Los Angeles Dodgers: Should They Seriously Consider Mark Melancon?

With Kenley Jansen pursuing free agency, what happens if the Dodgers can’t resign him? Well, it looks like there is at least one good alternative− Mark Melancon.

It’s not exactly a secret that Kenley Jansen is officially a free agent. His performance over the past six years is about to make him a rich, rich man. And he absolutely deserves it. He’s been one of the most dominant relievers in baseball since he became a closer for the Dodgers closer back in 2012.

But considering how much he’ll dent the Dodgers’ pocket, it would be wise for the Dodgers’ front office to at least consider other options. That brings us to Mark Melancon.

Melancon / Jansen Comparison

Before we get into the weeds, I’ll present you with a chart with statistics from two different relief pitchers- one being Kenley Jansen and the other, well, of course, Mark Melancon.

K/9 BB/9 HR/9 FIP ERA− WAR
Player A 13.6 1.9 0.7 1.86 60.5 7.7
Player B 8.3 1. 4 0.3 2.25 48.0 9.0

For all those unfamiliar with FIP, I’ll refer you to this article produced by FanGraphs explaining everything. The same goes for ERA−.

Okay, so maybe the strikeouts gave it away. Jansen is Player A and Melancon is Player B. But the point still stands that since 2013, Mark Melancon has arguably been just as good, if not better (as seen by ERA− and WAR), than Kenley Jansen.

Jansen gets more strikeouts, but Melancon gives fewer homeruns. Jansen has a lower FIP, but Melancon has a lower ERA−. It’s a constant give and take between these two. But the amazing thing is, both get these results largely the same way. And that’s by throwing the cutter. A lot.

Kenley’s pretty much been famous for his cutter. He throws it about 93% of the time averaging 94 mph. But, Melancon throws a cutter too. You might be familiar with it given he pitched 4 1/3 innings against the Dodgers in the post season.

He’s a little less reliant as Jansen is on the cutter throwing it only 63% of the time; the rest of his pitches are either a fastball or curve (which is nasty).

But even though Melancon throws the same pitch as Jansen, and produces nearly identical results there seems to be a consensus that Jansen is the better pitcher.

Even I’m partial to that bias. I tend to agree that Jansen is the better reliever, and will continue to be the better reliever.

Not only is Jansen about two years younger, he also throws harder and is less reliant on weak contact.

However, the difference between the two is marginal. And when it comes down to free agents, ‘marginal’ is a significant word. Kenley Jansen is going to cost about $70 million over the course of 5 years.

That would easily break Jonathan Papelbon’s record contract for $50 million. Meanwhile, Melancon with probably sign for fewer years because of his age and he’ll command much less money. Some predict that he’ll sign a 4 year deal for $36 million. That’s half as much −for nearly the same pitcher!

The Dodgers’ front office has yet shown the willingness to pull the trigger on a mega−pricey free agent. This year, with Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen, and Rich Hill leaving, it might be the first time we see a star re−sign with the Dodgers since Ned Colletti’s reign.

Personally, I’d be a little disappointed, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Kenley Jansen wasn’t wearing Dodger Blue next spring. But if Mark Melancon is the alternative they chose, I won’t be sad for long given how fun it is to watch his dominate pitching.

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