Bob Jenks has agreed to terms on a two year, $12 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, ESPN's Buster Olney reports.
The move marks the first "big name reliever" to head Boston's way, after the bullpen was deemed one of the offseason's top priorities by GM Theo Epstein.
The Sox are unwilling to go to a third year even for many of the league's better relievers, and were thus spurned by LHP Scott Downs, RHP Matt Guerrier, and LHP Jesse Crain—who all signed three year deals and went to the Angels, Dodgers, and White Sox, respectively.
Jenks has been a closer for the entirety of his career, and has tallied 167 saves over the last five seasons. However, his ERA rose to a personal high 4.44 in 2010, well above his career mark of 3.40. Jenks was 27-31 in save chances last season.
Jenks will be 30 to start the 2011 season, and he should provide some much needed late inning help, taking some of the burden off of set-up man Daniel Bard.
Bard appeared in 73 games and 74.2 innings last year, both of which were tied for fourth in the AL among relievers. Bard seemed to run out of gas at the end of the season, posting a 2.70 ERA while batters hit .255 over 14 combined games in September and October.
I'm sure the Sox would love to cut the young flamethrower's usage down significantly in 2011, and Jenks should allow them to do just that.
If the Red Sox even want to entertain the idea of trading Jonathan Papelbon, their bullpen will have to make a complete turnaround. It's just impossible to justify trading him mid-season if their bullpen isn't one of the best in the league.
Jenks joins LHP Lenny DiNardo as the only "new" face in the Boston bullpen this year. DiNardo, who just recently signed a minor league contract, is a former Red Sox reliever who appeared in 43 games from 2004-06.
Since then, he's spent two seasons with the A's (2007-08) and one with the Royals (2009), as he's struggled to find any level of consistency in the Major Leagues. He also has a connection with former Oakland Athletics and current Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young.