And another former Boston Red Sox pitcher goes to the Chicago Cubs. Drake Britton was claimed off waivers, yesterday afternoon.
Jason Mastrodonato reported that Britton’s inconsistent play in both the majors and minor leagues made him more available, as the Red Sox signed Alexi Ogando last week. “The former top prospect thought he would crack the Red Sox’s roster out of spring training in 2014 but was instead demoted. He struggled with the transition back to the minors, posting a 5.84 ERA in Pawtucket, but felt like he was pitching better at the end of the year. He threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings out of the Red Sox’s bullpen in September” (MassLive.com). Apparently, that was not enough for Boston, as the brass designated Britton for assignment, to make room for Ogando.
Cubs general manager, and former Boston boss, Theo Epstein adds another former Red Sox player to their roster, after acquiring Jon Lester, Daniel Bard, Felix Doubront, and David Ross. Is there something Epstein knows that the Red Sox don’t, or is he just missing Boston that much?
Whatever the case, Britton’s departure means another young lefty arm is gone from the 2015 roster. The 25-year-old from Waco, Texas was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2007 draft, and was highly-touted at the time. He technically has six pitches in his arsenal, but his sinker is rarely used, especially with the filthy slider he unleashed over 38% of the time, last season. Britton does throw more strikes than balls, which is good for the now full-time reliever, but he has been proven to be hitable, while walking more batters than he strikes out. For Pawtucket, he gave up 38 walks to 37 strikeouts and allowed 38 earned runs in 45 games, before coming back up to Boston.
However, there is an up-side for Britton to be claimed by the Cubs. Now, he has a chance to break through their spring training and make the big club’s roster. Likely, he would stay in the bullpen, as nothing indicates, as of yet, that he could start any games. With Hector Rondon labeled the closer, and saving 29 wins with his 63 strikeouts, Britton hardly would get a sniff at that role, either. Two days ago, Peter Abraham also reported that Britton’s recent efforts on and off the field should be acknowledged:
"“He spent the offseason in Boston, working out at Fenway Park and doing a lot of community work on a volunteer basis. Robert Lewis Jr., who runs a successful youth baseball program in Roxbury, praised Britton last month for his work with at-risk kids.” (Abraham, Boston Globe)"
Britton’s work ethic, combined with his desire to help the community is not only admirable, it also could factor in the young man’s mentality. Britton’s willingness to work with children, to improve their lot in life, could be a positive for the Cubs’ public relations, if Britton so chooses to do the same in Chicago. It could also help his determination to help himself regain his form on the mound, keeping him mentally strong.
As far as Boston should be concerned, Britton was given a few chances and it didn’t pan out how the team wanted. They made room for another pitcher and have now given Britton another chance at his dream of a career in the majors. Everyone gets good news in this deal, but we will see if that news is what everyone wanted when the regular season starts.
** Pitching statistics were provided by FanGraphs.com