The Red Sox did a little Black Friday shopping this year.
Michael Wacha, the 30-year-old right-hander who had a 5.05 ERA on 29 appearances with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021, is nearing a one-year deal to sign in Boston pending a physical, according to a report by ESPN.
Wacha is a classic example of a pitcher who has better peripheral stats, with 121 strikeouts in 124-2/3 innings, and a chase rate that ranked among the best in the majors in 2021. He was largely hurt by the long ball this year, when he allowed 23 homers. He’s suffered from a high home run rate the last three years but was once a highly touted prospect with the St. Louis Cardinals. Wacha debuted in 2013 — when he was named the NLCS MVP before starting twice against the Red Sox in the World Series, including the Game 6 clincher — and he became an All-Star in 2015.
Wacha signed for $3 million with the Rays last year. The Red Sox have been on the search for low-risk pitching depth to replace Eduardo Rodriguez, but Wacha likely slots into Boston’s staff as a depth option at the back end of the rotation.
The Sox probably aren’t done on the pitching market, as chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said last week that it’s one of their top priorities this winter.
“I think by the time the offseason is over, we will have added pitching of various sorts, including starting pitching,” Bloom said. “I think that’s something that’s a clear goal of ours. Who that’s going to be or when, I don’t know yet.”