The Red Sox are a team in need of pitching help — both of the starting rotation and bullpen variety — this offseason. Among the names available via free agency, Ryne Stanek is far from the sexiest. But, the right-hander could prove to be an integral piece of any club’s pitching staff if he regains his 2018-2019 form come next season.
Non-tendered by the Marlins earlier this week, the 29-year-old hurler hits the open market for the first time in his career coming off a lackluster 2020 campaign in which he allowed eight earned runs over just nine relief appearances and 10 innings of work. He was limited due to the fact that he missed a month on the injured list for an undisclosed reason.
Originally acquired by Miami from the Rays at last season’s trade deadline, Stanek had been enjoying success at the major-league level with Tampa Bay prior to his move to South Beach.
Going back to the start of the 2018 season, the St. Louis native had posted a 3.17 ERA and 3.64 FIP in exactly 100 appearances (56 starts) and 122 innings pitched up until the point he was traded in late July 2019.
Those are decent numbers, and considering the fact he was only projected to earn $800,000 in his first season of arbitration eligibility in 2021, Stanek could be someone teams believe will bounce back with a new change of scenery. The Red Sox, by all accounts, could very well be one of those teams.
Not only could Stanek, who works with a four-seamer, slider, and splitter, provide valuable pitching depth for a club in desperate need of it, but there’s the Chaim Bloom factor to consider as well.
Boston’s chief baseball officer was a key member of Tampa Bay’s front office for over a decade, and he most likely had input on who the Rays took with their second first-round pick of the 2013 amateur draft in Stanek, a former Arkansas Razorback.
So far in his tenure with the Sox, Bloom has not shied away from picking up former early-round picks who had fallen off from their former top prospect status. Infielder Christian Arroyo, who was most notably part of the trade that sent Evan Longoria from the Rays to the Giants in 2017, is just one example.
Stanek fits that same mold to some degree, and he would also fit in with the Red Sox on account of the fact that he is versatile, capable of pitching out of the bullpen and serving as an opener when needed.
As mentioned earlier, 56 of Stanek’s 121 appearances with the Rays going back to 2017 had come as an opener. The 6-foot-4 right-hander proved to be quite effective in that role, and he may be able to regain that level of effectiveness if he were to return to it with Boston.
The way the Sox’ rotation looks at the moment in terms of the level of depth, it would not hurt to have an opener as a potential sixth or seventh option if a starter were to go down for whatever reason.
We have certainly seen out fair share of Red Sox openers going back to the latter half of the 2019 season, but bringing in someone like Stanek, one of the role’s innovators, could have the makings to be an underrated offseason addition for Bloom and Co.