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Red Sox staying quiet on Clay Buchholz’ option

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The Sox have yet to commit to Buchholz in 2017

Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Red Sox have yet to tell Clay Buchholz whether or not they’ll be picking up his 2017 option, per Rob Bradford of WEEI, leaving the starting pitcher in suspense with only about a week to go before the deadline.

We’ve gone for something of a wild ride with Buchholz and his option over this past season. At one point it seemed certain that his days in Boston were coming to an end given the disaster that he was to start the year. Buchholz pitched to a 6.35 ERA in his first ten starts before being shuffled off to the bullpen even as the Sox were forced to turn to the likes of Henry Owens, Sean O’Sullivan, and a clearly unfit Eduardo Rodriguez on the mound.

After a mixed experience in the bullpen, however, Buchholz managed to get things together when given another shot in the rotation. In eight starts to close out the regular season, he managed a 2.98 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 15 walks. It was enough to earn him a spot in the postseason rotation where, while he didn’t pick up the win, or even last into the fifth, he was still serviceable in what time he saw there.

That’s left many Red Sox fans and observers expecting that the team will pick up the final $13.5 million option year on his contract. Particularly given the barren free agent market for starting pitching and the conventional wisdom that a team can never have too much pitching. So far, though, there’s still no word.

Is that surprising? Somewhat. There’s little reason for the team to commit one way or the other before they absolutely have to. That point will come five days after the end of the World Series, be it in Game 6 or Game 7. However, as Bradford points out, the Sox let Buchholz know he’d be coming back quite a bit earlier last year. Dave Dombrowski did wait until November 3rd after Buchholz had a positive bullpen session to actually make it official, but there’s not really any injury question facing Buchholz in 2016 (aside from the standard fretting when it comes to one of the more fragile players in Red Sox history), so why the wait?

Still, we probably shouldn’t read too much into the fact that Dombrowski hasn’t been proactive in informing Buchholz this time around. With the departures of Mike Hazen and Amiel Sawdaye to Arizona, the front office has been in some turmoil these past couple weeks, and one imagines that’s a situation Dombrowski would like to get squared away before the offseason begins in earnest. Perhaps it does mean that they’re really not certain whether or not they want to exercise Buchholz’ option. But unless there’s something they know that we don’t, there’s not much reason to expect them to pass up on a one-year option for a pitcher who would (somehow) actually be one of the best available free agents if he were to hit the open market.

Either way, we’ll know soon enough. What’s one more week ahead of four cold months of waiting for spring?