Rumors don't distract Jansen from family, Sox

Veteran closer weathers offseason trade talk, stays committed to helping club improve

February 14th, 2024

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- An offseason full of trade rumors involving Red Sox closer didn’t lead to an actual trade, and the big righty was on hand with his teammates for the first official day of Spring Training on Wednesday.

And if you think Jansen, the ultimate professional, was shaken by the reality that the Red Sox explored his trade market, you’d be mistaken.

Just as Jansen is able to block out the noise when a packed house is cheering for him to succeed or fail, he is able to do the same with the noise that happens during baseball’s Hot Stove season.

“Well, for me, I just spent time with my family, knowing that I tried to be the best dad I can be, and bringing them to school and making sure I worked out in the morning and did all my stuff,” said Jansen. “Just keep my mind off. At the end of the day, I love this game, and this is where I'm at right now, and I'm always going to invest my time wherever I am. To me, just focus on the fact I’m here and I signed here for two years, and I’m going to try to do everything to improve this ballclub.”

Jansen, who won’t throw during the first week of Spring Training due to what he believes is a minor right lat issue, vowed to give the Red Sox everything he has while he’s still wearing the uniform.

There could come a day that changes. Perhaps this spring or during the Trade Deadline sweepstakes. Or next offseason, when Jansen becomes a free agent.

“I think where we stand is, he's on this team, and he is an All-Star-caliber closer who's had an incredible career, and we're happy for that,” said Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow. “We have talented players on our team that are potentially of interest to others. But as of right now, we're excited about what he brings, what the back end of our bullpen brings and the depth that we have down there.”

As an organization, the Red Sox have made it clear they are going to prioritize the growth of their young core in 2024. That’s why it might make sense for Breslow to part ways with Jansen if he can get prospects or a young big leaguer who might fill another need. Jansen also carries a $16 million salary, and shedding some of that could help Boston with the optimization of the roster.

But Jansen wouldn’t have 420 career saves if he let that context bother him. He was asked if he spent time Googling himself in the offseason.

“I learned my lessons already; you don’t do that anymore,” said Jansen. “You don't go make comments. You’ve got to have your own life and see what's in front of you and enjoy the blessings that I have, what's in front of me, which is my family. So now that I'm here, I'm focused. I don't like to lose. I like to win. We have to get ready to win ballgames.”

When Jansen signed with the Red Sox in December 2022, he came to a team that had several other veterans, including long-time teammates with the Dodgers in Justin Turner and Kiké Hernández. Not only are those two players gone, but so are Chris Sale, James Paxton and Adam Duvall.

“Yeah, of course it's tough,” Jansen said. “I liked those guys. Had a great time with them last year, and I see what type of competitors they are. At the same time, we’ve got to stay focused here and see what we’ve got in this clubhouse and improve.”

Jansen, a sage leader, believes he can help the team in more ways than saving games.

“We have a lot of young guys,” Jansen said. “I can be a good leader and help them improve by any way I can. It could be sitting out there watching bullpens and telling them what they can be better at, or having them tell me what I can do to be better. You just have invest your time to improve and get better.”

Though Jansen realizes the Red Sox won’t be viewed as an upper-echelon team heading into 2024, he knows that the city he plays in carries a lot of weight.

“I love Boston fans,” Jansen said. “I was excited playing in Fenway last year. This ballclub can be out there again and playing in October. They deserve it. It is the city of champions. I’m going to invest my time and help these young kids and even me try to get better every day. That’s important.”