Chaim Bloom’s best Red Sox roster move of 2022 has flown under the radar

Apr 8, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72) delivers pitch during the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2021; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Boston Red Sox relief pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72) delivers pitch during the seventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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Garrett Whitlock is Chaim Bloom’s best Red Sox contract decision

Chaim Bloom’s construction of the 2022 Boston Red Sox roster has come under (very justified) fire since before the season even began.

He signed and traded for several underperforming players and took big risks with injury-prone and recovering pitchers. To make matters worse, the roster is expensive to the point of being over the luxury tax, making their likely bottom-of-the-barrel finish unacceptable.

Bloom will have to own those decisions and the ire they’ve caused, but as much as it’s often felt like the sky is falling at Fenway this summer, it actually hasn’t all been bad: the decision to ink Garrett Whitlock to a long-term deal was absolutely the right move.

The signing has largely flown under the radar due to the mounting injuries and the team’s overall horrific collapse, but it’s important to celebrate the few good things that have come out of this season.

After earning the new major-league minimum $720K this season, Whitlock will earn $18.75M over the next four years. He’s earned every penny so far; since making his big-league debut with the Sox in 2021, the 26-year-old righty has a 2.22 ERA over 65 relief appearances, including 21 games finished, and eight saves. He absolutely dominates righties (.222/.269/.335), but shuts down lefties quite well, too (.238/.274/.404).

Those numbers were even better before Whitlock’s last two appearances versus the Twins and Rangers. He allowed three earned runs in each after not allowing more than one earned run in a relief appearance all season.

The sample size is smaller, but Whitlock’s usual consistency out of the pen over his first two seasons is a breath of fresh air after years of stale arms. Matt Barnes, originally expected to be the team’s closer of the future, has the capability to be lights out, but is woefully inconsistent; over 77 2/3 career innings in August appearances over the years, he’s posted a 7.18 ERA.

The Sox have spent very little on quality bullpen arms over the last few years. Beginning with Dave Dombrowski not replacing Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel following the 2018 World Series (trading for Colten Brewer does not count), the bullpen has been largely disastrous, a hodgepodge of ineffectiveness. Since 2019, their 86 blown saves are tied for the MLB lead.

That Bloom found him in the Yankees’ reject pile only makes the story better.