Garrett Whitlock won’t be the only former New York Yankee arm on the 2023 Boston Red Sox.
On Friday, news broke that the Sox are signing righty reliever Chris Martin, who stunned with the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second half of 2022 and owns the lowest career walk rate among active pitchers, an excellent addition to a walk-heavy bullpen.
And in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Chris Cotillo reported that the Sox are pushing to sign Tommy Kahnle, another former Yankee who pitched well for the Dodgers this year, albeit in a minuscule 12 2/3-inning sample size.
Red Sox making ‘push’ to sign former Yankees reliever Tommy Kahnle despite several years of injuries
In late November, the Kahnle market was described as ‘robust,’ with reports that at least 10 teams are interested in his services. That so many teams are eyeing Kahnle is an indicator of how thin the pitching market is this offseason. 2019 was his most recent full season in the majors, which should give the Red Sox serious pause. 2019 might not feel like too long ago, but three years have elapsed since Kahnle made 72 appearances with a 3.67 ERA. A forearm injury in May took him back out of the game for another four months this year.
Now 32 years old, the righty only pitched one inning in 2020 before undergoing Tommy John surgery, which caused him to miss the entire rest of the season as well as all of 2021. During his recovery, he became a free agent and signed on with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Over 13 appearances in 2022, he allowed four earned runs, including two home runs, on five hits.
Prior to the Tommy John, Kahnle spent the first five seasons of his big-league career with the Colorado Rockies, Chicago White Sox, and Yankees. He was excellent before and after the Yankees acquired him from the White Sox at the 2017 trade deadline, but in his first full season in the Bronx, he posted a career-worst 6.56 ERA across 24 appearances.
In 2022, the Red Sox followed up a thrilling and unexpected ALCS run with their second last-place finish in three years, and a stunning amount of injuries played a significant role in their regression. In particular, pitcher injuries were a dime a dozen this year; Nick Pivetta was the only starting pitcher in the rotation who didn’t have at least one stint on the Injured List, and several of Boston’s best bullpen arms sat out for prolonged periods of time, as well. The Sox have also lost Matt Strahm, one of their most reliable relievers, to free agency, and are moving Whitlock, one of their only dominant pitchers, to the starting rotation in 2023.
The Red Sox need bullpen help, but they shouldn’t overcorrect by overpaying, as they’ve been known to do in the past. When discussing qualities he’s looking for in starting pitching, Chaim Bloom listed “upside” and “consistency” as key attributes. Kahnle is a reliever, but he’s exactly the kind of “upside” rebound candidate the Sox Chief Baseball Officer has targeted in the past. Unfortunately, most of the time, they haven’t turned out to be diamonds in the rough, just rough. The Sox might want to let someone else take this risk.
Update: Red Sox made Tommy Kahnle an offer but he’ll re-sign with Yankees
The Yankees are signing Kahnle to a 2-year deal that will pay him $5.75M each year.
While the Sox absolutely could’ve afforded this and also made Kahnle a two-year offer, for the reasons listed above, this isn’t the end of the world.