According to multiple reports, the Red Sox reached an agreement (pending a physical) with left-hander Craig Breslow on a two-year deal that includes an option for a third year. Breslow, who was eligible for salary arbitration in 2013 — his final year under team control before reaching free agency, receives a guaranteed $6.25 million with the chance to earn as much as $10.15 million over three years, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, who first reported the deal (via twitter).
Breslow, 32, was re-acquired by the Sox at the trade deadline in a trade that sent right-hander Matt Albers and outfielder Scott Podsednik to the Diamondbacks. The left-hander had a 2.70 ERA, 19 strikeouts and nine walks in 23 games (20 innings) with the Sox, continuing a strong five-year run in the big leagues that commenced in 2008, when the Indians claimed him off waivers from the Sox. In that time, he’s gone 15-15 with a 3.01 ERA while striking out 7.7 batters per nine innings and walking 3.4 batters per nine.
He has quietly been one of the most consistent and durable southpaw relievers in the game. Breslow is one of just four left-handers in the game with five straight years of at least 40 appearances with a sub-4.00 ERA, joining Matt Thornton (who is in the middle of a two-year, $12 million deal), Scott Downs (entering the final season of a three-year, $15 million deal) and Darren Oliver (entering the second season of his two-year, $7 million deal). The Yale alum ranks fourth among all big league lefties since 2008 with 331 appearances.
In signing now, a year before he reached the open market, Breslow likely left some money on the table (assuming he stays healthy this year and pitches to his track record). The Giants re-signed lefty Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year, $21 million deal shortly before he would have reached free agency. Left-handed reliever Sean Burnett received a two-year free-agent deal from the Angels worth at least $8 million and could end up being worth as much as $13.25 million over three years. (It’s also worth noting that J.P. Howell got a one-year deal for less than Breslow’s average annual salary, getting $2.85 million from the Dodgers, though his earnings (and term) were limited by his checkered health history.)
Still, Breslow gains greater security while getting a deal that will guarantee him more money in the next two years than he’s made in his career to date, all while pitching close to his native Connecticut.
Breslow was the lone arbitration-eligible player with whom the Red Sox did not reach an agreement prior to Friday’s deadline for players and teams to submit their salary requests. However, it was clear that the pitcher and club were seeing eye-to-eye, given that Breslow requested a $2.375 million salary for 2013, while the Sox offered him just $50,000 less at $2.325 million.
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