Dave Dombrowski appears to be on a mission to collect as many former Detroit Tigers as possible. Already under contract are David Price, Doug Fister, and Jhonny Peralta, despite the fact that neither Fister nor Peralta are particularly likely to help the Red Sox this year. Peralta is on a minor league contract, and Fister has some incentives built into his deal for major league appearances, but let’s not kid ourselves here. He’s, at best, a decent bet to provide a week or two of solid pitching. He made his debut on Sunday and notched his first quality start of the year. But he’s simply no longer the kind of pitcher a contending team wants getting regular starts.
Fister hadn’t made an appearance in the major leagues prior to yesterday’s start, and only has 15 1/3 AAA innings in the Los Angeles Angels’ organization. He was signed there as a depth option and they haven’t needed him or his 4.02 ERA against AAA hitters – never mind his 4.48 xFIP. The Red Sox, similarly, are probably hoping they don’t need him for more than a few starts. He was placed on the 25-man roster, replacing Hector Velazquez, and plugs a hole that currently sits at the back end of the rotation with Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright, Roenis Elias, and Brian Johnson all on the DL, and health risks such as Drew Pomeranz and David Price on the roster.
Jhonny Peralta joined the organization on a minor league deal and will serve as further insurance against Pablo Sandoval continuing to be terrible or hitting the disabled list again. With Josh Rutledge on the concussion DL, the Red Sox just called up Tzu-Wei Lin who was their sixth option at third this year. Peralta is merely a flier that could have enough of a hot streak to cover a portion of the timespan between now and when Rafael Devers is ready to ascend to his rightful place at the hot corner in Fenway Park. Lin is likely to be a better hitter than Deven Marrero, but hasn’t played much third (1 game in the Arizona Fall League in 2015 and 17 games last year) and therefore much less likely to provide excellent third base defense.
Even still, Peralta has a 26 wRC+ and a .000 ISO on the year, so the chances he provides anything are pretty low. Given these two long shots, the next logical question is, should Dombrowski throw a minor league contract at Francisco Rodriguez? His 7.82 ERA, supported by a 7.36 FIP and a 5.73 xFIP, puts him right in line with Peralta in the production department this season.
And unlike the infield, the Sox pen isn’t exactly suffering. Craig Kimbrel has a 0.85 ERA, Heath Hembree is at 3.74, Joe Kelly is at 1.14, Matt Barnes has a 4.13 (though a 0.56 at home), and Robbie Scott sits at a nifty 2.60. Even Fernando Abad is sporting a 3.20. So K-Rod cracking the major league roster would seem to be even more of a long shot than Peralta taking the field at third for the Red Sox, but here’s the thing: If they can sign him to a minor league deal, it’s entirely upside, even if there are incentives.
No, it’s not likely that the formerly great closer will ever recapture his past glory, but if he’s pitching in Boston at any point, it means he’s at least figured out how to be useful again. The Red Sox don’t need a back of the pen reliever. With Carson Smith due to return some time in the second half of the season, Joe Kelly figuring out how to be successful in his new role, Matt Barnes being lights out at home, and Craig Kimbrel being as good as any reliever in the history of ever, the Sox only need extra depth options, and K-Rod is perfect for that role. He has a history of excellence and has been good as recently as last year. Jhonny Peralta can’t even claim that much. Dombrowski has demonstrated a tendency to buy into players he has had control of before, so don’t be surprised if we see an announcement that Rodriguez is joining the organization at some point in the next couple of weeks.
I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?