Critical free-agent decisions await Dodgers

Critical free-agent decisions await Dodgers

CHICAGO -- The Dodgers' front office must quickly turn attention to the business of the offseason and 11 potential free agents, most notably closer Kenley Jansen and third baseman Justin Turner.

Also eligible to leave are pitchers Brett Anderson, Joe Blanton, Rich Hill, J.P. Howell and Jesse Chavez; infielder Chase Utley; and outfielder Josh Reddick.

Game Date Matchup Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 15 CHC 8, LAD 4 video
Gm 2 Oct. 16 LAD 1, CHC 0 video
Gm 3 Oct. 18 LAD 6, CHC 0 video
Gm 4 Oct. 19 CHC 10, LAD 2 video
Gm 5 Oct. 20 CHC 8, LAD 4 video
Gm 6 Oct. 22 CHC 5, LAD 0 video

In addition, the club has a $4.5 million option on catcher Carlos Ruiz, though they will likely will exercise a $500,000 buyout. And starting pitcher Scott Kazmir, who ended the season injured, can opt out of the remaining two years and $35.33 million on his contract and become a free agent.

The focus will be on retaining Jansen and Turner, who have been as valuable to the Dodgers in recent years as any player not named Clayton Kershaw. Management has told both they are wanted back, although there has been no indication of serious negotiations during the season.

Jansen enters a market that also includes closers Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon, although nobody used the postseason to boost his value more than the right-hander, who unselfishly extended himself to 2 1/3 innings in the NLDS clincher and a career-high three innings in Saturday's 5-0 loss in Game 6.

Jansen earned $10.65 million this season. Considering his age (29) and the heightened importance of the bullpen in recent years, Jansen could command a multi-year deal at an annual salary approaching the record for a reliever set by his idol, Mariano Rivera, of $15 million a year. That's likely to be well beyond what the Dodgers will pay for a reliever, while the Cubs, Mets and Giants are likely to be very interested.

Turner on end of season

Jansen didn't want to discuss free agency after Saturday night's loss.

"No, it's still early for me right now," he said. "This feels awful right now. We got so far, and we fell short. I'm still thinking of what we accomplished and how short we fell. We just fell a little bit short."

Turner presents a different set of issues.

He's 31 with a history of knee problems, but emerged this season as a slugger of 27 homers with 90 RBIs and the Dodgers have nothing like that on the cusp of graduating from the farm system. He made a bargain $5.1 million this season could be deserving of a multi-year deal that would take him into his mid-30s. The Dodgers are probably hoping the popular California native and clubhouse leader will take a hometown discount.

"Come on," said Turner when asked if he thought this might be a Dodger farewell. "No, not at all. I'm focused on tonight. We fell short tonight. I'm just taking time to reflect, not thinking about what's going to happen in the future. I'm going to take my time with these guys and enjoy these moments."

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