Monday is the deadline for teams to offer contracts to players eligible for salary arbitration. Any player not tendered a contract would become a free agent.
For the Red Sox, that means decisions on six players, five of them relief pitchers.
Righthander Andrew Bailey will be offered a contract, according to a report by the New York Post on Sunday. That comes as a bit of a surprise. Bailey has a 4.91 earned run average and 1.46 WHIP over parts of two seasons in Boston and has pitched in only 49 games because of various injuries.
Bailey underwent extensive shoulder surgery in July and is not expected to return until midway through the coming season. Based on his service time and previous accomplishments, Bailey would command a contract worth approximately $4.3 million.
Given Bailey's somewhat tumultuous time in Boston, it may be surprising at first glance that the Red Sox will reportedly retain him today by offering a contract.
But it goes along with the team's recent thinking about player acquisitions. They're betting short term -- in this case, one year, slightly north of $4 million, reportedly -- that a player with a good track record in his prime will return their investment. If they're wrong -- as they were, at a more costly figure, about Joel Hanrahan -- they lose some money and a useful player.
If they're right -- as they were with Shane Victorino among a host of others last year -- they get a useful player at possibly an exorbitant cost, but possibly not. These are the sorts of gambles you can take with a high payroll. Bailey does have a closer track record (if that means something to you), and given Koji Uehara's age and usage last year, it's not a bad idea to have some back-up options in case Koji regresses or is injured.
Of course, Bailey's injury history, not to mention his current injury, which is likely to sideline him for the first half of the season, makes $4 million seem especially high. But if Bailey rehabs well and shows something in July, he could be one of those examples of a trade deadline move from within the organization, where the team doesn't have to give up assets for a reliever, but just the money it has already sunk.
So far the bullpen has been a focus of the Sox' offseason, with them acquiring Burke Badenhop (also likely to be tendered a contract today, obviously), and now likely giving contracts to Bailey and Andrew Miller.
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