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.
Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?
Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.
It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.
Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.