Left-handed reliever Craig Breslow will be returning to the Red Sox for 2015 on a one-year contract worth $2 million, per Rob Bradford.
When the Red Sox acquired Breslow back in 2012, he was coming off three strong years of work (over four seasons) with Oakland. In his time there, Breslow pitched to a 3.14 ERA with a 2.34 K/BB. The only concern was that his fly ball tendencies might come back to haunt him in cozy Fenway.
In the end, though, homers haven't been the problem. He just...hasn't been terribly good. History will show excellent results in 2013, but that masks the fact that Breslow hasn't really been fooling batters since coming to Boston. The warning bells should have been going off when his strikeout rate dropped precipitously, hinting at the disaster 2014 season to come, when Breslow pitched to a 5.96 ERA, his walk rate spiking dramatically in the process.
There's always the caveat with relievers that, with sample sizes so small, fluctuations from season to season should be expected. And if Breslow averaged out to the same level he showed in Oakland, maybe all would be well. But he hasn't. His peripherals have never been the same, and if he survived on a small sample size in 2013, he paid that back twice over in 2014.
That also means that he's very likely not as bad as that 5.96 ERA shows, and, given his history, he's a reasonable gamble to take on a one-year contract.
That being said, for all that the right-handed Anthony Varvaro has dominated lefties, Craig Breslow is now seemingly the top southpaw in the pen. That's not really what you want to see. If the Red Sox rotation seems a collection of smart bets based on ground balls, infield defense, and personal histories, the bullpen is looking more and more like a collection of random guesses. Maybe Koji Uehara can hold up over the course of a full season. Maybe the shaky young starters prove solid relievers. Maybe Varvaro is as good as he looked in '14. Maybe Breslow--or even Edward Mujica--can be their old selves again. I certainly don't know, and honestly, I don't think the Red Sox have much of a clue either. It's an approach that can work, but in an offseason with major investments like Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, it seems an odd choice to leave the bullpen so completely up to chance.