It has been a busy offseason for the Red Sox, so you may not have followed each and every transaction since the 2015 season ended. Fortunately, RSNStats.com has you covered.
Here’s what the Sox have done so far as we inch closer to Spring Training and the 2016 campaign.
It started in November
On November 3rd Boston exercised its $13 million option to retain Clay Buchholz for at least another season. The option also allows the Red Sox to keep Buchholz for 2017 for $13.5 million. In 2015 Buchholz owned a 3.26 ERA over 18 starts, yet another downswing in his see-saw career (he has started in 16, 28, 14, 29, 16, 28, and 18 games, respectively, from 2009-15). At least by that record, 2016 should mean he will go deeper in to the season.
Last November marked a big signing by new baseball president Dave Dombrowski, who sent four minor leaguers to the Padres for the solid closer Craig Kimbrel. In 2015 Kimbrell appeared in 61 games with 29 saves (6th most in baseball), earning a 2.58 ERA. Based on his performance over six years in the majors, Baseball Reference projects him for 28 saves and a 2.80 ERA in his first year with Boston.
The Sox said goodbye to pitcher Rich Hill in November, who parlayed an incredible late season performance with Boston into a one-year, $6 million deal with the Athletics. It’s the 35-year old Boston native’s best single season payday (by far) in his 11 years in the majors.
A mighty December
The big news in December was, of course, David Price, who agreed to a seven year, $217 million contract with an opt-out in 2018, the largest contract for a pitcher in history. Much has been said about Price, so there’s little to add here but that to say it was this deal that most changes the look of the club for 2016 and beyond.
Somewhat lost in the hubbub surrounding Price was the signing of veteran All-Star outfielder Chris Young to a two year. $13 million deal. Young was, most recently, with the Yankees slashing .252 AVG/.320 OBP/.453 SLG with 14 home runs in 356 plate appearances.
The Sox signed righty pitcher Sean O’Sullivan to a minor league deal on December 2nd. In 2015, O’Sullivan was 1-6, 6.08 ERA in 13 starts with the Phillies. Since 2009 he’s had just two winning seasons, the last coming in 2010.
With Price signing still fresh in our minds came another significant 4-player dea with Dombrowski trading for Mariners relievers Carson Smith and Roenis Elias in exchange for Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro. Smith, 26, appeared in 79 games over two seasons with Seattle amassing a 2.07 ERA over 78.1 innings pitched. Smith is under Boston control for the next five seasons.
In Elias, meanwhile, the Sox got a lefty starter with a 15-20, 3.97 ERA pitching record in 51 games (49 starts) over two seasons with Seattle. Analysts have pointed to Elias’ likely reassignment to the bullpen as a specialist: he’s held lefty batters to a .218/.304/.332 line (vs .255/.333/.411 facing righty batters) over his MLB career.
As for what we lost, even ardent Sox fans won’t remember much of Aro, but they may miss the likes of durable Miley, who despite (or because of) his temper, fought back from some early tough outings to end 2015 at 11-11, 4.46 ERA in 32 starts, averaging just over 6 innings for each. Miley finished the season 3-2, 3.97 ERA in 5 starts of September, 2015. His 193.2 innings pitched were the most by any Sox hurler last season, besting Rick Porcello by 21.2 IP.
The Red Sox closed out 2015 by extending minor league contracts to three players: third baseman Chris Dominguez, center fielder Ryan LaMarre, and pitcher Anthony Varvaro, who appeared in relief in nine games (11.0 IP) with Boston in 2015 before suffering a torn right flexor tendon that required season-ending surgery.
On January 12th the Sox offered a minor league deal to former Reds outfielder Brennan Boesch who slashed .146 AVG/.191 OBP/.202 SLG in 51 games with Cincinnati last season. Boesch is more insurance for a questionable Sox outfield considering the sometimes spotty hitting of Jackie Bradley and the further question mark of Rusney Castillo‘s dependability. With the Tigers in 2010 Boesch came in 5th place for AL Rookie of the Year honors, though he has failed to make 100+ plate appearance since 2012.
This offseason the Sox said goodbye to Jemile Weeks, who headed to San Diego for a minor league deal. Weeks flashed some excitement over limited play time with the Sox, slashing .314 AVG/.390 OBP/.400 SLG over a small, 17 game sample size.
Similar minor league deals came for former Sox relievers Alexi Ogando, who signed a contract with the Braves, and Jean Machi, who’s now with the Cubs. It was “Homerun Happy” Alexi who seemed to give up a round-tripper per appearance, though in reality it was 12 over 64 games, tied with Craig Breslow for a team-high of 4.3% of all plate appearances.
Speaking of Breslow, the lefty reliever signed a minor league deal with the Marlins that reunites him with former Sox pitching coach Juan Nieves, who has that same role with Florida. WEEI reports that the Sox, Blue Jays, and Cubs all had interest in Breslow. The deal with the Marlins includes a $1.5 million if Breslow makes the major league roster as well as an opt-out in late March if he does not.
Released by the Sox were Justin Masterson, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in September but expects to be ready to find a suitor by Spring Training, as well as Ronald Belisario and Luis Jimenez. Infielder Jeff Bianchi is now a minor league free agent.