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Former Red Sox reliever Scott Atchison signs with Mets

Reliever Scott Atchison [1], who spent the last three years with the Red Sox [2], is moving on.

The New York Mets [3] announced that they’ve agreed on a minor league deal with the right-hander that includes an invitation to big league spring training. While Atchison, 36, was an outstanding performer for the Red Sox in 2012, forging a 1.58 ERA in 51 1/3 innings (the fourth-best ERA among pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched last year) while striking out 6.3 batters per nine innings and walking just 1.6 per nine, an ulnar collateral ligament strain that sidelined him for two months in the second half dampened his free agent market.

Atchison was told by Dr. James Andrews that he could pitch again with a course of rest and rehab, rather than surgery. He did, in fact, end up pitching in five games at the end of the season, logging 5 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out two and walking none.

The reliever told MLB.com on Monday [4] that the Red Sox — after declining to tender him a contract in December, thus making him a free agent — had offered him only a minor league deal. Given that the team added right-handers Joel Hanrahan and Koji Uehara to an already deep bullpen mix, Atchison felt that he was better served to sign a minor league deal with a different club that presented a greater opportunity to make the Opening Day roster.

“As their situation changed with bringing in more right-handed arms, I really didn’t feel like it was going to be much of a fit. I was going to be forced to probably have to start the year back in [Triple-A] Pawtucket. And I felt that wasn’t really what I had deserved and what I had earned with them in that situation. I felt like if I’m going to start somewhere in Triple-A, I want to start somewhere new, I guess, if that was the case,” Atchison told MLB.com. “[With the Mets], it’s going to be a situation where I’m going to have a pretty good chance to make a team;┬áthere’s some openings in their ‘pen. … It’s been a fun three years [in Boston], and you know, who knows? You never know, I could always end back up there somehow. It’s probably not going to be at the start of this year.”

Atchison, who signed a free-agent deal with the Sox in December 2009 after spending two years pitching in Japan, appeared in 102 big league games spanning 141 2/3 innings for the Sox from 2010-12. He went 5-4 with a 3.18 ERA, 94 strikeouts and 34 walks. His 3.18 ERA was the lowest of any Sox pitcher with at least 50 innings pitched over the last three years.