The Red Sox have made a one-year offer to right-hander Justin Masterson. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Sources: Red Sox make 1-year offer to free agent Justin Masterson

December 09, 2014 - 5:51 am
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According to industry sources, the Red Sox are one of multiple teams that have made a one-year offer to free agent right-hander Justin Masterson. Masterson endured a season-long struggle with health in 2014 that stemmed from torn cartilage in his rib cage and a consequent buildup of scar tissue. The discomfort he felt as a result of that injury resulted in mechanical alterations and injuries, including discomfort in his knee and an impingement in his right shoulder that eventually required a cortisone shot in September. However, the diagnosis of scar tissue towards the end of the year offered something of a unified theory for the right-hander's health woes, which contributed to a year-long struggle (7-9, 5.88 ERA in 28 games and 25 starts) with the Indians and Cardinals.  He is expected to be healthy for next season. Given that he suffered a down year in 2014 (a season in which he turned down a three-year, $51 million extension offer from the Indians), Masterson appears to be in search of a one-year deal that would permit him to rebuild his value prior to the 2015-16 offseason -- whether for talks about an extension with the club with whom he signs for next year or as a free agent. Because he's a groundball pitcher, Masterson is less concerned about the home ballpark of the team with whom he signs than is typical of other free agents who sign one-year deals, and his relationship with the Red Sox front office (he was in the team's minor league system under current GM Ben Cherington and current assistant GM Mike Hazen) and manager John Farrell (the pitching coach with whom Masterson worked upon arriving in the big leagues) represents a draw for him as he wades through his free agent options. Despite his struggles in 2014, Masterson still had the highest groundball rate (58.2 percent) of any free agent starter who logged at least 50 innings last year along with the sixth-highest strikeout rate (8.1 per nine innings) of any free agent starter. Unlike other mid-tier free agent options such as Francisco Liriano and Ervin Santana, Masterson is in search of a one-year deal and will not cost the team that acquires him a draft pick. He hasn't ruled out the possibility of a one-year deal with a team (or vesting) option, but for now, his preference is for a straight one-year deal. Masterson -- who has already met with the Red Sox, and has other meetings scheduled after the winter meetings -- is expected to see his market gain definition quickly once Jon Lester signs. Masterson was drafted by the Red Sox in the second-round of the 2006 draft. He pitched in 67 games with the Red Sox, mostly out of the bullpen, between 2008-09 going 9-8 with a 3.76 ERA. Masterson was traded by the Sox to the Indians with prospects Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price at the '09 trade deadline for Victor Martinez. Now, with the Sox in need of multiple starters from outside of the organization, the team is exploring a reunion with Masterson.   For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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