NEWS

Casey Janssen leaves Blue Jays for Nationals: report

01/28/2015 12:13 EST | Updated 03/30/2015 05:59 EDT
Forget about seeing Casey Janssen close games for Toronto or pitch out of the Blue Jays’ bullpen, at least for the 2015 season.

The 33-year-old free-agent right-hander reportedly has agreed to a one-year contract with the Washington Nationals. It’s believed there is also a mutual option in the contract for the 2016 campaign with a total guarantee of $5 million US.

Janssen made $4 million last season while converting 25 of 30 save chances with a 4.03 earned-run average.

“I think the city appreciated him, and he really had a tremendous career here,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said after the team’s 2014 regular-season finale. “He was here my first go-around; he's probably the longest-tenured guy here.

"He ought to feel good. He's had a nice major league career to this point, and that will continue."

Janssen’s final appearance with the Blue Jays came on the final day of the 2014 regular season and he was at his best, getting three outs on six pitches and receiving a standing ovation from the home crowd of 45,901 following a 1-0 loss to visiting Baltimore.

A California native, Janssen made good on 90 of 107 save opportunities with Toronto while posting a 29-24 record. He also joined Tom Henke and Billy Koch as the only Blue Jays pitchers to record three straight 20-save seasons.

Over the past three years, Janssen collected 81 saves with a 2.94 ERA in 168 games.

Former starter

He made his major league debut for Toronto in 2006 and earlier in his career started 22 games for the club.

"I got promoted [to the major leagues], was a starter, then got the opportunity to close," he told reporters at the end of last season. "For that I'm forever grateful.

"I just apologize to the fans and everyone that we couldn't bring a playoff and a championship here, because deep down inside that's all I wanted to do. 

Janssen was nearly unhittable prior to the all-star break last season, limiting hitters to a .217 batting average with a miniscule 1.23 ERA.

But he had trouble recovering from a virus contracted during the break while vacationing in the Dominican Republic.

Janssen entered the season finale with a 6.75 ERA post-all-star break, with opposing batters hitting .309.

In Washington, he might push Drew Storen for save chances. Storen wrested the closer’s job from Rafael Soriano last season and recorded 11 saves in 14 chances. In 65 appearances, he went 2-1 with a 1.12 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings pitched.

The Nationals needed a set-up man following the recent trade of Tyler Clippard to Oakland for former Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar. 

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