John Tomase of WEEI.com reported last night that, according to an MLB source, “the Red Sox are sorting through options to improve their bullpen, and one of them is Jason Frasor, who was recently released by the Royals after being designated for assignment.”
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The plot thickens when you find out that the Seattle Mariners had the same idea. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, via MLBTradeRumors.com, reported a few hours earlier that “[Mariners] manager Lloyd McClendon recently cited the disappointing performance by the club’s right-handed relievers as a key element in the club’s disappointing play. ‘The right-handers in our bullpen,’ he said, ‘who bridged the gap for us last year, and kept games close, have not done that.'” As Frasor is a righty pitcher, the Mariners are said to be “taking a hard look” at Kansas City’s discarded son.
Both reports came out within a few hours of each other, creating a bit of a buzz over a fairly decent bullpen arm. The key to this story will likely fall upon one of Dutton’s final statements: “As a free agent, Frasor’s new club would only be obligated to pay a pro-rated portion of the major-league minimum (roughly $225,000 for the remainder of the year).”
Frasor was traded to the Royals by the Texas Rangers in July 2014, in time to help their team make a playoff run which led to a spot in the World Series. He re-signed with Kansas City later in November, paying him $1.25 million this season with a $2 million mutual option and a $550 thousand buyout option next season.
The Red Sox, with their financial strength, are interested because of how Frasor’s numbers compare to everyone not named Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa in their bullpen. The 37-year-old veteran has played 23.1 innings and has posted a 1-0 record with a 1.54 ERA and 18 strikeouts. In the last 15 games, he has thrown 14.1 innings and has allowed four runs on 18 hits, 11 walks, and 10 strikeouts. Three of those runs came against Boston on June 21st in one inning. Not amazing, but not terrible. To put these statistics into perspective, the next best pitcher to Frasor is Alexi Ogando who has a 2.89 ERA in his last 18.2 innings, but he also has a 4.50 ERA in the 10 most recent of those innings. Not exactly consistent.
Looking at the 40-man roster, righties Jonathan Aro, Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree (15-day DL), and Noe Ramirez have been less than apt to the task of holding off opposing batters. Aro gave up a combined six runs in just 4.2 innings, Barnes has been all over the map with an 8.36 ERA in his last 15 appearances, and Ramirez gave up two runs on three hits in his sole inning of work to pick up the team’s loss. Hembree appeared in four games before being injured, allowing six runs on eight hits in 6.1 innings. Anthony Varvaro and Brandon Workman are also righties, but they are also on the 60-day disabled list. No real help there.
Other Red Sox bullpen pitchers on the active roster, such as Brian Johnson, Craig Breslow, Tommy Layne, and Robbie Ross Jr. are all lefties. Johnson is a recent and unproven call-up, while Breslow, Layne, and Ross have also been inconsistent.
The Red Sox should have deep enough pockets to pay for Frasor, especially with the aforementioned pro-rating on his salary. Boston’s 6.5-game deficit in the American League East division may also look more attractive to Frasor than Seattle’s 7.5-game deficit in the A.L. West, considering how the L.A. Angels have recently heated up and overtaken the Houston Astros. With the potential for big trade possibilities, the Red Sox are primed to make a splash, while the Mariners, who are committed to many big-name players for a smaller fan market, sit at the side of the pool just watching the action.
These factors will likely sway a move for Frasor to Boston, with the added benefit of knowing the A.L. East teams well because of his nine years spent with the Toronto Blue Jays. Boston isn’t home, but it would look awfully familiar to him. To get a decent bullpen righty arm for cheaper than making a trade or some other method may be just what Boston needs right now. That, and getting another starting pitcher. Can anyone say packaged deal coming?
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