Though Casey Janssen was very close to going to arbitration with the Blue Jays, the two sides were able to agree on a reasonable two-year, $5.9 million contract last night that includes a $4 million club option for the 2014 season. The right-hander will make $2 million in 2012 before seeing his salary almost double to $3.9 million in 2013, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Janssen’s contract extension, however, is significant not just because he was scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Not only is it just the eighth multi-year deal that Alex Anthopoulos has handed out during his tenure as general manager of the Blue Jays, but the first to a reliever that has included multiple guaranteed years.
After really taking to a full-time relief role in 2010, Janssen stormed out of the gate this past season and never let up, pitching even better in the second half.
In 55 and 2/3 innings for the Jays this season, Janssen set a new career-lows with a 2.26 ERA and 2.45 FIP, allowing an identical 14 earned runs and 14 walks. Not only were the 47 hits he allowed and 7.6 hits per nine innings also new career-lows, but the California native allowed just two home runs all season and also managed a career-high 8.6 K/9. He was particularly nasty away from Rogers Centre, limiting his opposition to just a .127 average and .356 OPS on the road, but also versus left-handed hitters, who he held to a mere six extra-base hits and .539 OPS all year.
Though pitcher wins and losses rarely count for much, Janssen’s 6-0 record in 2011 actually found its way into Blue Jays history. While pitchers like Scott Downs and Paul Quantrill have reached the 6-1 mark in the last decade while playing for the Jays, no full-time reliever (zero starts) has gone 6-0 in a Jays uniform since Duane Ward did it all the way back in 1988. In fact, Janssen joins Randy Moffat (1983), Dennis Lamp (1985) and Ward as the only Jays relievers to ever reach a 6-0 record at some point during the regular season, and only five other pitchers in Jays history with at least 50 relief innings have finished the season without a loss.
It was easy to notice the increased confidence that Janssen displayed on the mound this past season, especially in high-leverage situations, and it’s nice to see him get rewarded for his contributions to the team both on and off of the field over the last few years.