It’s setting up to be a big week for Matt Barnes. The Red Sox closer is enjoying the best season of his career, a run that culminated in him getting the nod for his first career appearance on an All-Star roster. He’ll head to Denver after Sunday’s game at Fenway for that event. He’ll be carrying a new contract in hand when he does so as well. The righty had been set to hit free agency after this season, but Alex Speier is reporting that he and the Red Sox are nearing an agreement on a two-year contract extension. The deal also includes a team option for 2024, and was made official after Speier’s report. Speier has the terms of the agreement.
Terms of Barnes deal, which is two years, $18.75M with an option:— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) July 11, 2021
2024 Club Option: $8m
Signing bonus: $1.75m
Total guarantee: $18.75m
The team option can escalate by $2m based on games finished over the course of the contract. https://t.co/HQ24UuNil0
Barnes will make $18.75 million over the course of the deal, being guaranteed a bit over $7 million in each season, with the club option getting up to $8 million. There is always some inherent risk in locking up a reliever for multiple years, but the financials here are as such that a two-year commitment is not too much to swallow.
Barnes, as mentioned above, is enjoying a career-best run through the first half of 2021. He came into the season with major question marks in the ninth inning after struggling the COVID-shortened season last year, but he’s been attacking more this year and the results have been incredible. Over 37 innings this season, he’s pitched to a 2.68 ERA, striking out 45 percent of his opponents while walking only seven percent.
This is clearly the best we’ve seen of the righty, but he has shown the potential to be this good for a long time. Other than 2020, every season Barnes has pitched for the Red Sox he’s shown flashes of an elite reliever, just with bouts of inconsistency that have rightly brought on criticism, even if it’s been too harsh at times. He’s one of the best strikeout pitchers in all of baseball, and if he can keep up the control he’s been showing this year this contract will be a boon for Boston. He’s also been incredibly durable, and as Speier notes he could finish this contract with the second-most appearances in the history of the franchise.
Relievers are fickle and there’s no sure thing about how this turns out, but the hope is this means the Red Sox will not have to worry about the ninth inning for the next couple of years.