Kenley Jansen frustrated with Red Sox’ inaction at trade deadline: ‘We needed help’

Red Sox

“We would be playing in a Wild Card game right now.”

Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Kenley Jansen throws to a Kansas City Royals batter during the ninth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Sept. 3, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo.
Kenley Jansen will miss the postseason for the first time since the 2012 season. Reed Hoffmann / AP

Kenley Jansen is no stranger to October baseball.

In fact, the 35-year-old reliever has almost come to expect it at this stage of the baseball calendar.

Entering the 2023 season, Jansen advanced to the postseason 10 straight seasons between the Dodgers and Braves, winning a World Series with Los Angeles in 2020.

That streak is set to come to a close this fall, however, as the 76-81 Red Sox will be on the outside looking at playoff action for the fourth time in the last five years.

Speaking to WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the “Baseball Isn’t Boring” podcast, Jansen — Boston’s lone All-Star representative this season — didn’t hold back from venting his displeasure at how his first year with the Red Sox ended.  

“It’s frustrating,” Jansen told Bradford. “I went 10 straight [playoffs], from 2013 until now. Ten straight years in the playoffs. Frustrating. Disappointment. All come together. Not happy. To be quite honest for you, I don’t know how to play for numbers. I only know how to compete for a championship. That’s me just being honest.”

The Red Sox were officially bounced from playoff contention last week. But even amid the various ups and downs that come with a 162-game schedule, Boston found itself in the mix for a Wild-Card spot in late July with the trade deadline approaching. 

But in a move that might have sealed his fate in Boston, former Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom opted to stand pat at the trade deadline — even with the evident flaws present on their roster, especially in terms of a lack of pitching depth.

“We needed help. I knew it,” Jansen said of Boston’s status entering August. “That’s the mindset we came in with. I won’t speak for [Justin Turner], but we knew to keep it close, and we were close. We were 1/2 game out and we were playing great. But when you ask to have tons and tons and tons of bullpen games, at some point everybody is going to get tired and that’s what happened and we fell off. It’s definitely frustrating.”

The Red Sox, who were sitting just 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot at the deadline, promptly plummeted after Bloom declared the team as “underdogs” in the playoff hunt. Since the trade deadline passed on Aug. 1, Boston has gone 20-31 and is on track for a last-place finish in the AL East. 

“Chaim did put together a good offensive team,” Jansen said. “I don’t know what happened internally there. At the end of the day it’s a group. That’s what I can say from my experience. I think if we could have had a couple of pitchers – and you probably need to [trade] prospects or whatever … I signed here to play in the playoffs. I didn’t sign here to develop. At this point in my career I don’t want to be on a development team. The only thing I’m chasing right now is a ring. That’s the only thing I’m going to play for.”

Jansen added: “We do have a great team and if we would have had a couple of starters [at the deadline], we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. We would be playing in a Wild Card game right now.”