The Red Sox announced Tuesday that they’ve reinstated right-hander Steven Wright from the restricted list. Wright had been serving an 80-game suspension following a failed PED test, but he’ll now join the Boston bullpen in place of righty Josh Smith, who has been optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket. The Sox transferred Nathan Eovaldi from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL to open a spot for Wright on the 40-man roster.
Wright, 34, was afforded a brief minor league tuneup in accordance with the suspension rules set forth in the JDA, and he pitched 9 2/3 innings with two runs allowed in Triple-A during that unpaid stint. He’ll return to the Sox in hopes of approximating the 2.68 ERA he posted in 53 2/3 innings last season. The knuckleballer’s averages of 7.0 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 weren’t nearly as impressive as that ERA, however, and Wright has been rather inconsistent on a year-to-year basis, making it tough to know what to expect from him moving forward.
Despite a lack of offseason additions, Boston relievers rank eighth in the Majors in ERA (3.96). seventh in FIP (4.07) and seventh in xFIP (4.17). The Boston ’pen currently paces the Majors in K/9 (10.7) and overall strikeout percentage (27.5 percent), and while Wright won’t help in that regard, he’ll be expected to strengthen the overall unit by deepening the mix and perhaps providing some stability in a long relief capacity.
Wright won’t be eligible for postseason play, should the Red Sox return to October baseball. He’ll turn 35 in August and is under team control through the 2020 season via the arbitration process. His 80-game ban ultimately cost him roughly $651K of this season’s $1.375MM salary.