As we wait for the Red Sox to add more top-end talent to the roster, they have continued to build more and more depth to the fringes of the roster, both on small major-league deals as well as with minor-league contracts to players with major-league experience. We got an instance of the latter on Tuesday as the team signed right-handed pitcher Zac Grotz to a minor-league contract.
#RedSox have signed RHP Zac Grotz to a minor league contract.— MiLB-Transactions (@tombaseball29) January 19, 2021
I’m actually not sure if that account is officially affiliated with MiLB or not, but the move has also been confirmed by the team’s official transaction page as well.
Grotz, who will turn 28 next month, was originally drafted by the Astros back in 2015 as a 25th round pick out of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which based on this Wikipedia page has produced more astronauts than professional athletes. Grotz is staying Earth-bound for now, though.
Since being drafted, the righty has bounced around a few organizations trying to latch on somewhere. He was released by the Astros at the end of spring training in 2016, signed on with the Dodgers for a couple months later that summer, and then signed with the Mets, with whom he spent most of the 2018 season. Grotz was then released again before signing with the Mariners prior to the 2019 season.
It was here where Grotz really got to see his career take off a bit, aeronautical pun extremely not intended. He split time between Double-A and Triple-A with the Mariners and found a new level pitching mostly out of relief, pitching to a 2.39 ERA over 60 1⁄3 innings with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks. He’d make his major-league debut that season as well, pitching to a 4.15 ERA over 17 1⁄3 innings with Seattle, striking out 18 and walking eight. Grotz also got a short amount of time in the majors last summer, struggling mightily to the tune of 12 runs over 7 1⁄3 innings with four strikeouts and 11 walks.
Grotz isn’t going to blow anyone away with velocity, instead opting more for deception by leaning most heavily on a sinker and a splitter, per Baseball Savant. The sinker sits in the low 90s. The splitter was his most used pitch, and most effective offering, in that 2019 run in the majors, but he used it less in 2020. One wonders if the Red Sox will try to have him lean more on that pitch in the year to come.
There is no mention as to whether or not there will be an invite to spring training as part of this deal, but given his recent experience in the majors I’d imagine there is. Grotz is likely a longshot at this point to make the Opening Day roster, but he’ll be in a position to win a role with either great spring training performance and/or injury to some guys ahead of him on the depth chart. And if not, assuming no opt out he’d serve in Worcester’s bullpen as a depth option for the major-league club to start the year.