Back on Thursday the 11th, the Red Sox added yet another starter to their rotation, as they inked Justin Masterson to a 1 year $9.5 million contract. He can also earn up to another $2.5 million with incentives that require Masterson to pitch in at least 185 innings if he wishes to receive the extra money, as he will get a check for 500K after every 5 innings pitched beyond 185. Reportedly though it was a close call for the Red Sox, as they were deciding between Masterson and Brett Anderson. Since Masterson has better numbers and has a bigger time frame in the AL, Justin was the right choice.
The cards that Masterson has laid out on the table currently are not good enough to impress any team enough, and that is why he got a 1-year deal. Before his poor 2014 performance though, he was very impressive for the most part between 2011-2013, as then he was worth at least $11 million/year. Even with all the crummy stats that Justin put in the books in 2014, he still had a few impressive ones that will help him in a hitter’s ballpark. The one statistic that shines the brightest is the range between his ERA and FIP (basically a pitcher’s true ERA if the team’s defense is not factored in) in 2014. Even with an ERA of 5.88 this past season, his FIP was over 100 points lower as it calculated out to 4.50. The main reason why he struggled in 2014 may have been because of the shadow of Corey Kluber that was cast over Masterson, as Corey went on to win the AL CY Young. It did not get any better though for Justin as when he arrived in St. Louis after being traded, he found that there was even a bigger shadow (Adam Wainwright) that he would be hiding in. This shouldn’t be a problem in Boston unless he does it to himself, as Masterson has just as much star power as the other Red Sox starters. During his impeccable run between 2011-2013 he posted a 3.60 FIP while having an ERA of 3.86. His record of 37-35 doesn’t say much considering his win-loss% was .517 compared to the MLB average of .495 during that 3-year stretch. Masterson may be penciled in at the #4 spot right now in the rotation, but he could very well take the #1 spot if he puts up an impressive Spring Training campaign.
Overall this signing is a B- because considering the roller coaster type of performances Masterson has put in the last 4 years, 1-year $9.5 is just the right amount of money to pay this type of pitcher.