It appears as though the Red Sox have agreed to terms on a minor-league contract for the 2023 season with Ryan Sherriff, according to the free agent left-hander’s Twitter account.
“Glad to be a part of the [Red Sox organization]!” Sherriff tweeted on Saturday. “Let’s get it.”
Sherriff, 32, is a veteran of four major-league seasons who last appeared in a big-league contest with the Rays in September 2021. The lefty owns a lifetime 3.65 ERA and 3.98 FIP in 44 career relief appearances (44 1/3 innings) between St. Louis and Tampa Bay dating back to the 2017 campaign.
A native of southern California, Sherriff was originally selected by the Cardinals in the 28th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of West Los Angeles College. He first broke in with St. Louis in August 2017 and pitched to a 3.14 ERA (3.93 FIP) across 13 outings spanning 14 1/3 innings of relief.
After making five additional appearances for the Cardinals in 2018, Sherriff suffered an elbow injury that ultimately required him to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. He was released by St. Louis shortly thereafter, but he quickly bounced back by signing a minor-league deal with the Rays that November.
Sherriff was limited to just seven innings of rehab work in 2019. He remained with the Rays through the winter and, after spending the first half of the COVID-shortened 2020 season at the club’s alternate training site, made his return to the big-league mound that summer.
In 10 appearances for Tampa Bay down the stretch, Sherriff did not allow a single run while walking two and striking out two over 9 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. He then tossed two more scoreless frames against the Dodgers in the 2020 World Series.
While Sherriff found success in limited action in 2020, the same cannot be said for 2021. He forged a 5.52 ERA — but a much more respectable 3.65 FIP — with 16 strikeouts to nine walks in 16 outings (14 2/3 innings) for the Rays before being designated for assignment at the end of the season.
The Phillies subsequently claimed Sherriff off waivers, but he did not appear in a game for Philadelphia last year and was instead limited to just 14 outings in the minors before being shut down with a shoulder strain in late July. He lost his spot on the club’s 40-man roster in August and spent the rest of the season on the minor-league injured list after being outrighted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Sherriff is a three-pitch pitcher who primarily operates with a sinker, a slider, and a changeup. While he does not strike out a ton of hitters (18.7 percent career strikeout rate) or light up the radar gun (averaged 92 mph with his sinker in 2021), Sherriff has proven to be capable of inducing weak contact, as evidenced by his career 56.7 percent groundball rate.
Sherriff, who turns 33 in May, should get a chance to compete for a spot in Boston’s Opening Day bullpen if he is back at full strength once spring training begins next month. As currently constructed, the Red Sox only have two left-handed relievers on their 40-man roster in Joely Rodriguez and Josh Taylor, so Sherriff could prove to be an impactful addition since he still has two minor-league options remaining.
And even if Sherriff does not make the Sox’ Opening Day roster out of spring training, he should still be able to provide the club with experienced bullpen depth at Triple-A Worcester. For his career at the Triple-A level, the southpaw owns a 3.11 ERA with 152 strikeouts to 11 walks over 152 appearances (two starts) spanning 170 2/3 innings of work. That includes a 3.18 ERA in 11 outings (11 1/3 innings) for Lehigh Valley in 2022.
(Picture of Ryan Sherriff: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)