The Dodgers are fresh off their fourth straight NL West title and two integral pieces could be returning, despite their status as free agents. Third baseman Justin Turner and closer Kenley Jansen are expected to cost a ton in free agency, but the Dodgers have plenty of financial resources. To wit, this shouldn't be a huge surprise:
Sources: #Dodgers close on both Turner AND Jansen.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2016
Rosenthal has further reported now that there is an agreement with Jansen on a five-year, $80 million deal. That is the second-largest free agent deal ever for a reliever, behind Aroldis Chapman's five-year, $86 million pact with the Yankees. Including Mark Melancon's four-year, $64 million last Monday, we've seen the three highest relief contracts in history within eight days.
Turner's deal is reportedly for four years and $64 million, once it's completed (Rosenthal) -- and it's expected to happen soon.
Turner, 32, hit .275/.339/.493 with 34 doubles, 27 home runs and 90 RBI last season. Without Turner, the Dodgers don't really have a viable replacement at third and there aren't any other good options in free agency. So if the Dodgers didn't agree with him, they would have to set out to make a trade, in all likelihood.
Similar sentiment goes for Jansen, as the other big-name closers in free agency are already signed and the best fallback option on the roster is probably Pedro Baez. Jansen closed down 47 games in 53 chances with a 1.83 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 104 strikeouts against only nine unintentional walks in 68 2/3 innings last season.
Jansen going back with the Dodgers means the Marlins and Nationals are left out here. In fact, multiple reports indicate that both teams made higher offers to Jansen, but he preferred to stay in L.A.
The Marlins were actually reportedly infatuated with getting either Chapman or Jansen, so they'll be headed back to the drawing board with fallback options like Brad Ziegler. As for the Nationals, perhaps they can get back with the White Sox -- they traded for Adam Eaton last week -- and grab David Robertson?
As for Turner, there weren't really any other big-time suitors, so the return to L.A. makes a lot of sense. There were whispers (Cardinals), but nothing really concrete.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the situation is the front office stepping outside its comfort zone. The very new-school Andrew Friedman administration had previously not spent more than $48 million on a player in free agency. Both deals are a good amount higher. Further, paying big money for closers flies in the face of what has been the mantra of new-school front offices like the Dodgers.
Perhaps the front office saw Jansen as far and above any other ninth-inning options available -- because he is -- and also realized that at some point you have to pay big money in order to have someone special on the roster.
The Dodgers likely aren't done shopping this offseason. They need a second baseman and that will probably have to come via trade (Brian Dozier?). Extra bullpen depth wouldn't hurt, either.