The Red Sox have not yet been able to improve their pitching staff via trade. Perhaps adding to their coaching staff will help.
Brian Bannister, the organization's director of pitching analysis and development, was named to the major league staff for the remainder of the season. He started with his new duties Tuesday.
Bannister's title did not change but he will essentially be the assistant pitching coach to Carl Willis.
"Brian has done an outstanding job for us in many different areas," president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. "When he was hired, we really thought he would help us in various areas but we also thought we would let the position develop over time and use him where needed."
Clearly there is need. Through Monday, Sox pitchers were 11th in the American League with a 4.48 earned run average. Sox starters have a 4.81 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. David Price settled down after he allowed two runs in the first inning of a 7-2 loss to the Rangers Tuesday night.
Bannister will be uniform before games and on the field. Because of baseball's restriction on how many coaches can be in the dugout, Bannister will watch games from the clubhouse or from the scout seats behind the plate.
Bannister is considered an expert in blending advanced statistics and video analysis to evaluate pitchers and suggest more efficient ways to attack hitters. One of his best pupils last season was Rich Hill, who was 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in four starts. He struck out 36 in 29 innings.
"We thought it would be much more helpful to put him in uniform," Dombrowski said. "The players in today's game really want the kind of information that he supplies."
Where this leaves Willis is uncertain. He was named pitching coach May 9, 2015, and the Sox have not improved during his tenure.
"It's not that we're unhappy [with Willis], but we're looking for any way to make ourselves better," Dombrowski said.
It is not unusual for teams to have assistant hitting and/or pitching coaches. The Sox have had Victor Rodriguez as an assistant hitting coach for four years.
Does Dombrowski view Bannister becoming a pitching coach in time?
"Well, perhaps," he said. "I'm not necessarily saying here. I don't know when he will be ready for that. He has the abilities to do that; he does not have the desires to do that right now."
Manager John Farrell said that pitchers appreciate the kind of information Bannister can provide. But he hedged a bit when asked whom Bannister now reported to.
"He's part of our staff," Farrell said.
Bannister, 35, pitched in the majors from 2006-10, going 37-50 with a 5.08 ERA for the Mets and Royals. He started with the Sox in 2015 as a pro scout and analyst.
His father, Floyd Bannister, pitched in the majors from 1977-92.
Trade talks intensify
The non-waiver trade deadline is Aug. 1. Dombrowski said conversations between teams were picking up.
"We're aggressive. We talk every day now," he said. "This is a time period where a lot of things happen. Calls have increased. Doesn't mean you're going to do something. But I can say we're aggressive in talking. Between [general manager] Mike Hazen and myself, might talk to 10 clubs today. It's a lot. I think we have a pulse of what people are doing."
Two former Red Sox prospects have signed with new terms.
The Philadelphia Phillies signed 17-year-old outfielder Simon Muzziotti for $750,000. Shortstop Antonio Pinero landed with the Milwaukee Brewers for $375,000.
Both players had their contracts invalidated by Major League Baseball last week after the Sox were found to have improperly signed them a year ago.
Both players were allowed to keep the $300,000 they were originally signed for by the Red Sox.
Three other players also were declared free agents as a result of the investigation.
Righthanded reliever Brandon Workman started his injury rehabilitation assignment, appearing in two innings for the Gulf Coast League Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla.
Facing the GCL Orioles, Workman allowed one run on two hits and struck out three without a walk. He is coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery.
The plan is for Workman to eventually move to Single A Lowell and then Triple A Pawtucket.
Rehab assignments can last up to 30 days for pitchers. If Workman is not deemed ready for the majors in that time, the Red Sox could activate him off the disabled list and option him to the minors.
With Ryan Hanigan off the disabled list and Christian Vazquez optioned to Triple A, Farrell sees Sandy Leon catching at least three out every five games. Hanigan is slated to catch Steven Wright on Wednesday . . . Price recorded his 1,500th career strikeout when Ian Desmond went down swinging in the fifth inning . . . Pawtucket first baseman Chris Marrero was selected to participate in the home run derby at the Triple A All-Star Game in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday. Marrero has hit 14 home runs this season.
Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.