As the Red Sox still wait to get rid of some payroll, they are holding off on adding anything of significant to their roster. They are making some minor additions, though, including a couple of relievers. On Friday, for example, they traded for former Marlins right-handed reliever Austin Brice for a low-level shortstop prospect. They’ve added another arm to the mix on Saturday. According to Darren Wolfson of KSTP in Minneapolis, Boston has signed right-handed reliever Trevor Hildenberger to a minor-league deal that includes an invite to spring training.
One quick baseball note before kickoff: happy to hear that former #MNTwins reliever Trevor Hildenberger has a new home. He signed a MiLB deal with invite to big league spring training with the Boston Red Sox.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) January 11, 2020
Hildenberger is an interesting pitcher who, not too long ago, was seen as a potential closer or at least late-inning arm. The 29-year-old was drafted in the 22nd round back in 2014 and has been a pure reliever since becoming a pro. He made his major-league debut in 2017, where he really started showing some of that potential. That season, in 37 appearances and 42 innings, he pitched to a 3.21 ERA with a 3.00 FIP and a 3.27 DRA while striking out over a batter per inning and posting an elite ground ball rate.
Things haven’t been as smooth since then, though. The righty got a full season in the majors in 2018, spending a little time as the closer in Minnesota. He finished the year with a 5.42 ERA, a 4.56 FIP and a 5.28 DRA. It only got worse in 2019 as he got off to a brutal start that led to an early demotion to Triple-A, where he ended up missing time with a flexor strain. In all he only pitched 16 1⁄3 innings in the majors, pitching to a 10.47 ERA with a 4.83 FIP and a 7.51 DRA. The Twins non-tendered him after the season.
Clearly, the recent track record is not good, but it’s a risk-free, minor-league deal. If he pitches well in spring, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find room on the roster. If not, he either gets more time to work in Triple-A or opts out and hits free agency again. It is unclear at this time whether or not he has an opt out and, if he does, when it is.
Update: Chris Cotillo says his opt-out is on August 15.