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What closer Kenley Jansen brings to the Red Sox bullpen

Kenley Jansen spent last season with the Braves.Tim Nwachukwu/Getty

SAN DIEGO — The Red Sox bullpen is poised for a very different look in 2023.

According to major league sources, the Sox reached a two-year, $32 million agreement with free agent righthander Kenley Jansen. The agreement — which would pay Jansen $16 million in both 2023 and 2024 — is not completed, as Jansen must pass a physical. The deal would give the Sox a formidable late-innings presence, an established closer who can give shape to the team’s efforts to close out wins.

Jansen, 35, remains an end-of-game force on the strength of an elite cutter that he uses as his primary weapon, complemented by a sinker and occasional slider. He’s a three-time All-Star who forged a 3.38 ERA with a 32.7 percent strikeout rate (20th among relievers) while leading the NL with 41 saves for Atlanta in 2022. Of his 65 appearances, 64 of them were for one inning or less. In his career,Jansen has 391 saves (second most among active relievers) with a 2.46 ERA in 766 appearances for the Dodgers and Atlanta.

“It’s really amazing that everybody almost knows what’s coming. But you look at the longevity and there’s like three or four times where he’s taken the next step up the ladder [in his career],” said Atlanta manager Brian Snitker. “He did an unbelievable job for us. He was awesome. The guy’s a future Hall of Famer and he did a really, really fine job for us this year.”


Jansen had 41 saves last year for the Braves.Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

Jansen marks the Sox’ first acquisition of an established closer to finish games since the team traded for Craig Kimbrel after the 2015 season. With Jansen at the back end of the bullpen, the Sox can work backwards while picking from a group that includes fellow free agent acquisition Chris Martin (whose deal is expected to become official following a physical this week) along with John Schreiber, Matt Barnes, and lefthander Joely Rodríguez.


The additions of Jansen and Martin in particular could change the late-innings feel of a Sox bullpen that featured a pedestrian 23.1 percent strikeout rate (17th in baseball) and 9.9 percent walk rate (6th highest in MLB) last year. Martin finished last year with a remarkable 34-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio after a midyear trade to the Dodgers, while Jansen bounced back from some control struggles in 2021 (a career-high 12.9 percent walk rate) to forge an 8.5 percent walk rate with Atlanta in 2022.

“A guy like [Jansen], you can depend on. He led the league in saves and that’s huge for your bullpen,” said Snitker. “It’s really good when you have somebody you can depend on that’s down there because it allows you to maneuver and pick your matchups a little more carefully knowing you have that guy at the back.”

The Sox had entered the offseason hoping to add at least three relievers, something they are now close to doing with Jansen, Martin, and Rodríguez, but their to-do list remains long. The Sox remain engaged with Xander Bogaerts about a potential reunion, while also exploring a number of position player options.

Alex Speier can be reached at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.