PC: Jae Hong
Netherlands’ pitcher Kenley Jansen has signed a five-year, $80m contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It is the largest deal for a European international in MLB history.
The 29 year-old Curaçao native, who represented the Netherlands in the 2006, 2009 and 2013 World Baseball Classics (the first two as catcher) is part of the preliminary roster for this year’s tournament. Jansen is coming off a dominant 2016 where he posted a career-high 47 saves and the lowest WHIP (0.67) in the majors for pitchers who threw at least 20 innings. Kenley also set Dodgers franchise records for saves (186) and strikeouts for a reliever (632). He received the National League Hoffman Reliever Award, the National League Pitcher of the Year Award and was named to the All Star team.
Jansen, together with former Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman, were the elite pitchers available on the free agent market this off-season. They were rewarded with the largest contracts for relievers in the history of the major leagues.
A number of Europeans also inked one-year contracts last week thereby avoiding arbitration. Didi Gregorius signed a $5.1m deal with the New York Yankees. Xander Bogaerts ($4.5m, Boston), Jonathan Schoop ($3.5m, Baltimore) and Jurickson Profar ($1m, Texas) will also see substantial pay raises this year. Germany’s Max Kepler ($508k) is due a bump of his own but is not arbitration eligible until 2019.