Red Sox Predicted to Trade Away $32 Million Star to Cubs

Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen (right)

Getty Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen (right)

Certainly, if the Red Sox continue to pitch the way they did in the first four games of the 2024 season in Seattle, some of the assumptions that have been made about this team will surely need to change. But if this does eventually morph into the middling-to-bad group so many expect, there’s little doubt that a trade of closer Kenley Jansen would be in the offing once the deadline approaches after the All-Star break.

In fact, at The Athletic, they’re predicting the Cubs to be the team stepping in for a Jansen deal, which makes some sense. Their closing situation is still a bit tenuous, and though new manager Craig Counsell has a reputation for masterly work in deploying a bullpen, adding a proven closer like Jansen should only provide the benefit of better-defined bullpen roles.

At The Athletic, they’re predicting that the Cubs and former Red Sox exec Jed Hoyer will trade for Jansen this season to help make the push toward an N.L. Central title.

Kenley Jansen Off to Good Start

Here’s how The Athletic Cubs beat writer Patrick Mooney lays out the scenario for the Cubs: “Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins will make some of the biggest moves at the trade deadline, using one of the game’s top farm systems to acquire Shane Bieber and Kenley Jansen and try to win the National League’s blah division.”

Bieber, of course, is the bigger prize, especially considering the way the Cubs’ starting rotation has been hammered by injury, with top starters Justin Steele (hamstring) and Jameson Taillon (back) currently out. But Jansen has a chance to be a sought-after asset when trading time comes around.

Jansen spent 12 years in Los Angeles with the Dodgers, leading the franchise in saves with 350. He is two years removed from leading the National League in saves, when he recorded 41 with the Braves in 2022, and was an All-Star for the Red Sox last year, registering 29 saves and a 3.63 ERA.

He is in the second year of a two-year, $32 million contract and has been the subject of trade talks throughout the offseason. A lat injury in Spring Training affected trade talks for Jansen throughout March, but he got the season underway with a one-inning, two-strikeout save on Opening Day in Seattle.

There are still questions about his health, though, as he did not pitch again in the Mariners series.

Red Sox Likely to Make Trade Despite Record

While it is likely, it is hardly certain that the Red Sox will be sellers on the trade market this summer. They have young, unproven talent at multiple positions this year, and have a promising young starting rotation. If they play well enough, maybe they keep Jansen around to keep their chemistry together.

But there’s a better chance that the Red Sox shop Jansen even if they are competitive, seeking younger contributors to fit with the timeline of the rest of the roster. It would be a surprise indeed if Jansen is still on the Red Sox roster after August 1.

Jansen,  for his part, has been clear that he is prepared for, and would welcome, a trade.

“It is tough,’” Jansen said on the Fenway Rundown podcast with Sean McAdam and Chris Cotillo of MassLive in late February. “But you just gotta block it out and not search for it. (The way I ignored was to) spend time with my family.

“Now it’s become a little bit harder again because now my family’s over there (in Los Angeles) and I’m here (in spring training). You just gotta learn how to block it out and come here, do my work. As of right now, I’m still in Boston and whatever happens, happens.”




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