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This is a series of evaluations that will be done this offseason on every player that closed the season on the 40-man roster for the Minnesota Twins throughout the winter until each player has been evaluated. The plan is to start with Mr. Belisle and move all the way through the pitchers, then to the catchers, infielders, outfielders and finally those listed as designated hitters on the club’s official MLB.com roster. That means we’ll wrap it up with Kennys Vargas sometime before the season starts.
- Name: Buddy Boshers
- 2017 Role: Lefty specialist who was absolutely throttled by right-handed hitters.
- Expected 2018 Role: May be outrighted off the 40-man roster, but if he returns, he’ll reprise a similar role.
- MLB Stats: 4.89 ERA, 5.19 FIP in 35 innings; 7.2 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.34 WHIP, minus-0.2 fWAR.
- MiLB Stats: 3.68 ERA, 3.81 FIP in 14.2 innings at Triple-A Rochester
- Contract Status: Arbitration-eligible after 2018, eligible for free agency after 2021.
One thing Terry Ryan did fairly well was finding impact relievers in minor-league free agency, and one of his final finds at the helm of the Minnesota Twins was Buddy Boshers. Boshers was by no means great in 2016, but he posted a 4.25 ERA (2.84 FIP) with more than a strikeout per inning, almost no walks (1.8 BB/9) and an above-average groundball rate (46.7 percent).
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the numbers were superficially good, as a lefty low-90s fastball who can spin a good breaking ball probably isn’t going to do that sort of thing year in and year out. But he carried a 12.2 percent swinging-strike rate — about 11.5 percent is average — and did most of his damage against left-handed hitters (.560 OPS against). These aren’t the superstars that bullpen builders flock to, but solid LOOGY’s — baseball speak for lefty, one-out guys — get plenty of dough on the open market. Guys like Antonio Bastardo and Tony Sipp have gotten in the neighborhood of $6 million per year in free agency in recent years, and Brett Cecil sort of broke the mold last winter when he signed a four-year, $30.5 million deal.
Boshers is by no means in the neighborhood of Cecil, but it’s fair to say if he’d had his 2015 season with free agency looming, he might’ve scored a two- or three-year deal worth $4-5 million on the open market. It’s disingenuous to call those deals disastrous, but they have not paid off to this point. Sipp has been a negative fWAR player in each of the last two seasons with the Astros, while Bastardo had such a rough 2017 (minus-0.5 fWAR) that it almost entirely negated his 2016 year (plus-0.6).
The overriding point here is that guys like Boshers probably have to be considered disposable, and the Twins have wisely identified that. What was less wise was letting Boshers face so many righties this season.