The Red Sox took a big step in fortifying their bullpen as they signed former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks to a 2-year contract worth about 12 million dollars today. All of this pending a physical.
Earlier today, it appeared the Rays were the likely team to sign Jenks, as they gave him the best opportunity to close. Now, it appears Jenks will serve as the Red Sox setup man along with Daniel Bard in the bullpen behind Jonathan Papelbon.
Jenks had a down year in 2010, which led to the White Sox non tendering him. Jenks recorded a career low 27 saves while putting up an unimpressive 4.44 ERA as the White Sox closer. However he was able to become a better strikeout pitcher with a career hith 10.4 SO/9 and recorded a 1.367 WHIP last season, also a career high. Jenks is an established relief pitcher and will be a very good setup man for the Red Sox this season.
After a week of watching rumors fly about the Red Sox' unwillingness to commit to relievers, and seeing top options go elsewhere, Sox fans can rest a little easier today. It's pretty impressive how quietly Theo has gotten these deals done this year, but after Lackey in '09, it's hard to be surprised.
While $6 million is in the upper levels of reliever salaries, the Red Sox did manage to avoid the 3-year contracts they are so wary of handing out. And in a market which has seen some truly large paydays handed out to bullpen arms, Jenks is certainly one of the more worthwhile acquisitions.
Though 2010 was not his best year results-wise, Bobby Jenks has been one of the better relievers in the league in recent years. His 4.44 ERA last year hid a fantastic 2.59 FIP and 2.62 xFIP, and in his six years in the MLB, Jenks has never had an xFIP of 4.00 or greater. His high ground ball rates should play very well in Fenway, and his ERA will likely come back down after shifting from one of the worst defenses in the game to the very solid unit the Red Sox will put out next year.
If the Sox were looking for the perfect middle reliever, they found him. There's just no clear weaknesses to be found in Jenks' game. Good vs. lefties, good vs. righties, and good in the clutch. They probably want at least one more decent arm, but it's hard to express just how much better this makes the Boston bullpen.