Jenks not sweating contract situation

Jenks not sweating contract situation

CHICAGO -- Bobby Jenks intentionally leaves contract negotiations to his agent and the White Sox, bringing himself into the equation on a need-to-know basis.

It doesn't take much, though, for Jenks to look at the current White Sox roster and understand at least one specific fact to be true where the overall salary structure is concerned.

"The only thing I know about my situation, as of right now, is that I'm our only non-signed guy," said Jenks with a laugh Wednesday during an exclusive conversation with MLB.com.

"All I know is both sides have their numbers and both sides know what they are doing," Jenks said. "My job is easy: stay out of it. I get to sit on the sideline and listen. But if it's handled well by both sides, it should all work out for both sides."

Jenks, 27, enters his first year as an arbitration-eligible player, joining infielder Wilson Betemit and outfielder DeWayne Wise among White Sox players in that category. Both Betemit and Wise agreed to new one-year deals hours before Friday's 11 p.m. CT deadline for contracts to be tendered. But Jenks' situation is nowhere near as clear-cut as these reserves.

With 111 saves amassed over the past three years, including the only back-to-back 40-save seasons in White Sox history, Jenks has positioned himself as one of the game's best closers. He earned $550,000 in 2008 but could increase his base salary by 10 times through arbitration if the two sides don't agree on a new deal beforehand.

Contract negotiations never are discussed publicly by the White Sox. But Jenks confirmed that as of Thursday, there has been no talk about a multiyear extension for the accomplished right-hander. That situation doesn't seem to bother Jenks, who is under team control through the 2011 season.

"For me, if the White Sox offer a fair, long-term deal, we would take it [over] arbitration," Jenks said. "If it's not considered fair, then even as a worst-case scenario, I'm excited to go into arbitration with what I've been told is a strong case.

"We haven't rejected anything, and it's still early in the winter," Jenks said.

Hot Stove

Keith Foulke's case in 2001 was the last White Sox player to go to arbitration, so the team has a history of avoiding such a situation. Jenks' name has come up in trade rumors during this current offseason, with a focus on his velocity drop over the past two years as a reason for being put on the trade block.

Those concerns were directly addressed by Jenks to MLB.com. They also have not been a public concern for the White Sox, who realize how important having Jenks is to solidifying the back end of their bullpen.

"Bobby is the anchor down there in the bullpen, and we put a lot of faith in him when he gets the ball in the ninth inning," said White Sox starter John Danks, one of Jenks' close friends on the team. "Having him down there helps keep the other relief roles the same, too."

"I take every day and get ready for Opening Day, regardless of the team where I'll be," said Jenks, not completely discounting the trade rumors. "But we have a home here in Chicago. I'm a Chicago White Sox [player], in and out. I hear songs on the radio, and I can picture myself running out of the bullpen to the mound."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.