An early free agent signs with the Red Sox, Boston makes a trade, and a future Hall of Famer passes on
Events of Note: Normally, this would be a transaction. But it's more than just a transaction: Bill Campbell signs with the Red Sox on this date in 1976, the first free agent to do so under what, at the time, were Major League Baseball's first official free agent rules.
The reserve clause had been outlawed from baseball law a year prior by arbitrator Peter Seitz, and MLB needed to come up with a way to organize free agency. It's not open-season like it is today: it was akin to a draft, with teams taking turns by inverse order of standings from the prior season. Teams didn't have to sign anyone, and players didn't have to enter the fray, but if they had six years of service time in the majors by the time the 1976 season ended, they were eligible for free agency. The first time around, 24 players entered this free agency re-entry draft. Bill Campbell, for the cost of $1 million over four years, was the first to sign. Of the 24, 12 players signed contracts totaling at least $1 million. Because of the new deals for these 24 players, the average salary across Major League Baseball jumped by well over $20,000. It's gone up just a little bit more since that time.
Campbell was a reliever, and a real good one at that. He posted a 120 ERA+ during his four years in Minnesota, averaging 115 innings per season in that stretch. He was just as good with the Red Sox in his five seasons in Boston, putting up a 122 mark, but with far fewer innings. Campbell went from a multi-inning, long-outing reliever to a plain, boring one who averaged 67 frames per season. After leaving Boston for the Cubs, he went back to appearing in tons of games, and led the NL with 82 appearances in 1983.
Transactions: On this date in 1997, the Red Sox send catcher Bill Haselman along with pitchers Aaron Sele and Mark Brandenburg to the Texas Rangers. In return, Boston gets Jim Leyritz and Damon Buford. Leyritz plays for Boston for only part of one season, with the Red Sox sending him to the Padres for Carlos Reyes, Mandy Romero, and Dario Veras. Leyritz did well in his short time with the Sox, hitting .287/.385/.519, but Boston also had Reggie Jefferson at designated hitter. It worked out for the Sox, as Jefferson hit .306/.374/.520 in his 62 games, and Mike Stanley, acquired a month after Leyritz's departure, put together a .288/.388/.500 line. Buford ended up in Boston for two years, hitting very well in 1998 (122 OPS+) as one of the team's two center fielders.
Birthdays: Adam LaRoche, who was with the Red Sox for roughly 10 minutes in 2009, turns 33 today. LaRoche played for three teams in 2009, starting with the Pirates, moving on to the Sox in a trade for Hunter Strickland and Argenis Diaz, and then sent back to Atlanta, his first home, in exchange for Casey Kotchman less than 10 days later. LaRoche is now a free agent, one Boston might have interest in, but as he's been submitted a qualifying offer that would cost the Red Sox a draft pick, maybe he'll just be left alone instead.
Death Days: Jack Chesbro passed away on this date in 1931. Chesbro was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Old Timers Committee in 1946, and while his time with the Red Sox had little to do with that, the right-hander did finish his career in Boston. On September 11 of 1909, the Red Sox selected Chesbro off of waivers from the then-New York Highlanders, leading Chesbro to his final six innings in the majors.
Chesbro's best work came with Pittsburgh and New York, and for his career, he threw nearly 2,900 innings, including 454 in 1904. From 1901 through 1907, Chesbro posted a 124 ERA+, with over twice as many strikeouts as walks, and an average of 313 innings per season.