The Red Sox have made a trade. It is not one of the rumored deals we’ve been waiting for with one of the high-priced players being jettisoned off the roster. Instead, it’s a minor deal in which they get a right-handed reliever from Miami. The team announced on Friday they had acquired Austin Brice in exchange for minor-league shortstop Angeudis Santos.
The #RedSox today acquired RHP Austin Brice from the Miami Marlins in exchange for minor league SS Angeudis Santos.— Red Sox (@RedSox) January 10, 2020
The 40-man roster was full, and to make room Marco Hernández has been designated for assignment.
To make room for Brice on the 40-man roster, the #RedSox designated INF Marco Hernández for assignment.— Red Sox (@RedSox) January 10, 2020
We’ll start with Brice, who was a ninth round pick by the Marlins back in 2010. He spent most of his minor-league career as a starter before beginning to transition to the bullpen in 2016, which was also the year he made his major-league debut. In 2017 he went to Cincinnati in the deal that also sent Luis Castillo to the Reds, and then bounced around the waiver wire a few times last offseason before landing back in Miami. He was designated for assignment earlier in the week and is out of minor-league options.
Over his career, Brice has appeared in 106 games, all as a reliever. Over a total of 128 2⁄3 innings, the 27-year-old (he turns 28 in June) has pitched to a 4.90 ERA with a 5.10 FIP and a 4.94 DRA. None of his peripherals really stand out one way or the other over his career, as he’s been slightly — but not egregiously — below-average in strikeouts and walks. The home run numbers — 1.7 per nine over his career — are higher than you want to see. Last season, to his credit, he did strike out over a batter per inning, something he’d only done in that 2016 season when he tossed only 14 innings. At the same time, his ground ball rate also fell below 50 percent for the first time in his career.
Brice will throw, according to Baseball Savant, a four-seam, a sinker, a curveball and the occasional changeup. Unsurprisingly given the ground ball numbers cited above, he started throwing his four-seam more often last season for the first time in his career. The curveball was his most-used pitch at nearly 45 percent, also a first for his career. That is worth noting considering the similar strategy used by Brandon Workman and Matt Barnes. Brice has also been better against righties over his career, allowing a .297 wOBA against them versus a .342 mark against lefties.
Meanwhile, Hernández loses his roster spot in the process. This is actually the second time he has been taken off the 40-man roster this winter, having previously been non-tendered before coming back on a split contract shortly thereafter. Hernández was part of an uninspiring but relatively crowded second base picture that includes José Peraza, Jonathan Arauz, Tzu-Wei Lin and C.J. Chatham. That he made it back to the majors last season after all of his injuries was great, but he really struggled in September with increased playing time. He could still be back, of course, if he clears waivers.
As for Santos, I would be lying if I said I knew much of anything about him. I can tell you that, according to Sox Prospects, he signed out of the Dominican Republic in June of last year as a 17-year-old (he turned 18 in September) for a $110,000 signing bonus. In 56 games at the DSL he hit .184/.384/.218.