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Dodgers, Marlins, Nationals pushing for Kenley Jansen

Thursday’s Say Hey, Baseball sees Kenley Jansen becoming popular in a hurry, the Adam Eaton trade, and the starters your team can trade for.

MLB: NLCS-Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

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Mark Melancon is on the Giants. Aroldis Chapman is on the Yankees. That leaves Kenley Jansen among the elite class of closers available this offseason, and he has three teams zeroing in on him as the winter meetings come to a close on Thursday. The Dodgers, Marlins, and Nationals all want Jansen, and given Melancon’s $62 million deal and Chapman’s five-year, $86 million offer, it’s fair to say that the dude is going to get paid by whoever it is that signs him.

The Dodgers signed and developed Jansen (as a catcher), and he became a star closer under their watch. That’s the only organization he’s ever known, but they’re also in kind of a weird place where they’re trying to get their budget back under control, especially with the new collective bargaining agreement making it so that teams are punished even more the further beyond the luxury tax threshold they go. Already at $186 million in commitments, some quick math suggests that the Dodgers are already over said threshold before you even count their pre-arb and arb-eligible salaries — there’s a hefty annual cost for team medicals that applies against the luxury tax threshold that’s likely already thrown Los Angeles over the limit. So, if they skipped out on Jansen to try to find an answer elsewhere and then moved some starters (Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy, perhaps) to shave off further dollars, no one should be surprised.

Someone has to sign Jansen, though, and given the other suitors are the Marlins and Nationals, it very well could still be Los Angeles. The Marlins aren’t exactly everyone’s favorite free-agent destination after they went and traded many of their last big-contract players shortly after signing them, though Jansen could reunite with former manager Don Mattingly, and the two have already been in touch. The Nationals have already missed on Melancon this offseason, as well as on a trade for Chris Sale, but coming away with Adam Eaton and Jansen would still make for a successful winter meetings. It’s whether or not they’ll pay what they need to in order to get Jansen that’s the question: they wouldn’t do it with Melancon, and he wasn’t owed draft-pick compensation like Jansen is.