At some point (I promise), the MLB lockout will finally end and, when it does, things are going to be hot and heavy. We’re going to see a flurry of free agent signings and trades, followed quickly by a condensed spring training slate. That, of course, assumes no major changes in where things stand between the league and MLBPA right now.
The Chicago Cubs have a lengthy to-do list, the same as countless other teams around the league. Adding Marcus Stroman, Wade Miley, Yan Gomes and Clint Frazier made for a solid start – but there are still some glaring holes on this roster, especially at the back end of the bullpen.
Early last year, the three-headed monster of Andrew Chafin, Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel formed a dominant late-inning solution for manager David Ross. But in short order, Jed Hoyer dismantled the bullpen ahead of the July trade deadline and, from there on out, the bullpen was a disaster.
With no notable bullpen additions prior to the lockout, it stands to reason adding some veteran arms will be a priority for the front office. How big the Cubs will go in this area remains to be seen, but a recent Bleacher Report piece lists Chicago among the top 8 landing spots for three-time All-Star closer Kenley Jansen.
Specifically, Jansen would be a significant upgrade for a closer’s spot that currently seems to belong to Rowan Wick. And since they’re $89 million short of their peak payroll, the Cubs should certainly able to afford him But even if Jansen himself is enthusiastic about the Cubs, they might come out of the lockout looking to fry bigger fish. In particular, they’re one of few teams that can afford Carlos Correa, who would fit nicely in the gaping hole they currently have at shortstop.
If you ask me, even if Chicago pulls something together for Correa, there’s really no reason they can’t also go out and get Jansen. There are a lot of ways that contract could wind up looking for the longtime Astros shortstop and several offer some flexibility. Throw in the fact MLB Trade Rumors pegged Jansen for a two-year, $26 million pact ($13 million AAV for those of you doing math at home) and you can see the dollars align.
Chicago Cubs: Kenley Jansen would be a major boost to this bullpen
Jansen ranks 13th on baseball’s all-time saves list with 350 – and he’ll likely crack the top 10 by the end of the 2022 campaign. Last year with the Dodgers, the right-hander put together a solid season, notching 38 saves and working to a 2.22 ERA across 69 appearances.
The sad truth is this: the Cubs don’t have any go-to answers in the late innings. Sure, there are options in Rowan Wick, Codi Heuer and Manuel Rodriguez – but none of them have any degree of longstanding closing experience. Slotting in someone like Jansen would take the pressure off these young guys and provide a veteran mentor in one fell swoop.
All we’ve talked about is Carlos Correa. But there are other holes on this team and a surprise Jansen signing would be a prudent move if this team hopes to contend in 2022.