Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman signs one-year deal with Cubs, per report

Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman has reportedly reached agreement on a one-year, major-league contract with the Cubs, according to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney.

Per Mooney, Workman will earn a base salary of $1 million in 2021 with the chance to earn an additional $2 million in performance bonuses.

The 32-year-old right-hander is a little more than four months removed from what can best be described as a tumultuous 2020 season between the Sox and Phillies.

With Boston to begin the year, Workman got off to a so-so start, allowing three earned runs over seven appearances and 6 2/3 innings pitched out of the bullpen before getting dealt to Philadelphia along with Heath Hembree for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.

Upon arriving in Philly, Workman had the chance to re-establish himself as he was about to embark upon free agency, but he instead floundered.

In 14 appearances (13 innings) in a Phillies uniform, the Texas native posted a dismal 6.92 ERA and 1.146 OPS against while blowing three of a possible eight save opportunities to close out the season.

Performing that poorly to end a contract year has to be unsettling to some degree, but Workman still managed to net himself a major-league deal anyway, albeit a short-term one.

It’s likely the Cubs are banking on the former first-round draft pick returning to his 2019 form — in which he produced a 1.88 ERA and struck out 104 hitters in 71 2/3 innings — with a new change of scenery.

Prior to his signing with Chicago, Workman was someone the Red Sox “had at least some interest in a reunion with,” per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

A reunion between the two sides in 2021 may not be possible anymore, but Cotillo adds that Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have “at least some interest in three free-agent righties — Jeremy Jeffress, Chaz Roe and Ben Heller.”

Earlier this week, the @RedSoxStats Twitter account hinted at the idea that Boston is not yet done making bullpen additions ahead of the start of the 2021 season.

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have some interest’ in free-agent reliever Ben Heller, per report

As pitchers and catchers report to their respective spring training camps this week, the Red Sox are reportedly interested in adding to their bullpen mix.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox “have some interest” in free-agent right-handed reliever Ben Heller.

Heller, 29, was released by the Yankees last week after initially being designated for assignment so that the club could make room on its 40-man roster for fellow reliever Darren O’Day.

In parts of four seasons (2016-17, 2019-20) with New York, the Wisconsin native posted a 2.59 ERA and 5.57 FIP over 31 total appearances and 31 1/3 innings of work.

The reason Heller did not pitch in 2018 was due to the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery that also involved the removal of a bone spur in his throwing elbow in April of that year.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-3, 210 lb. righty operates with a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup.

Originally selected by the Indians in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft out of Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.), Heller is perhaps most notably known for being part of the trade that sent left-hander Andrew Miller to Cleveland and outfielder Clint Frazier and lefty Justus Sheffield, then top prospects, to New York in July 2016.

As noted by Cotillo, Heller should be a popular name on the free-agent market because not only has he put up decent numbers in the majors, but he’s also under team control for three more seasons and has one minor-league option remaining on his contract.

Taking those factors into consideration, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to think that Heller could net himself a major-league deal — or at the very least a potentially lucrative minor-league pact with an invite to big-league camp — at some point before Opening Day.

If the Red Sox were to sign Heller, or another available reliever, to a major-league contract, they would have to clear a 40-man roster spot for that individual since their 40-man is currently at full capacity.

That note does not take into account that utilityman Marwin Gonzalez still needs to be added to the 40-man as well since his signing has not yet been made official.

(Picture of Ben Heller: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox were in attendance to watch free-agent reliever Chaz Roe throw a bullpen over the weekend

The Red Sox were one of a handful of teams in attendance to watch free-agent reliever Chaz Roe throw a bullpen in his home state of Kentucky over the weekend, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Roe, 34, had spent the last 3 1/2 seasons with the Rays before being outrighted off their 40-man roster and electing free agency in late October.

The veteran right-hander was limited to just 10 appearances and 9 1/3 innings pitched out of the Tampa Bay bullpen in 2020 on account of an elbow soreness-related injured list stint that prematurely ended his season in August.

In those 10 outings, Roe yielded four runs (three earned) on 10 hits, three walks, and nine strikeouts. That’s good for an ERA of 2.89 and FIP of 2.55, but an xFIP (Expected Fielder Independent Pitching) of 4.82, per FanGraphs.

Cotillo notes that Roe is “said to be healthy now,” but even when healthy, one of the things that has hindered him over the course of his eight-year major-league career is his inability to get left-handed hitters out on a consistent basis.

Looking at his lifetime splits, Roe owns a respectable OPS against of .636 when going up against right-handed hitters, but that number inflates all the way up to .862 against lefties.

Even with that being said, the former first-round draft pick of the Rockies in 2005 has proven to be quite the effective relief option, especially in his time with Tampa Bay.

According to Baseball Savant, Roe relies upon a slider, sinker, cutter, and four-seam fastball. He threw his slider 58.5% of the time he was on the mound in 2020 and 64.8% of the time he was on the mound in 2019.

The last time he pitched enough to qualify for Statcast’s percentile rankings, 2019, Roe placed in the 94th percentile in exit velocity, the 97th percentile in hard-hit percentage, the 91st percentile in expected slugging percentage, the 96th percentile in barrel percentage, and the 92nd percentile in fastball spin.

Given the sheer number of relievers who are still on the open market at this point in the offseason, it’s difficult to say what Roe could be seeking in regards to his next contract.

As noted by Cotillo, the Apex Baseball client should already be quite familiar with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom given the time the two spent together in Tampa Bay, so that relationship could serve as a solid starting point in negotiations.

Bloom hasn’t shied away from bringing in former Rays via free agency this offseason, either. That much was made clear when Boston inked outfielder Hunter Renfroe and righty Matt Andriese to one-year deals in December.

At the end of the day, though, Roe is not the only free-agent bullpen option the Red Sox are looking at as the start of spring training is just days away now.

Cotillo reports that the Sox have expressed interest in the likes of veteran right-handers Jeremy Jeffress and Brandon Workman. And as previously mentioned, there are still plenty of quality relievers out there looking for jobs, including another former Ray — and Worcester native — in Oliver Drake.

This speculation comes in the wake of a tweet from @RedSoxStats, who tweeted Monday morning that Boston may still be trying to add to its bullpen before the start of the 2021 season.

(Picture of Chaz Roe: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)