White Sox Sign Jesse Crain: Will He Be the Closer in Chicago?

Chris MurphyAnalyst IDecember 15, 2010

CLEVELAND, OH- APRIL 30: Jesse Crain #28 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the game on April 30, 2010 at Progressive Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

According to MLB sources, the White Sox have agreed to a three-year deal with 29-year-old right-hander Jesse Crain.

Crain sported a 3.04 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, walking 27 and striking out 62 in 68 innings of setup duty for division rival Minnesota Twins last season.

In each of his last four seasons, Crain has increased the velocity of his fastball going from 93.9 miles per hour in 2007 to 94.1 in 2008, 94.3 in 2009 and a career-high of 94.8 in 2010.

Crain brings a career 3.42 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 382 career innings, walking 141 and striking out 264 as a reliever.

With the White Sox losing J.J. Putz, trading Scott Linebrink and essentially cutting Bobby Jenks loose, the question around the team—after the signing of Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn and A.J. Pierzynski—was who would be in this team's bullpen.

With Chris Sale, Matt Thornton and Sergio Santos already in place with Tony Pena taking the long innings, Crain should step in fine with this team, subbing in as another right-handed setup man.

The real question is who will be the closer of this team if the White Sox make no more moves?

We look toward Jake Peavy for that answer. Whether or not whispers of Sale starting the season in the starting rotation will depend on if or how long Peavy will be out.

If Peavy is out, Sale could be in the starting rotation, which moves everyone up in the pen, bringing Thornton to the closer role and Santos and Crain to the eighth inning—something Crain has more experience in than Santos.

However, the bullpen of the White Sox collapsed last season with the injury to Jenks and each bullpen pitcher essentially moving up an inning and handing the closer role to Thornton.

So perhaps changing the roles is not the smartest thing to do. If Peavy is out a short amount of time, Pena could be asked to make a couple of spot starts, leaving the closer role to Sale and leaving Thornton, Crain and Santos in their respective positions.

If Peavy is not out at all, all of this is erroneous.

With Crain, however, the White Sox have sured up a solid-looking bullpen. Who will be at the end of that bullpen is yet to be answered.

Good news for White Sox fans is the White Sox have options. Bad news is it will take some experimenting to find the right answer.