Red Sox agree to a deal with Bobby Jenks

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Red Sox agree to a deal with Bobby Jenks

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

After sitting out the auctions for a handful of middle and set-up relievers for the past week, deeming the price and especially the length of the contracts too steep for their tastes, the Red Sox went on the offensive Thursday, signing free agent Bobby Jenks to a two-year, 12 million deal.

The deal is contingent on Jenks passing a physical either Friday or Saturday and includes performance bonuses that could earn Jenks as much as a 1 million more each season.

Jenks, who was non-tendered by the Chicago White Sox last month, will serve as one of the Red Sox' two primary set-up men. He'll also be ready to step in if Papelbon falters in 2011 and may be his replacement in 2012 if, as it is widely expected, Papelbon leaves for free agency after next season.

The Sox had balked at the deals being handed out to the likes of Jesse Crain (three years, 12 million with the Chicago White Sox), Matt Guerrier (three years for 12 million with the Los Angeles Dodgers) and Scott Downs (three years, 15 million), all of them set in motion by the three-year, 16.5 million deal the Detroit Tigers gave Joaquin Benoit last month.

And though the Sox handed Jenks the highest average annual value (6 million) of any reliever this winter, they also got someone with proven closing experience.

Over 5 12 seasons with the White Sox, Jenks saved 173 games in 199 chances for the White Sox. As a rookie, he served as Chicago's closer during its World Series championship season of 2005, converting five of six postseason save opportunities.

In 2010, Jenks posted a career-high 4.44 ERA and had a WHIP of 1.367, also the highest of his career. But there's statistical evidence that Jenks was often the victim of bad luck, with an abnormally high batting average of balls in play at .354. Such a high number usually suggests that pitchers were merely unfortunate, with an unusually high percentage of balls finding holes.

In fact, using Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) -- which aims to determine a more accurate ERA -- his ERA should have been a far better 2.59. And his strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.39 was his best since 2007 and would have led all Red Sox relievers in 2010.

"I think there's a lot of upside there,'' said a major league scout who saw Jenks often in 2010. "His velocity is still there. I had him at 95 mph most of the time. His curve ball isn't the power curve it was earlier for him, but it was still plenty good enough. And I like having a guy who's closed in a set-up role. Nothing's going to bother this guy.''

Jenks missed most of September after appearing in both ends of a doubleheader on Sept. 4 -- ironcially, a sweep of the Red Sox which effectively knocked Boston from playoff contention.

He experienced some tendinitis in his right elbow in the the final weeks, though he was cleared to pitch in the final week. The White Sox, also eliminated from postseason contention, elected not to use Jenks.

There have also been concerns about Jenks' conditioning. At 6-foot-4, he was listed at 275 pounds, a figure he probably topped. But said one major league evaluator: "He's basically been overweight most of his career.''

If Jenks performs well in 2011, he'll be positioned to replace Papelbon as the Sox' closer in 2012. That would return him to his favored role, while providing the Red Sox with a relatively affordable -- to say nothing of experienced -- closer.

The Sox' bullpen now boasts Papelbon, Bard, Jenks, lefty Felix Doubront and veteran Tim Wakefield, leaving two spots open for competition in spring training.

The Sox on Thursday came to terms with Matt Albers on a one-year deal for 875,000 (non-guaranteed) and he'll be in the mix, along with lefties Andrew Miller (re-signed by the Sox Thursday after being non-tendered earlier this month), Lenny DiNardo, and Rich Hill.

The club remains in negotiations with Dan Wheeler, a Rhode Island native who's pitched in the A.L. East for Tampa Bay. Wheeler would like a two-year deal, which the Sox won't give, but may take a one-year deal to pitch closer to home.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Pedro Martinez tells WEEI Ortiz will make comeback this season

Pedro Martinez tells WEEI Ortiz will make comeback this season

Never say never?

While Red Sox officials said at the team's annual Winter Weekend at Foxwoods on Saturday that they'd be traveling to the Dominican Republic to talk to David Ortiz about a role with the team, Pedro Martinez told WEEI he sees Big Papi returning to his old role - designated hitter - this season.

CSN's Trenni Kusnierek and WEEI's John Tomase talked to Martinez on their show Saturday at Foxwoods and Martinez said his old teammate would be making a comeback despite the long, emotional farewell tour last season. 

For the full interview with Martinez, click here.

Red Sox executives Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy and Dave Dombrowski made no mention of Ortiz returning as a player when talking about their Dominican trip. Ortiz has repeatedly said he is going to stay retired. 

Chris Sale on leaving White Sox: 'Time for both sides to do something different, I guess'

Chris Sale on leaving White Sox: 'Time for both sides to do something different, I guess'

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. -- While there’s a deal of anticipation going into Spring training with the four Killer B’s, David Price and Pablo Sandoval’s shot at redemption and Rick Porcello looking to be something similar to his 2016 self, there’s one name that trumps them all.

Chris Sale.

The lankly lefty received an ovation from fans at the Friday night Town Hall, kicking off Red Sox Winter Weekend. With his consistent success, there’s reason to be excited.

But there’s also reason for apprehension given the way Sale’s departure from Chicago was depicted. But he’s made sure to clear the air.

“I wouldn’t say . . . ya know . . . I loved my time in Chicago,” Sale said when asked if it was time to leave the Windy City. “My best baseball memories are there [and] will be there forever. I love the city; I love the people in the organization.

“It was time for both sides to do something different, I guess. I talked to (White Sox Senior V.P.) Rick on the phone, I talked to (White Sox pitching coach Don) Coop (Cooper). We’re all cool, it’s fine. We understand where both of us are, it happens in baseball, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Chicago.”

He didn’t seem irritated discussing the issue, and certainly wasn’t timid -- we all know that’s not in his DNA.

He genuinely seems excited to deal with the large sum of Sox fans and to call a new place home -- in a city his wife’s fond of no less.

But ultimately, he’s focused on winning, nothing else.

“Every time I’m out there it’s gonna be all I got,” Sale said. "Every time, no matter what. Can promise you that.”