Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports that free agent reliever Dan Wheeler will decline the Red Sox’s arbitration offer by tonight’s deadline.
However, according to MacPherson the two sides will “maintain dialogue” while he’s on the open market.
Wheeler accepting arbitration would have locked the Red Sox into a one-year deal worth around $3.5 million, but apparently the 34-year-old right-hander thinks he can top that after throwing 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 39/8 K/BB ratio.
Wheeler struggles too much against left-handed hitters and gives up too many homers to be an ideal late-inning option, but prior to 2011 he posted a sub-3.50 ERA five times in six seasons.
UPDATE: Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe speculates that the two sides had a handshake agreement in place for Wheeler to decline arbitration–and basically give the Red Sox a free draft pick–which makes sense considering the trouble he may have topping $3.5 million or so elsewhere.
The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.
In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.
The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.