Red Sox News: Boston signs reliever, Tanner Houck rotation chances, Matt Barnes

Boston Red Sox Spring Training
Boston Red Sox Spring Training / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox are still making moves to secure pitching depth even if the additions will start the season in the minors.

The Red Sox have signed former Brewers reliever Jason Alexander to a minor-league deal. Alexander, soon to be 31 years old, made his big-league debut with Milwaukee in 2022. He made 18 appearances, 11 of them starts, and logged a 5.40 ERA with 46 strikeouts and 28 walks.

Alexander will head to Florida to partake in Boston's minor-league camp and will begin the 2023 season in the minors. He didn't see any big-league playing time last year after beginning the season on the IL with shoulder inflammation. He was then optioned to the minors, and then outrighted.

Alexander is a ground ball pitcher who limits walks but also doesn't register a ton of strikeouts. He'll serve as a good backup arm if the Sox deal with injury woes to the bullpen as they have in the past.

Tanner Houck makes his case for Red Sox starting rotation spot

Boston's manager Alex Cora made some comments all but confirming the majority of the Sox's starting rotation. Lucas Giolito, Brayan Bello, Nick Pivetta and Kutter Crawford are all likely to be featured in the rotation. The last spot will go to either Josh Winckowski, Garrett Whitlock or Tanner Houck.

And Houck isn't hoping to make the choice easy for Boston's coaches.

“Honestly make it a hard decision on them I think is what we can all do,” Houck said. “I think it’s the best thing we can do because it means we’re all pitching pretty well.”

Houck pitched well in his first spring training appearance against the Phillies, during which he retired all six batters he faced. He fared better than Whitlock, who gave up a home run to the Orioles' Adley Rutschman in his first spring training start. However, Whitlock threw two strikeouts and Houck didn't miss many bats.

Cora commented that he believes Houck gained the most velocity of any Red Sox pitcher this offseason, and he attributes the uptick to being healthy and making a few mechanical adjustments.

The Nationals sign former Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes

The Nationals have signed former homegrown Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes to a minor-league deal after he declined his option to continue his career with the Marlins for the season.

Barnes has not pitched since June after he underwent hip surgery the following month, which kept him sidelined for the rest of the season.

Boston drafted Barnes in the first round back in 2011 and he debuted in 2014. He spent nine seasons with the Red Sox and is a career 4.13 ERA hurler. Barnes earned an All-Star nod in 2021 but his production severely dropped off in 2022, leading to his designation for assignment in early 2023.

After 10 seasons in MLB, this was Barnes' first stint as a free agent and he'll look to rebound with a rebuilding Nationals squad.

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