Red Sox agree to terms with reliever Dan Wheeler

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From Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston comes word that the Red Sox have agreed to terms on a contract with right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler.

Sean McAdam of CSN New England heard Thursday that the Sox would not give the free agent righty anything greater than a one-year contract.  It remains to be seen if they stuck to that.

Wheeler, 33, turned in a rock-solid 3.35 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 48.1 innings for the Rays in 2010, holding opposing hitters to a .207 batting average and .273 on-base percentage.  He struck out 46 batters and walked only 16, showing good life on an arsenal of five pitches.

The 10-year MLB veteran should do well in a middle relief role next year in Boston.

The Red Sox also added free agent Bobby Jenks earlier this week to what should be a strong 2011 bullpen.

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UPDATE: Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that Wheeler’s contract includes a vesting option for 2012 that can be triggered if the right-hander makes 65 appearances next season.

In a world where Scott Downs can command a three-year, $15 million contract from the Angels and Joaquin Benoit can score a three-year, $16.5 million deal from the Tigers, the Red Sox probably had to add that option year in order to secure a signature.

UPDATE: Steve Phillips of AOL Fanhouse has the financial terms.  Both the one-year agreement and vesting option are worth $3 million.  That option can be pushed to $3.25 million if Wheeler appears in 75-plus games.

Yankees to hire Josh Bard as their new bench coach

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Aaron Boone has no experience as a coach or a manager at any level. As such, some have speculated that he’d hire a more seasoned hand as his bench coach as he begins his first season as Yankees manager. Someone like, say, Eric Wedge, who was a candidate for the job Boone got and who once managed Boone in Cleveland.

Nope. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, he’s going with Josh Bard.

Bard, 39, was a teammate of Boone’s with the Indians in 2005. He’s not without coaching experience, having spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach, but he’s not that Gene Lamont/Don Zimmer-type we often see in the bench coach role.

Which is fine because different managers want different things from their bench coach. Some are strategy guys, helping with in-game decision making. Others are relationship guys who help managers understand all of the dynamics of the clubhouse while they’re worrying more about lineups and stuff. Others are trust guys, who can serve as the manager’s sounding board, among other things. Some are combinations of all of these things. As Feinsand notes in his story, Boone said at his introductory press conference that he’s looking for this:

“I want smart sitting next to me. I want confidence sitting next to me. I want a guy who can walk out into that room and as I talk about relationships I expect to have with my players, I expect that even to be more so with my coaching staff. Whether that is a guy with all kinds of experience or little experience. I am not concerned about that.”