Red Sox Signe Lefty Reliever with very good underlying metrics

Red Sox Signe Lefty Reliever with very good underlying metrics

The Boston Red Sox took their first significant step toward bolstering their bullpen on Wednesday, signing left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez to a one-year deal that also includes a 2024 club option.

The Athletic’s Chad Jennings reported that the deal includes a Base salary of $1.5 million for 2023, with the 2024 option registering at $4.25 million (or a $500,000 buyout). According to Jennings, several bonuses could bring total spending to just over $8 million over the two years.

That’s a relatively modest price considering Rodriguez’s upside. While his surface numbers aren’t amazing, a look under the hood reveals that there’s a lot to like about the 31-year-old southpaw. And the Red Sox needed another left-handed arm in their bullpen with Matt Strahm hitting free agency three months after Boston traded Jake Diekman to the Chicago White Sox for catcher Reese McGuire.

Rodriguez is coming off a 2022 season in which he posted a 4.47 ERA in 55 appearances (50 1/3 innings) with the New York Mets. The underlying metrics but it suggests Rodriguez pitched better than that. He ranked in the 96th percentile in average exit velocity, the 95th percentile in slugging percentage and the 94th percentile in chase rate. Rodriguez had a 3.23 FIP while striking out 10.2 batters per nine innings.

In summary, Rodríguez induces a weak contact (lots of ground balls) i he misses bats. Walks have been his bugaboo—he ranked in the sixth percentile in walk percentage in 2022, with 4.6 walks per nine frames—but the rest of Rodriguez’s profile is very intriguing, especially for a team that ranked 27th in bullpen fWAR last season and ha several holes to fill to your pitching staff. Rodriguez was just as tough on left-handed hitters as he was on right-handed hitters during his one-year stint in Queens.

Rodriguez spent two seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies to begin his Major League Baseball career. He then spent two seasons with the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball before returning to MLB, where he has since pitched for the Texas Rangers and New York Yankees in addition to the Mets.

Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images

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