The Red Sox need to restock their bullpen after losing set-up men Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito to the Atlanta Braves in free agency. Theo Epstein’s first transaction of the winter meetings could help them do that.
In a story first reported by FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal via Twitter, the Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal with veteran reliever Scott Atchison. The contract reportedly also includes two club options.
A 33-year-old right-hander, Atchison was property of the Red Sox prior to the 2008 season, but they sold his rights to the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Central League, where he played the last two years.
Atchison, who spent two-plus seasons with the Seattle Mariners (2004-05) and another with the San Francisco Giants (2007), has 53 career major league appearances and 68 innings. He has allowed 68 hits and 25 walks for a 4.10 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. But his excellent strikeout rate (70 in those 68 innings) suggests that Atchison’s fastball-slider combination has upside in a relief role for Boston.
Atchison’s 2008 campaign with the Hanshin Tigers was his best to date. He compiled 30 holds and a 1.70 ERA over 90 innings. Although the Tigers wanted to re-sign him, Atchison indicated in October that his preference was to return to the States to be closer to his family, NPB Tracker reports.
Atchison likely will have to compete for a middle relief job in spring training, as the Red Sox look to maintain a bullpen that ranked second in the American League with a 3.80 ERA last season.