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Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Aug 20, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Kenley Jansen (74) celebrates after defeating the New York Yankees 6-5 at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

It seems like there’s nothing that’s been considered off limits for Craig Breslow in his first offseason on the job as the new chief baseball officer of the Boston Red Sox.

At least when it comes ‘resetting’ the club, particularly on the financial front, following the club’s second straight finish in the A.L. East’s basement.

In addition to essentially sitting out free agency, Breslow and the Sox moved Chris Sale off their roster and to the Atlanta Braves. They moved outfielder Alex Verdugo — and to the Yankees, no less —instead of paying him almost $9 million for the 2024 season (though there were certainly other reasons at play for that decision), and there’s been talk of trading outfielder Masataka Yoshida after just one year of a five-year, $90 million deal Yoshida signed with Boston in Dec. 2022.

And then there’s Kenley Jansen.

  • Boston’s All-Star closer, who is set to begin the final year of a two-year, $32 million contract that was signed by the since-fired Chaim Bloom, has been the subject of trade rumors seemingly all offseason long.

    Once ‘full throttle’ turned out to be complete nonsense, the idea of the Red Sox trading Jansen to the highest bidder seemed like a mere inevitability more than anything else. It’s seemingly become the final shoe to drop on what’s expected to be another rebuild kind of year in Boston, actually.

    But with Red Sox pitchers and catchers set to report to Fort Myers this week, there’s a new round of conflicting reports when it comes to the Breslow & Co.’s plans for the 36-year-old Jansen.

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST 20: Kenley Jansen #74 reacts with Connor Wong #12 of the Boston Red Sox after the ninth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 20, 2023 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Red Sox won 6-5. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK, NEW YORK – AUGUST 20: Kenley Jansen #74 reacts with Connor Wong #12 of the Boston Red Sox after the ninth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 20, 2023. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

    Last Thursday, MLB insider Jon Morosi appeared on MLB Network and confirmed that Breslow and the Red Sox were indeed involved in trade talks surrounding Jansen.

    “I checked around in the industry in the last couple days to try to figure out just how real this story is and I was told the Red Sox are, in fact, listening on Jansen, but there has to be a second part of this,” Morosi said. “If you trade him, it’s not just to trade him. It’s because either Craig Breslow is trying to bring in multiples of pitching back to replenish the depth of the Red Sox or that by clearing some of Jansen’s salary, that they could potentially free up enough money to then make a play for one of the available free agents.”

    Morosi went on to list the Dodgers and Phillies as two landing spots for Jansen. The Dodgers are familiar with Jansen thanks to his 12-year tenure with the club, and Jansen still calls Los Angeles home in the offseason. Philly, meanwhile, remain a win-now team in need of some serious bullpen help to push themselves over the hump.

  • Jul 26, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Kenley Jansen (74) delivers a pitch during the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Jul 26, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Kenley Jansen (74) delivers a pitch during the ninth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Fenway Park. (Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports)

    ‘Dodger Talk’ host David Vassegh backed up that report from Morosi, mentioning both the Phillies and Dodgers as teams with an interest in Jansen, but added that he was of the belief that the trade had to be done before the start of spring training or be reassessed at the 2024 trade deadline.

    Baseball insider Jon Heyman also linked Jansen to the Dodgers last week, and even threw the San Diego Padres in there as a team that’s interested in the longtime N.L. West threat.

    It feels just about everybody has had something on Jansen moving out of Boston, and it’s seemingly never been about the return as much as it’s been about the Red Sox clearing another $16 million off their books.

    To Morosi’s point, getting Jansen’s salary off their books would seemingly allow the Red Sox to add a right-swinging outfield bat (the Sox have been linked to help on that front all offseason long) or one of the high-end starters still on the market, such as Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery.

  • But in a video for ‘Foul Territory’ on Monday, Ken Rosenthal threw cold water on, well, just about everything.


    “There’s been a lot of talk about a possible [Kenley] Jansen trade, [but] I don’t see it happening necessarily at this point,” Rosenthal offered. “Now granted, for a team that is cutting payroll, a team that doesn’t seem to be putting forth its full effort, a 16 million dollar closer is a luxury. Especially one at an advanced age. But who is going to take Kenley Jansen at this point?”

    Like every other insider who’s talked about Jansen being traded, Rosenthal mentioned the Dodgers. But he noted that the Dodgers seem ‘full’ with their current group. And the Dodgers still have Evan Phillips (24-for-27 on save attempts and a 2.05 ERA a year ago) and Brudsar Graterol (seven saves and a 1.20 ERA in 67.1 innings last year) on their roster, so perhaps a $16 million closer isn’t exactly a huge need for their club.

    Now, it’s unclear if Rosenthal’s feelings on a Jansen trade are more speculation and opinion than outright reporting, but his feelings on the Red Sox needing to move money to add money are clear opinion, and will be music to the ears of every Red Sox fan out there.

    “Should [trading Jansen] affect a pursuit of Jordan Montgomery or any other player for that matter? No,” Rosenthal said. “The Red Sox have announced, essentially, that they might be at a lower payroll number this year. I don’t know why.

    “Right now, their payroll is at 178 [million]. Last year it was 199 [million]. They’re already down. Now if you take it down further, yes, it gives you greater room, yes, to sign Jordan Montgomery. But guess what? The Boston Red Sox should be able to sign Jordan Montgomery and keep Kenley Jansen, too.”

  • Jansen is coming off a 2023 campaign that featured 29 saves, four blown saves, and a 3.63 ERA in 44.2 innings of work. The 6-foot-5 Jansen enters the 2024 season seventh on the all-time saves leaderboard, with 420 saves, and is likely to pass Billy Wagner (422), John Franco (424), and Francisco Rodriguez (437) this year.

    Should the Red Sox trade Jansen, veteran righty Chris Martin would seem like the obvious candidate to step into the closer role for the Red Sox for the 2024 season.

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