Bobby Jenks to remain the White Sox's closer… for now

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Unwilling to mess with a bullpen arrangement that has worked very well for the White Sox this season, manager Ozzie Guillen said Friday that Bobby Jenks remains his closer.
Questions were again raised about Jenks’ status after he blew a three-run lead in the ninth Thursday against the Tigers, raising his ERA to 5.13. He’s still a fine 23-for-26 in save chances this season, but he has had three ugly outings since the All-Star break, two of which resulted in losses.
The thing is that even though Jenks isn’t the White Sox’s best or even second-best reliever, reserving him for the ninth inning has worked out quite well for the team this year. Guillen has done a terrific job of playing matchups with Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz earlier on and has gotten great results out of the duo.
It’s just very hard to believe that the White Sox would have a better record with either Putz or Thornton working regularly in the ninth and Jenks drifting in between middle relief and setup work. Putz is currently limiting right-handed hitters to a .131 average. Thornton has held lefties to a .158 average. Both have such exceptional ERAs at the moment in no small part because Guillen can use them to the best of their abilities.
The White Sox are 48-6 when leading after five innings this seasons. Only three AL teams have better winning percentages in that category:
Oakland – .935
Detroit – .921
Minnesota – .920
Chicago – .889
Tampa Bay – .882
Boston – .865
Cleveland – .861
They’re also fifth in the AL when leading after six innings:
Oakland – .977
Minnesota – .962
Tampa Bay – .930
Detroit – .925
Chicago – .911
Boston – .889
Los Angeles – .885
No, Jenks probably isn’t worth his current $5.6 million salary, and it’s doubtful that he’ll be back with the White Sox next year. But, for now, the White Sox are quite likely better off with him pitching the ninth than they would be with any other arrangement.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.