The Boston Red Sox have seen major ups and major downs throughout their offseason. Still, the Red Sox will enter the upcoming year with postseason aspirations.
Boston saw Xander Bogaerts leave town by signing an 11-year, $280 million contract with the San Diego Padres. The Red Sox countered, signing Rafael Devers to a 11-year, $331 million extension.
The Sox have signed free agents such as Corey Kluber, Adam Duvall, Justin Turner and Masataka Yoshida. Boston even recently competed a trade for former Kansas City Royals’ shortstop Adalberto Mondesi.
But for all their additions, the Red Sox are still coming off of a 78-84 season. They missed the postseason for the third time in the past four years. If Boston truly wants to compete in the AL East, this last-minute free agent addition should certainly help the Red Sox postseason chances.
State of Red Sox rotation
The Red Sox currently plan to go into the season with a rotation that consists of Chris Sale, Kluber, Nick Pivetta, James Paxton and Garrett Whitlock. Boston could certainly use some pitching help.
Sale is the biggest name in the rotation. He’ll return as Boston’s ace after Nathan Eovaldi signed with the Texas Rangers. However, Sale has pitched just 11 games since 2020. He can’t be trusted to finish a full 162-game season.
The same could be said for Paxton. Paxton has pitched just six games since 2020 and missed all of last season as he battles back from Tommy John surgery.
Kluber was a solid signing for the Red Sox after he made 31 starts for the Tampa Bay Rays last year. He has struggled at times but has proven to be a consistent option in the middle of the rotation. Pivetta made an impressive 33 starts last season, but struggled to a 4.56 ERA.
Whitlock has been a gem for the Red Sox since they selected him in the Rule 5 Draft. He has a 2.73 ERA and a 163/32 K/BB ratio over 77 games. However, Whitlock has made just nine starts in his two-year MLB career. He pitched the most innings of his career last season, but that was still only 78.1.
The Red Sox would be better off keeping Whitlock in the bullpen, where he has thrived, and bringing in a starting pitcher with more experience.
Wacha comes home
Michael Wacha was a revelation for the Red Sox last season. As arguably the best remaining free agent pitcher, Boston would be smart to try and bring Wacha back.
Wacha made 23 starts for the Red Sox this past season. He went 11-2 with a 3.32 ERA and a 104/31 K/BB ratio. His ERA was a career-best in seasons where Wacha has started at least 20 games.
The 10-year MLB veteran took major strides with the Red Sox last year. He proved he could be a solid pitcher in the upper part of any team’s rotation. Boston should look for him to fill that role once again.
When the Red Sox signed him prior to last season, it was on a one-year, $7 million deal. He’ll likely be looking for a pay increase, but nothing that should keep Boston out of contention. Unless Wacha truly hated his time with Boston, the Red Sox should have the inside track on re-signing him; assuming they offer proper compensation.
Wacha is a veteran pitcher who seems to be in the midst of a career renaissance. He wouldn’t fix Boston’s long-term pitching problems, but he would be much more than just a band-aid in the short team.
Why a Wacha-Red Sox reunion makes sense
Bringing Michael Wacha backs allows the Red Sox to be more versatile in the pitching rotation. Furthermore, it gives Boston a much larger safety net if injury woes were to pop up again.
The Red Sox have been trying to groom Whitlock into being a starting pitcher. Perhaps he succeeds in that role. But Whitlock has been a dominant reliever during his time in the MLB. Using him as a setup man in front of closer Kenley Jansen, or even as a long reliever would strongly improve the Sox bullpen.
Whitlock has never dealt with a starting pitcher’s workload at the MLB level. More innings means more chance of injury. The Red Sox already have two injury concerns in their rotation in Sale and Paxton. While Kluber 31 starts for the Rays last year, he is still 36-years-old and has already undergone Tommy John surgery.
But even if all of Boston’s pitchers remain healthy, Wacha is an important piece to the Red Sox. He proved he can still has more than enough gas in the tank and can handle the testy atmosphere of Fenway Park.
It’ll take slightly more money than the Red Sox last agreement with the pitcher to sign Wacha. However, he showed Boston why he deserves a raise and why he should be a part of the Red Sox potential playoff rotation.