- ESPN MLB insider
Author of “The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports”
Closer Kenley Jansen and the Boston Red Sox are in agreement on a two-year, $32 million contract, sources told ESPN, bolstering a Boston bullpen that ranked among the worst in baseball during the 2022 season.
Jansen, 35, spent 2022 with the Atlanta Braves after a dozen distinguished seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He led the National League with 41 saves and his 391 career saves are second most among active players and eighth all time.
In 64 innings with the Braves, Jansen struck out 85 batters, walked 22 and posted a 3.38 ERA. Over his career, Jansen has 1,107 strikeouts in 769 innings with a 2.46 ERA and ranks among the most dominant closers in history.
Boston already had added to its bullpen, signing right-hander Chris Martin to a two-year, $17.5 million deal after a dominant showing with the Dodgers during which he struck out 34, walked one and put up a 1.46 ERA.
The bullpen for the 2022 Red Sox mustered a 4.59 ERA, the fifth worst in baseball, and lost left-hander Matt Strahm to the Philadelphia Phillies via free agency Tuesday. Right-hander Garrett Whitlock, who was used in high-leverage relief situations over the season’s final three months, is expected to shift to the rotation.
Boston’s bullpen, with Jansen, Martin and right-hander John Schreiber, could be formidable as the team tries to claw out of last place in the American League East.
Much of the Red Sox’s previous postseason efforts had gone for naught, as they lost out on a number of free agent targets: right-hander Zach Eflin, left-hander Tyler Anderson, left-hander Andrew Heaney and right-hander Tommy Kahnle.
The Red Sox continue to target shortstop Xander Bogaerts, according to sources, as the San Diego Padres and others pursue him after he opted out of the final three years of his contract. Bogaerts, with whom Jansen played on team Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, is expected to command a contract approaching $200 million as he hits free agency for the first time in his 10-year career.
With the Jansen deal, the Red Sox currently project to have a payroll of around $175 million. They are likely, sources said, to sign a number of free agents as they fill out a roster that currently lacks a shortstop and starting-pitching depth.
Incumbent closer Tanner Houck underwent back surgery in August and the Red Sox are hopeful he’ll be ready for spring training.
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