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Sunday, April 10, 2022

Boston Red Sox sign Garrett Whitlock to four-year extension; source says reliever guaranteed nearly $19M

The Boston Red Sox have signed right-handed reliever Garrett Whitlock to a four-year contract extension, the team announced Sunday.

Whitlock is guaranteed a total of $18.75 million from 2023 to 2026, a source told ESPN. The deal also includes club options for the 2027 and 2028 seasons, with the source saying Whitlock would make $8.25 million in 2027 and $10.5 million in 2028 if the options are picked up. The Red Sox could pay a $1 million buyout before 2027 or a $500,000 buyout before 2028, the source said.

After breaking into the majors with the Red Sox last season, Whitlock will remain eligible for Major League Baseball’s new $50 million bonus pool for pre-arbitration-eligible players. He could earn bonuses based on innings pitched, awards and whether he serves as a starting pitcher or a reliever, making as much as $44.5 million over the life of the contract, the source said.

The 25-year-old had agreed last month to a one-year contract paying $720,000 while in the major leagues and $285,250 while in the minors.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 10, 2022 at 09:56 PM | 14 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: garrett whitlock, red sox

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: April 10, 2022 at 10:54 PM (#6071119)
Weird. One pre-FA, 3 arb years. Is he expected to be the closer this year? That would make some sense. But I don't think many relievers other than the elite closers make $19 M in arb. I don't know who the top arb setup guys are but Will Smith a few years ago made just $8 M in his arb years. Top guys now seem to earn $9-11 in FA suggesting the best arb buys would be lucky to go 3/6/9. The options don't look like a bargain unless he's a $15 M closer.
   2. Captain Joe Bivens, Pointless and Wonderful Posted: April 11, 2022 at 06:33 AM (#6071131)
I think he'll end up in the rotation (at least until he shows he can't start).
   3. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: April 11, 2022 at 08:12 AM (#6071134)
Even if he's not the closer my sense is that the Sox like his ability to go multiple innings. With the changing nature of starters a multi-inning reliever who can be very good and not just eating innings has value.
   4. Darren Posted: April 11, 2022 at 11:15 AM (#6071147)
There's already been some discussion of whether he'll end up in the rotation, and this contract seems to indicate that he will. As Walt points out above, this kind of money for a non-closer reliever during his arb years is very rare. The contract also suggests they're confident he'll be a fairly successful starter, otherwise this deal would still be pretty expensive.

The other possibility, which seems less likely, is that they plan to keep using him as a multi-inning reliever and they think that they arb process will recognize the value in that better than it does for other relievers. I'd be surprised if they did. Are there any examples of this in recent years?
   5. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 11, 2022 at 01:45 PM (#6071161)
I think the real story of this contract is not the next four is the 5th- and 6th-year team options.

If Whitlock is as good as they (obviously) think he is going to be, those age 30 and 31 years are peanuts. It'd be a total of $18.75m for two years well into the future, with very low buyout figures if it doesn't pan out between now and then.

I believe it is also a sign that the team is very much invested in the idea of a pitching staff that continues to blur the line between starters and relievers, evolving into "openers", piggy back starters, etc.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: April 11, 2022 at 04:03 PM (#6071174)
#3 ... unicorn. Even Hader doesn't do it anymore.

But sure, if he's headed to the rotation, it makes more sense but I'd think they'd want to see him do it before handing out the dough. Of course the money's trivial and the Red Sox are rich.
   7. John Reynard Posted: April 12, 2022 at 03:48 AM (#6071238)
Considering he has a chance to be an above average starter and is reasonably likely to at least be an inning-eating reliever, this contract makes a ton of sense for Boston. Whitlock probably has to take it too because, I mean, how do you turn down your first $10M? That is the biggest value.
   8. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 12, 2022 at 06:57 PM (#6071387)
#3 ... unicorn. Even Hader doesn't do it anymore.

Well that got debunked in a hurry. Whitlock with 4 innings of relief and picks up the win to boot. That's one of the reasons why he got the contract.
   9. sunday silence (again) Posted: April 12, 2022 at 07:05 PM (#6071389)
The options don't look like a bargain unless he's a $15 M closer.

Perhaps I'm missing some part of your analysis Walt. It looks like WHitlock had a 3WAR season last year. And at only 73 inn. perhaps he could be stretched a bit more. But regardless, at 3 WAR doesnt that put him at just about the Elite Reliever level?

Like I said perhaps I am misunderstanding your pt about what that translates to in arbitration but it seems like he's close to a top tier reliever. no?
   10. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 13, 2022 at 07:48 AM (#6071471)
Last night's game, where Rich Hill pitched 4.1 wobbly innings, then a few outs from Sawamura to finish the 5th, then Whitlock pitched four hitless innings on only 39 pitches?

That's pretty much where this is going for the Red Sox. Hill and Wacha are going to be more like piggyback starters (as long as they healthy); in fact, it may be the team thinks the way to keep those two guy healthy the longest is by making them piggyback starters.

I still think making Houck a second pitcher in the Whitlock role, so that four days a week you can have one or the other give you an outing, is the way to go. For now, you have a rotation something like:

Seabold or Crawford

Then Houck and Whitlock giving you an average of four combined outings a week, about 12-14 innings a week between the two of them.

   11. Jose is Absurdly Correct but not Helpful Posted: April 13, 2022 at 08:16 AM (#6071474)
I hadn't thought of that but Hill/Houck could be pretty potent. Presumably teams will start RHB heavy lineups against Hill and then you go to Houck and the Sox are pretty lefty-heavy in the bullpen with Diekman, Strahm and Davis.

I still want to roll Houck as a starter though. I think he can be very good, I'd rather establish with some certainty that he can't find a way to become efficient enough to be a genuine starter before we move him to the bullpen.
   12. pikepredator Posted: April 13, 2022 at 09:40 AM (#6071483)
Last night's game, where Rich Hill pitched 4.1 wobbly innings, then a few outs from Sawamura to finish the 5th, then Whitlock pitched four hitless innings on only 39 pitches?

Of course it won't go quite that seamlessly every time but I like the way Cora is thinking. In a tight game he didn't feel the need to go one-inning-at-a-time with the bullpen. I hope that strategy keeps paying off, I like it.
   13. villageidiom Posted: April 13, 2022 at 10:17 AM (#6071487)
I like to think that Cora is expecting to have to replace someone in the rotation in a couple of weeks and is just stretching out Whitlock to be the replacement.
   14. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: April 13, 2022 at 11:41 AM (#6071492)
What #13 says is another benefit of having a Whitlock and/or Houck guy in your bullpen - it means a quality replacement starter is closer to prepared.

In fact, they may be trying Darwinzon Hernandez in AAA to perform a similar role, as well (Two starts, 5.2 IP, no hits, 9 Ks, but some control issues).

There are a ton of guys who can be pretty effective-to-very effective once through the lineup, which typically translates into 2+ innings. But there are relatively few guys who can consistently get through 2+ times and be effective, and stay healthy while doing it. I think the Red Sox are on the front end of taking this market inefficiency, and developing a pitching staff around a lot of guys whose job is to get six-to-12 outs, period. And I could see Seabold and/or Winckowski being a part of that before the end of the season.

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