According to Astros GM Tim Purpura, the team has curbed contract extension talks with impending free agent starter Jason Jennings.
A major factor preventing further talks is that Jennings is currently on the DL with elbow tendinitis. The MRI showed a lack of ligament damage, but the Astros are going to want a test drive before throwing down $40MM+.
Jennings began 2002 as the Rockies’ fifth starter, but ultimately won the ROY with a 16 win season. He managed to keep his arm healthy for the next four seasons while working in a pitchers’ hell. The Red Sox wanted to acquire him in May of ’04, and the Padres inquired a few months later. The Rockies decided to hang on to him, locking him up for $7MM over 2005-06.
A broken finger cut Jennings’s ’05 season short; that was a rough year as Joe Kennedy beat him out for the Opening Day gig. He hadn’t really endured any arm injuries until now, though. The Astros knew what they were getting into when they traded for him – Jennings threw a career-high 212 innings in ’06. It was a 90 inning jump because of the ’05 injury. He was a horse last year, averaging over 6.6 innings per start. Rockies beat writer Troy E. Renck called him "one of the toughest players I have ever covered."
The Astros gave up a lot to get their #2, and now they could lose him after this season. It was a curious move to surrender all of Jason Hirsh‘s cheap years; he was completely ready to step in and contribute. Jennings is one of several free agent pitchers who will be under 30 in 2008. The list also includes Carlos Zambrano, Mark Buehrle, Joe Kennedy, Kyle Lohse, and Byung-Hyun Kim.