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Red Sox agree to terms with reliever Dan Wheeler

Dec 18, 2010, 9:31 AM EDT

Dan Wheeler

From Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston comes word that the Red Sox have agreed to terms on a contract with right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler.

Sean McAdam of CSN New England heard Thursday that the Sox would not give the free agent righty anything greater than a one-year contract.  It remains to be seen if they stuck to that.

Wheeler, 33, turned in a rock-solid 3.35 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 48.1 innings for the Rays in 2010, holding opposing hitters to a .207 batting average and .273 on-base percentage.  He struck out 46 batters and walked only 16, showing good life on an arsenal of five pitches.

The 10-year MLB veteran should do well in a middle relief role next year in Boston.

The Red Sox also added free agent Bobby Jenks earlier this week to what should be a strong 2011 bullpen.

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UPDATE: Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that Wheeler’s contract includes a vesting option for 2012 that can be triggered if the right-hander makes 65 appearances next season.

In a world where Scott Downs can command a three-year, $15 million contract from the Angels and Joaquin Benoit can score a three-year, $16.5 million deal from the Tigers, the Red Sox probably had to add that option year in order to secure a signature.

UPDATE: Steve Phillips of AOL Fanhouse has the financial terms.  Both the one-year agreement and vesting option are worth $3 million.  That option can be pushed to $3.25 million if Wheeler appears in 75-plus games.

  1. rsnorth - Dec 18, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    Red Sox are doing a nice job of adding pieces to their bullpen. They’ll have 10-12 pitchers in the mix for 7 bullpen spots. Papelbon, Bard, Jenks (when he passes physical), Wakefield, likely Doubront assured positions. 2 to come

    • pisano - Dec 18, 2010 at 10:18 AM

      Yeah, but the problem is other than Bard the rest of these guys best days are behind them. That being said, it appears to be an improvement over last years failures.

      • JBerardi - Dec 18, 2010 at 3:53 PM

        Doubront certainly isn’t. Assuming the Red Sox use him purely as a reliever, it wouldn’t surprise me too much if he emerged as the their second best bullpen arm after Bard.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 18, 2010 at 9:34 PM

        Most relievers’ best days are behind them.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 18, 2010 at 11:10 AM

      There are at least trying to upgrade their bullpen. Although I’m not sure that what they have done so far is that big of an improvement. Papelbon is still a problem child in the closer spot based on last year. Jenks based on his last years is certainly not much of an upgrade if an upgrade at all. As for Wakefield what can any objective person/fan say about his performance the last 2 plus years. Doubront is very inexperienced with only 25 innings under him MLB career belt. Wheeler appears to be the one bright spot in these signings. That’s to say nothing of the injury bug that has bitten both Beckett and Dice K 2 out of the last 3 seasons.
      While Lester and Buchholz are 2 young and very good pitchers that any team including the Yankees would love to have and drool over the rest of the Red Sox pitching staff is average at best and at worst suspect.

      • baseballisboring - Dec 18, 2010 at 12:55 PM

        That’s pessimistic, I think. Jenks actually had really good peripherals last year, I’m ignoring the 4.44 ERA (10 K/9 with 3 BB/9). Pap had an off year but that doesn’t mean his career’s over, he still struck out 76 in 67 innings last year. Doubront is inexperienced, but has good stuff, a relief role is a great way to break him in.

        The injury bug is always a concern with Beckett but he pitched pretty well when he came back last year. Dice K just sucks, I don’t wanna talk about him, but he’s our fifth starter. I think most teams would love to have a Wheeler-Bard-Jenks-Papelbon back end, along with a Lester-Bucholz-Beckett-Lackey front four.

  2. jdonnel3 - Dec 18, 2010 at 12:02 PM

    Wheeler is still in his prime, he was a late bloomer and he doesnt have to totally rely on his fastball, this bullpen is gonna be real good..

  3. dominatetheworld - Dec 18, 2010 at 12:44 PM

    Forget the bullpen being good, the whole damn team is going to be good. They had one of the worst bad luck injury filled seasons in recent memory last year and they still finished only 6 back of the Yankees who haven’t added any key parts this offseason while Boston has upgraded by adding 2 perennial all stars as well as supplementary talent. Tampa has been picked apart like a turkey on Thanksgiving as well with free agency. Texas went to the WS last year and Boston finished the season with 1 less win than they did even with 75% of their opening day roster being injured. Boston as of right now is the best all around team going into this year and as long as they stay healthy and produce average career stats they will make it to the WS. I’m not even a Sox fan either but i can recognize and appreciate good talent together on the same club with a desire to win and great leadership. I hope if Pujols doesn’t resign with STL that he goes to Boston. That team would be sick and dominate for years.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 18, 2010 at 1:49 PM

