One of the big stories heading into the final days of Red Sox camp ahead of the regular season was that of extensions, most notably for players like Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers, but also with other impending free agents like Nathan Eovaldi. Nothing materialized in those talks, and for the most part extensions are not negotiated into the regular season. We got a reminder on Sunday, however, that this is not a hard and fast rule. Out of nowhere, the Red Sox announced early Sunday morning that they had agreed to terms on an extension with right-handed pitcher Garrett Whitlock. The deal officially kicks in for next season and locks him up through at least 2026, with club options for the 2027 and 2028 seasons.
Whitlock, of course, was one of the big breakouts on a surprising 2021 Red Sox team, having been selected from the Yankees in the previous winter’s Rule 5 Draft and ultimately became the most trusted arm in the bullpen come postseason play. The 25-year-old (he’ll turn 26 in June) finished the 2021 regular season with a 1.96 ERA to go with a 2.84 FIP over 46 appearances and 73 1⁄3 innings. This season, Whitlock did throw in the opener, allowing solo homer to DJ LeMahieu but otherwise looking great over 2 1⁄3 innings, striking out four without a walk.
This is a major win for the Red Sox, who will owe just $18.75 guaranteed over the life of the deal, with a max value, taking into consideration the club options as well as escalators based on innings and award recognition, of $44.5 million. Chris Cotillo of Masslive also has the full breakdown here. This deal takes Whitlock through all of his arbitration years at a cost-controlled value, and gives the Red Sox the opportunity to keep him at well under market-value levels on club options for what would be his first two free agency years. Whitlock is currently serving in the Red Sox bullpen, but given the reported innings thresholds in this deal it seems that they see him as a starter long-term, a role that he will likely get at least a shot at serving as soon as this summer.
While it’s not the extension that many of us have been waiting for throughout the winter, locking up a pitcher who has looked as good as Whitlock early in his career to this kind of deal is a huge win for the organization.