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?
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.