      You may or may not be right in your assessment of the Red Sox. Let’s not forget the talent the Red Sox lost however (VMart and Beltre) they combined for 48 HR’s, nearly 200 RBI’s and each batted over .300
      The Sox still do no have a credible ML catcher Salty and Varitek are not going to cut it behind the plate and are certainly no replacement for VMart. Regardless of how you spin it outside of Lester and Buchholz the rest of the Sox pitching staff is as I said previously average at best and at worst suspect. Beckett and Dice K have a history of injury problems and by no means can be counted on for the entire season. As for Lackey take a look at his career numbers other then 2007 he’s basically a 12 to 14 game winner with an ERA in the 3.50 to 4.50 range with a WHIP in the high 1.20′s to low 1.40′s. What Boston fans saw last year from Lackey is what they are likely to see in the future from Lackey. As for the bullpen, Papelbon’s a head case when he’s good he’s good and when he’s bad he’s really bad like last year. If the Sox are pinning their hopes on Jenks they might wanna be careful. His last 2 years his ERA is 3.71 & 4.44 and his WHIP 1.28 & 1.37 and his BAA is .250 & .260 not exactly shut down numbers for a set up man or potential closer. Just pointing out in my reply there are 2 sides to every story or in this case every post. I think it might be a little early to reserve the American League spot in the World Series to the Red Sox since we are still 3 plus months from opening day 2011.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 18, 2010 at 2:52 PM

        The Sox won 89 games with a two-man ‘pen and missing Pedroia and Youkilis for about half a season each. Gonzalez/Youk is slightly better offensively than Youk/Beltre were last year, although worse defensively. Crawford is a better player than V-Mart by far, and you get more playing time from LF than C, not to mention Victor’s injury history (average of 118 games played the last three years).

        They were probably going to win 3 or 4 more games than their 89 last year just from better health, another couple if they have even an AVERAGE ‘pen next year, plus another couple for Crawford, and you’ve got quite a team. Regress it some for repeat injuries (injuries aren’t JUST luck, after all) and you’ve got a conservative 95 win team.

        P.S. I think if you do the same for the Rays, you find that they’re easily a 90-win team. Only Crawford’s a big loss, and they won 97 games without ANYONE overperforming, on a young team on which several players could take big steps forward. I have them at 92 wins or so.

      • baseballisboring - Dec 18, 2010 at 3:04 PM

        Definitely too early to start giving anybody the World Series spot, but you’re definitely selling the Sox short a bit. Given the abysmal production we got out of our outfield last year, adding Crawford to that mix and then replacing V-Mart with Salty is a fair trade…there’s only one Joe Mauer, I mean, the offensive standard at catcher is so low to begin with I’m really not worried about it. Plus we’ve added Adrian Gonzalez…not that offense was ever our problem, but our offense is gonna be beastly. I don’t know why you’re so down on Jenks…a 10.42 K/9 along with a 3.09 BB/9 are definitely relief-ace type numbers, and we had NOBODY reliable last year except Bard and Papelbon, at times. Now we’ve added two quality set up guys, Wheeler just became the best 6th inning guy in the majors. If we won 89 with what we had last year (remember, Beckett and Dice were banged up all year last year too, we can get by even if they’re not in perfect health) this looks like a very, very dangerous team with the additions Theo and co have made.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 18, 2010 at 4:43 PM

        To Ari – I don’t necessarily disagree with you about the Red Sox being a 95 win team. I just disagree with how you got there. I would attribute the wins to being a result of the players getting back from injuries. Not the addition of Crawford and Gonzalez. I think the loss of VMart and Beltre come close to offsetting the addition of those two.
        As for Tampa Bay, this is where we definitely disagree. The Rays not only lost Crawford, they lost Soriano (with no replacement that is close to his caliber), They also lost Pena and Wheeler and at least 3 other relief pitchers. Tampa Bay will be lucky to win 85 games this year. Tampa Bay last year won I believe 42 one or two run games, my guess is the loss of Soriano combined with the loss of Crawford and the loss of the other players will cost the Rays at least 10 or 15 of those 1 or 2 run games come 2011. Like I said I think at best they are an 85 win team in 2011. Don’t be surprised if the Blue Jays pass the Rays in the standings in 2011.
        Just a quick not concerning the Yankees. Assuming Pettitte returns I don’t see any reason they won’t win at least 95 games the same amount they won in 2010. The problem children in the pitching staff last year were Vazquez and AJ. Combined they only won 20 games. AJ should (crossing my fingers) win 12 games (he won 10 last year), and I’m confident the Yankees can find a replacement that can win at least 8 games. As for CC, Andy & Hughes combined last year they won 50 games, I’m more than confident combined they will win more than that in 2011. Also I do look for continued improvement with Gardner. Tex and ARod should bounce back batting average wise. They both continue to be able to drive in batters even considering their BA slipped last year. And while Jeter had a poor year in 2010 I look for a slight improvement in his numbers. Not a huge improvement but a slight improvement. I’m sure other posters will disagree but in my book that comes to at least 95 wins come 2011.

