Red Sox agree to two-year, $32 million deal with veteran closer Kenley Jansen, per report

The Red Sox have agreed to terms on a two-year, $32 million contract with free agent reliever Kenley Jansen, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal — which is pending a physical — would pay Jansen $16 million in both 2023 and 2024, per The Boston’s Globe Alex Speier.

Jansen, 35, is a veteran of 13 big-league seasons who is best known for his time in Los Angeles. After spending the first 12 years of his career in Los Angeles, the right-hander signed a one-year, $16 million deal with the Braves back in March.

In 65 relief appearances for Atlanta, Jansen posted a 3.38 ERA and 3.21 FIP to go along with 85 strikeouts to 22 walks over 64 innings of work. He also recorded a National League-best 41 saves in 48 opportunities and allowed one run in two outings against the Phillies in the National League Division Series.

A native of Curacao, Jansen originally signed with the Dodgers as a catcher in November 2004. He spent the first 4 1/2 seasons of his minor-league career behind the plate before transitioning to the mound midway through the 2009 campaign. The following July, Jansen made his major-league debut for Los Angeles.

It did not take long for Jansen to establish himself as one of the top relievers in baseball. He finished seventh in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2011 and registered his first season of 25 or more saves in 2012. From 2016-2018, the righty forged a 2.07 ERA and 2.29 FIP across 205 outings (208 2/3 innings) and made three consecutive All-Star teams. His 350 saves in a Dodgers uniform are the most in the franchise’s storied history.

Between Los Angeles and Atlanta, Jansen owns a lifetime 2.46 ERA and 2.44 FIP with 1,107 strikeouts to 226 walks over 766 relief appearances spanning 769 innings pitched. He ranks eighth in American/National League history with 391 career saves. In 10 separate trips to the postseason during that stretch, Jansen produced a 2.29 ERA over 59 total outings out of the bullpen.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, Jansen operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of an elite cutter (his primary weapon), a sinker, and a cutter. This past season, he ranked in the 98th percentile of the league in expected batting average (.169), the 93rd percentile in expected slugging percentage (.292), the 93rd percentile in strikeout rate (32.7 percent), the 95th percentile in fastball spin, and the 93rd percentile in extension, according to Baseball Savant.

Jansen, who does not turn 36 until next September, does come with some concerns. Earlier this summer, he spent more than two weeks on the injured list due to an irregular heartbeat, which is something that has sidelined him in the past. He has had two cardiac ablation procedures (2012 and 2018) to combat this issue.

With the addition of Jansen, the Red Sox have made it clear that bolstering the bullpen was one of the club’s top priorities this winter after Boston relievers finished with the second-worst ERA (4.59) in the American League this season. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have already signed left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez to a one-year contract last month and agreed to terms on a two-year $17.5 million deal with righty Chris Martin last week.

Assuming he passes his physical, Jansen will become the first established closer the Red Sox have had since Craig Kimbrel left the club after winning the World Series in 2018. Jansen, Rodriguez, and Martin are slated to join a bullpen mix that is highlighted by the likes of Matt Barnes, Tanner Houck, John Schreiber heading into 2023.

(Picture of Kenley Jansen: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Author: Brendan Campbell

Blogging about the Boston Red Sox since April '17. Also support Tottenham Hotspur.

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