Why won’t the Red Sox designate any of their worst pitchers for assignment?
Over the span of approximately 30 hours between Thursday afternoon and Friday evening, the Boston Red Sox made two shocking designations for assignment.
They DFA’ed Jeter Downs, the top prospect acquired in the Mookie Betts trade, in order to open a spot on the 40-man roster for newcomer Masataka Yoshida. Then, Eric Hosmer‘s spot went to reliever Wyatt Mills, whom the Sox acquired from the Kansas City Royals on Friday.
While the timing is weird for Hosmer, and Downs is yet another brutal reminder of how bad the Betts trade was, neither of the DFAs was projected to be crucial to the club’s future. The issue isn’t so much that they got the axe, but that it happened to them first. Several other players on the roster who’ve underperformed for significantly longer seem to be impervious.
Here are three players the Sox can probably do better without…
1. Ryan Brasier
He looked like the perfect non-tender candidate in November, coming off a season in which he pitched a career-high 62 1/3 innings across 68 appearances, but also posted a career-worst 5.78 ERA and 73 ERA+. Opposing batters hit .280/.312/.481 against him.
Brasier is a perplexing pitcher. After a 9.4% walk rate between 2020-21, he cut way down on giving out free passes this season (4.9). 2022 was his age-34 season, and he threw his 4-seam fastball, changeup, and sinker harder than he did the year before (though he only pitched 12 innings in 2021). He’s in the 81st percentile or better in walk rate, chase rate, fastball velocity, and extension.
But while he’s an above-average strikeout pitcher, he’s in the third percentile for hard-hit rate, and in the fifth for average exit velocity. He’s well below average in terms of expected batting average (xBA), expected slugging percentage (xSLG), and barrel %.
He’s certainly not the worst reliever the Sox have ever had – and he was great in 2018 – but his departure is overdue, especially now that the Sox have made so many bullpen upgrades.