The Boston Red Sox have a new closer. The Red Sox and three-time All-Star Kenley Jansen have agreed to a two-year contract worth $32 million, reports ESPN. The team has not yet confirmed the signing. Jansen is the third reliever the Red Sox have signed this offseason, joining lefty Joely Rodríguez and righty Chris Martin.
Jansen, 35, spend 2022 with the Atlanta Braves and led the National League with 41 saves. He, of course, spent the first 12 years of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and was part of their 2018 pennant-winning team that lost the World Series to the Red Sox. Boston's bullpen currently looks something like this:
- Closer: RHP Kenley Jansen
- Setup: RHP Tanner Houck, RHP John Schreiber
- Middle: RHP Matt Barnes, RHP Chris Martin, LHP Joely Rodríguez, RHP Ryan Brasier
- Depth: RHP Kutter Crawford, LHP Darwinzon Hernandez, RHP Kaleb Ort, LHP Josh Taylor
Houck had season-ending back surgery in September but is expected to be ready for spring training. Garrett Whitlock, the team's best reliever the last two years, will head to spring training as a starting pitcher. He made nine starts in addition to 22 relief appearances in 2022. The Red Sox could still add another reliever this offseason as well.
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As unusual as it was to see Jansen wearing a non-Dodgers uniform, he by and large produced another of what's become his standard post-prime season. For posterity's sake, we will note that Jansen, forever a master of suppressing quality contact, allowed his highest average exit velocity of the Statcast Era. That statistic can be blamed on batters posting a .525 slugging percentage against his sinker. Jansen's cutter, conversely, remained effective. We suspect that he will too for as long as that's true.
FanGraphs estimates Boston's 2023 competitive balance tax payroll at $176.6 million with Jansen, well below the $233 million threshold. They have plenty of room to add, though they must re-sign or replace Xander Bogaerts, and also supplement their rotation. Rafael Devers will be a free agent after 2023 and surely the Red Sox want to extend him as well.