Phillies Predicted to Trade for $26 Million All-Star Closer

Kenley Jensen, a potential Phillies trade target

Getty Kenley Jensen, a potential Phillies trade target

There’s little reason to think the Phillies should not pick up where they left off last season, when they used a strong second half to win 90 games and earn the top wild card spot in the postseason. That’s true despite a mostly quiet offseason in which the Phillies re-signed Aaron Nola on a seven-year, $172 million deal, in an offseason in which contracts of that length were near-impossible to find.

Uncharacteristically, Dave Dombrowski opted to do little else.

It will be much the same Phillies team in 2024, then, with one notable exception: Closer Craig Kimbrel left town, signing with the Orioles, and despite his All-Star season that ended with a 3.26 ERA in 69.0 innings, many in Philadelphia will be glad to see the back of him.

That’s, of course, because Kimbrel lost Game 3 of the NLCS last fall, and blew a save in Game 4. Moving on.

While the Phillies are expected to open the season with a committee-style closer role, it would be a surprise if they’re still in committee mode when we get past the MLB trading deadline. In fact, Bleacher Report is foreseeing the Phillies coming away with a tested closer on the trade market: All-Star Red Sox reliever Kenley Jansen.

Phillies Kenley Jansen Trade Would Firm Up Closer Role

That’s not to say that the Phillies don’t have best-case scenario options heading into the season. Lefty Jose Alvarado had a career-high 10 saves last year and recorded a 1.74 ERA in 42 appearances.

Seranthony Dominguez figures to be the other top option in closing situations, and though Jeff Hoffman was excellent as a setup man last year (5-2, 2.41, 69 strikeouts in 52 innings), he could be an option at closer for the Phillies, too.

They’ve got Gregory Soto, too, who has closer experience from his time in Detroit. But the Phillies could end the guesswork by simply making a Jansen trade, something they were rumored to be considering before the season started. Jansen is in the final year of a two-year, $32 million contract. 

Wrote B/R in an article titled, “Predicting Where Top Players Involved in MLB Trade Rumors Will Finish ’24 Season” this week: “Jansen has gotten a reputation in recent years for being shaky, but he has converted 108-of-124 save chances over the past three seasons. And 87% isn’t bad at all. …  And at least he has more saves in the past two seasons (70) than any current Phillies pitcher has in his career. (Gregory Soto has 53.)

“There are a bunch of contenders who could end up wanting Jansen at the trade deadline, but Philadelphia is the one almost certain to be shopping for relief help. There has also been rumbling in recent weeks that the Phillies could trade for Jansen before the season even begins, but they’ll probably see how things go with Soto, José Alvarado and Seranthony Domínguez before they make a big move.”

The Orion Kerkering Factor

The big name to watch, no surprise, is the potential closer of the future, Orion Kerkering, who made three appearances last season, then popped up in seven games during the postseason after starting the season in Single-A. The Phillies do not want to rush Kerkering, but if he shows he is ready, he could potentially begin to assume the closer’s role sooner rather than later.

Kerkering is still only 22 years old. But he told reporters this offseason his experience last fall will carry over to this year.

“I’ve played in some of the biggest situations at one of the youngest ages out there, at least in recent years,” he said. “So it’s like, I’m there for a reason. Just keep running with it, like I said.”


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