The absence of Kenley Jansen extension talks is puzzling

Kenley Jansen would’ve liked to have inked a long-term extension with the Dodgers in the off-season, but the team did not reciprocate the feeling, according to the man himself via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.

At 28 and with what is generally considered the most lively cutter since Mariano Rivera, Jansen received a 2016 contract for $10.65 million. But in negotiations leading to the one-year deal that avoided arbitration, Jansen said the club never talked about a multiyear deal that would provide true security, the implication being that he wished it had.

“So I’ve just got to stay focused right now,” he said. “My goal is win a championship with this organization, how special it’s been for me and for history. I’m very proud to wear the Dodgers uniform every day.”

The apparent lack of desire to lock Jansen up has always been a bit puzzling, especially in light of the team’s attempt to trade for Aroldis Chapman, because that potential move seemed to indicate an understanding from the front office that while middle relief arms (even quality ones) are ultimately fungible, elite-level relievers have a lot of value.

And make no mistake that for as much as Kenley has had the rug yanked from under him in being replaced by the likes of Javy Guerra and Brandon League over the years, he has been nothing but dominant since his arrival in the majors. It almost seems pointless to stump for Kenley’s credentials for what seems like the umpteenth time, but among qualified relievers since Kenley was called up in 2010, he’s in rarefied air among relievers.

KenleyJansenRelievers20102015

Quibble about the exact rankings or stats used or whatever, but it’s clear he’s up there among the best and deserves to be treated as such.

The front office undoubtedly knows Kenley’s numbers and their run at Chapman showed that know dominant bullpen arms are appealing, which makes this potential scenario brought up by Jansen sorta horrifying.

Jansen said he would understand if the Dodgers let him leave after this year to go young (and cheap) in the bullpen, with in-house closer options including Chris Hatcher, Pedro Baez and Yimi Garcia.

“They can close — Hatch, Yimi, Pedro,” he said. “I’m not mad at that. If that’s the road they want to go, who knows? This day I’m a Dodger. I’ll just continue to keep improving and help the team win and be better every day.”

Jansen is saying the right things, but there’s a tinge of disbelief in his words if that’s actually what the plan is, and it’s hard to blame him.

I cringe at paying relievers a premium as much as anybody, but that apprehension doesn’t carry over to dominant relievers. And while it’s possible the Dodgers simply want to use this off-season to further gauge his value and then let the qualifying offer tank his market (much like Howie Kendrick), surely that scenario could’ve been brought up in extension negotiations. But that scenario wasn’t brought up and nothing was proposed because negotiations never happened, and the apparent unwillingness to even let Jansen’s people know they want the 28-year-old closer around in the long-term is simply puzzling and, quite frankly, more than a bit worrisome in terms of what might transpire in the off-season.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama
"A highly rational Internet troll." - Los Angeles Times