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.
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.
• 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.