      • Ari Collins - Dec 18, 2010 at 10:08 PM

        I’m glad you agree with 95 wins (though, again, I think that’s conservative), but you’re mistaken if you think Crawford and Gonzalez aren’t better than Victor and Beltre offensively. Up there you listed HRs and RBIs, and even if you go by counting stats (which you shouldn’t), here are the two pairs:

        Martinez/Beltre: 48 HRs, 148 Rs, 181 RBIs, 3 SBs
        Gonzalez/Crawford: 50 HRs, 197 Rs, 191 RBIs, 47 SBs

        Then remember that the second pair did that in pitcher’s park, Gonzalez in the very pitcherest park, while Fenway is, of course, a hitter’s park.

        And I’d bet you any money that the Rays record next year is not only better than the Jays, but closer to 2nd place than 4th. If not actually 2nd place. Seriously, Crawford was not only the only great player they lost, he was the only good one. Relievers are replaceable (they’ve ALREADY replaced Soriano; go look at Joel Peralta’s numbers last year, they were just as good) and Pena hit .196 (or, for fancy stat guys, 1 WAR). Again, Crawford’s a big blow, but no one thinks he was worth more than 7 wins, which puts them at 90. Desmond Jennings will probably take a year or two to adjust to the majors, but he’s probably worth at least a win above replacement right now. And if they replace Pena with just an average first baseman, there’s another win back right there.

        The problem with wishcasting the Yankees to all bounce back is that most of the guys who were worse last year were over 30. Those guys tend not to bounce back. That tends to just be who they are now. I’m not saying some of them won’t bounce back, but they all won’t, and any of them’s just as likely to slide further down. I mean, you could say the same thing about the Sox rotation bouncing back, but, of course, they’re not on your favorite team, so you see them more objectively. : ) Take a look at what you said about the Sox rotation and then imagine saying that about the Yankees’ guys and you’ll see that it pretty much fits too. Andy (even assuming he returns; the chance he doesn’t has to be factored in), C.C., and Hughes are hardly a lock to win even 50 games again. Do you know how many teams had three pitchers combine to win more than 50 games last year? 0. Only two teams had three pitchers win 50 – the Yankees and the Sox. Sabathia’s not likely to win more games (very few pitchers do), and Hughes is very unlikely to win 18 again next year, unless he improves a LOT. Which could happen, I would not be shocked, but he was actually a lot worse in the second half last year.

        I guess my point is that I just spent a lot of time trying to show a random person on the internet that he’s probably biased towards his team. : )

      • uyf1950 - Dec 19, 2010 at 2:03 PM

        To Ari – since all of this requires both of us to look into the future which neither of us can do we will just have to wait and see how the 2011 season progresses. The thing you failed to acknowledge in your post is the Red Sox still do not have a viable catcher. A pretty important piece of the pie but I guess you don’t think that will effect the Red Sox at all. The way I see it if the Red Sox had kept all Beltre and VMart and the injured players returned in 2011. Their starting 8 postition players would be: VMart ; Youkilis ; Pedoria ; Lowrie/Scutaro ; Beltre ; Cameron ; Ellsbury ; Drew.
        Now with the trades their 8 position players are: Varitek/Salty ; Youkilis ; Pedoria ; Lowrie/Scutaro ; Gonzalez ; Crawford, Ellsbury ; Drew.
        Maybe it is my bias but I fail to see how that makes them that much better solely because of the 2 signings/trades. Exchanging Crawford for Cameron, Gonzalez for Beltre, and Salty for VMart doesn’t seem to me to be a net positive for the Sox. The positive is the injured players coming back. Perhaps it’s because of your bias that you see it differently.
        One final comment if I understand you, you are comparing Peralta who has had one good year with the Nationals in the NL in a pitchers ball park to Soriano and say their is virtually no downside to losing Soriano. Those 40 or so 1 & 2 run games the Rays won in 2010 won’t be negatively effected by the change in closers. Now who’s being bias?

  4. buckwheatt11 - Dec 18, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Well, it really doesn’t matter how good our bullpen is, stupid francona will miss manage it. His managerial skills last year were terrible. If we won half the games he lost for us, we would have been in the pennant race.

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