UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal tweets that there is “heavy action” on Jenks, including the Rays, but that the Yankees and others have interest too. He says Jenks is not close to a decision yet, however. In other news, I suppose all action on Bobby Jenks would be “heavy.”
10:12 PM: Marc Topkin says that the Rays and Jenks aren’t close to anything. I’m assuming he got a denial from the team. My source stands by what he’s telling me. So I guess we wait this one out and see what happens, eh?
8: 58 PM: Bobby Jenks and the Tampa Bay Rays are talking as we speak, and a deal between the two of them could be done as early as tonight, a major league source tells me. No word on the terms yet. No word on the meal per diem.
Jenks made $7.5 million in 2010 and was non-tendered by the White Sox because the guy is not deserving of a raise right now. His save total has dropped each of the last four seasons, he’s becoming more hittable than he used to be and his walk rate is up. Over the past two seasons he has an ERA of 4.08. He’s good, but not great anymore. But with the Rays losing Rafael Soriano to free agency, someone has to close.
Absent a big bounce back year, the back end of the pen is yet another area in which the Rays will be worse in 2010 than 2011. But that go for anyone trying to fill the shoes of Soriano. Jenks is a good signing for them if the money is reasonable. Which it probably is.
UPDATE: Hadn’t seen this before but Tommy Rancel — who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Winter Meetings last week — had a post a couple of weeks ago over at Process Report talking about how nice a fit Jenks would be with the Rays. I’m going to assume that the wise Rays front office read it because it would make me happy to think that they had.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.