In signing right-hander Matt Andriese to a one-year deal on Wednesday, the Red Sox acquired a versatile pitcher who is both capable and willing to do whatever is asked of him.
Whether that means working as a starter or reliever has yet to be determined, but the 31-year-old is ready for whichever role is thrown his way next season.
“I signed with the Red Sox for the opportunity to [work out of the bullpen and start],” Andriese said when speaking with reporters via Zoom. “I have a lot of flexibility in my career. I’ve started lots of games and I’ve come out of the bullpen more recently but can be given the opportunity to start. The Red Sox are obviously trying to get more starters, too. But, I think my flexibility and my role will be: I’m going to compete for a starting spot but I know that being in the bullpen is also an option to help the team.”
While with the Angels this past season, Andriese was used strictly as a reliever (his one start lasted 1 2/3 innings). In 15 appearances out of the Los Angeles bullpen, the California native proved to be effective by posting a 3.56 ERA and .559 against over 30 1/3 innings of work. The lengths of his outings ranged from 2/3 of an inning all the way to 5 2/3 innings.
The year prior, Andriese was again used strictly out of the bullpen by the Diamondbacks. But, even though it has been a while since he has operated as a starter, the former third-round draft pick has not wavered in his approach.
“I haven’t really changed much. I’ve kind of fine-tuned different pitches,” said Andriese. “I think using all my pitches in a starting role probably benefits me more. The last two, three years when I was strictly a reliever, I relied heavily on my fastball and changeup — my best pitch is my changeup — but I think getting back to using all four of my pitches, my curveball, slider, cutter, two-seam. [By] just mixing and matching better, I’ll be able to go deeper into games, throw more innings.
“Every spring trainer, I build up as a starter,” he continued. “I build up to five, six innings. Even this year in Anaheim, I was locked in to be the fifth starter and then we had some bullpen issues over there and we needed some coverage in the bullpen. I think just my flexibility allows a lot of teams to mix and match my types of roles.”
The flexibility mentioned by Andriese here was perhaps on display best during his tenure with the Rays from Opening Day 2015 through July 2018. Of the 99 appearances he made with Tampa Bay over that span, the UC Riverside product was used as a starter more than 48% of the time.
While he did spend a good chunk of his career to this point with the Rays after getting dealt from the Padres in 2014, Andriese formed a relationship with Chaim Bloom, who is now chief baseball officer for the Red Sox. The two got along well and that connection aided in the process that saw the veteran righty land with Boston on Wednesday.
“It was very important,” Andriese said when asked about how important Bloom’s role was in his signing with the Sox. “The familiarity with him and everything like that. It was easy to talk to him and we kind of cut right to the chase, didn’t have to deal with any other stuff. He knows me well and I think that will help us going forward.”
Even with his and Bloom’s relationship in mind, Andriese’s role with the Red Sox for 2021 has yet to be clearly defined. More will likely become clear at the onset of spring training come February.
In the meantime, the 6-foot-2, 215 lb. right-hander certainly looks like a fine addition as a potential swingman for the price the Red Sox paid.
The contract Andriese signed on Wednesday includes a club option for 2022 and is worth $2.1 million in guaranteed money, though different incentives and escalators based off number of innings pitched could increase that sum up to $7.35 million through 2022.