Right-handed reliever Burke Badenhop was one of five arbitration-eligible players to file on Tuesday, and the Red Sox made short work of his case by signing him on Wednesday. Badenhop, acquired from the Brewers earlier in the off-season, signed a one-year, $2.15 million deal with Boston, according to Alex Speier.
Badenhop helps give the Red Sox a right-handed presence they lacked in the bullpen in 2013 once Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey went down for the year with injuries: their vacancies were filled by Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa, leaving new ones in the middle of the bullpen that went to the likes of Alex Wilson and Brandon Workman. While Badenhop isn't a household name by any means -- something his $2.15 million salary the year before he enters free agency is evidence of -- he's a high-quality arm just the same, and should be an improvement to Boston's pen.
The soon-to-be 31-year-old is a ground ball machine, having induced at least 51 percent grounders in each of the six years of his major-league career. He's also been a ridiculous strike thrower for the past two seasons, with 1.7 walks per nine in each of those years thanks to all of a dozen walks in 62-1/3 innings both times. He'll fit in nicely with the notoriously walk-stingy Koji Uehara, as well as Tazawa and another new addition in Edward Mujica. All told, this group of four unintentionally walked 31 batters in 269-2/3 innings, or just over one batter per nine innings.
There might just be a specific kind of reliever that Ben Cherington and John Farrell agree are important to have in a bullpen. It's a good strategy to shoot for, especially in a bullpen that also has Andrew Miller's wildness in it. If the 2014 pen can stay healthy, it's going to be special.