The Boston Red Sox have started off this winter a little bit slow, but to the surprise of many there has been a decent amount of movement early on in this offseason despite the likely lockout coming down the chute next week. In particular, the starting pitching market has been moving quite quickly, which is of note for Red Sox fans considering the rotation is one of the main areas of need for the team this winter. On Friday, and made official on Saturday, they addressed the rotation with a relatively minor deal, signing Michael Wacha to a one-year deal worth a reported $7 million.
Wacha spent the early parts of his career with the Cardinals, where he was a solid mid-rotation starter for those St. Louis teams. The former first round pick left the Cardinals prior to the 2020 season, which he spent with the Mets before signing with the Rays for the 2021 season. In that year with the Rays, Wacha mostly pitched out of the rotation, making 23 starts along with six appearances out of the bullpen. In total, over 124 2⁄3 innings the righty pitched to a 5.05 ERA with a 4.47 FIP.
Wacha, who is entering his age-30 season, doesn’t have the biggest of ceilings, instead settling in as something of a back-end arm at this point in his career. His strikeout rate has sat right around league-average the last two seasons and his walk rate is well above-average, but he’s been hurt when the ball is put into play. He has been towards the bottom of the league in hard-hit rate over the last few seasons, and that combined with a fly ball tendency has led to some homer issues. He’s allowed at least 1.5 homers per nine innings in each of the last three seasons. For reference, league-average in 2021 was 1.26.
As far as where the Red Sox go from here, it’s a bit of an open question. It’s something we’ll talk about more in the coming days, of course, but right now they have four clear starters in Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, and now Wacha. They could potentially stop here and give the final spot to one of Tanner Houck or Garrett Whitlock, or they could look to bolster the group. I would prefer to go the latter route, but I suspect any other move will likely come after any lockout. But for now, the Red Sox have made their first real addition of the winter.