Red Sox sign ace reliever Garrett Whitlock to four-year contract extension
The Red Sox have yet to get contract extensions done with big stars Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts, but released some surprise news on Sunday morning when they announced an extension with second-year big leaguer Garrett Whitlock.
A dazzling right-hander who came over from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft in 2020 and posted a 1.96 ERA in his rookie season, Whitlock was already under team control for five more seasons. But the Sox bought out his three years of arbitration eligibility in 2024-2026, and included a pair of team-friendly options for 2027 and 2028.
Whitlock has impressed the Red Sox since the first day of spring training in 2021, when manager Alex Cora singled him out as someone who had caught his eye. He’ll now be a fixture in the Red Sox pitching staff for years to come.
“This is a great day,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters Sunday at Yankee Stadium, including MLB.com. “You all know the talent that Garrett has that’s been on display from Day One in Fort Myers last year, all the way up through October. I think a lot of you also know the person that he is — and when you make this type of commitment, that’s just as important. He works hard. He competes. He’s a really good teammate. He’s humble. He wants to learn. He respects everyone.”
For Whitlock, the deal guarantees him at least $18.75 million in total earnings after the 2022 season, according to an industry source.
He’ll make $1 million in ’23, his final year before arbitration, then $3.25 million in ’24, $5.25 million in ’25 and $7.25 million in ’26, when he would’ve entered his final year of arbitration eligibility. There’s also an $8.25 million club option with a $1 million buyout in ’27 and a $10.5 million club option with a $0.5 million buyout in ’28.
The option years can escalate by $2.5 million each depending on innings totals in previous years and awards voting, with a max escalation of $4 million.
Two years ago, Whitlock was recovering from Tommy John surgery and didn’t know what his future held. His journey has been nothing short of remarkable.
“It’s still so surreal,” Whitlock told reporters in New York. “It’s crazy. It really hasn’t felt like it has hit yet. You know, as me and (my wife) Jordan were talking this morning, it was just like two years ago — I was working two jobs, trying to survive the COVID season and everything like that. And so now, just to be sitting here doing this, it’s all very surreal.”
These deals to buy out arbitration years of promising young players early in their big league careers have been common in recent days, particularly among small- and mid-market teams trying to lock up potential stars before they become too costly.
The Sox haven’t executed a deal like this since 2018, when they extended Christian Vazquez and bought out his arbitration years while adding some team-friendly options.
Story misses series finale
Trevor Story wasn’t in the lineup for Sunday night’s game against the Yankees because he’s dealing with the flu, Cora told reporters. He tested negative for COVID-19.
“He doesn’t feel great,” Cora told reporters in New York. “I think it’s one of those 24-hour flus. He got tested. Everything’s fine. So he either travels with us (Sunday) or by himself (Monday). But as far as like COVID, he’s OK.”
Story is 1-for-8 with a walk at the plate in his first two games with the Red Sox. He recorded his first hit with his new team on Saturday with a double and has looked good transitioning to second base.
Jonathan Arauz replaced him at second base on Sunday night, while Christian Arroyo made his first career start in right field. Jackie Bradley Jr. was on the bench as the Red Sox faced Yankees left-hander Jordan Montgomery.
Barnes makes progress
Matt Barnes, unavailable this weekend because of back tightness, threw on Sunday and feels better, Cora told reporters. The manager is hopeful the reliever will be ready for Monday’s series opener in Detroit.
Barnes injured his back last week during a workout. If he can’t be available Monday, Cora said on Saturday that he may need a stint on the injured list.