Is it time for the Red Sox to bring Falmouth native Steve Cishek home?

If the Red Sox are keen on adding bullpen help once the Major League Baseball lockout comes to an end, one reliever they could target is Massachusetts native Steve Cishek.

Cishek, 35, was born and raised in Falmouth, Mass. and grew up a fan of the Red Sox. He also makes hid off-season home on Cape Cod.

The experienced right-hander is a veteran of 12 big-league seasons between seven different teams, most recently spending the 2021 campaign with the Angels.

After originally signing a minor-league deal with the Astros in February, Cishek was cut loose by Houston in late March and quickly latched on with Los Angeles on a one-year major-league contract shortly before Opening Day.

Across 74 appearances for the Halos, Cishek posted a 3.42 ERA and 3.74 FIP to go along with 64 strikeouts to 41 walks over 68 1/3 innings of work. The Falmouth High School product was also exceptional when it came to limiting hard contact, as his 32.7% hard-hit rate against ranked in the top 10% of the league, per Baseball Savant.

Listed at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Cishek is a sidearmer who works with a four-pitch mix that consists of a sinker, slider, four-seam fastball, and changeup. He held opponents to expected batting averages of .176 and .153 with his slider and four-seamer this past season.

While Cishek has yet to suit up for his hometown Red Sox to this point in time, there certainly have been plenty of connections between the two sides over the years.

In December 2019, The Athletic’s Peter Gammons reported that Cishek, then a free agent, “would like to sign with Boston,” but payroll issues prevented that from happening and he ultimately wound up inking a one-year pact with the White Sox.

In March 2021, after it was revealed that Cishek would be signing with the Angels, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo relayed that the Sox had been interested in the righty, but only on a minor-league deal.

Not only are Cishek’s ties to the Red Sox are local — they also go beyond that considering chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was a prominent member of the Rays’ front office when Tampa Bay acquired Cishek in a July 2017 trade with the Mariners.

With that being said, Cishek (who turns 36 in June) could provide Boston with a relatively inexpensive addition to the bullpen. He pitched primarily in the sixth through eighth innings of games while earning $1 million this year, but does come with plenty of closing experience as evidenced by his 132 career saves in the majors.

At present, the Sox have about nine relievers on their 40-man roster who come with at least some big-league experience under their belts. In adding a veteran like Cishek, Boston would gain additional relief depth. It’s as simple as that.

(Picture of Garrett Whitlock: Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Falmouth native Steve Cishek signs with Angels despite reported interest from Red Sox

Veteran reliever Steve Cishek has signed a one-year major-league deal with the Astros, the club announced Monday night.

The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya reports that Cishek will earn $1 million with Los Angeles this season.

Cishek, 34, requested and was granted his release from the Astros last week after signing a minor-league pact with the club in February.

In camp with Houston, the right-hander yielded three earned runs on seven hits, two walks, and 12 strikeouts over seven appearances spanning 7 2/3 total innings of work.

Despite putting up those solid numbers, Cishek, who was set to make $1.25 million if he made the Astros’ Opening Day roster, was apparently not in Houston’s bullpen plans given the fact that they are creeping towards the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

Hitting the open market late last week, Cishek obviously did not remain a free-agent for long.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox were one of the teams who expressed interest in the sidearmer’s services, but only in the capacity of a minor-league deal.

A native of Falmouth, Mass. and a product of Falmouth High School, Cishek’s connections to the Sox are not just local. He also has a history with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom going back to when he was acquired by the Rays from the Mariners in July 2017.

Over the course of a big-league career that spans 11 seasons, the former fifth-round draft pick out of Carson-Newman University (Tenn.) owns a lifetime 2.78 ERA and 3.30 FIP over 594 games (576 innings) between the Marlins, Cardinals, Mariners, Rays, Cubs, and White Sox dating back to 2010.

He most recently put up a 5.40 ERA and 5.64 FIP in 22 appearances and 20 innings pitched out of the White Sox’ bullpen in 2020 before being cut loose by the club in late September.

Seeing how he only signed a one-year deal with his new team in the Angels, one has to wonder if the Red Sox will again be in the mix for Cishek’s services if/when he becomes a free-agent this winter.

Until then, Cishek will look to bolster a Halos’ bullpen that has made a plethora of significant additions in just the last two days alone.

The Angels are slated to visit Fenway Park for a three-game weekend series against the Red Sox from May 14-16.

(Picture of Steve Cishek: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have engaged in talks’ with free-agent reliever Héctor Rondón, per report

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)

Astros release veteran reliever Steve Cishek; Could Red Sox be in play for Falmouth native’s services now that he is back on the open market?

The Astros have released reliever Steve Cishek after the veteran reliever requested to be cut loose by the club on Thursday, according to The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan.

Cishek, 34, originally signed a minor-league deal with Houston last month and had until this week to opt out of his contract if he wasn’t going to be added to the Astros’ 40-man roster.

Per Kaplan, the Falmouth, Mass. native was going to make $2.25 million if he made the Astros’ Opening Day roster out of spring training, which is a price the club wasn’t willing to pay given how close they are to the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

Coming off a 2020 campaign with the White Sox in which he struggled to the tune of a 5.40 ERA and 5.64 FIP over 22 relief appearances and 20 innings of work before being released in late September, Cishek had been looking better this spring.

Through his first seven outings with the Astros, the 6-foot-5, 215 pounder yielded three earned runs — all of which came on home runs — on seven hits and two walks to go along with 12 strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings pitched in Grapefruit League play.

Known for his sidearm delivery, Cishek has racked up 132 total saves over the course of an 11-year big-league career between the Marlins, Cardinals, Mariners, Rays, Cubs, and White Sox. He was originally selected by Miami in the fifth round of the 2007 amateur draft out of Carson-Newman University in Jefferson, Tenn.

