Yankees Should Stay Far Away from These Three Free Agents

Sep 24, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova (46) delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 24, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova (46) delivers a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 22, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen (74) throws against the Chicago Cubs during the sixth inning of game six of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 22, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen (74) throws against the Chicago Cubs during the sixth inning of game six of the 2016 NLCS playoff baseball series at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /

Kenley Jansen

Don’t get me wrong, Jansen has been an elite reliever for the last six seasons for the Dodgers. He has a career 2.20 ERA and 1.93 FIP over 408.2 career innings, striking out an absurd 39.8 batters he’s faced in his career (13.9 K/9).

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Generally speaking, though, I’m opposed to signing relievers to long-term deals, and there are enough red flags with Jansen that I think he will provide the worst value of any of the four excellent free agent closers this winter.

First, Jansen comes with a qualifying offer attached. The Yankees wouldn’t have to surrender a draft pick to sign Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon, and Greg Holland. For a team committed to building from within, holding onto that pick each year is a big deal. The minor league system wouldn’t be quite as exciting without Blake Rutherford or James Kaprielian (New York’s last two first rounders). Those guys are expected to be a big part of the organization’s future.

Second, Jansen will probably do fine with the transition to the American League and the Bronx, but he hasn’t been battle tested already like Chapman. This could be a Craig Kimbrel situation where he is still good after making the switch to the AL, but just isn’t as dominant anymore.

It’s also worth considering that Jansen is basically a one-trick pony with a single amazing pitch, a cutter which he throws roughly 90% of the time. When Aroldis Chapman’s velocity begins to dip in the later years of his deal, he can offset the loss by relying more on his slider. Jansen has no clear backup plan.

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Granted, the greatest closer in Yankees history, Mariano Rivera, also basically just threw a cutter, but Jansen has a lot to prove before he can be considered anywhere near Mo’s class. I’m not saying it’s impossible he earns his big contract, just that I’d prefer New York go after Chapman, Melancon, or Holland.