The Red Sox are still waiting to make what we all assume is coming in the form of a big signing to round out the bullpen, but in the meantime they are continuing to add to their pitching depth. The team has already traded for Colten Brewer and signed Domingo Tapia, and now they’ve signed one more reliever to a minor-league deal and are reportedly close to signing another.
We’ll start with the deal that appears to be done, with Chris Cotillo of Masslive reporting that Boston has signed on former White Sox reliever Zach Putnam to a minor-league deal.
Source: Red Sox have a minor-league deal with righty Zach Putnam. 31-year-old missed all of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June 2017. Had been an effective reliever with White Sox from 2014-17.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) December 18, 2018
This is a fairly intriguing deal, although there’s obviously reason to temper expectations. Putnam hasn’t pitched since 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and even in that 2017 season he only tossed 8 2⁄3 innings before getting hurt. After a long-term injury like that you never know how a pitcher is going to recover, even with a surgery we think is totally figured out like Tommy John. Still, if he can get back to something close to what he was before the injury, the Red Sox may have found a diamond in the rough.
Putnam had a strong track record with the White Sox earlier in his career, spending parts of four seasons in Chicago. His first two seasons were the only ones in which he threw full years, tossing 54 2⁄3 innings and 48 2⁄3 innings, respectively. In 2016 he only threw 27 1⁄3 innings. Still, over those three seasons he was very good, posting two seasons with an ERA below 2.50 and a FIP below 3.15. By DRA, he was outstanding in each of those three years, posing DRA-’s (DRA compared to league-average adjusted for park) of 87, 63 and 63. In other words, he was at least 13 percent better than league-average every year and for two years he was 37 percent better. Putnam is now 31 and coming off a two-year layoff, but there’s potential for sneaky value year.
Along with the former White Sox righty, the Red Sox could be adding a former Mariner to the fold as well. According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Boston is close to agreeing to a minor-league deal with former Seattle pitcher Erasmo Ramirez.
Source: RHP Erasmo Ramirez is nearing a minor league deal with the Red Sox. Agreement is expected to include an invite to big league camp.— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) December 18, 2018
The 28-year-old (he’ll turn 29 in early May) has split his career between the Mariners and Rays as well as splitting time between starting and relieving. There’s not a ton of excitement in his game, to be fair, but he’s been a solid pitcher with a lot of major-league experience. Prior to this past year he had been above-average by DRA in three consecutive seasons.
In 2018, Ramirez made just ten appearances, all of them starts, with Seattle. In those ten appearances and 45 2⁄3 innings he pitched to a 6.50 ERA, a 6.72 FIP and a 6.55 DRA, which explains why he’s getting a minor-league deal. Still, if that is just a blip on the radar it gives Boston one more versatile arm to go with guys like Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez. The Triple-A rotation could use some bodies at this point as well, so Ramirez makes a ton of sense for this roster both on the major-league portion if all goes well and on the minor-league side if it doesn’t.