Jansen not bitter over club's pursuit of Chapman

Dodgers closer puts focus on leading revived bullpen

Jansen not bitter over club's pursuit of Chapman

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers' trade for Aroldis Chapman was torpedoed, but in its wake was the reality that a team with one very good closer, Kenley Jansen, wanted to acquire another one.

With Jansen one season from free agency, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was concerned enough about the potential fallout that he told Jansen the attempted deal was part of a "Life after Zack" strategy to shorten the game.

Jansen was already in a bad mood when news broke of the Chapman trade because he spent a day on the ocean when the fish weren't biting.

"When I heard that, I wanted to know what they're thinking, so we talked to them," he said. "Andrew knows I'm the kind of person where, just be honest, and that's what he did. He told me he wanted to improve the team and we're on the same page there, so the trade didn't happen and I've got to move forward. Why do I have to be bitter about it?"

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Jansen is no newcomer in fighting off potential replacements. Big league closers Brandon League, Brian Wilson, Chris Perez and Chapman have been added or targeted by the Dodgers in recent years. Yet, Jansen remains the man, averaging 33 saves over the last four seasons.

At 28 and with what is generally considered the most lively cutter since Mariano Rivera, Jansen received a 2016 contract for $10.65 million. But in negotiations leading to the one-year deal that avoided arbitration, Jansen said the club never talked about a multiyear deal that would provide true security, the implication being that he wished it had.

"So I've just got to stay focused right now," he said. "My goal is win a championship with this organization, how special it's been for me and for history. I'm very proud to wear the Dodgers uniform every day."

Had the trade for Chapman (also a free agent after this season) been made, a lowered save total could have negatively impacted the market value for both relievers. Jansen said he didn't worry about it.

"My belief is, you guys can see on the field what I'm capable of doing," he said. "At the end of the day, it's just business. I've got to move forward. Who knows what's going to happen after this year? It's not in my control. All I can do is stay healthy, help my team win and when the year is over, I can't predict the future."

Jansen said he would understand if the Dodgers let him leave after this year to go young (and cheap) in the bullpen, with in-house closer options including Chris Hatcher, Pedro Baez and Yimi Garcia.

"They can close -- Hatch, Yimi, Pedro," he said. "I'm not mad at that. If that's the road they want to go, who knows? This day I'm a Dodger. I'll just continue to keep improving and help the team win and be better every day."

Jansen said even without Chapman the Dodgers have what he calls "a special bullpen," bolstered by the addition of revitalized veteran Joe Blanton.

"If we do what we're capable of doing," Jansen said, "we can be the best bullpen in the league. We have good arms and potential, now we've got to use it."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.