The Red Sox Acquire Boof

The Astros provided one example of stocking a bullpen, and now the Red Sox provide another. The Sox picked up Boof Bonser, who was to be designated for assignment, for some cash or a PTNL. Bonser will be cheap and under team control for a number of years (he has three years of service time), and could be as good as Brandon Lyon out of the pen.

Bonser has a FIP of 4.60, compared to Lyon’s 4.23, but most of Bonser’s innings were as a starter. Adjust for the bullpen bonus and he should be better than Lyon. Of course, Bonser is coming off rotator cuff surgery. Maybe he will not pitch the whole year or come back at full strength. Still, he could also come back strong and pitch like he did out of the pen for the Twins in 2008, when he had an xFIP of 3.39 with 55 Ks to 16 BBs over 52 innings. He also has value as a spot-starter. It fits into the new school of bullpen construction: throw a lot of pitchers with potential upside but some question marks at a wall and one or two are bound to stick.

Anyway, picking up Bonser is a perfect counter example of player acquisition to the Astros overpayment for a middling reliever who posted a low ERA built on low BABIP luck.

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Dave Allen's other baseball work can be found at Baseball Analysts.

31 Responses to “The Red Sox Acquire Boof”

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  1. Joe R says:

    Good pickup.

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  2. twinsfan says:

    While the Twins choose to keep the Keppelanator on the 40-man instead.


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  3. Sam says:


    I agree with your central premise. But isn’t it true that BABiP for a reliever can be lower than average? In Lyon’s case, his career is .299, so it probably isn’t, but he has been below .300 for the last three of the four years (arbitrary endpoint alert, but still).

    Doesn’t come even close to justifying the deal the Astros gave Lyon, but he may end up being better than thought.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Lyon’s BABIP over the past three years is .288. Even if we were to assume he could be better than his career average, over the past three years he’s still been much closer to it than he was in ’09.

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  4. Steve says:

    Boof Bonser is a bad pitcher. Brandon Lyon’s awful contract does not make Boof Bonser a good pitcher.

    it’s fine that the Sox picked him as AAA depth, but let’s be honest: he sucks.

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  5. NateR says:

    A thought I had and wondering if it holds any possible validity. The Twins clearly hold ‘strike-throwing’ in higher regard for their prospects than ‘K/9′. Boof’s K/9 seems to be on the high side for a typical Twins SP prospect. Is there some chance Boof’s K/9 has been adversely effected by being within the Twins organization? Isn’t it possible his K/9 might tick upward some once he gets away from the ‘thou shalt not walk anyone’ philosophy? Of course this is probably of little concern compared to the bigger issue of whether he can come back from some significant shoulder surgery with the same velocity and command he had previously. But I thought it was an interesting theory.

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  6. Brian says:

    Boof has more than 2 years of service. I think he’s got 3+, but not 4. He came up in May, 2006 and stuck. He gets credit for last year, right?

    As a Twins fan, I was actually looking forward to seeing what Boof could do. I think he was on his way to being an effective 7th or 8th inning guy before the injury. I think Lyon’s the better bet straight up, but not for the extra $4M+ a year.

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    • Dave Allen says:

      I was going off the information at Cot’s Contracts that says he has 2.1 years of ML service time.

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      • twinsfan says:

        I don’t think Cots is completely up-to-date with this year’s service time yet, especially where minor leaguers and 60-day DL players are concerned.

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      • Dave Allen says:

        Oh ok, thanks for the heads up. I changed in the article.

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      • twinsfan says:

        Boof had roughly 100 days of service in 2006 (quick math), full seasons in 2007 and 8, with all of 2009 on the DL.

        3.100, give or take.

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      • Steve says:

        yeah, if you click on Boof’s fangraph’s page, the rotowire box on the right says this:

        “Bonser missed all of 2009 after surgery to repair a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder and the Twins designated him for assignment rather than give him a likely raise in arbitration. The Red Sox may now try to sign him to a contract to avoid arbitration.”

        so, he’s eligible for arb.

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  7. NYRoyal says:

    Bonser’s career MLB tRA is above league average (by a little) and that is as a starter. As a reliever, he should of course pitch better than that. In recent years, Brandon Lyon has been similarly just above average in tRA, and that is as a reliever. Going forward, I expect them to be similarly effective, with Bonser perhaps better than Lyon. Clearly acquiring Bonser for next to nothing was “the better way.” And I’m not just talking about process. I’m talking about results.

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  8. RZ says:


    Now I can see him more than three times in a season.

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  9. Mike Green says:

    Bonser’s injury was apparently a torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum. You cannot really project pre-surgery to post-surgery performance.

    For an organization like the Red Sox, it makes a lot of sense to have post-surgery rehab projects at low cost around. It really wouldn’t make much sense for a team with a smaller budget unless the player is on a minor league contract.

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  10. brian says:

    at just 28, bonser is also 2 years younger than lyon. just another factor to consider when comparing the merit of the sox acquisition and the lunacy of the stros signing.

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  11. Larry Smith Jr. says:

    I work midnights, so I’ve been asleep all day. When I went to sleep, I’d heard that Bonser was DFA’d. I wake up to find this. When I heard he was DFA’d, I wanted the Tigers all over this one……then I see the Red Sox traded for him.

    In order to set my mind at ease:

    When a player is DFA’d, that means he is exposed to irrevocable waivers, does it not? Does that mean the Red Sox traded for him BEFORE he was exposed to waivers?

    I just am slightly irritated that if he was indeed placed on waivers, that the Tigers — Who are ahead of the Red Sox in the claiming order — Would not have placed a claim. I just want to make sure I have a right to be angry before getting there.

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  12. derek says:

    You guys that are saying that Bonser is an awful pitcher are missing the point. When he was a starter for the Twins he was always great for the first three or four innings before getting rocked in the fifth and sixth. He has always had a very good strikeout, and solid walk rate. He has all the tools to be a very good one inning reliever, and getting him for next to nothing is a brilliant move by the Red Sox.

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  13. Steve says:

    is this all that different than any other mediocre starter? the league as a whole does better the first time through a lineup than gets progressively worse.

    also, his splits don’t really back this claim.

    .781 OPS against in the 1st inning
    .684 OPS against in the 2nd inning
    .812 OPS against in the 3rd inning
    .714 OPS against in the 4th inning
    etc. etc. etc.

    the Sox picked up a starter for some decent AAA depth. it’s perfectly fine, and might even qualify as a “good” pickup.

    calling it “brilliant” is pretty absurd. believe it or not, not everything Theo Epstein does is “brilliant”. and in this case, it wasn’t even MEANT to be.

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