'A great day' for Red Sox, as Whitlock inks four-year extension

April 10th, 2022

NEW YORK -- One season after Garrett Whitlock proved himself to be the best Rule 5 Draft pick in team history, the Red Sox rewarded the power righty on Sunday with a four-year contract extension that spans the 2023-26 seasons and includes club options for ’27 and ’28.

This pact will take Whitlock, 25, through all of his arbitration-eligible seasons and gives the Red Sox a chance to retain him for the first two years he could have been eligible for free agency.

A source told MLB.com that the four-year extension is worth $18.5 million. The ’27 option is for $8.5 million and the ’28 option is $10.5 million. The option years include incentives that could add $4 million in earnings each year.

With this extension, the Red Sox made it clear they want Whitlock to be a core member of their pitching staff for years to come.

“This is a great day,” said Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. “You all know the talent that Garrett has that's been on display from Day One in Fort Myers last year, all the way up through October. I think a lot of you also know the person that he is -- and when you make this type of commitment, that's just as important. He works hard. He competes. He’s a really good teammate. He's humble. He wants to learn. He respects everyone.”

Fittingly, the deal was announced while the Red Sox were at Yankee Stadium. In a delicious rivalry twist for the Red Sox, they were able to get Whitlock in the first place when the Yankees left him unprotected for the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.

Whitlock, who was accompanied by Bloom and manager Alex Cora at the press conference -- while his wife Jordan and several teammates were also in the audience -- beamed at the show of faith the Red Sox have put in him.

“Absolutely,” said Whitlock. “I mean, it's still so surreal. It's crazy. It really hasn't felt like it has hit yet. You know, as me and Jordan were talking this morning, it was just like two years ago -- I was working two jobs, you know, trying to survive the COVID season and everything like that. And so, now, just to be sitting here doing this, it's all very surreal.”

Under different circumstances, the Yankees likely would have protected Whitlock in the Rule 5 Draft. But given that he was coming off Tommy John surgery, they took a chance he would slip through unclaimed.

At the time, Whitlock was rehabbing from the procedure. The Red Sox liked what they saw in an Instagram post, in which Whitlock shared videos of him throwing, and they decided to take a chance.

On the first day of Spring Training in 2021, Cora, unprompted, told reporters that Whitlock had caught his eye while throwing a bullpen session. Whitlock not only made the team, but he turned into Boston’s best relief pitcher last season, notching a 1.96 ERA in 46 appearances, all out of the bullpen.

“He’s a great kid. He deserves it,” said Cora. “The commitment he’s making is very important for us and I’m glad he’s going to be with us for an extended period of time.”

The Yankees took Whitlock in the 18th round of the 2017 Draft, and he was a starter in their farm system until tearing his UCL in his 14th start of the 2019 season while pitching for Double-A Trenton. Due to the Rule 5 circumstances of a year ago (the Sox had to keep him on their Major League roster all season), and the fact that he was coming off of Tommy John surgery, he was used exclusively in relief in his rookie season.

However, the Red Sox still think Whitlock can be a member of their starting rotation down the road. And down the road could be as early as at some point this season -- Whitlock was stretched out as a starter in Spring Training.

“We believe, we hope, we’re just scratching the surface of what he can accomplish,” said Bloom. “The fact that he’s said a few times, ‘Give me the ball and I’ll get people out until you take it from me’, that’s perfect. And wherever that takes him, where that takes us, it’s good to have him in our foxhole.”

No matter his role, it appears Whitlock will be wearing the Red Sox uniform for a long time. There is always a balancing act for players in Whitlock’s situation -- taking the security of an extension versus testing the arbitration and free-agent processes.

“For me, this was just a very good decision,” said Whitlock. “I love the city of Boston, love the fans, love the organization and everything we’re trying to do with winning and all that stuff. My teammates have been amazing, the staff has been amazing and everything. So the fact that now I get to be here for the foreseeable future, that’s an honor to me and that was the biggest part of my decision.”