Chicago Cubs: Top 5 free agent relievers to target – #1: Kenley Jansen
A staple in the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen and the reliever who ranks second in saves among active players behind only Kimbrel, Kenley Jansen lands at number 1 on this list. Jansen is a future Hall of Famer who has already amassed 350 saves to go along with a dazzling 2.37 career ERA.
In 2021, Jansen had another spectacular year. Proving there is plenty more where that came from, Jansen hurled 69 innings, the third-most of his career and only 7 2/3 innings shy of his career-high mark from 2013. Along with that, he had an incredible 2.22 ERA, the best mark he has had since 2017 and 2016 where he had an ERA of 1.83 and 1.32, respectively.
The only area of concern for Jansen in 2021 was his elevated walk rate which rose to a 4.7 base on balls per nine innings, up from his career mark of 2.6 BB/9. As Jansen has done over the years, I have full confidence he will continue to adjust his pitches while mixing in his dominant cutter to keep hitters guessing as he has over the course of his career. His walk rate in 2021 elevated his FIP to 3.08, which is still quite impressive.
A three-time All-Star, Jansen’s list of accolades speaks for itself. Should the Cubs go after at least two names on this list, their bullpen will be mightily improved from a mere two months ago. With a patched up starting rotation and bullpen, Chicago could once again will find itself in the postseason hunt.