March 19: Manager Alex Cora confirmed that Robles will be returning to the Red Sox, adding that the right-hander remains in the Dominican Republic as he waits for a visa, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). The deal is a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, per Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com (via Twitter). If he makes the Major League roster, Robles will make $2.25MM, adds Speier.
The 31-year-old is now set to continue his tenure in Boston after being acquired in a deadline deal with the Twins last July. While his overall 4.43 ERA or 12.5% walk rate on the 2021 season won’t wow anyone, the right-hander’s results improved considerably upon joining the Red Sox.
In 25 post-trade innings Robles carried a 3.60 ERA with an impressive 30.3% strikeout rate. His walk rate remained several notches above the league average, but given Boston’s minimal cost of acquisition Robles’s performance was more than acceptable. Further working for the reliever is his ability to take the ball every couple of days, as his 72 appearances topped his previous record of 71 appearances during a strong 2019 season as the Angels’ closer. An ability to be a workhorse out of the bullpen may prove prudent given the injury risk already on display in Boston’s rotation.
Boston’s reunion with Robles through free agency is about as good a relief signing as one can expect at this time of the offseason, particularly with reliever Kenley Jansen’s departure from the free agent board. Among remaining free agent relief pitchers, Robles has perhaps the best bet of following the high-strikeout, high-walk rate formula that Boston’s pitching staff rode to general success last year.
Tonight’s signing also addresses a weakness in the Sox bullpen, which had a dearth of right-handed relievers behind end-of-game right-handers Garrett Whitlock and Matt Barnes. Three of chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s most recent moves have been centered on adding southpaws to the team’s pitching staff, but the addition of Robles should take some pressure off incumbent reliever Hirokazu Sawamura as the team’s go-to right-hander in the middle innings.