The Red Sox made an excellent move today, signing Bobby Jenks to a 2 year, 12 million dollar deal. While some have suggested this means Jonathan Papelbon is on the trading block, I do not see how they would get nearly enough value for him in a trade for it to make sense. He is expensive and coming off a bad season, so any suitors will be loathe to take on his money and give up decent prospects. It is possible that Boston just lets him go to dump his salary, but I would not count on it.
I really was hoping that the Yankees would nab Jenks to deepen their bullpen. This is what I said last month:
Jenks is a good buy low candidate after what is perceived to be a poor season. With Matt Thornton returning to Chicago, I could see the White Sox and Jenks parting ways. Jenks has conditioning issues and clashed with Ozzie Guillen at times, but he is clearly an immense talent. Jenks had a 4.44 ERA in 2010, but was victimized by an astronomical .368 BABIP and a LOB% of 65.4. His FIP was 2.59 (xFIP of 2.62) and he struck out 10.42 batters per nine while walking 3.08. Scraping past the surface of blown saves and ERA shows that Jenks actually had an excellent year. He would be an excellent fit to replace Kerry Wood as the 8th inning guy, and his cost is the only issue that would scare me away.
2 years and 12 million dollars is quite a reasonable price for his services, so I think Brian Cashman was asleep at the wheel here. However, Mark Feinsand is reporting that the Yankees are looking into a superior pitcher:
According to a source with knowledge of the Yankees’ thinking, the Bombers are “exploring” the option of signing Soriano, the All-Star closer who pitched last year for the Rays.
With plenty of money to spare in the wake of Cliff Lee’s return to Philadelphia, the Yankees have held preliminary discussions with Scott Boras about Soriano, the source said.
The Yankees’ inability to land Lee has shifted their emphasis on bolstering the bullpen, using their unexpected slush fund toward doing so.
The Yankees had hoped to bring back Kerry Wood to serve in the primary setup role for Rivera, but the 33-year-old is said to be seeking a two-year deal worth $12 million, more than the Yankees are prepared to pay the oft-injured righthander.
In the case of Soriano – who 45-for-48 in save opportunities while posting a 1.73 ERA for Tampa Bay – Cashman is said to be willing to make an exception, paying him “closer money” to back up Rivera with the thought of the 31-year-old bring groomed to eventually succeed the iconic Hall of Fame-bound closer.
Soriano is better than Jenks, but he is also likely to be considerably more expensive and would cost the Yankees their first round pick. Being that the bullpen is more in need of solid depth than major star power, I do not think it would be prudent to sign Soriano to a large deal at “closer money.” Cashman should look into someone like Grant Balfour instead, who can give the club solid performance at a significantly cheaper price. (Edit: Oops, it seems Balfour is also a Type A free agent. Pass on that as well.)