The New York Mets beat the Boston Red Sox to the punch of selecting Justin Slaten in Wednesday’s Rule 5 draft.

But the Red Sox didn’t keep their eyes off of Slaten after that, and instead orchestrated a trade with the Mets to acquire the 26-year-old right-handed reliever for minor-league left-hander Ryan Ammons and cash considerations.

So why did the Red Sox keep up their effort to obtain Slaten, who will need to adhere by Rule 5 regulations and be on Boston’s active roster for the entire 2024 season? Red Sox chief baseball officer Craig Breslow, who said Slaten was the team’s top option going into the Rule 5 draft according to MassLive’s Chris Cotillo, explained why the pitcher was so sought after by the franchise.

“We’re really excited about bringing him on board,” Breslow told reporters, Cotillo. “It was the marriage of the data, the raw pitch characteristics, the performance, the scouting group, everyone aligned. And with this budding pitching infrastructure, we were able to get additional perspectives. When there’s alignment across all of those groups, it makes for a fairly easy decision.

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“He’s a guy with huge swing-and-miss stuff and profiles as a back of the bullpen-type arm. So we’re really excited to get him here and see what he can do.”

Slaten showed promise last season pitching in the Texas Rangers farm system. He made 40 appearances across Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock, posting a 5-3 record with two saves to go along with a 2.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and .206 batting average against. He also racked up 86 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings pitched as he features a fastball that sits in the mid-90s.

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Given his Rule 5 status, Slaten will be a candidate to be a member of the Red Sox bullpen in spring training. And with the number of arms the Red Sox are stockpiling, there sure will be plenty of competition for Slaten as he tries to carve out a role.

But given the level of which Breslow went after Slaten, he surely thinks the reliever can make an impact.

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“We have a lot to learn about him, and obviously the big league environment is going to be new for him,” Breslow said. “So I think we’re excited to get him into camp to give him a chance to compete, to make the team. And obviously he’s a guy that we have high hopes for. That’s the reason that we went through this process.”

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