White Sox ink Jenks, Quentin to one-year deals

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Thumbnail image for bobby jenks white sox.jpgThe White Sox and reliever Bobby Jenks avoided arbitration on Saturday by agreeing to a one-year, $7.5 million contract.
Jenks, who turns 29 in March, will receive a $1.9 million raise over a
2009 season that saw him post a 3.79 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 27 saves in 35
chances.

Jenks fought a very public battle with the White Sox over the past few
months about his conditioning, a conflict some thought could lead to
him possibly being traded or even non-tendered in December. Amid
concerns about his weight, Jenks was sidelined during the season with
kidney stones and missed the final 12 games of the season with a
strained calf muscle.

2009 was mostly a reversal of fortunes for Jenks, as his strikeout rate
rebounded (8.27 K/9 from 5.55 K/9 in 2008) and he saw some more
giddy-up on his fastball, but he gave up a career-high nine home runs
in 53 1/3 innings, ultimately inflating his ERA. Pretty fluky, really,
since he’s primarily a groundball pitcher. Still, the conditioning angle is
something to watch this spring, as the White Sox have Matt Thornton and
J.J. Putz at the ready should Jenks continue to fall out of favor in
the organization.

The White Sox also avoided arbitration with outfielder Carlos Quentin
on Saturday by agreeing to a one-year, $3.2 million contract. Limited
to just 99 games last season due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot,
the 27-year-old Quentin batted .236/.323/.456 with 21 homers and 56 RBI.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.