The Red Sox made their first free agent addition of the offseason, signing lefthanded reliever Joely Rodríguez to a one-year deal that includes a team option for the 2024 season.
Rodríguez, who turned 31 this month, went 2-4 with a 4.47 ERA, 26.4 percent strikeout rate, and 12.0 percent walk rate in 2022 with the Mets. With a sinker/changeup combination (sprinkled with occasional four-seamers and sliders), he held hitters to an 85.3-miles-per-hour average exit velocity, 14th lowest in MLB among qualifying pitchers. His 54.3 percent ground-ball rate ranked 19th among qualifying relievers.
After serving in a seventh- and eighth-inning setup role for the first two months of the season, Rodríguez moved into a lower-leverage middle-innings role. He was removed from the playoff roster because of a shoulder issue. According to multiple major league sources, Rodríguez had minor surgery to address the issue after the end of the season. Despite the procedure, the Sox expect he will be ready for the start of 2023.
Rodríguez likely will slot in a middle-innings role, serving as a lefthanded complement to a still-forming group that currently skews heavily righthanded with returnees Matt Barnes, Tanner Houck, John Schreiber, and Ryan Brasier. (The Sox have lefthanders Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor on their 40-man roster, but neither is assured of a roster spot.)
The Sox will look to continue adding to a group that finished last year with a 4.59 bullpen ERA, fourth-worst in the big leagues.
In parts of five seasons with four organizations (Phillies, Rangers, Yankees, Mets), Rodríguez has a 4.56 ERA and 22.5 percent strikeout rate. He also pitched in the minor league systems of the Pirates and Orioles.
According to major league sources, Rodríguez is guaranteed at least $2 million from the Red Sox, with a chance to earn up to $8.25 million over two years. He’ll get a $1.5 million salary in 2023 with $500,000 bonuses if on the active roster for 30, 60, 90, and 120 days — with that incentive-laden approach arising from his season-ending health issue.
The contract also includes a $4.25 million team option for 2024 that includes a $500,000 buyout if not exercised. He’ll also get $50,000 bonuses for appearing in 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70 games each year.
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The Red Sox also made a minor trade Monday, according to the MLB transaction wire, acquiring utilityman Hoy Park from Pittsburgh for lefthander Inmer Lobo. Park, 26, hit .216/.276/.373 in 23 games with the Pirates last year, spread across second, third, shortstop, and the outfield. He was signed by the Yankees out of South Korea in 2014, debuting with them on July 16, 2021, against the Red Sox before being released.
Lobo, 18, made five appearances in the Dominican Summer League, fanning 28 against two walks in 22 innings.