Boston Red Sox: Comparing Jake Odorizzi to the Matt Clement Signing in 2004

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The Red Sox have been linked to almost every pitcher this offseason.  Whatever free-agent you name, Boston has been connected to them in some capacity.  So why haven’t the Red Sox landed one of these names they’ve been associated with?


Photo courtesy of mlbtraderumors.com

The Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom was on WEEI and said, “I would just say generally we try to be involved in everything.” 


While Boston is interested in players, that interest isn’t yielding signings.  The latest player that they've missed out on was Japanese free-agent Tomoyuki Sugano.  He was unable to agree to terms with any major league team and he will return to Japan next season. 


Now the club is reportedly turning their attention to free-agent starter Jake Odorizzi.  The former Minnesota Twins starter could be a help to a rotation that desperately needs a quality starter.  The Red Sox are in dire need to improve their pitching staff following a season in which they ranked 28th with a 5.58 ERA and dead-last with a 1.60 WHIP. 


The concern with Odorizzi is going to be how much he will cost, how many years the Red Sox will have to give him and his health.  Boston needs to sign a starting pitcher, but they also need to be smart with the players available to them. 


Reportedly, Odorizzi is looking for around $36-$42 million, and most expect that he'll land at least a three-year deal.  If Boston signs Odorizzi to a three-year, $36-$42 million deal, his signing will be reminiscent to another starter similar to him.  The potential signing of Odorizzi is reminiscent signing of Matt Clement 16 years ago. 


Photo courtesy of sportscasting.com

The Red Sox signed Clement to a three-year deal for $25.5 million contract back in the winter of 2004.  The signing of Clement came on the heels of both Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe testing free agency and ultimately leaving Boston.  In his final year with the Chicago Cubs, Clement went 9-13 with a 3.68 ERA in 30 starts in 2004. 


When Boston signed Clement, they needed to replenish their rotation, similar to the present day Red Sox.  Odorizzi, like Clement, is entering free agency after having a down season.  To be fair, Odorizzi missed the majority of the shortened 2020 season due to injury.  He had a career-year in 2019 when he went 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 159 innings, striking out 178 batters, which was a career high. 


But like Clement, Odorizzi brings the opportunity of a starter that will give Boston innings.  Odorizzi has the ability to go deep into games, which is something Boston lacked last season.  Bloom should look to bring in someone who'll be able to give them quality starts.  Odorizzi has 78 quality which is 41% of his starts over the course of his career. 


Odorizzi and Clement have some similar numbers over their big league careers.  Both players have pitched nine years in the majors.  Clement’s numbers are slightly elevated because he’s faced 1,808 more batters and over 400 more innings than Odorizzi. 


Odorizzi: 62-56 / .525 W-L% / 3.92 ERA / 195 G / 0 CG / 1042.1 IP / 1.240 WHIP


Clement: 87-86 / .503 W-L% / 4.47 ERA / 238 G / 6 CG / 1412.2 IP / 1.399 WHIP


The Red Sox signing of Clement at the time wasn't terrible, but he came to Boston on the heels of Martinez and Lowe leaving after a World Series championship.  Odorizzi coming to Boston would be on the heels of a dismal 2020, but should provide significant depth once the team is at full strength.

Clement was never the same in Boston after he took a line drive off his head in July of 2005.  In a game against Tampa Bay, Carl Crawford hit a blistering line drive back up the middle that struck Clement.  After that moment Clement was never the same, and he began to deal with other injuries during his remaining time in Boston.
In Odorizzi's case he's coming back from an injury riddled season and the financial commitment to him is a risk.  The Red Sox aren't going to be involved in the Trevor Bauer sweepstakes and are unlikely to part with prospects at this point and complete a trade.  The fact of the matter is the Red Sox need quality starting pitching similar to 2005 and when they signed Clement.  If Boston indeed signs Odorizzi hopefully his Red Sox fate ends better than Clement's and he can help stabilize a turbulent rotation riddled with injuries. 


Follow Chris on Twitter @chrishenrique

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Boston Red Sox: Comparing Jake Odorizzi to the Matt Clement Signing in 2004
Boston Red Sox: Comparing Jake Odorizzi to the Matt Clement Signing in 2004
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