At the end of the day, Kenley Jansen wanted to go home.
The All-Star closer reportedly agreed to a five-year, $80-million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday, meaning Jansen will return to the only team he's ever known. But the Washington Nationals appear to have tried their very best to prevent that from happening.
In desperate need of a closer, Washington was apparently ready to throw some serious cash at Jansen in order to lure him to the nation's capital. The team was reportedly willing to beat the Dodgers' offer by at least $5 million, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
That Nationals offer did contain deferrals, reports Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post, a move that's been used by the franchise as part of other large free-agent signings. Deferred money was a big part of Max Scherzer's $210-million deal with the club in 2015.
Ultimately, Jansen agreed to take what's still the second-largest contract ever given to a reliever to return to Los Angeles, but the Nationals appear to have left a mark on the Curacaoan during negotiations.
"The Nationals' presentation was exceptional and generous and for more money," Jansen's agent, Adam Katz, told Joel Sherman of the New York Post. "They conducted recruitment of this player in a high caliber professional way. Kenley and I were very impressed.
"At the end of the day Kenley loves Los Angeles, his Dodger family, the fans here, and although money was a factor, it wasn't the most important thing."
Jansen's rejection of the Nationals continues what's been an up-and-down offseason for the NL East champions. Though they swung a big deal at the winter meetings to acquire outfielder Adam Eaton from the White Sox - at a very steep cost - the Nationals watched helplessly as midseason acquisition Mark Melancon jumped to the Giants, then failed in their attempt to replace him with both Jansen and Aroldis Chapman. They also swinged and missed in their attempts to trade for superstars Chris Sale and Andrew McCutchen.
With Jansen, Chapman, and Melancon off the market, the Nationals' options to fill their ninth-inning role could include free agent Greg Holland - the former All-Star who's coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2015 - or another trade, perhaps for high-priced White Sox reliever David Robertson.