Bobby Jenks was once one of the best relievers in the game. He hit 100 MPH in his major league debut in 2005 and later that year closed out the World Series for the Chicago White Sox. The hulking right-hander then proceeded to dominate the 9th inning from 2006 through 2010. He saved 167 games during that span while never blowing more than 6 saves in a single season. His upper 90’s power fastball was always his best trademark as he became a fan favorite in Chicago. But then it all came apart. After the 2010 season, Jenks signed a 2-year deal with the Boston Red Sox but was only able to throw 15 2/3 innings in an injury-riddled season. He was later released by Boston and hasn’t pitched in the big league since. After several back surgeries and an addiction problem with pain medication, Jenks is finally seeking a return to baseball. Would the Rays be willing to roll the dice and try to strike gold with Jenks?
If the Rays were to make an effort to sign Jenks it shouldn’t come as a surprise. A reliever coming off several injuries that has something to prove is just the type of player the Rays usually look to sign. Jenks will only require a minor league deal and could prove to be another weapon in the bullpen if he can stay healthy and be effective although he probably will never be as good as he was in the past. Jenks was always able to have pretty good control over his career, walking just 3.1 batters per 9 innings, and even though he might not be able to hit triple digits on the radar gun anymore, he could still be a very effective pitcher. If his back checks out and he appears the healthy the Rays could have nothing to lose and a valuable relief pitcher to gain on only a minor league deal.
The Rays bullpen is nearly set for the 2014 season. While the only remaining piece might be to find a proven closer, adding depth and possible impact relievers at a discount has always been a priority for the Rays. Bobby Jenks was once one of the best closers in the game and is just looking for a chance to make a roster this upcoming season. At the very least he could provide depth at the Triple-A level until he proves he is ready for the majors again. And who knows, maybe now that Bobby Jenks is fully recovered from multiple back surgeries he can regain some of the form he previously had and became a solid high leverage reliever. The Rays will be signing quite a few players on minor league deals with invites to spring training over the next couple of weeks and don’t be surprised if Bobby Jenks is one of them.