Because of his local connections, Cishek always seemed like someone who would pitch for the Red Sox at some point before calling it a career.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweeted earlier Thursday that he would “expect the Red Sox to be involved with some relievers who are opting out of deals this week.”

Boston has their own bullpen competition going on at the moment between the likes of Austin Brice, Phillips Valdez, Colten Brewer, and Kevin McCarthy, but it would not be too surprising to see Chaim Bloom and Co. bring in a more established reliever based off the names that have been made available these past few days.

Bloom does after all have a history with Cishek going back to when the Rays acquired the righy reliever from the Mariners in a July 2017 trade.

(Picture of Steve Cishek: Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Falmouth native Steve Cishek signs minor-league deal with Houston Astros

Falmouth, Mass. native and veteran reliever Steve Cishek has signed a minor-league contract with the Houston Astros, per MLB.com’s transaction wire. The deal also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

The Houston Chronicle’s Chandler Rome was the first to report the signing.

Cishek, 34, will earn $2.25 million — plus more in incentives — if he makes the Astros’ roster, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

The sidearm-throwing right-hander is coming off a shortened 2020 season with the Chicago White Sox in which he posted a 5.40 ERA and 5.64 FIP over 22 appearances and 20 innings of work before being designated for assignment in late September.

For his career, which spans 11 major-league seasons with six different clubs, the Falmouth High School product owns a lifetime 2.78 ERA and 3.30 FIP to go along with 132 career saves over 594 outings and 576 total innings pitched.

One of those six teams Cishek spent time with was the Tampa Bay Rays for the latter half of the 2017 campaign, so he now reunites with Astros general manager and former Rays executive James Click in Southeast Texas.

The former 2007 fifth-round draft pick of the Marlins had thrown for teams back in January during Corey Kluber’s showcase in South Florida (the two are both represented by Jet Sports Management).

As many as 25 teams attended said showcase, and while the Yankees came away winners of the Kluber sweepstakes, the Astros came out winners in the less-publicized Cishek sweepstakes.

Given his local connections, Cishek always seemed like someone who would be a perfect fit for the Red Sox, whether it be by trade or free agency.

A union between the two sides has yet to happen, though The Athletic’s Peter Gammons tweeted in December 2019 — before Cishek joined the White Sox — that the former Miami closer ‘would like to sign with Boston.’

That being said, as long as Cishek keeps taking minor- or one-year deals during the latter stages of his career, his eventual signing with the Sox cannot be ruled out at this point.

(Picture of Steve Cishek: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Steve Cishek Signs One-Year Deal With White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with right-handed reliever Steve Cishek, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The contract includes a $6 million option for a second year as well.

Cishek, 33, is coming off a two-year, $13 million deal with the Cubs, where most recently he posted a 2.95 ERA and 4.95 xFIP over 70 relief appearances and 64 innings of work in 2019 for the North Siders.

The Falmouth, Ma. native was viewed as a potential fit for the Red Sox in 2020, as he could help supplement an already solid bullpen and he had a previous connection to Boston’s chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when the two were in Tampa Bay.

Per MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, Cishek even had interest in signing with his hometown team as recently as last week, but because he earned $7.1 million with the Cubs in 209, he was believed to be out of the Red Sox’ pay range.

As it turns out, Cishek wound up taking just south of $7.1 million to remain in the same city he had spent the previous two years in.

I don’t have any inside information, but I would have to imagine this is how things went down before Cishek agreed to that deal with Chicago on Tuesday:

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn made his offer of one-year, $6 million to Cishek that included that aforementioned option for 2021. Cishek’s camp at Jet Sports Management makes one last call to Bloom and Co. to ask if they can go higher than that. Bloom responds by saying they can’t, and that’s that.

The fact that the Red Sox were unable to land a quality late-inning reliever, albeit one who does have injury concerns, for a mere $6 million just goes to show how handcuffed they are by the goal of getting below the $208 million luxury tax threshold ahead of the 2020 season.

Red Sox Free Agency Targets: Steve Cishek

Even without a head of baseball operations as things stand right now, the Red Sox are going to be in the market for relief pitching this winter.

Over the course of a disappointing 84-78 campaign in 2019, the Sox bullpen ranked sixth in all of baseball in innings pitched (665.0), 17th in ERA (4.40), eighth in FIP (4.14), 10th in xFIP (4.43), and fifth in fWAR (5.5) while names such as Matt Barnes, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, Marcus Walden, and Brandon Workman emerged as a legitimate core to build around.

In the past few days, both The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey and MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith have pinpointed a handful of relievers that Boston could target once free agency begins, and one name that stuck out to me was right-hander Steve Cishek.

I should probably preface this by first saying that I am a big Steve Cishek guy, and I’ll explain why now.

Cishek, 33, posted a 2.95 ERA and .210 batting average against over 70 appearances and 64 total innings pitched this past season with the Chicago Cubs, the second of a two-year, $13 million deal he signed back in December of 2017.

A native of Falmouth, Ma., Cishek has experience closing games, as he has racked up 132 career saves between the Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, and Miami Marlins.

Per FanGraphs, Cishek has been worth $9.2 million over the last two seasons, so it is hard to imagine his asking price being all that high.

One thing to be wary of is that the sidearm reliever has dealt with his fair share of issues with his left hip, most recently spending 10 days on the injured list due to left hip inflammation in August.

With a pitch arsenal that heavily relies on a sinker and a slider, as well as a four-seam fastball and changeup, Cishek could provide the Boston bullpen with a unique look from a unique arm slot.

As a noted former Red Sox fan himself, it would be interesting to see how intrigued Cishek would be with a potential homecoming.