Boston Red Sox Catching Up With Old Friends: Edward Mujica
You know that nostalgic feeling that you get when catching up with an old friend that you haven’t seen for a while? This offseason the BoSox Injection staff will be checking up on a number of former Red Sox players to see what they have been up to since leaving Boston, while reflecting on how the team has managed to replace them since they left.
Back in December of 2013, the Boston Red Sox signed then free agent relief pitcher Edward Mujica to a two-year, $9.5 million contract. Mujica was coming off one of his best seasons in his MLB career. He had posted a 2.78 ERA and collected 37 saves over 64.2 innings pitched. Additionally, he had been selected for the 2013 All Star Team. There were high hopes that he would be a good addition to the BoSox bullpen, which at that time was very strong. Unfortunately, he was not as successful in Boston during the 2014 season as he had been with the St. Louis Cardinals the previous year.
Mujica’s decline continued into the 2015 season and the Boston Red Sox decided to designate him for assignment on May 8. Two days later, the Sox traded Mujica to the Oakland Athletics. This trade was surprising because Mujica had not been pitching well. He had a 4.61 ERA over 13.2 innings through the first month of the season. However, the A’s, who had one of the worst bullpens in the MLB, were looking to boost their relief staff in anyway possible. Perhaps they thought this former All Star could return to form after a change of scenery.
Even though he did show some brief moments of brilliance while with Oakland, Mujica ended the 2015 season with a 4.75 ERA, four blown saves, and a 3-5 losing record. He also landed on the disabled list for some time with a fractured thumb. Mujica became a free agent after the Athletics’ season ended in October. As of December 17, Mujica signed a minor league contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Ultimately, trading Mujica was not a big loss for the Boston Red Sox. If they had kept him, it would have just been for depth purposes since injuries plagued the Sox bullpen this year. However, it is likely the Mujica would have spent most of the 2015 season in Triple-A had he stayed with Boston for his open spot in the pen was filled by Minor Leaguer Robbie Ross, Jr., who became one of the better relievers for Red Sox this past year.
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Ross ended the season with one of the the best ERAs among the Sox relief staff. Additionally, compared to the other relievers, he did so well that Boston gave him the opportunity to even close some games in September. Ross was able to save six games and collect 12 holds over 60.2 innings pitched.
In the end, trading Mujica was the right move. If Mujica had not been DFA’d and Ross had not gotten the opportunity to prove himself, the BoSox might have decided to release Ross this winter since he was a non-tender candidate. However, on December 2, the Red Sox tendered Ross’ contract because of the success he found in 2015 thanks to the open spot in the bullpen that Mujica left behind.