Two days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox outrighted veteran reliever Jeurys Familia off their major-league roster on Friday. Rather than accept an assignment to Triple-A Worcester, Familia elected to become a free-agent, the club announced.
Familia, who turns 33 next month, originally signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Phillies in March after spending the bulk of his big-league career with the Mets.
The right-hander struggled to a 6.09 ERA and 4.88 FIP in 38 relief appearances (34 innings) with Philadelphia before being released in early August. Shortly thereafter, the Red Sox inked Familia to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Worcester. He made just one appearance for the WooSox before having his contract selected on Aug. 13.
Four days later, Familia made his Boston debut against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. He gave up one run on three hits in the ninth inning of an 8-3 win, signaling that the difficulties he endured with the Phillies may have carried over to the Red Sox.
Including that performance, Familia posted a 6.10 ERA and 5.14 FIP to go along with eight strikeouts to seven walks over 10 relief outings (10 1/3 innings) with Boston. His Red Sox tenure ended on a sour note, as he issued three walks (one intentional) and surrendered a game-winning three-run double to Gleyber Torres in the 10th inning of Tuesday’s 7-6 loss to the Yankees at Fenway Park.
When taking questions from the media in front of his locker afterwards, Familia revealed that he had been designated for assignment. The Red Sox made that move official on Wednesday while also adding recently-claimed infielder Yu Chang to the active roster.
Though he could have elected to try and sign with another team before season’s end, Familia told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) that he was instead going to return home to the Dominican Republic to prepare for 2023.
“I’m going to have to take some time off and rest a little bit and then get back to work so I can be ready for next year,” Familia said through interpreter Carlos Villora Benítez.
In his time with the Phillies and Red Sox this season, Familia walked nearly 11 percent of the batters he faced. That ranks in the 15th percentile among qualified major-league pitchers, per Baseball Savant.
“I’ve fallen behind the hitters too much,” said Familia. “When you fall behind the hitters, [there’s a] 90 percent chance the hitter gets on base. I haven’t been able to command my pitches.”
Familia, who broke in with the Mets in 2012 and emerged as an All-Star closer during his time in New York, took note of how difficult it can be for a reliever to go through a rough stretch when they are only being used sparingly. Prior to Tuesday’s outing, for instance, Familia last pitched on September 5.
“Even though they’re struggles I’ve been having the whole season, it’s even more difficult when you pitch and then you have six or seven days off and have to go there and battle,” Familia said. “It’s harder when you’re not pitching day in and day out. It’s not an excuse at all or anything like that. It’s just how it works.”
While Familia’s 2022 season was nothing short of ugly, the 32-year-old c0uld very well bounce back with another team in 2023. That said, he will likely have to entertain minor-league offers this winter in order to make that happen.
(Picture of Jeurys Familia: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)