The Red Sox have crossed two items off their to-do list today, avoiding arbitration with two of their four arbitration-eligible players. In a busy day for the Red Sox front office, the team agreed to a 1 year/$2.25M contract with reliever Junichi Tazawa and a 1 year/$12.5M contract with starter Rick Porcello.
Those settlements were roughly on line with the contracts that Porcello and Tazawa were projected to receive, with this being Tazawa’s first year of arbitration eligibility and Porcello’s final year before free agency. However, despite the vast difference in the pair’s contracts, both will play major roles on the 2015 Red Sox.
Porcello enters the season as potential Boston’s top starter, following a breakout season in 2014. In 204.2 innings pitched, he posted a career-best 3.43 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 and, entering his age 26 season, looks poised to become a marquee pitcher. The $12.5M contract could very well be a bargain for the Red Sox; however, the real question regarding his contract status is whether the Red Sox will pony up and extend the youthful sinker-baller before he hits the open market.
Tazawa, while he doesn’t offer the ace potential of Porcello, will likely be one of the anchors in a shallow Red Sox bullpen. Coming off a season in which he put up a 2.86 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9 in 71 appearances, Tazawa has settled in as a consistently dominant arm out of Boston’s ‘pen. He ought to be well worth the $2.25M in his first year of arbitration and the Red Sox can rest easy in knowing that they will have an excellent reliever for a minimum of two more years.
The Red Sox still have to agree to contracts with Daniel Nava and Wade Miley, but it’s reasonable to expect them to hammer out some deals in the coming days. The Red Sox avoid arbitration on a consistent basis and should continue that trend into the 2015 season.