The White Sox have agreed to a three-year deal with Jesse Crain, as Peter Gammons reports .
This is the latest in a series of three-year deals given to relievers. First Joaquin Benoit set the market, then Scott Downs and Matt Guerrier followed.
Gotta say, it's a good year to be a middle reliever.
Crain recently finished up a year in which he pitched 68 innings of a 3.04 ERA. He boasts a career ERA of 3.42 along with a 4.48 xFIP, so may be hurt by the move to homer-friendly US Cellular Field.
That said, Crain is just 29 and punched out 8/21 batters per nine in 2010, walking 3.57. Throwing an average fastball that is just a hair under 95-mph, he matches up with Chicago's affinity for hard-throwing relievers.
In other relief news, Hardball Talk has Bobby Jenks nearing an agreement with the Rays. This is a fantastic agreement for both sides, as Jenks will land somewhere where he won't have any trouble sewing up a closer's gig. That'll allow him to spend 2011 trying to rehabilitate his value, while the Rays pick up an underrated pitcher who seemed to clash with skipper Ozzie Guillen in Chicago. (However, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal says Jenks isn't close to a decision and has also heard from the Yankees.)
The Red Sox continue their slew of uninspiring relief signings, blanching at the three-year demands out there. A day after inking Matt Albers, the Red Sox have brought back lefty Lenny DiNardo, as WEEI reveals. The deal is of the minor-league variety. DiNardo was with the Red Sox from 2004-06, then traveled to the A's where he enjoyed success on now-Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young. He struggled from 2008-10 with injuries and bounced from the A's to Royals and back to Oakland. Now, he'll serve as depth for Boston with an outside shot toward winning a bullpen job out of spring training.
The Jays, meanwhile, aren't asleep at the switch in finding a reliever. They're hot after Octavio Dotel, as FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Dotel could potentially close in Toronto, which may appeal to the 37-year-old. The club could pit Dotel and Jason Frasor in a contest for the job. Dotel isn't the reliever he once was, but in a market where three-year deals are the norm for relievers, Dotel suddenly starts to look attractive on a one- or two-year pact.
Lastly, the Yankees are hard after a left-handed reliever. That puts them in line for Brian Fuentes, Pedro Feliciano, Arthur Rhodes, and more. Rhodes was thought to be close to a deal to re-up with the Reds but with the market the way it is, may listen to alternatives. Fuentes is the best lefty on the market, so the Yankees will have to pony up, but they have a ton of cash burning a hole in their pocket.
UPDATE : Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has Crain's deal at three years, $13 million.
Also, Kerry Wood is headed back to the Cubs, as Rosenthal adds . The two sides are working on an agreement for Wood to set up Carlos Marmol, freeing up Andrew Cashner for the rotation.
-- Evan Brunell