The Red Sox have signed right-hander Garrett Whitlock to a four-year contract extension, the club announced earlier Sunday morning. The deal covers the 2023-2026 seasons and also includes club options for 2027 and 2028.
According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Whitlock’s deal — which starts in 2023 — includes escalators based on number of innings pitched and award recognition and can max out at $44.5 million over six years.
Whitlock, per Cotillo, will receive a signing bonus of $1 million upfront. His 2022 salary of $720,000 will not be affected by the extension, but he will then earn $1 million in 2023, $3.25 million in 2024, $5.25 million in 2025, and $7.25 million in 2026. The club option for 2027 is worth $8.25 million and comes with a $1 million buyout while the club option for 2028 is worth $10.5 million and comes with a $500,000 buyout.
In regards to the escalators, Cotillo notes that Whitlock’s options can increase by up to $2.5 million per year based on the cumulative number of innings he pitches from 2023-2026 as well as recognition he receives for certain awards. All told, each year’s option can increase by a maximum of $4 million per season.
Whitlock, who the Red Sox selected from the Yankees organization in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, was originally slated to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2026 season. By signing him to this extension, though, the Sox can now retain control of Whitlock through 2028.
A native of Georgia, Whitlock broke in with Boston last year and immediately made his impact felt as a rookie out of the bullpen. In the process of becoming one of Alex Cora’s most trusted relievers, the 25-year-old righty posted a stellar 1.96 ERA and 2.84 FIP to go along with 81 strikeouts to 17 walks over 46 appearances spanning 73 1/3 innings of work.
Early on in the 2022 campaign, Whitlock is once again set up for a high-leverage, late-inning spot in Cora’s bullpen. That said, the structure of this complex extension seems to indicate the Red Sox still view Whitlock as a starter in the long-term. As Cotillo puts it, “the innings-related escalators are based on Whitlock accumulating a significant number of innings as a starter.”
If Whitlock remains with the Sox through the end of the 2028 season, he will have the opportunity to become a free agent for the first time at the age of 32. When that time comes, he may have already established himself as an effective starter at the big-league level.
(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)