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The White Sox are prepared to sever ties with closer Bobby Jenks at Thursday’s non-tender deadline, eliminating one more member of the 2005 World Series championship club.
According to a source with knowledge of White Sox business, the move to nontender Jenks is expected. The move has been anticipated ever since Jenks struggled with injuries that affected his performance in the second half of the 2010 season.
Jenks is said to have had a rocky relationship with manager Ozzie Guillen for a least a few years. Jenks’ most recent clash with Guillen came this past season after he was removed from his closer position. Jenks suggested that his history as a successful closer should have been enough to allow him to remain in his role.
Asked late in the 2010 season about his relationship with Jenks, Guillen said that he isn’t in his job to make friends, just to win games. Guillen also downplayed what was perceived to be an icy relationship with Jenks, saying he wasn’t worried about it.
Jenks also disappointed general manager Kenny Williams, who was asked about the team’s closer during the last homestand of the season.
“That's something we have to evaluate strongly, because I've been disappointed on a number of levels,” Williams said. “And there are certain things that I'm not going to talk about right now.”
Jenks made $7.5 million this past season and is in his last year of being arbitration eligible. If offered a contract, Jenks could be looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of $9 million in 2011.
He broke in to the major leagues during the 2005 season, making a name for himself with a strong postseason that helped the White Sox to the title. He has saved 173 games for the White Sox while posting a 3.40 ERA in 329 appearances. He has a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.04.
If Jenks departs as expected, it would leave a large void at closer. The best candidate for the job currently under contract with the White Sox is Matt Thornton, although Chris Sale showed late in the season that he might be able to handle the role.
If the White Sox can re-sign free agent right-hander J.J. Putz, he would be the likely candidate to take over as closer.