LOS ANGELES — Some hair stylists can take a little off the top. The guy who cuts Kenley Jansen‘s hair can not only subtract but also put things back together again.
Call it the haircut that might have changed the course of Los Angeles Dodgers history. Jansen and Justin Turner talked Wednesday about the trim that precipitated both of their returns to the club they nearly led to the 2016 World Series.
“[Jansen] was getting a haircut … believe it or not,” Turner said, pausing to acknowledge the irony of two shaggy-haired players in the presence of a comb and scissors.
Turner had been in Curacao for a few days and appreciated that the conversation had never shifted to baseball — not once. As he remembers it, it was Jansen’s barber who asked what the two free agents were going to do about their futures.
“He was sitting down getting a haircut, and it just came about,” Turner said. “We were just talking about both of our situations, what was happening. I don’t think either one of us was trying to pressure anyone to make any decision. We were just laying out the options and different situations and experiences.”
Nobody made a decision about the future just then, but Turner talked, and Jansen listened. Then Jansen talked, and Turner listened.
In a few hours, Jansen was married. A day later, he agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal to return to the only organization he has ever known, the one that turned him from a failed catcher into one of the best closers in the game.
“I got on a plane the next morning and jumped over to the next island, to Aruba, and sure enough, I saw on my phone that he had agreed to be a Dodger,” said Turner, who agreed to his own four-year, $64 million deal around the same time Jansen made his commitment. “I was extremely happy. And I don’t know all that went into that decision. I guess you’ll have to ask him about that.”
For Jansen, it was not as simple as a heart-to-heart with a teammate to decide his fate. He wanted to return to the Dodgers, but he admitted Wednesday that he was close to going with the Washington Nationals‘ offer.
When the Dodgers added a fifth year to his deal, to go with significantly more cash, Jansen’s return was essentially set. He said he received the Dodgers’ offer the day before his wedding and just before his chat with Turner. Jansen also chatted about it with Van Slyke and Puig.
“Having conversations with these guys on my wedding weekend … just to see them around meant so much to me,” Jansen said. “It made a decision to leave even tougher after we sat down to talk about stuff while I was getting my haircut. When we were all together, it made it tough for me to make a decision to be in another uniform.”
Jansen said that Turner did not pressure him to return, and neither did Van Slyke or Puig. Instead, the players told him they would respect whatever decision he made. That further instilled a family bond that the Dodgers say they formed last season.
Jansen freely admitted Wednesday that he was intent on signing with the team that offered the most money. That intent changed over his wedding weekend. The Nationals and Miami Marlins reportedly offered more financially, but after being surrounded by friends and family, Jansen decided on the Dodgers’ offer.
“There was a time that Washington was up there,” Jansen said. “But when the Dodgers came [with their final offer] at the end, it changed my mind. A few days before my wedding, it seemed as if I was going to Washington. But after the Dodgers came at the end, I couldn’t leave. I wanted to stay.”
Part of what Turner told Jansen is “it is not always greener on the other side.” He left out the grass part, but Jansen understood. Turner had played in the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets organizations before joining the Dodgers on a minor league deal before the 2014 season.
Ultimately, the Dodgers committed $144 million this winter to a player who struck out at being a catcher (Jansen) and one who was non-tendered by the Mets after he hit two home runs and collected 16 extra-base hits in 200 at-bats in 2013 (Turner). Both players are now considered strong leaders and influential clubhouse presences, which means the Dodgers got more than on-field talent when they brought back both players.
“To have me and Justin back here, it kind of sets a tone for the young guys to kind of see how the process goes,” Jansen said. “Justin signed here on a minor league deal and became a star. Me, being a catcher who failed and then becoming one of the best closers, for the young guys to see that, I think it will help us a lot to win a championship.”
And it was the barber who helped bring it all together. Talk about a super cut.
Article source: http://www.espn.com/blog/los-angeles/dodger-report/post/_/id/22359/a-well-timed-cut-helped-influence-the-dodgers-winter