10-31-2011: Sox pick up Scutaro, decision remains on Wheeler

With the World Series over, MLB players have started to declare for free agency. That means the deadline for teams  exercising or declining their options on players is coming right up.

The Red Sox exercised their $6M option on Marco Scutaro yesterday. The 35-year old shortstop had an excellent season, hitting .299/.358/.423 this year and exhibiting the contact (94.7% contact rate) and pesky hitter skills (3.92 P/PA) the Sox valued when they brought him aboard.

Defensively, Scutaro played well (+1.0 UZR/150) at a premium defensive position where Jed Lowrie seems to be proving less and less capable the past two years (-15.4 and -17.4 UZR/150). Scutaro has been about average at the position since he joined the Sox two seasons ago, so it makes a lot of sense to keep him on one more year, with Jose Iglesias still on the cusp of the Majors. A 2013 roster with Iglesias starting and Lowrie as the utility infielder looks pretty good to me.

Here are our projections for 2012:

Name Age Avg OBP SLG
Scutaro 36 0.265 0.331 0.372
Lowrie 28 0.246 0.315 0.395
Iglesias 22 0.254 0.318 0.362

Decision on Wheeler looms

One option remains for the Sox, reliever Dan Wheeler. If they pick it up, the Rhode Island native will stick around for another year at $3M; alternatively, the buyout would be. Wheeler was effective at times, but spent a lot of time on the DL and never really overwhelmed anyone with his stuff, with 7.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 ratios. His 49.1 innings were mostly low leverage innings, so he did not play an integral role in this bullpen this year.

Just has he has for the past four seasons, Wheeler throws in the high 80s and mixes in a cutter, curveball and changeup. He’s an average reliever, and his -0.04 WPA shows that he did just as much to help us win this year as he did to help us lose. That ranks behind almost everyone who pitched in the bullpen this year.

Wheeler would be a solid arm to keep around, but it all comes down to the money. There are cheaper alternatives for the Sox going forward, like Scott Atchison, who’s got similar stuff and would make less than $500k in 2012. Especially if the Sox want to keep Alfredo Aceves in the bullpen and/or extend Jonathan Papelbon, I’d expect him to be gone.

Our projections for next year:

Name Age IP K/9 BB/9 ERA WHIP
Wheeler 33 62.2 7.8 2.4 4.02 1.15
Atchison 36 47.1 7.0 3.0 4.12 1.35

One Response to 10-31-2011: Sox pick up Scutaro, decision remains on Wheeler

  1. redsoxtalk says:

    The Red Sox have declined their options on BOTH Wheeler and Atchison:

    Atchison was out of options, but I thought they’d keep him around at least to begin the year, given his relatively low price tag. What this means to me is that the Sox may be clearing room on their 40-man roster for at least one free agent bullpen signing this off-season. Might we let Papelbon walk and bring in Heath Bell?

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