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Big Bobby Jenks leads crop of possible non-tender candidates

Big League Stew

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While December can be the most wonderful time of the year for a lot of big contract-seeking free agents, there will always be a crop of players reluctantly shoved into seeking employment.

Bobby Jenks(notes), this could mean you!

Thursday is the deadline for teams to offer their arbitration-eligible players a contract for the 2011 season. If they do, the two sides either work out a deal for next season or head to arbitration, where the player will probably get a raise. (At the very least, he'll make at least 80 percent of his 2010 salary.) Over 200 players need to get an answer Thursday and MLB Trade Rumors has set up a handy-dandy tracker to see which players are being kept in the fold or simply cast away as free agents earlier than they might have expected.

Here's a few of the players who are expected to see their teams turn their backs:

Jenks, Chicago White Sox: Like most of the names mentioned in this post, Jenks' non-tender — first reported by ESPN Chicago — doesn't come as a huge surprise. The hefty closer has struggled to stay in shape the past few seasons and there's no way the White Sox are going to let an injury-prone pitcher earn close to $9 million in his last arbitration-eligible year. He'll hit the unemployment line with memories of 2005, when he became a South Side folk hero on the team's first World Series title team since 1917.

Hideki Okajima(notes), Boston Red Sox: Similar to Jenks, Okajima had his breakout season during a World Series title run but has regressed since. After Okajima's 4.50 ERA in 2010, ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes reports that he won't be tendered a contract and a raise from the $2.8 million he made last season. But as a left-handed reliever, Okajima should land more softly than most.

Jose Lopez(notes), Seattle Mariners: Last offseason, Dave Cameron thought a trade involving Lopez could bring John Danks(notes) to Safeco Field. This offseason, he'll likely be cast on the free-agent junk heap.

John Maine(notes), New York Mets: Maine had some bright spots during his five years with the Mets, but the team will likely sever their ties with the injury-prone starter.

Dioner Navarro(notes), Tampa Bay Rays: We saw this one coming the minute that he didn't make the playoff roster and he decided to head home rather than stay with the team.

In addition to the non-tenders, there could be some interesting trades involving some relatively sought-after players like Russell Martin(notes) or J.J. Hardy(notes). Stay tuned.

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