Why the Blue Jays should have dealt Casey Janssen

The Blue Jays were in a tough spot this trade deadline. They came into the season with huge expectations and as you may know they have failed to live up to those lofty expectations. They should have been sellers in my opinion this deadline; instead they decided to hold, which is understandable as most of the core is at least signed though next season. Casey Janssen is considered one of those core pieces.

With that being said here are three reasons why I think that Janssen should not be a core piece and should have been dealt this past deadline.

Reason #1 Get a piece for the future.

Here’s how Janssen compares to the other “proven closer” who got traded this deadline.

Name  IP BB% K% HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP WAR RA9WAR
Casey Jannsen 34.1 6.7% 25.4% 0.26 0.225 67.6% 48.3% 3.7% 2.36 2.32 3.03 1.1 0.9
Jose Veras 44.0 8.1% 25.6% 0.82 0.234 76.7% 45.9% 9.3% 2.86 3.39 3.56 0.6 0.9

 

The numbers are similar but clearly Janssen has been better this season, meaning he could have brought back something better than Danry Vasquez who the Astros got for Veras. That type of prospect could have helped the Blue Jays’ depleted system recover somewhat from all the off-season trades.

Reason #2 Blue Jays have a replacement closer in the wings.

If Janssen had been dealt the Blue Jays could have handed the closer’s job to all-star Steve Delabar. Delabar has all the traits you look for in a closer: he throws hard, averaging a touch over 94mph this season. He gets strikeouts, 13.59 K/9 and 34.7% K rate. He is also getting good results sporting a pitching triple slash line (ERA/FIP/xFIP) of 2.90/2.44/3.11.  He also doesn’t have a platoon issue, allowing a .297 wOBA against righties and a .304 wOBA against lefties. I don’t see how the Blue Jays management could have a problem giving Delabar a shot at the closer’s job if they had dealt Janssen.

Reason #3 Janssen is declining

This is the big reason why the Blue Jays should have dealt Casey Janssen. His skills are declining and selling him now would have been the perfect time before he potentially implodes next season. Here’s why I see Janssen declining and not being the same next season. He will turn 32 this September so he is on the wrong side of the pitcher aging curve. He is at that age where across the board numbers usually begin to decline, and we are already starting to see that this season.  Let’s start with velocity; he is down almost 2MPH this season from 91.7mph the last 2 seasons to 90.0mph this season. We know velocity is highly correlated with strikeouts so it’s not surprising to see a significant drop in both his K/9 and K%. His K/9 is down from 9.47 last season to 8.91 this season and his K% has dropped from 27.7% to 25.4%. His swinging strike rate has never been great but it peaked last season at 9.5% which was just barely above the league average. It has dropped back to 2010-2011 levels at 8.2% and is now below average. His O-Swing rate is down, which leads me to believe his stuff isn’t fooling batters as it had in the past, and it supports why his walk rate has shot up from 1.55 BB/9 last season to 2.36 this season.

We can clearly see his skills are declining, but despite all that Janssen has managed to post the best FIP and xFIP of his career. I see this as being significantly influenced by luck. He is posting the lowest BABIP of his career at .225 vs. a career .290; his HR/9 and HR/FB% are also at career lows sitting at 0.26 and 3.7% respectively. Pitching in Toronto you have to figure there is no way he keeps suppressing home runs at his current rate.

To sum this up, we have a closer who has declined across the board, who will be 32 next month, and who is getting results by suppressing home runs in a hitter-friendly park. Yet he was kept around despite the possibility of being able to get a decent prospect and having a potential closer replacement waiting. But hey who knows what will happen in a year from now, maybe Janssen will keep it up for one more season and make me look like an idiot, but I wouldn’t bet on it.



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Paul is a 4th year university student majoring in Sport Management and minoring in Economics


5 Responses to “Why the Blue Jays should have dealt Casey Janssen”

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  1. Ooosh says:

    I didn’t think they would trade Janssen to begin with, but do you think your point about Delabar may not be as strong because they put him on the DL not long after the trade deadline?

  2. paul14 says:

    Yah that hurts my point a bit, did not see that coming. The Jays must have known something was up with Delabar, still they just got Sergio Santos back from the DL and he has closed in the past. they also have fellow all-star Brett Cecil who could have possibly closed while Delabar is on the DL.

  3. chris moran says:

    Good article. The Blue Jays are clearly out of the playoff race and have been so for a while. The marginal value of a reliever such as Janssen that will compile <1 WAR for them ROS is next to nothing. Seeing as the Jays have built a quality bullpen out of converted starters and low-cost journeymen it would seem that they would recognize the fungibility of guys like Janssen. For example, they just recalled Neil Wagner, a 29 year-old who has posted a 2.91 ERA, 3.50 FIP and 3.57 xFIP in 21.2 innings for the Jays this year while averaging 96.0 on his fastball.

    • Paul Berthelot says:

      Agreed, they have compiled a great bullpen very cheaply. Seems only logical to cash in on one of those relievers, oh well hopefully Janseen doesnt implode next season

  4. Oakville Resident says:

    Excellent analysis Paul. However, the Jays have not had a reliable closer prior for years prior to Casey. I met Casey a few years ago in person & he is very friendly. His reliability in games cannot be underestimated.

    Could the jays trade him in the offseason in order to get a decent 2B or Catcher?