The Boston Red Sox on Wednesday night officially announced the signings of free-agent pitchers James Paxton and Rich Hill.
As new additions, the veterans figure to beef up the back end of the Red Sox rotation in 2022. But speaking to reporters on Zoom late Wednesday, Bloom explained why he and the Red Sox front office decided to sign the pair.
Paxton threw just 24 pitches in one outing in 2021 before he was shut down for the year and had Tommy John surgery. Bloom said Wednesday the former New York Yankees pitcher will not be ready for Opening Day but considers him an important piece of Boston’s second half rotation.
“We’re hopeful that when he does come back, he’s going to be able to give us a lift,” Bloom said Wednesday. “We’ve seen before injuries really started to impact his career. This guy was one of the better left-handed pitchers in the American League, and if he gets back to that he could provide a huge boost for us in the second half.”
The 33-year-old also was limited in 2020, posted a 3.82 ERA across 29 starts with New York in 2019.
Bloom also suggested the Red Sox consider Paxton an important part of the team’s future, which also was evident in his contract — a $10 million salary for 2022 with a two-year club option.
In speaking about Hill, who now has signed seven contracts with his hometown Red Sox heading into his 18th season in the majors, Bloom called out his athletic ability and versatility while also noting that he will be an important player in the clubhouse.
“This guy is one of the best competitors in our game,” Bloom said. “It seems like he doesn’t age. Wherever he goes, he has success. Not only is he a good pitcher, but he’s a tremendous clubhouse presence. To be able to add a veteran like him who’s shown the ability to pitch here but he’s also shown the ability to pitch in different roles.”
Hill threw 158 2/3 innings in 2021 between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Mets, finishing with a 3.86 ERA. Most of his recent work has been done at the front end of games, but he did come out of the bullpen during his first stint with the Red Sox (2010-2012).
With that pair joining the team as well as Michael Wacha, the Red Sox certainly have options in the rotation for 2022.