Burke Badenhop continues to wait.
Badenhop is coming off a career year with the Boston Red Sox, yet the veteran reliever remains unsigned. His first foray into free agency has brought both excitement and anxiety.
“I went out and did my job as good as I possibly could have done it. But that’s been the case my entire career,” Badenhop recently told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford by phone. “When I talked to (Milwaukee Brewers general manager) Doug Melvin after I got traded from the Brewers he said, ‘You did exactly what we needed from you.’
“And (former Tampa Bay Rays general manager) Andrew Friedman said pretty much the same thing when I got traded from Tampa. But years are what’s important pretty much for any reliever, so you do have to strike while the iron is hot. Some guys will take a one-year deal to build their value back up, but I don’t think I’m in that position.”
Badenhop posted a 2.29 ERA in 70 appearances spanning 70 2/3 innings last season. The 31-year-old showed an ability to induce ground balls at a career-best clip (61.9 percent), which allowed him to navigate through trouble whenever he was called upon with runners on base.
But while Badenhop was a positive in an otherwise dismal season for the Red Sox, the right-hander’s free-agent market has yet to fully develop. Boston added another ground-ball specialist in Anthony Varvaro, leaving Badenhop’s future as unclear as ever.
“If you want to offer me a contract, let’s do it. Just throw me out something. Because there are teams that want me to be on their team,” Badenhop told Bradford. “But there’s just no incentive for Team No. 1 to fire the first shot because they know if Team No. 5 fires the first shot we’ll eventually get a hold of Team No. 1.
“It’s interesting the longer and longer you wait. But that’s where you have to be confident that I know I’m a good pitcher, and I know I couldn’t have a much better year than last year, so we’ll just go from there.”
The Red Sox still could re-sign Badenhop, who has played for four teams — Red Sox, Brewers, Rays and Florida Marlins — throughout his seven-year career. A major league source told Bradford that Boston hasn’t made an offer to the pitcher, though. It’s possible he could join his fifth organization in 2015.
“The dust has to settle and you go from there, I guess,” Badenhop told Bradford. “Do I wish I would have signed in November? Yeah. But this is just how it happened. It’s just kind of an interesting time.”
An interesting time, a trying time and an exciting time all wrapped into one. Welcome to free agency.
Thumbnail photo via Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports Images