Dodgers Debacle: Jansen or Chapman?

This offseason brings possibly the best reliever market baseball has ever seen. Dominant arms like Chapman, Jansen, Drew Storen, Mark Melancon, Sergio Romo, etc are all free agents. But, the biggest story is the future of Aroldis Chapman. Disclosed reports have now come out to say that the 105 MPH flame thrower might be commanding a $100 million contract. The Los Angeles Dodgers are rumored to as the top suitor at this point in time. However, their closer, Kenley Jansen, is also out there among free agents. So, why are the Dodgers being linked more to Chapman than Jansen? Better yet, no matter what the answer, is Chapman really more worthy of taking over as LA’s closer?

Last Winter, the Dodgers nearly pulled of a trade for Aroldis, but allegations off the field against Chapman blocked it.¬†Also, a franshise like the LA Dodgers, are almost obligated to have big name star players. The reason is marketing; putting the players’ faces on billboards. Yes Kenley Jansen is a big time all-star, but he isn’t loud enough. A 105 MPH fastball is more noticeable than a 95 MPH fastball/cutter that alot of pitchers have. For example, Lou Gehrig was arguably just as valuable of a player as Ruth, but the Babe hit 700+ homers. With that said, from a business stand point it makes more sense to have Chapman over Jansen, and that may be the reason behind the speculations. However, from a winning stand point, Jansen is equal to Chapman on the mound; and cheaper.

Yes, the Dodgers can afford Chapman, but why spend $100 million when they can spend at least $15 million less on a guy who is equivalent. The X-factor in this whole decision is that Jansen was raised by the Dodgers from a catching prospect to a brilliant closer. Kenley has been LA’s guy, they know they can rely on him, and the pitching coaches know him. Both closers’ stats are almost identical or close to it in every way.

Jansen has 189 saves, and Chapman 182, while Kenley has pitched a mere 30 more innings. Jansen has a career WAA (pitcher’s WAR) of 7.2 compared to Chapman’s 7.9. There is only a difference of 11 between both players’ save opportunities, and the save percentages come out to 88% and 90%. Jansen has allowed 13 more earned runs in his career, but maybe only because he has logged more innings. Jansen’s career WHIP is slightly lower, but both of these guys still have WHIPs below 1, so why does it matter. Lastly, as the list can go on and on, they both brought shut down stuff during this postseason, and each got roughed up once. So, who do the Dodgers go with?

It certainly didn’t look like the combination of Chapman, Miller, and Betances worked out for the Yankees before the trade deadline. But, there wasn’t a lot of opportunities for them to show the dominance of the new trio. The Dodgers’ new manager, Dave Roberts, showed this season that he is a wizard with the pen. Roberts, however, ran into trouble during the playoffs because he didn’t have a bridge to Jansen. So, with money not being a big issue, why not LA sign both? If not, Jansen has always been their guy, he has better stuff than Chapman with that cutter, and he’s cheaper.


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