Red Sox rivals sign blast-from-the-past pitcher that Boston could’ve used

Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three
Division Series - Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies - Game Three / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox have been searching for options to make the starting rotation better. But the desire for inexpensive help has hindered their progress.

Lucas Giolito was Boston's cheap free-agent option and his tenure already isn't panning out the way management expected. The Red Sox also signed Cooper Criswell to try and make a starter out of him, which may work, based on his Grapefruit League performances.

But there was an inexpensive, experienced pitching option available that the Sox's rival Rays capitalized on.

Jake Odorizzi didn't pitch for the entirety of 2023 after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder, but the veteran is ready to make his return to the mound. The Rays signed him to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp. The deal starts at $1.5 million, but it includes bonuses if Odorizzi reaches innings 25, 50, 75, 100, and 150 with the big-league club.

The Red Sox have a clear interest in rebound candidates — they signed Giolito to rehab his career, Liam Hendriks is recovering from Tommy John surgery and won't pitch for the Sox until after the trade deadline, and Michael Fulmer signed a two-year minor league deal while he heals from a UCL reconstruction.

Odorizzi would be in a similar spot. He hasn't pitched in the majors since 2022 and he threw in front of teams in February to find a suitor to help bring his career back to life, however, it's unclear if the Red Sox had any representation at his throwing session.

The Red Sox could've signed Jake Odorizzi as a rebound project like Lucas Giolito

Odorizzi's most recent years in MLB have been up and down. He was an All-Star in 2019 and he posted a 3.51 ERA and 178 strikeouts over 159 innings. Since then, Odorizzi has only thrown 224.2 innings, partly due to his shoulder operation, but his numbers have also declined since 2019. He logged a 4.21 ERA in 2021 and a 4.40 in 2022.

Similar to Giolito, Odorizzi's two most recent seasons weren't his best. But Boston's new pitching coach, Andrew Bailey, could have worked some magic with the veteran, as he'd been trying to do with Giolito and as he's done before with Carlos Rodón and Kevin Gausman.

The Red Sox have nothing to lose. They could've capitalized on another cheap rebound candidate who has the potential to eat innings after the loss of Giolito.

All is not lost, however. Better — although, more expensive — candidates remain unsigned. Michael Lorenzen would be a fine option for the Red Sox if Jordan Montgomery is completely out of the question.

Despite how well Boston's pitching has performed this spring, the staff could, and should, be better. And the longer the Red Sox wait to sign reinforcements, the worse the options will be.

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