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Red Sox claim Phillips Valdez off waivers

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Dustin Pedroia was placed on the 60-day IL

MLB: JUL 30 Mariners at Rangers Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Red Sox have started their spring training schedule, but the pitching churn at the back of the 40-man roster has not ceased. They added another new name to the pile on Sunday, claiming right-hander Phillips Valdez off waivers from the Mariners. To make room of the 40-man roster, Dustin Pedroia was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Valdez had a weird start to his career where he really couldn’t latch on with a team to get things started. He originally signed with the Indians out of the Dominican Republic as a 17-year-old in 2009, but then was released after the 2010 season. He’d sign with the Rays from there, but was released before appearing in a game in 2011. Eventually, he’d settled in with the Nationals, signing there before the 2012 season and spending seven seasons in their system. He’d elect free agency after the 2018 season and signed with the Rangers prior to last season. He was claimed off waivers by the Mariners earlier this winter, but was designated for assignment a couple days ago.

In 2019, he spent most of his season in Triple-A as a swing man, making 14 starts and 12 relief appearances. He also made his major-league debut last summer, tossing a total of 16 innings in 11 appearances, all of which were in relief. In the majors, he pitched to a 3.94 ERA with 18 strikeouts and nine walks. He also allowed three homers. In Triple-A, over 78 23 innings, he pitched to a 4.92 ERA with 65 strikeouts and 36 walks.

Valdez has served as a swingman for most of his minor-league career, with 2014 as the only season he has pitched exclusively in one role. That year he only pitched out of the bullpen. He is more of a ground ball guy than a strikeout pitcher despite setting down over a batter per inning in his cup of coffee in the majors, throwing a sinker the majority of the time and regularly posting ground ball rates over 50 percent. Through his professional career, his strikeout rate generally sat around seven per nine innings. According to Baseball Savant, he threw his sinker 58 percent of the time in the majors last year while mostly leaning on a changeup as a secondary.

Valdez has a couple of minor-league options left and could have an outside shot in the wide open race for the number five rotation spot but is more likely to just serve as depth for the rotation and the bullpen.

Meanwhile, there’s really not much to say about Pedroia at this point. It was more a matter of when than if this was going to happen this year, particularly after he suffered what was described as a “major” setback about a month ago. Hopefully he’ll at least get a chance for a good-bye on the field, but now we know that won’t happen for at least two months.