Teams with a major need for a closer have checked in to see if Orioles star Zach Britton is available. But there’s a surprise team on the list of teams to have called, and that is the team with the best closing situation – yes, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The possibility of combining Kenley Jansen with Britton, who isn’t yet available but could come become available, is delicious. And that goes for not just fans, but anyone connected to the Dodgers.
“Man, that would be awesome,” said Kenley Jansen, the game’s best closer when informed the Dodgers had at least had a conversation with the Orioles. “You just gave me goose bumps.”
Jansen is having an all-time great year in the ninth inning, almost as good as the one Britton had last year for the Orioles, when he allowed only four earned runs all year. There have been some teams with powerful eighth-ninth inning combinations in recent years (the Royals, Indians and Yankees come to mind) but probably nothing would match a Britton-Jansen back-end duo.
The Dodgers have actually checked in on several lefty relievers, though GM Farhan Zaidi declined comment on exactly who. They are believed to like Brad Hand and Justin Wilson, and those are two more excellent left relievers, and possibly others (Sean Doolittle also will be out there). Britton has had some arm issues this year that have kept him out, but he recently returned again and was throwing 95-96 mph, only a couple mph short of last year, when he had an almost perfect season.
The Nationals, Dodgers and several other teams (the Nats might be at the head of the line; whereas the Dodgers are hoping to strengthen an incredible strength, the Nats need is “acute” in the words of one rival executive) could be interested. While the Nats need to get someone good for the ninth inning, if the Dodgers got someone to dominate the eighth inning, they’d be seen as a prohibitive World Series favorite.
One big positive for the Dodgers in this endeavor is that they don’t have any acute needs; their rotation has been excellent, and it’s hard to see them acquiring anyone better than even No. 2 starter Alex Wood or possibly even No. 3 guy Rich Hill, and they have no glaring needs around the field, though their outfield injuries could be something to consider. Anyway, Jansen is excited about the possibility, however long the shot.
“Golly, you got me going right now,” Jansen said. “We have a special team, and a special bullpen. The guys never quit. Andrew (Friedman, the team’s baseball president) and the guys do a great job.”