Boston Red Sox

Jun 4, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Joely Rodriguez (30) delivers against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Boston Red Sox officially (and finally) dipped their toe into the free agency waters Wednesday — and at a position of obvious need — with the signing of lefty reliever Joely Rodriguez.

    Announced by the team, the deal for Rodriguez is a one-year contract, but does contain a club option for 2024. The contract will come with $2 million in guaranteed money, while the 2024 option checks in at over $4 million. And with bonuses, the deal could be worth over $8 million in total, according to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo.

  • The 31-year-old Rodriguez will come to the Red Sox after a 2021 season with the Mets, and after establishing career-highs in strikeouts (57), innings (50.1), and appearances (55) during his one-year excursion in Queens.

    Beyond the career-best workload and strikeouts, Rodriguez also posted a line that included a 2-4 record, 4.47 ERA, and a batting average against of .226.

    And though it was an up-and-down year for Rodriguez, who was not exactly entrusted as a high-leverage reliever for the Mets, the Red Sox must have liked his finish to the year, with three runs allowed on six hits to go with 14 strikeouts and a 0.75 WHIP over 12 appearances from September through the end of the regular season.

    There’s also an analytic element to the value of adding Rodriguez to the Boston bullpen, too.

    Rodriguez ranked in MLB’s 94th percentile in chase rate (34.7%) and 96th percentile in average exit velocity (85.3 MPH), both of which were the best marks of his MLB career. He also held both left-handed hitters (.646) and right-handed hitters (.625) to an OPS below .650, and allowed only three home runs on the year.

    You’ll hear ‘soft contact’ with Rodriguez a whole bunch.

  • Rodriguez also has some familiarity with the American League and the American League East, as he played with the Texas Rangers in both 2020 and 2021, and finished his 2021 campaign as a member of the Yankee bullpen following a deadline deal to New York.

    In the bigs since 2016, Rodriguez has compiled a 5-9 record with one save, 31 holds, and a 4.56 ERA in 157 career games between the Phillies, Rangers, Yankees, and Mets.

  • Aug 23, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Joely Rodriguez (30) tosses the ball to first base for an out during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 23, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Joely Rodriguez (30) tosses the ball to first base for an out during the seventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY Sports)

  • Whether or not the analytics hold and make Rodriguez a go-to option for the Sox ‘pen is its own argument, but there’s no denying that the Red Sox entered this offseason in serious need of some help at the position.

    One of multiple weak spots on Chaim Bloom’s 2022 club, Boston’s bullpen had the fifth-worst ERA in baseball (4.59), its WHIP (1.36) was ninth-worst, and was tagged for the third-most earned runs in baseball (318).

    The Red Sox are also planning on throwing their most potent bullpen arm, Garrett Whitlock, back into the rotation for the 2023 season, and there’s also been talk of moving Tanner Houck back into the rotation after the team tried converting him into a closer in 2022.

    And as it relates to the Rodriguez signing, Boston’s most valuable lefty out of the bullpen last season, Matt Strahm, is a free agent while Josh Taylor is looking to re-establish himself after missing all of last season.