The Red Sox did make a signing during this year’s winter meetings, albeit not the kind of splash many were expecting. Actually, you could argue it wasn’t a splash at all, more of a ripple in the water.
Ben Cherington inked left-handed pitcher Jesse Carlson to a split contract with an invitation to Spring Training. Now before you go and google Carlson’s name to become familiar with him, know this: he spent three seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays posting decent numbers. His overall record is 8-8 with a 3.26 ERA and a WHIP of 1.19 in 141.1 innings of work.
This is the exact signing that Cherington said he was going to explore. Low value, low risk with the potential return to be good. Note I said good, not great. Carlson has his work cut out for him this spring if he hopes to stick with the Red Sox. But it’s a gamble that could pay off.
Carlson is recovering from rotator cuff surgery that he underwent last season that limited to him to just 20 appearances in the majors. The 30 year-old is hoping to get back to the elite level, but it’s going to take a great spring to crack the starting rotation.
In his rookie season in 2008 he went 7-2 with a 2.25 ERA. His WHIP was 1.033 and his career with the Blue Jays looked as bright as Ryan Leaf’s quarterback career in the NFL (and we all now how well that worked out). His strikeout ratio of 8.3 per 9 innings was another reason to believe in the lefty and after throwing 60 innings, Carlson was set to become a big part of the Jays future plans.
But 2009 saw Carlson struggle, working in 67.2 innings and going just 1-6 with a 4.66 ERA. His WHIP increased to 1.300 while his strikeouts per 9 innings plummeted to 6.8.
2010 was a complete disaster for Carlson, pitching in just 13 innings while getting stung with an ERA of 4.61.
So why is Carlson deemed a good gamble? Well, he’ll cost very little if he can make the lineup. He has big league stuff, providing he can stay healthy and would make a good, solid number five starter or even a bullpen arm for middle relief.
Now, should Carlson not be able to recover from rotator cuff surgery and come to camp throwing beach balls, it’ll be nothing ventured, nothing gained and part ways with Carlson with no hard feelings.
Not a bad signing Ben, even if it was a minor move.