BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox are finalizing a one-year deal with right-hander Michael Wacha pending a physical, league sources said Friday evening.
Wacha, 30, spent his first seven years in the majors with the Cardinals. He was an All-Star in just his third season (2015), finishing the year with a 3.38 ERA in 181⅓ innings.
Wacha, the 6-foot-6 former Pleasant Grove all-stater, finished his Cardinal tenure with 3.91 ERA in 165 games, 151 of which came as a starter.
Since then, though, Wacha hasn't had the same success. He signed a one-year deal with the New York Mets for the 2020 shortened season and finished with a 6.62 ERA. He was limited to eight games (seven starts) and 34 innings after dealing with shoulder inflammation. Injuries, and shoulder issues have dogged Wacha for much of his career. In 2014, Wacha missed time twice because of shoulder woes.
Wacha signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2021 but in 29 games (23 starts), he produced a 5.05 ERA in 124⅔ innings.
Wacha has never been much of a hard thrower, making his margin for error slim against an era of hitters used to seeing high-powered arms.
Despite the lack of recent success, Wacha gives the Red Sox depth.
"We're very active," chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said at the start of the week. "We're in conversation with a few different guys. We've touched base with a wide variety of players, just about everybody who's on the market. It's gotten more serious and more involved with some of them.
"I think by the time the offseason is over, we will have added pitching of various sorts, including starting pitching. I think that's something that's a clear goal of ours."
Judging by the numbers, it seems Wacha's ceiling is as a No. 5 starter if the Sox decide to go in that direction. With the recent departure of Eduardo Rodriguez to the Detroit Tigers, the Sox have a hole to fill. Wacha doesn't fill that hole but he gives the Red Sox a veteran presence who offers flexibility in multiple roles.
"Obviously, [Rodriguez] was very accomplished,'' Bloom said. "That's a tough bar to reach. We do think we have guys that are capable of it. But we also want to supplement that with additions from outside the organization as well."
The Red Sox still have a lot of work to do on the starting pitching market. Chris Sale is entering his first full season since Tommy John surgery. Nick Pivetta is better suited for the back-end of the rotation. Garrett Whitlock and Tanner Houck could be relievers or starters next season. Boston hopes Wacha can be a small part of the improvement plan.
"There are a couple 100 players in any given winter, who are free agents," Bloom said. "Ultimately, you're going to explore a lot of things that are going to come to pass. But you know, sometimes things that may not, on the surface, look like as much of a need end up being really good mutual fifths, and you make yourself better."