Report: Red Sox Expected to Tender Contract to Andrew Bailey, Keeping Right-Hander From Free Agency

Andrew BaileyThe Red Sox might be preparing to gamble for the first time this offseason.

Boston will tender a contract to reliever Andrew Bailey, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Bailey could miss the entire first half of the 2014 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in July, but the Red Sox apparently are willing to pay in the $4 million range to keep the right-hander from free agency.

Teams have until midnight Monday to offer contracts to players who are eligible for salary arbitration. Any such player who isn’t offered a contract before the deadline becomes a free agent, meaning that they’re free to sign anywhere. Bailey, Mike Carp, Junichi Tazawa, Franklin Morales, Andrew Miller and the recently acquired Burke Badenhop are all arbitration eligible.

Bailey, who earned $4.1 million in 2013, is expected to earn about $4.3 million through arbitration based on his previous accomplishments and service time. It represents the highest expected mark of any of the Red Sox’ arbitration eligible players, and it’s also a roll of the dice considering Bailey’s health and history since arriving in Boston.

Bailey, who was acquired from the Athletics via trade prior to the 2012 season, has appeared in just 49 games in two years with the Red Sox. He owns a 4.91 ERA (24 earned runs in 44 innings) in that time, during which the Red Sox also went out and acquired Joel Hanrahan to become the club’s closer. The Hanrahan move, of course, failed, and Koji Uehara ultimately ended up becoming a lights-out closer for the Sox en route to a World Series title in 2013.

Uehara will be Boston’s closer to open up the 2014 season. He turns 39 in April, though, so the Red Sox likely want to stockpile bullpen arms, especially considering Uehara’s 2013 workload and the fact that Boston went through multiple closers before riding Koji’s hot hand to the finish line.

Bailey went 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA (12 earned runs in 28 2/3 innings) in 30 appearances in 2013 before going down with an injury.

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