The Boston Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal with right-handed pitcher Steve Wright for the 2019 season to avoid arbitration.
Scratch another item off the to-do list for the Boston Red Sox. Steven Wright is locked in for 2019.
According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with the knuckleball pitcher by agreeing to a 1-year, $1.375 million deal.
The total is a slight bump from the $1.1 million Wright earned last season and a fraction below the $1.4 million predicted by MLB Trade Rumors.
Wright’s 2018 season was delayed by injury and a suspension stemming from a violation of the league’s domestic abuse policy. He made his season debut out of the bullpen on May 15 against the Oakland A’s.
The right-hander made 20 appearances last season, including four starts. Wright went 3-1 with a 2.69 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, and 7.0 K/9.
Wright was 1-1 with a 4.13 ERA in his four starts. That ERA is inflated by one disastrous start in which he was shelled for 10 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings against the Seattle Mariners. He allowed a total of only one earned run in his previous three starts. Wright landed on the disabled list with inflammation in his surgically repaired knee right after that messy outing against the M’s, which explains the meltdown.
He was also brilliant out of the bullpen, posting a 1.52 ERA in 29 2/3 innings of relief. Wright can be counted on to toss multiple innings as a reliever, which he did on eight occasions last season.
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His strong performance was expected to earn him a spot on this team for the postseason but Wright was removed from the ALDS roster at the last minute when he experienced soreness in his knee again. He was replaced on the roster by Heath Hembree and didn’t return during Boston’s run to a World Series title.
Wright’s role heading into 2019 is a bit unclear. His knee may not be ready to cooperate by the time pitchers report to camp this spring, putting his status for Opening Day in doubt. Another delayed start to the season should be expected until we hear a more positive update.
Even if Wright does make the team to open the season, he’s unlikely to have a spot in the rotation. Barring injury, the Red Sox are set with Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, and Eduardo Rodriguez.
Next season will probably look similar to last year for Wright. He’ll work mostly out of the bullpen, often in multi-inning stints, with the occasional spot start.
2018 was a positive step for Wright following what was essentially a lost season the previous year. He may never recapture the All-Star form he showed a few years ago but he can still be a valuable asset who can fill a variety of roles. The Red Sox making a commitment by signing him for next season shows they expect him to be on the roster as long as he’s healthy.