Scott Atchison Unlikely To Return To The Red Sox

Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE

Non-tendered earlier in the off-season, it sounds like Atchison is ready to head elsewhere

It was assumed that Scott Atchison was going to sign elsewhere after the Red Sox non-tendered this off-season, removing him from an overloaded bullpen picture. What was assumed is now official, though -- well, unofficially official -- as Atchison himself has stated that he'll be signing elsewhere very shortly.

"We're pretty close. We're not completely final yet, but I pretty much have a deal, I prefer not to say who right now because it's nothing final, but we're not really out there any more I guess for the most part, unless something fell apart here in the next day, which I don't foresee," said the right-handed Atchison, who turns 37 in March and spent the last three seasons with the Red Sox. "It took a little longer, though, than I guess I expected. Some teams were pretty cautious with the elbow. I think some of that was more to do with my age than anything, age and the elbow. It's kind of like, 'OK, well, you're 36, going to be 37, and you do have this tear.' Everybody knows about it, obviously."

Atchison missed time with the Red Sox in 2012 thanks to that partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. While the Red Sox would love to have him back in the organization on a minor-league deal -- they offered one, according to Atchison and Evan Drellich -- there was simply too much risk in having an older pitcher in the process of attempting to avoid Tommy John surgery on the 40-man roster given Boston's plethora of relief options. Even now, without Atchison on the 40, Boston has four arms -- Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller, and Clayton Mortensen -- vying for the final spot in the big-league pen, and that's without getting into those in Triple-A who can start the season at the level. Atchison could be better than all of them, but, as Boston recognized by non-tendering him, he could also spend the year on the 60-day disabled list after further wreaking his UCL.

Someone with more room in their bullpen, with a clearer path to the majors, should (and sounds like they will) absolutely ink Atchison, who produced a 137 ERA+ over three years and 141 innings with the Red Sox. The risk is there that rest and rehab won't fully heal his elbow, though, and that's what Boston was trying to avoid when they signed and acquired more sure things from a health perspective for their bullpen this winter.

[Update 10:40 am]

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