Let it never be said again that the Sox won’t eat money to part with a struggling player after they paid Matt Albers $250K to buy him out rather than pick up his $3 million option for 2017. They rostered him all season when he was toast after the month of April, but enough is enough.
J.B. Shuck puts the ball in play, was a great pinch hitter, has good speed, runs hard and is a very nice guy. But he also is a below-average defensive centerfielder and hit .205/.248/.299 while starting 59 games, so while it would nice to keep him in the organization–and they might still after outrighting him to Triple-A Charlotte–it would be a lot nicer to avoid depending on him in the organization in the same way. Shuck is sort of the ultimate fourth outfielder type, and nothing is more fourth outfielder than becoming reviled after exigent circumstances make you a third outfielder.
The Sox also released Daniel Webb, who underwent Tommy John surgery this past year, and never found his footing or a speck of command after being excitedly pressed into major duty in 2014. Webb had upper level velocity and three pitches that could miss bats, but struggling in learning on the major league job never suited him, nor did the wilderness of struggling in long relief after he lost Robin Ventura’s trust. You can only watch him miss him a spot with his fastball by multiple feet so many times and maintain patience in his development, but this is sad.
This is all basic housekeeping stuff; purging players who couldn’t possibly have a real role on the 2017 roster no matter what direction the team went. Activating Jake Petricka from the 60-day disabled list might have been the most substantive long-term move the Sox made on Thursday, and he will need to return to his peak to become seventh inning reliever.
The most substantial thing that really happened for the Sox Thursday was probably the Tigers trading Cameron Maybin in a blatant salary dump. Maybin was a godsend to the Tigers when he returned mid-season from injury and collected a .383 OBP in center field, and yet they traded him to the Angels rather than pay out his $9 million option in 2017, and now have a choice between Anthony Gose and Jacoby Jones in center.
There was plenty of chatter that the Tigers were finally going to turn around and reel in spending after spending the better part of a decade charging at full-speed to try to win a World Series with their Justin Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core, but seeing them purge major league production for salary relief is still jarring.
Refusing to be aggressive because the division is too tough is foolish, but being aggressive because the division is weak can still be good.
Lead Image Credit: Andy Marlin // USA Today Sports Images