The Red Sox have officially signed left-hander Jake Diekman to a two-year deal that also includes a team option for 2024, the club announced on Wednesday. In a corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster, fellow southpaw James Paxton was unsurprisingly placed on the 60-day injured list as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery
Diekman, 35, first agreed to a multi-year contract with the Sox over the weekend and was spotted at the Fenway South Complex with Matt Strahm on Monday. He then passed his physical on Wednesday, leading to his signing becoming official.
According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Diekman’s deal includes $8 million in guaranteed money. He will earn a base salary of $3.5 million over the next two seasons with the chance to earn an additional $4 million in 2023. If the Red Sox decline his club option, Diekman will net $1 million in the form of a buyout.
A former 30th-round draft choice of the Phillies out of Cloud County Community College in 2007, Diekman has pitched for five different teams over the course of his 10-year big-league career. The Nebraska native became a free agent this winter after spending the last 2 1/2 seasons with the Athletics.
In 67 appearances (third-highest on the team) out of Oakland’s bullpen in 2021, Diekman posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.46 FIP to go along with 83 strikeouts to 34 walks over 60 2/3 innings of work. His splits against left-handed hitters were similar to his splits against right-handed hitters, as he yielded a .716 OPS against the former and a .711 OPS against the latter.
There were 14 left-handed relievers across Major League Baseball who tossed at least 60 innings last year. Among them, Diekman ranked first in strikeouts per nine innings (12.3), first in strikeout rate (31.7%), 11th in walks per nine innings (5.0), 11th in walk rate (13%), ninth in batting average against (.211), 13th in WHIP (1.34), and ninth in xFIP (4.09), per FanGraphs.
Throughout his career, Diekman has primarily been a four-pitch pitcher who operates with a four-seam fastball (averaged 95.3 mph in 2021), a slider, a sinker, and a changeup. Based off the data available on Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 195 pound hurler had one of the top whiff rates (35.1%) in all of baseball last season.
Diekman, who will wear the No. 35 with the Sox, brings plenty of experience to his new team and should prove to be a versatile, high-leverage relief option for manager Alex Cora. He recorded seven of his 14 career saves last year and has otherwise made 479 lifetime appearances between innings seven through nine.
With the additions of Diekman and Strahm, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has bolstered the left side of Boston’s bullpen to complement the likes of Austin Davis, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.
(Picture of Jake Diekman: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)