Red Sox Bullpen Moves On After Braves Plunder
|12.04.09 at 4:55 am ET|
The Red Sox would have been content to bring back either left-hander Billy Wagner or right-hander Takashi Saito. Though both veterans will require careful health management to ensure their productivity, both the 38-year-old Wagner and the 39-year-old Saito proved effective in 2009.
Wagner had a 1.72 ERA in 17 big-league appearances in his return from Tommy John surgery, punching out 26 batters in the process. Saito had a 2.43 ERA in his 56 appearances.
But, with both relievers having signed with the Braves in a span of less than 48 hours, the Sox are prepared to move on. The Sox offered Wagner salary arbitration, though they anticipated that the left-hander would pursue a job as a closer elsewhere, a notion that was borne out by his $7 million deal. And yesterday, Saito — who was offered a short-money deal by the Sox, who liked the right-hander, but felt compelled to manage his usage carefully given an elbow that nearly required Tommy John surgery in 2008 — followed Wagner to Atlanta, with a deal that guarantees him a reported $3.2 million.
Now, the Sox have a pair of openings in their bullpen for 2010. Barring a trade, the team will return Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen to next year’s relief corps, the primary members of a group that forged a 3.80 ERA (second-best among AL bullpens) in 2009.
If the team wants to look internally to replace Wagner and Saito to fill out the ‘pen, it could look to left-hander Dustin Richardson (who struck out 11.7 batters per nine innings in the minors in 2009 before tossing 3.1 scoreless innings in the majors following a September call-up), Michael Bowden (who struggled to a 9.56 ERA in 16 big-league innings, but finished sixth in the International League (min. 100 innings) with a 3.13 ERA) or right-hander Junichi Tazawa (2.55 ERA in Double A and Triple A; 2-3, 7.46 ERA in the majors).
The team has also shown interest in free agents Rafael Soriano (2.97 ERA, 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings with the Braves in 2009) and left-hander Mike Gonzalez (5-4, 2.42 ERA, 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings for Atlanta in 2009).
- Gary DiSarcina named Baseball America Minor League Manager of the Year
- Red Sox non-tender Ryan Kalish, Andrew Bailey
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Jesus Loya solid at the plate in Mexico
- Help Wanted: Staff Editor, Scouts
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #48: The Slow Season
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Attention shifts to Caribbean, Jerez shining in Venezuela
- Luis Ortega traded to Brewers for reliever Burke Badenhop
- Red Sox re-sign infielder Brandon Snyder
- Cecchini, Ranaudo, Brentz added to 40-man roster
- Red Sox 40-man roster additions expected