Former All-Star closer Kenley Jansen can opt out of his contract the day after the World Series. He'll have had time to think about it, since he and his Dodgers aren't participating.
Jansen would be walking away from $18 million in 2020 salary and $20 million the following year. That's a ton of scratch to gamble on yourself after a 3.71 ERA, nine home runs, eight blown saves and being reduced to mop-up work in the National League Division Series. But he can't be happy about Andrew Friedman's tepid endorsement at Monday's end-of-season press conference at Dodger Stadium. Yeah, Jansen is the 2020 closer, but " we'll see how things play out. "
As a veteran, well-thought-of player within the organization (and the franchise's saves leader with 301), Jansen can request a trade. Anyone can request a trade, and the club can either try to accommodate the request, work with the player to smooth over any resentments which may exist, or roll their eyes and say, "go shag flies, pally."
But let's face it, an unhappy player in the clubhouse is never a good thing, and with this particular player in decline and the club staring $38 mil in the face, Los Angeles has reason to explore the trade market. We may never hear about it if nothing materializes, but I imagine a Jansen deal is on the agenda for the next front office round table. Or was in the last one.
To trade Jansen, the Dodgers are either going to have to take on some other club's "bad" contract, or deal away a coveted minor leaguer (or minor leaguers), or both. "Bad" is in quotes there because the adjective is in the eye of the beholder. A competing club may be willing to take a chance on a Jansen rebound if L.A. will take one of their higher-priced players. Maybe the other club's player has been injured or generally unproductive, or has several better, lower-salaried players ahead of him on the depth chart. Just because a team seeks to trade a player in a deal like this doesn't necessarily mean that the guy can't be effective in a role elsewhere.
Before you get all in huff about the players below, I'm neither recommending nor dismissing a swap involving any of them, necessarily, and it's an incomplete list. It's food for fodder. But I believe that possibilities exist for all parties. Even more so if AF goes all convoluted multi-club deal on the world.
My note last week about payroll applies to this conversation:
The competitive balance tax threshold for 2020 is $208 million, so the Dodgers have about $96 million to play with. That's assuming there are no trades of multi-million-dollar players like Joc Pederson, an assumption we cannot make. From my perspective there is money available to re-sign Hill and/or Ryu and reel in top-flight-and-thoroughly-worthy free agent Gerrit Cole and fix the bullpen.
No one is suggesting that another club is going to take Jansen and his $38 mil without sufficient motivation. But a Jansen trade that frees up as little as a few million dollars worth of payroll is helpful. Better if it's more, obviously, and it is doable.
Here are few bad-contract players to ponder, even if only for a moment.
Contract: Castillo is owed $14,271,429 in the final year -- finally -- of a year $72.5 million deal signed with Boston in 2014.
Comment: Is Castillo completely useless? As a major leaguer, maybe, but he has contributed something to AAA Pawtucket Red Sox cause the past three seasons. He hit.314/.350/507 with 15 home runs and 43 RBIs in 2017, .319/.360/.416 with five and 50 in 2018 and .278/.321/.448 with 17 and 64 in 2019.
Contract: One year at $29,500,000 remaining on his four-year $110 million Mets 2016 deal.
Comment: Cespedes missed the 2019 season following a " violent fall " ranch incident after appearing in a 119 games in 2017 and 2018 combined and just turned 34. Would he make for a better left-field option than A.J. Pollock even after parts of three years on the sidelines?
Contract: $17 million in 2020 with a mutual option of 2021.
Comment: Like most human pitchers, Davis has struggled in Denver and been better everywhere else. Mostly. I'm hesitant to cite a single 2019 stat this close to Halloween, but here they are: 11.10, 2.014, .318/.411/.505 at Coors Field; 5.40, 1.691, .250/.378/.426, with a chunk of the damage coming in a frightening final four weeks of the season, during which Davis recorded a 60.75 ERA.
Road 2019 numbers through July 25: 0.70, 1.297, 8.8 and .190 batting average against. Lifetime postseason: 4-0, eight saves, 1.80 with 57 strikeouts in 40 innings, one ring.
Contract: $15 million in 2020, $8 million in 2021, $2 million buyout on a $15 million 2022 salary.
Comment: It's only a slight exaggeration to say the Rockies have been trying to trade Desmond since the day they signed him in 2016. He's hit .252/.313/.429 with 49 homers and 193 RBIs in three seasons. Plays all over the diamond. A third club would be required to keep Jansen out of the high-altitude city.
Contract: $16,500,000 in 2020, $16,500,000 in 2021.
Comment: Fowler in three years in St. Louis? .233/.335/.410 with 45 and 162. This contract is worse than Kenley's. I'm sorry I brought it up. But even trading for this awful contract would save the Dodgers five million bucks. Make it a mult-player deal and as Ricky Ricardo would no doubt say, "you might just got something there." Has a ring.
Contract: $9 million with a $1 million buyout for 2020, $11 million with a $1 million buyout for 2021.
Comment: Gomes hit .429 in this year's NLCS after hitting .167 in the NLDS after hitting .223 with 12 HR and 43 RBIs during the regular season. He's 32, with a .245/.297/.420 career mark and might be a little pricey for Washington next season. Appeared in 97 regular season games in 2019. Nats could use a right-handed reliever not named Max or Stephen.
Contract: $8.5 million in 2020, $10 vesting opting and a $1 million buyout in 2021.
Comment: A valuable asset as recently as 2018 (2.44, 17 saves) and better than that in his career. Has a ring. Ineffective with the White Sox in 2019 but with reason to believe a rebound is possible. Only way this works is with is with a third club being involved and L.A. prospects exiting. And Joc Pederson likely becoming an ex-Dodger.
Contract: $10 million in 2020.
Comment: Seven September at bats after missing most of the 2019 Mets season. Oft-injured generally but especially effective and durable in 2017 (.277/.360/.448, 14, 69) and 2018 (.267/.353/.448, 23, 99) in Oakland. Switch-hitting 35-year-old veteran leader type to fill the Chase Utley/David Freese role. Would require additional piece(s) going to Citi Field. Or another expensive New York contract heading to Los Angeles. Like say, Jeurys Familia ($11,666,667 million in 2020 and 2022).
Contract: $14,850,000 in 2020, 2021 and 2022, $17,000,000 with a $1 million buyout in 2023.
Comment: A separate Corey Seager trade this winter opens up the spot for Gavin Lux or a new shortstop. Could happen. Segura is more durable than Seager, adds a right-handed bat and sports a .286/.326/.406, 30 doubles, 12 homers and 58 RBIs 162-game average. Had his best offensive season as a second baseman in 2015 (.319/.368/.499, with 203 hits, 41 doubles, 20 homers and 64 ribs).
Conclusion: You want to move money to invest in new players, you have to be creative. Friedman prides himself on surprise transactions. He isn't afraid to get a second, third and fourth team involved. The Dodgers aren't going to Spring Training in February with the exact same cast of characters. Almost anything is possible, especially with a healthy dose of initiative from the front office.
And remember, glove conquers all.