Aceves Presents Low-Risk SP Option for Boston

The Red Sox plucked away a Yankee yesterday, signing 28-year-old right-hander Alfredo Aceves to a $650 thousand dollar contract. Aceves was only a key player for the Yankees for one season, 2009, when he racked up 1.3 WAR in 84 innings with the eventual World Series champs. For his MLB career, 126 innings of primarily relief work with New York, Aceves has a 3.21 ERA, a 4.13 FIP, and a 4.21 xFIP. The Red Sox, however, plan to convert Aceves into a starter.

Although a large majority of his MLB experience – 54 of his 59 appearances – have come in relief, Aceves was groomed as a starter in the minors by the Yankees. As a 25-year-old, Aceves threw 140.2 innings between three levels, compiling FIPs under 3.00 at A+ and AA before stalling a bit at AAA, where he managed only a 4.02 FIP and a similar ERA. He spent almost all of 2009 relieving in the Majors, and then missed the final 131 games of the 2010 season due to back injury.

Unfortunately, we just don’t have much information to go on. None of the purely statistical signs are appealing. His ERA was great as a reliever, but it was unsupported by his peripherals. He pitched well in the low minors, but that success faded on his arrival in AAA. In a starting role, there’s no reason to expect anything better out of Aceves; in fact, it’s probably wise to expect Aceves’s true talent to be a full run worse as a starter than in the pen, and that doesn’t appear good enough to best Daisuke Matsuzaka, for whom Marcel is projecting a 4.25 ERA.

Obviously though, this is a low-risk move. The cost of $650K is barely over the minimum, and is chump change to almost every team, let alone the Red Sox. If Aceves doesn’t work as a starter, he could have value as a reliever or a swingman. It doesn’t appear like Aceves will contribute much to the Red Sox this season, but he doesn’t have to. Anything out of him this year is merely icing on the cake, and if he remains on the roster, Boston has Aceves for all three of his arbitration seasons as well.

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