The Boston Red Sox bullpen is expected to take a step forward season, and according to one of its members, that improvement will come at the hands of Kenley Jansen.
By the time the 2022 Major League Baseball winter meetings ended, the Red Sox made three key additions to their bullpen. It started before the meeting kicked off, with Boston signing veteran reliever Joely Rodríguez in a sign they were looking to make marked improvements. They then inked former Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Chris Martin to a deal, before topping the three-reliever sundae with three-time All-Star closer Kenley Jansen.
In three moves, Boston transformed a tremendously shaky unit into one that could wind up becoming its strength. How so? Let Martin explain.
“Martin said that he signed with the Red Sox to pitch in ‘high-leverage situations,’ irrespective of inning,” Alex Speier of The Boston Globe tweeted Thursday. “He said other relievers will ‘feed off of’ structure provided by Kenley Jansen.”
If there’s one thing known about the 2022 Red Sox bullpen, it’s how they lacked structure. Boston spent the majority of its season looking for a set closer, with manager Alex Cora deploying Matt Barnes, Garrett Whitlock, John Schreiber, Tanner Houck, Hansel Robles, Jeurys Familia and more to the role. In each instance, a change was forced to throw things out of whack. With Jansen, there’s hope that structure can become the norm for the Red Sox.
Jansen has been nothing but reliable throughout his 13-year career, compiling a 2.46 ERA in 769 innings with 391 saves. In 2022, he continued being one of baseball’s best closers, recording a 3.38 ERA in 64 innings of work. He finished with 41 saves and a 5-2 record.
As things currently stand, Jansen should take over the closer role and allow Cora to get creative with a number of arms in the bullpen. Rodríguez and Martin will join an incumbent group including Barnes, Houck, Schreiber, Ryan Brasier, Josh Taylor and Zack Kelly — who project as returning top-end options to round out the bullpen.