UPDATE: As expected, the White Sox have non-tendered Jenks.
Throughout the past year or so there’s been speculation about the White Sox non-tendering closer Bobby Jenks this offseason. He made $7.5 million in 2010 and would be in line for a raise through the arbitration process, and his performance has deteriorated to the point that he’s simply no longer an elite reliever.
In addition to his save total dropping in four straight seasons Jenks’ opponents’ batting average and walk rate have also risen in all four of those years and he has a 4.08 ERA in the past two seasons. He’s still a good reliever, but he’s no longer a great one and certainly isn’t valuable enough to be worth the $9 million or so he’d be due via arbitration.
All of which is why it’s no surprise that Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com reports that the White Sox “are prepared to sever ties” with Jenks at tonight’s non-tender deadline. Padilla notes that Jenks’ increasingly poor relationship with manager Ozzie Guillen has also played a part in the decision, but it would be a no-brainer move for the White Sox based strictly on his performance.
Chicago would likely plug Matt Thornton into the closer role if they indeed non-tender Jenks, although Chris Sale could also get a shot at ninth-inning duties if he’s not moved to the rotation full time.