UPDATE: Buster Olney says it’s done: Bobby Jenks has agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with the Red Sox. This came out of left field.
Significance: once again the Red Sox have beat their AL East rivals this offseason, as both New York and Tampa Bay were obviously looking to upgrade their bullpens and each at least took at look at Jenks.
Added significance: between Jenks at $6 million this year and Papelbon at, what, $11-12 million after arbitration, there is some serious weight at the back end of the bullpen in Boston. And Daniel Bard is now the absolute best middle reliever in baseball.
2: 44 PM: Heyman is now saying that he’s hearing Jenks is close to a deal with — get this — the Red Sox. We weren’t expecting that.
11:59 AM: Jon Heyman reports that Bobby Jenks is looking or “closer money” — he thinks $8 million a year, and for that reason Bobby Jenks is not a candidate for the Yankees. Who, as you’re probably aware, have a closer who makes twice that already. I think he’d be great as a setup guy in New York, but I think a lot of things.
Last night I reported that the Rays were in negotiations with Jenks. I was a bit off on that “he could sign with the Rays as soon as tonight” thing, obviously, but my source tells me that they’re still interested in him — “deep discussion” is the way it was characterized to me — and he would presumably stand to be their closer if they signed him. Which is probably what he wants to be. In light of the $8 million demand about which Heyman speculates, however, the Rays may be hesitant.
Mostly though, I’d like to see the Rays thing work out because then Heyman would do his usual thing and tweet “Calcaterra was the first one who reported the Rays’ interest” like he does with other writers. Which I’m sure he’d do in my case, right?
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.