Saturday, March 19, 2022
If you thought this offseason was over for the Braves, think again. Late last night GM Alex Anthopoulos pulled off another incredible transaction, signing right-handed closer Kenley Jansen to a one-year, $16 million contract. According to MLB Trade Rumors, in order to make room on the 40-man roster, Atlanta put righty Jay Jackson on the 60-man injured list (right lat strain).
Jansen, who’s entering his age-34 season this year, is a three-time All-Star closer for the Dodgers, coming off a 2021 campaign in which he tallied 38 saves in 69 games. It wasn’t his best performance last year, but the Curacao native still managed to post a 2.22 ERA, followed by 11.2 strikeouts per nine and 4.7 BB/9. His 1.8 fWAR in ’21 tied for the seventh-highest WAR among all major league relievers.
Many have said that Jansen is past his prime, and that’s probably accurate. However, you really can’t complain about his recent numbers. Since 2019, the former LA righty has pitched to a 2.99 ERA in 158 games (156 1/3 IP), all while accruing 82 of 97 saves. And like his standing as a reliever in 2021 (shown above), Jansen’s 3.6 WAR combined over the last three campaigns ranks seventh in all of baseball, among qualified relievers.
You may be wondering why the Braves made this move, especially considering the team’s bullpen was already looking rather formidable and given the fact that lefty Will Smith is the incumbent (and returning) closer. Well, according to numerous reports, including this one by The Athletic‘s David O’Brien, Anthopoulos had a discussion with Smith before the Jansen signing, and Smith was completely onboard with the move, saying he just “wants to win another World Series title.” Now that’s quite the display of unselfishness right there.
Following the Jansen signing, the Braves payroll is the highest it has ever been, at roughly $167 million (ranking seventh in MLB, per Spotrac). It finally appears that this team is going to spend like a higher market organization, which is a welcoming sight to see. Maybe Anthopoulos still isn’t done. But regardless, that man has definitely won the 2022 offseason so far.