Kenley Jansen spent the weekend getting married in Curacao, per’s Michael Clair. That explains the lack of fresh chatter concerning the offseason’s top remaining free agent. 

Soon, however, Jansen will select his big league bride. 

It could be the Los Angeles Dodgers, the only MLB team Jansen has ever known. It could be the Miami Marlins, who have thrown out a five-year, $80 million-plus offer, per Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan

Or, it could be the Washington Nationals, who are “making a push” for the All-Star closer, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal

If Jansen signs with the Nats—and that’s a big “if”—it would shift the balance of power in the National League East. More specifically, it would put the division-rival New York Mets on notice: Make a move, or fall behind.

The Nationals have had an uneven winter to say the least. They lost closer Mark Melancon, who signed with the San Francisco Giants. They whiffed on southpaw Chris Sale, who landed on the Boston Red Sox. They came up short in an 11th-hour push to get All-Star reliever Wade Davis from the Kansas City Royals, according to’s Jayson Stark.

When the Nats finally pulled the trigger on a trade, it was a lopsided swap for Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton that cost them right-handers Lucas Giolito (‘s No. 1 pitching prospect), Reynaldo Lopez (’s No. 8 pitching prospect) and 2016 first-round draft pick Dane Dunning.

Eaton might make Washington better in the short term, but as I argued, it was an overpay born of desperation. 

Landing Jansen, even at the stratospheric dollars he’s going to command, could redeem the Nationals and position them as clear favorites in the East—unless New York makes a countermove.

Washington’s offense is anchored by a core of second baseman Daniel Murphy, right fielder Bryce Harper and speedy budding star Trea Turner. The starting rotation features a strong top four in reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark. 

The bullpen, meanwhile, posted the second-best ERA (3.37) in MLB last year. That was with Melancon, whom the Nats acquired at the trade deadline. Jansen—whose 7.0 WAR between 2014 and 2016 ranks fourth-best in the game among relievers, per FanGraphs—could make Washington’s pen next-level elite over a full season.

OK, back to the Mets.

Unless you believe the Philadelphia Phillies’ rebuild is about to kick into overdrive, the Atlanta Braves will get some magical juju out of their new stadium or the Marlins will stop being the Marlins, New York is the Nationals’ closest competition out East.

Heck, the Amazin’s won the pennant in 2015. Last season was an injury-soaked disappointment, but they’re not far removed from top billing. Plus, they re-signed slugger Yoenis Cespedes, arguably the biggest bat on the market, and brought second baseman Neil Walker back for the qualifying offer.

At the same time, question marks are swirling in Queens, as’s Mark Simon noted:

At this point in the offseason, the currently composed Mets are a second-place team, in the middle of a crowded pack. Their best-case scenario might be another crack at Madison Bumgarner in the wild-card game.

The only certainty there, given the pitcher, would seem to be a rather unpleasant defeat.

Ouch. Too soon.

There is a glut in the outfield, with Cespedes, Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Michael Conforto and Juan Lagares all vying for playing time and payroll space.

Bruce is owed $13 million next season, and Granderson will make $15 million. Granderson is getting “more interest” in trade talks, per Newsday‘s Marc Carig

Either way, it’s clear the Mets need to move someone, both to loosen the logjam and free up some cash.

The Mets are about $10 million over their targeted Opening Day budget of $140 million, per Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.

If they can unload an expensive outfielderpreferably Bruce, who sports an anemic .295 on-base percentage over the last three years—they could shake free enough capital to make another move.

Like, say, adding a bullpen arm to insure against closer Jeurys Familia’s possible domestic violence suspension. Or bolstering an offense that is counting on contributions from first baseman Lucas Duda and third baseman David Wright, both of whom have battled serious back injuries. 

Realistically, the Mets aren’t going to sign a reliever in the Jansen mold or a top-tier power bat such as Edwin Encarnacion, even if they shed payroll.

They don’t need to. The pitching rotation is the true X-factor. If Matt Harvey, Steven Matz, Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler all return to health alongside Norse god Noah Syndergaard, New York will be right there. 

With Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo also in the mix, the club could roll with a six-man rotation.

“If it helps keep us healthy, then I am for it,” deGrom said, per Ackert

Still, the Mets should target at least one more impact player. On the free-agent market, a reliever such as Brad Ziegler could cushion the loss of Familia and strengthen the Mets’ pen overall.

Mike Napoli and Brandon Moss boast plus power and can play first base in case Duda doesn’t rebound. 

If New York manages to deal both Bruce and Granderson, it could go for an even bigger addition, though that seems unlikely.

For now, the Mets should be in wait-and-see mode. It’s the Nationals’ move.

If Washington manages to reel in Jansen, though, New York must be prepared to respond in kind. This is an arms race, plain and simple, and Tim Tebow won’t tip the scales.


All statistics courtesy of and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted.

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