Casey Janssen had been a mainstay in the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen for nearly a decade. Now, he will try to resurrect his career in the Mexican League.
There was a time when Casey Janssen had been one of the better middle relievers in baseball. While he was never an All Star, he was a key part of the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen. From 2010 through 2014, he was one of the key pieces in their bullpen, even serving as their closer for three seasons. In that time, he posted 2.99 ERA and a 1.107 WHiP, notching 83 saves. He struck out 261 batters in 286.1 innings, while issuing only 66 walks. Janssen may not have been overpowering, but he was a solid reliever.
That changed when he left Toronto. He signed a one year deal with the Nationals, where he had a 4.95 ERA in 48 games, his worst mark since 2009. However, Janssen had a 1.150 WHiP, making it possible that he was just a victim of bad luck. He signed with the Padres for 2016, but was released during Spring Training. Signed by the Red Sox, Janssen pitched well in the minors, but was released in August.
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Now, he is looking to find his way back to the Majors. With that being the case, the 35 year old reliever has signed with Acereros del Norte in the Mexican League. There, he will be looking to rebuild his value, and possibly convince another Major League team to give him a final chance.
Heading to a foreign league to jumpstart one’s career is nothing new. We have seen players head to Japan or Korea for years, using those leagues as a chance to reposition themselves as viable Major League options. Eric Thames did just that this past offseason, getting a three year contract from Milwaukee. Is it outside the realm of possibility that Janssen could find some semblance of his former glory elsewhere?
Perhaps the only real surprise is that Janssen is heading to Mexico instead of Japan. While it is not uncommon for Latin American players to head to the Mexican League, it is rare that someone outside of that ethnicity follows suit. Yet, as Janssen grew up in California, it is much closer to his family.
Interestingly, Janssen was not the only former Blue Jays player to sign with the Mexican League yesterday. Josh Roenicke signed with the Pericos de Puebla, where he will compete for a roster spot. He last appeared in the Majors in 2013, and sports a career 4.17 ERA and a 1.520 WHiP in 190 appearances.