The Red Sox have designated catcher Erik Kratz for assignment and optioned struggling right-hander Joe Kelly to Triple-A Pawtucket, the team announced. (CSN New England’s Sean McAdam tweeted the Kratz DFA prior to the announcement.) Additionally, Dustin Pedroia has landed on the 15-day DL due to a hamstring injury. In a series of corresponding moves, Boston has recalled Jackie Bradley Jr. from Pawtucket and selected the contracts of shortstop Deven Marrero and right-hander Jonathan Aro.
The biggest item of note in this story, for Red Sox fans, will be the departure of Kelly from the rotation, at least for the time being. One of two players acquired from the Cardinals in what now looks to be a lopsided John Lackey trade (the other was Allen Craig), Kelly has made 24 starts in a Red Sox uniform, with the cumulative result being a 4.96 ERA to go along with 6.7 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9. His 4.20 ERA in 2014 was significantly better than his 5.67 mark this season, but his FIP and xFIP marks over the two seasons are pretty similar, each pegging his true talent in the 4.10 to 4.40 range.
Kelly’s struggles this year have come largely as a result of an inability to strand hitters, but some pundits have suggested that he may simply be better off being converted to a relief pitcher in the long run. Whether that outcome proves to be the case remains to be seen, but one can imagine Kelly’s fastball (currently averaging 95.7 mph) playing up even better in the bullpen. For the time being, at least, Kelly will work in the Pawtucket rotation, tweets the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato.
Kelly has already accumulated enough service time in 2015 to reach three years of Major League service and thus qualify for arbitration following the season. As such, there’s no risk of this option — even if he’s left in the minors for a significant amount of time — delaying his path to free agency. The struggles and demotion will, however, undoubtedly impact his earning potential in his first trip through the arbitration process.
As for the 35-year-old Kratz, he was claimed off waivers from the Royals on Sunday due to some concern over an injury to Blake Swihart. However, Swihart is healthy and back in the lineup, so Kratz’s time in a Boston uniform will end without so much as a single in-game appearance over the few days that he was on the roster. A career .217/.270/.400 hitter, Kratz has proven himself capable of hitting for power but at the cost of questionable batting average and OBP marks. Defensively, Kratz’s 31 percent caught-stealing rate is above average, and he’s received plus ratings in terms of pitch framing.