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Penny will fill a back of the rotation role with a well-structured deal for one year and a short $5 million. If the Red Sox get over 160 innings out of him, he will earn up to $3 million. Just two years ago, he finished third in the National League Cy Young award race, but has always had injury issues and seems to fade in the second half of seasons. For the Sox to get a solid pitcher to bolster the rotation on a pay-as-you-go plan is a good acquisition.
The other impact to this signing is that Justin Masterson appears to be headed for the bullpen. Though he pitched well as a starter last season, he was the Red Sox best option in setting up Jonathan Papelbon down the stretch and will strengthen the relief corps.
The other signing was a move looking to fill the catching void with a former Sox player, Josh Bard. Again, the deal was well-done by the team, a one-year, non-guaranteed $1.6 million deal. This will be the second time the Red Sox try to replace Doug Mirabelli with Bard. In 2006, the Red Sox re-acquired Mirabelli for Bard and others (Cla Meredith) after Bard proved ineffective with catching the knuckleball, which made him expendable as Tim Wakefield‘s personal catcher.
The clear drawback here is that Bard has never been a full-time catcher, recording 118 games as a career high and only hitting 100 in one other season. He is also only a .265 career hitter, coming off a .202 season and has a career total of 28 home runs over seven seasons. The Red Sox are likely not done with this position, and Jason Varitek still appears to be on the table, but this gives them some kind of answer should all other talks fall through.
With the Red Sox striking out on all of the major prizes this offseason, these moves are a much more cost-effective way to fill the needs of the club. However, these signings do not solidify the questions around the offense including Mike Lowell and David Ortiz‘ injuries and their returns.
However, the Red Sox may yet make a big splash this offseason as rumors are beginning to swirl that they are interested in getting Hanley Ramirez back from the Marlins. Word has it that it will cost the Red Sox a number of key players as Hanley is one of the Fish’ few marketable players.