The Boston Red Sox continue to reshape their bullpen this offseason by subtracting veteran reliever Matt Barnes from it Tuesday night.
Barnes had spent all nine of his big-league seasons with the Red Sox and chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom admitted it was far from easy moving on from a member of the organization’s 2018 World Series championship team.
“A really, really difficult decision,” Bloom told reporters, per NBC Sports Boston video. “The conversation itself was one of the more difficult ones I’ve had. The DFA process needs to play out so there’s a limited amount I want to say about it until it does. I think more than anything this is just a function of where we’re at in the offseason and with our 40-man roster. There are no easy decisions.”
After being named an All-Star in 2021, Barnes, 32, struggled to remain on that track, posting a bloated 6.48 ERA over the second half of that campaign. While Barnes showed some flashes of his former self last season, he made only 44 appearances, going 0-4 with a 4.31 ERA, a 1.437 WHIP and eight saves.
Barnes, who was a first-round pick of the Red Sox in 2011 and spent from 2014-22 in the majors, finished his career second in Red Sox history in both relief appearances and strikeouts in relief.
“Everybody on this call knows what his accomplishments are, how much he’s meant in this organization, and you know, obviously talked about it many times over the years how I feel about him and how highly I regarded him,” Bloom told reporters. “And I think it just gets to be forward-looking with everybody else that we have on our roster.”
Bloom explained why the Red Sox ultimately decided to move on from Barnes over younger relievers or Ryan Brasier, who like Barnes, has gone through a myriad of struggles, including last season when he finished with a 5.78 ERA.
“In the case of Brasier, who obviously been through some ups and downs but finished the season really strong and showed a lot that when you project it out ahead is really encouraging,” Bloom said.
With Barnes being designated for assignment, the Red Sox now have seven days to trade him or place him on outright waivers.
The Red Sox have already made several changes to their bullpen this offseason by signing Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin and Joely Rodríguez in free agency.
And Bloom didn’t rule out further additions to the unit, including possibly adding another lefty to the mix, according to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo.