ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves surprised baseball observers and quite a few fans Friday night when they announced the signing of former Los Angeles Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen to a one-year, $16 million contract.
The 34-year old Jansen had 38 saves and a 2.22 earned run average in 69 appearances for the Dodgers in 2021. He pitched five times in last years 2021 National League Championship Series against the Braves and did not allow a run while striking out 14.
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Jansen will join what can only be described as a “killer” Braves bullpen for the 2021 season. According to reports, he will move to the closer role, bumping last years closer, Will Smith, to a set-up role. Those same reports said Smith was asked about the acquisition and change in his role before the move was made and agreed with the teams plans.
Smith struggled with giving up home runs during the 2021 season but was virtually unhittable during the Braves playoff run to the World Series championship. He and Jansen will team with Tyler Matzek, A.J. Minter, Luke Jackson and recent acquisition Colin McHugh to give Atlanta arguably the deepest bullpen in baseball this upcoming season.
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Jansen, a native of Curacao, was signed by the Dodgers in 2004 as an undrafted free agent and made it to the major leagues in 2010. He’s a three time All-Star and has 350 career saves since his debut. He has a 2.37 career ERA and 1,022 strikeouts during that time.
The move comes at the end of the same day long-time Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman signed his contract with the Dodgers in a ceremony at Dodger Stadium.
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The Braves began their defense of 2021′s title by playing their first Spring Training game of the 2022 season on Friday afternoon. They beat the Twins 3-1. Atlanta plays the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday afternoon beginning at 1:05 p.m.
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