The Boston Red Sox have signed Bobby Jenks, giving them another option out of the bullpen in 2011. Bobby Jenks was formerly with the Chicago White Sox, and had been considered one of the best closers in the game at one point. Now the Red Sox have signed him away from Chicago, giving them someone else to bank on if they happen to need to spell Jonathan Papelbon.
According to ESPN, Boston has signed Jenks for the next two years at a total contract value of $12 million. That’s not a bad deal for a top closer like Jenks, but it has to be noted that he has slipped a bit in the two past seasons. This has to be one of the main reasons Chicago felt it was time to go in a new direction, but if Jenks can regain that All-Star stuff he had, then this could end up being a great contract for Boston.
This gives Boston an even deeper bullpen in the upcoming season, even if it is yet another move to bring in another team’s ex-closer to try to shore up the problems in their own pitching staff. He will be a setup man with Daniel Bard in front of Papelbon for now, but the exact roles of all the pitchers could be decided in spring training. It’s possible that Jenks will become the seventh inning guy, setting up the team for Bard and then Papelbon to close out the games where they have the lead. It will definitely be a nice luxury to have three guys who could potentially close games.
The risks are definitely there with signing a closer, especially with the rough numbers Jenks posted in Chicago last season. While making $7.5 million in his final contract year, Jenks posted a 4.44 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP, and 27 saves in 31 opportunities. He ended up pitching in 55 games, striking out 61, and showing that he still has a good “power” arm at times. He is still only 29 years old as well, meaning that he could have a few good years left in front of him. Jenks became available when the White Sox non-tendered him, and that made him a target for the Red Sox.
What the Red Sox are hoping for is that Jenks can go back to the form he was at in the 2007 and 2008 seasons for the White Sox. In those two years, he was one of the best closers in baseball, posting a 2.63 ERA in one season and a 2.77 ERA in the other. He still has the great out-pitch if he can keep the walks to a minimum, and he could indeed be one of the signings that help the Red Sox make it deep into the American League Playoffs in 2011.