The Red Sox are showing interest and have even “engaged in talks” with free-agent reliever Hector Rondon, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.
Rondon, who turned 33 last month, initially signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies in early February before opting out of said contract last week.
In eight appearances out of Philadelphia’s bullpen this spring, the Venezuelan right-hander yielded seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts over seven innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 7.71 and WHIP of 1.43.
A veteran of eight big-league seasons, Rondon spent the shortened 2020 campaign with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he struggled to the tune of a 7.65 ERA and 6.59 FIP over 23 relief outings spanning 20 innings pitched.
Prior to 2020, though, Rondon had established himself as a solid bullpen arm through the first seven years of his major-league career, as he posted a 3.29 ERA and 3.49 FIP over 421 games (416 innings) as a member of the Cubs and Astros from 2013-2019.
Per Baseball Savant, Rondon — who originally signed with the Indians as an international free-agent in 2004 — primarily relies on his four-seam fastball, slider, sinker, and changeup. He averaged a velocity of 95.7 mph with his heater last year, down from 96.7 mph in 2019.
Rondon, as Cotillo notes, is just one of a handful of free-agent relievers the Red Sox have engaged in talks with in recent weeks.
Jesse Biddle, a left-hander with three years of major-league experience under his belt with the Braves, Mariners, Rangers, and Reds, is someone Boston “has inquired about” after the 29-year-old was cut loose by Cincinnati on Friday.
Falmouth native Steve Cishek is another bullpen arm the Sox had interest in, but only on a minor-league deal. The veteran right-hander opted out of his contract with the Astros last week and it certainly looks like he will be landing with another club on a big-league deal sooner rather than later.
Boston’s pursuit of relievers on the open market comes at a time when veterans around baseball are either released or opt out of their minor-league deals to pursue major-league opportunities elsewhere.
When asked on Sunday if the Red Sox would consider adding to their bullpen in the wake of Matt Barnes testing positive for COVID-19 (he has since been cleared to return to the team), chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom acknowledged that an addition could happen depending on the circumstances surrounding the team.
“It’s interesting because this is the time of year where there’s often a lot of movement as teams are setting rosters,” Bloom said via Zoom. “Players might become available that haven’t been throughout the spring. So generally speaking, it’s a time of year when you’re looking around. This adds a little bit of a twist to that. At the same time, we’ve need to make sure that we’ve got our arms around the developing situation here and to the extent that this is just a short-term bump in the road. We also need to be mindful of that.”
(Picture of Hector Rondon: Ralph Freso/Getty Images)