Bobby Jenks to remain the White Sox's closer… for now

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Unwilling to mess with a bullpen arrangement that has worked very well for the White Sox this season, manager Ozzie Guillen said Friday that Bobby Jenks remains his closer.
Questions were again raised about Jenks’ status after he blew a three-run lead in the ninth Thursday against the Tigers, raising his ERA to 5.13. He’s still a fine 23-for-26 in save chances this season, but he has had three ugly outings since the All-Star break, two of which resulted in losses.
The thing is that even though Jenks isn’t the White Sox’s best or even second-best reliever, reserving him for the ninth inning has worked out quite well for the team this year. Guillen has done a terrific job of playing matchups with Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz earlier on and has gotten great results out of the duo.
It’s just very hard to believe that the White Sox would have a better record with either Putz or Thornton working regularly in the ninth and Jenks drifting in between middle relief and setup work. Putz is currently limiting right-handed hitters to a .131 average. Thornton has held lefties to a .158 average. Both have such exceptional ERAs at the moment in no small part because Guillen can use them to the best of their abilities.
The White Sox are 48-6 when leading after five innings this seasons. Only three AL teams have better winning percentages in that category:
Oakland – .935
Detroit – .921
Minnesota – .920
Chicago – .889
Tampa Bay – .882
Boston – .865
Cleveland – .861
They’re also fifth in the AL when leading after six innings:
Oakland – .977
Minnesota – .962
Tampa Bay – .930
Detroit – .925
Chicago – .911
Boston – .889
Los Angeles – .885
No, Jenks probably isn’t worth his current $5.6 million salary, and it’s doubtful that he’ll be back with the White Sox next year. But, for now, the White Sox are quite likely better off with him pitching the ninth than they would be with any other arrangement.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.