The Red Sox should extend Michael Wacha right now
Michael Wacha first pitched at the major league level with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013. Two years later, he posts what was (and still is) his best full season:
- 181.1 innings (career high)
- 17 wins (career high)
- 3.38 ERA (career best)
- .236 BAA (career best)
He is on-pace to eclipse 100 innings pitched this season, but his average workload since his standout 2015 campaign (excluding the COVID year) has been only 128 innings. Even in today’s game, with many starters only last 5-6 innings per start, that is 35-70 innings off the pace.
Michael Wacha’s first rehab start turns into historic night for Red Sox Triple-A WooSox
Michael Wacha's first rehab stint with the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate WooSox turned into the first
You may be asking why a guy who just turned 31 and has struggled to stay healthy deserves a new contract. Well, quite frankly, his performance this season merits it. He has pitched like the ace of the staff through 17 starts, and his absence from early July through mid-August was glaring as the team went almost a full month without a win by a starting pitcher.
Michael Wacha was an ace when healthy. Extending him now will not break the bank, and waiting to re-sign him will only make him more expensive.
The Red Sox are 13-4 (.765) in games started by Michael Wacha, and 50-64 (.439) in games started by anyone else. If the organization waits until he is a free agent to try and re-sign him, he will likely be more expensive than if they strike a deal now.
In what has been an otherwise disappointing season, the front office would start to regain some credibility by retaining some of the team’s top players. Contracts for Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers will likely come with a huge price tag (Austin Riley’s contract extension offers a solid basis of comparison for a potential Devers contract), but Wacha is unlikely to break the bank.
It is reasonable to assume that Wacha will be looking for a 2-3 year deal with an AAV of $12M to $15M. Chaim Bloom loves to add performance incentives and club options to contracts, which sweeten the deal for the player while also offering the team flexibility on the tail end of the contract period. This same approach is likely to be received everyone involved, as both camps will be looking for ways to mitigate risk.
If a deal can get done that is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2 years, $30 million (with a 3rd-year club option), the time is now for the Red Sox to do it. He is currently on-pace for new career bests in ERA (2.56), BAA (.205), and WHIP (1.02) this year, and locking him up now mitigates the risk of losing him to free agency or needing to pay more than you would otherwise need to.
If Chris Sale gets healthy for 2023 and returns to his typical ace form, the team can sign a formidable #2 starter in free agency and Wacha could slot in as the #3. This would make the top of the rotation very strong, a sharp juxtaposition to the revolving door of unproven starters the team was forced into using this season as injuries sidelined Wacha, Eovaldi, Sale, and Paxton.
While Michael Wacha would not be the flashiest signing the team makes in the coming weeks and months, he would be the simplest and most practical one. Retaining a veteran pitcher, who was also by far the most consistent and productive starter on the staff this year, is a no-brainer.
Get it done, Chaim!