Red Sox Make Trade Amid Struggles With Starting Rotation, Pitching Depth

Boston acquired right-handed reliever Yacksel Rios from the Mariners


June 14, 2021

The Boston Red Sox needed some pitching depth, and made a few roster moves to try give them another option out of the bullpen.

The team Monday announced it had acquired right-handed relief pitcher Yacksel Rios from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for cash considerations. The Red Sox designated reliever Ryan Weber for assignment and recalled infielder Michael Chavis from Triple-A Worcester to fill his spot on the 40-man roster.

When Rios is ready to join the team, we imagine Chavis will get sent back down to make room on the active roster. He’ll join a bullpen that’s performed well, but has been exasperated in the last few games to alleviate Boston’s struggling starting rotation.

And amid those struggles, the Red Sox haven’t been able to pluck an arm from Triple-A to fill in due to injuries to Tanner Houck, Bryan Mata and Thaddeus Ward.

“That was part of our depth project, those guys are very capable,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said ahead of Boston’s final game of the series against the Toronto Blue Jays. “Coming into the season that was a strong suit of our pitching staff, having five guys here plus the other three capable guys and obviously thinking about Chris (Sale) later on. There are big league teams that got hit at the big league level. We got hit at the minor league level. You saw what we did early on with Xander. That was very important to what we were trying to do. But we haven’t had the luxury.

“I don?t think fatigue is part of the equation, but at the same time, coming into the season we had a plan. Giving these guys a breather at certain spots in the season was important but we don’t have that luxury now,” Cora continued. “The only extra starter we can add right now is Thursday, it’s Monday, it’s the off-days. And we have to take advantage of that.”

Cora gets to rest his entire pitching staff while the Red Sox are off Thursday and Monday, and with the addition of Rios, the plan is to get through the stretch with what they now have.

Rios, also from Cora’s native Caguas, Puerto Rico, was a 12th-round pick by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2011 MLB Draft. He was designated for assignment by Seattle after three outings this season in which he allowed three earned runs on five hits with two strikeouts. He owns a career ERA of 6.47 in 71 1/3 innings pitched.

Chris Sale is scheduled to make his return at some point this summer, and has been with the team at Fenway Park during the home stand and throwing off the mound. As for the guys in the minors, Houck likely will be the first to return to the Red Sox.

“I’m not saying he’s closer but where he’s actually, as far as his progress, the next step is pitching to hitters,” Cora said of Houck. “He’s getting closer. But we’re not talking about seven days. Not this week.”

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