Thanks to MLB Trade Rumors for these projected 2016 salaries and MLB service times (in seasons).
Alexi Ogando (5.114) – $2.4MM
Unlike most of the players that the Sox took fliers on in 2015, Ogando seemed relatively successful. He did end up experiencing some big-time home run problems in the second half, and while his 3.99 ERA is respectable, his 5.32 FIP shows plenty of red flags. FanGraphs rates his performance at -0.9 WAR based on that FIP. While $2.4 million is hardly a big sum for a decent reliever, non-tendering Ogando seems like a decent plan to mitigate the potential risk that he may implode. As is, the Sox have other options.
(NOV 6 UPDATE: Ogando was outrighted to Triple-A. He refused the assignment and became a free agent.)
Junichi Tazawa (5.086) – $3.3MM
Despite a complete inability to close out games, Tazawa was still worth 1.1 WAR to the Sox this year according to FanGraphs. This assessment would suggest that Taz’s 4.14 ERA was a bit unlucky. His 3.05 FIP based on his strong strikeout rates and fine strikeout-to-walk ratio is consistent with his track record. There have been concerns about how many “bullets” Taz has left, but a high .349 batting average on balls in play this year suggest his stuff is just fine and a few more balls found holes than probably should have occurred. A sum around $3-3.5 million on a one-year deal is fine for the solid set-up man.
Anthony Varvaro (3.121) – $700K
Non-tender candidate, who could possibly get a minor league deal with a spring training invite. He didn’t pitch at all after May. At best, he’s a serviceable middle reliever.
Joe Kelly (3.101) – $3.2MM
Kelly has been a bit of an enigma over the course of his career. His electric stuff hasn’t always translated to the results that you might expect. While he has had bursts of brilliance in the past, 2015 actually has been his best overall season in terms of value (1.2 WAR). While his 4.82 ERA suggests mediocrity, his 4.18 FIP suggests that he’s a solid member of a pitching rotation. In 2015, he has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of his career and best strikeout rate overall. Even if he’s only a league-average starting pitcher going forward, anything under $4 million is a bargain. Definitely worth keeping around.
Robbie Ross (3.100) – $1.1MM
Picking up a handful of saves late in the season made Robbie Ross Jr. look pretty good. This is a guy who was a pretty solid reliever in 2012 and 2013 for the Texas Rangers. A failed experiment to transition him back to starting, as he had in the minors, was an absolute disaster. Despite some early season struggles, Ross seemed to profile as the guy he once was. While he was worth only 0.1 WAR to the Sox in about 61 innings, he’s been a 0.8-0.9 WAR reliever before. Taking a $1 million gamble on him seems worth it, especially when a 1 WAR reliever is worth about $5 million on the open market.
Ryan Cook (3.086) – $1.4MM
Cook was once an extremely good reliever, but now he’s damaged goods. Non-tender candidate, but like Ogando, could return on a minor league deal.
(NOV 6 UPDATE: Cook was claimed by the Chicago Cubs off of waivers. They will now decide his fate.)
Jean Machi (2.154) – $900K
Machi had an amazing 2013 for the Giants. He was respectable in 2014 for the World Champions, as well. But the wheels fell off in 2015. The Red Sox grabbed him for a song and actually gave him a shot at closing. Despite being a nightmare in the role, Machi compiled 4 saves. In fact, despite the 5.09 ERA, his peripherals weren’t far off from 2014 for the Sox. He’s probably still a serviceable reliever. The most interesting thing about Machi is the fact that he has a reverse platoon split - in that right-handed batters light him up (.959 OPS), but lefties can’t hit him (.530 OPS). but the Sox can non-tender him and bring him back on a non-guaranteed deal without thinking too hard about it. Those reverse platoon splits could make him a nice non-traditional pickup for a team that may need help out of the bullpen against tough lefty batters.
(NOV 6 UPDATE: Machi was outrighted from the 40-man roster. He elected to become a free agent.)