It’s no secret that the Red Sox are in need of pitching this offseason, and preferably a lot of it. They have some potential starters on the roster already, but there are legitimate questions and wide ranges of possible outcomes with all of them. They need to bring in reinforcements this winter, and it’s to be expected that they will at least be involved in initial conversations with almost everyone on the market. We have our first report to that end, with Jon Morosi reporting Sunday night that they had shown interest in righty Matt Shoemaker.
Source: #RedSox among teams to express initial interest in free agent RHP Matt Shoemaker, who started Game 1 of the Wild Card Series for Toronto. He posted a 4.71 ERA in 6 regular-season starts. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 9, 2020
Shoemaker should be a bit familiar to Red Sox fans, as he has spent the last couple of years in the division with the Blue Jays. The righty has been hit hard with injuries in recent years, though, having made a total of only 18 starts over the last three seasons. The good news is they weren’t all arm issues, as he missed most of 2019 with an ACL injury. The bad news is the other two years were arm injuries, with 2018 ending prematurely due to forearm surgery while shoulder inflammation caused him to miss about a month of 2020’s shortened season.
When he has been healthy, he’s been a solid arm. The 2019 season was by far his best before he got hurt, as he had pitched to a 1.57 ERA over his first five starts before getting hurt. Looking over these last three injury-shortened years, all told he has been a bit above-average with a 117 ERA+ and a FIP that suggests he’s been closer to average. Shoemaker is roughly average in all three true outcome areas.
Ultimately, these are the type of potential bargain pitching options you can expect the Red Sox to look to for secondary additions. The natural reaction to this rumor will likely be underwhelming, but the key is where this ranks among their other moves. If Shoemaker, or someone in his tier on the market, is the top move for the pitching staff? That’s a terrible sign. But if he’s simply a lower-tier move to complement other additions? That makes sense. The latter seems more likely, too.
For what it’s worth, the FanGraphs readers projected Shoemaker to get a one-year deal worth $5 million.