particular is the most robust of any position this winter. Here at INSC we have already taken a look at potential landing spots for several key free agents. One of them was the top closer on the market, Aroldis Chapman (link). But today we take a closer look at the market for the man right behind Chapman, Kenley Jansen.
Jansen boasts a very similar profile to Chapman. He is a 29 year old flame thrower who dominated the end of the game and is in line for a hefty deal. He saved 47 of 53 this past season, and had a 1.83 ERA. Over the course of 68 and two thirds innings, Kenley struck out 104 batters, and had an outstanding WHIP of 0.67. The one key disadvantage he has compared to the likes of Chapman and Mark Melancon, is he has qualifying offer compensation attached to his name.
Now let’s get down to the good stuff. Here are five potential landing spots for the potentially former Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
I say potentially former Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer because he technically has not left yet. We know the Dodgers are going to have a large hole at the end of their pen, and who better to fill it than the man who held the role for the last few years? The Dodgers have plenty of cash to hand out, as their pockets seem to be endlessly deep. So the team should have no issues matching his price tag. There are going to be plenty of teams who miss out on Chapman, and it is certainly possible the Dodgers fall into that category, meaning they will certainly turn to Kenley.
It should also be noted, with such a deep market, it is possible teams do not want to give up a draft pick for him. What happens when teams start turning to Melancon, Greg Holland or the trade market because they do not want to pay Jansen and lose a pick? It is certainly possible given the depth of the market out there this year. That could result in Kenley turning back to his old team, who do not need to worry about losing a pick for him.
2. Chicago Cubs
We have already mentioned Aroldis Chapman a few times. So obviously if he leaves the Cubs, the team will be in need of a new closer. In the World Series manager Joe Maddon did not have faith in many relievers, and if Chapman is gone, the Cubs will need a new go to man. Enter Jansen. He would not cost the Cubs as much money as Chapman, while providing very similar stats. That is certainly appealing for a team full of young talent in need of long term deals.
The Cubs are no strangers to making free agent splashes either. Two years ago it was Jon Lester. Last year it was Jason Heyward. So what’s stopping them from making this year’s big move Kenley Jansen. They have very few needs, so the closer spot will certainly be on top of the agenda, and I will be shocked if the spot is not filled by one of the top three free agents (Chapman, Kenley or Melancon) or Wade Davis.
3. Miami Marlins
Enter our first outside the box candidate. When you think of the Marlins, you do not think of big time free agent moves. Would they really be willing to pay big for a closer and give up a draft pick? Well according to MLBTradeRumors.com the team has him atop their wish list (link). The team is putting pitching on the top of their shopping list, and it appears Jansen is a guy they want to lock things down at the end of games.
The team certainly won’t pay for Chapman, so why not go for the next best option? They already have a fairly solid pen, with A.J. Ramos a capable closer right now. But they may be looking to build a super pen like the New York Yankees had to start last year. If they want to do just that, Jansen is certainly the most likely addition.
4. Seattle Mariners
Now outside the box option number two. The Mariners are a team with several holes, and one of them is at the back end of their bullpen. They have already demonstrated they are willing to make moves this winter with the Segura move. So could a big name closer signing be on the horizon? Like the Marlins, it is unlikely they will go top dollar for Chapman. But if Jansen comes in at a bit of a discount from the draft pick compensation, the Mariners will certainly be in the mix.
The team has not really had a big time closer for quite some time now. Jansen could easily put an end to that run, as he could become their man for years to come. This is certainly a longer shot compared to the other options, but one that is still a possibility.
5. San Francisco Giants
Oh how cruel would this be. Dodgers fans would be sick to their stomachs if this came to fruition. The Giants are set to lose both Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo to free agency. That means youngster Hunter Strickland could be in line for saves if the season started tomorrow. While he has the skills to do the job, he is still a little raw and could use some grooming. Bringing in Kenley would allow Strickland to be a top of the line eighth inning man, and give the Giants a big time finish to their games.
Plenty of players have jumped from one rival to another, with plenty of Yankees-Red Sox examples. There is no reason why Jansen could not be the next to do just that in this intense Dodgers-Giants rivalry. Seeing him in orange and gold may seem strange, but it is certainly realistic. I won’t lie, this is the option I am hoping for deep down, as I would gladly enjoy watching him pitch while Kruk and Kuip call his innings while actually rooting for the guy.
I also want to add it was extremely hard to leave the Washington Nationals off of this list. They too represent a very real possibility, but I did not want to be too redundant with the Chapman piece.
So what do you think? Where will Jansen sign this offseason? Tell us in the comments!