Red Sox and right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson agree to one-year contract

BOSTON, MA-The Boston Red Sox today agreed with All-Star right-handed pitcher Justin Masterson on a one-year contract through the 2015 season. Executive Vice President/General Manager Ben Cherington made the announcement.

Masterson, 29, split the 2014 season between the Cleveland Indians and the St. Louis Cardinals. In 25 starts and three relief appearances, he combined for a 7-9 record with a 5.88 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 128.2 innings. He spent three weeks on the disabled list last July due to a right knee inflammation and was acquired by St. Louis via trade on July 30.

He posted a 3.86 ERA in 96 starts and four relief appearances over his previous three seasons with the Indians from 2011-13, twice throwing over 200 innings. In 2013, Masterson went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA in 32 appearances, including 29 starts, and was named to the American League All-Star Team. That season he struck out 195 batters in 193.0 innings and led AL qualifiers in both opponent slugging percentage (.312) and ground ball-to-fly ball ratio (2.48).

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Masterson returns to the organization that signed him as a second-round selection in the 2006 June Draft. From 2008-09, he went 9-8 with a 3.76 ERA in 67 appearances, including 15 starts, over parts of two seasons with the Red Sox to begin his major league career. He was traded to Cleveland at the July 31, 2009 non-waiver trade deadline along with left-handed pitcher Nick Hagadone and right-handed pitcher Bryan Price in exchange for catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez.

Masterson has appeared in 240 major league games (175 starts) over seven big league seasons with the Red Sox (2008-09), Indians (2009-14), and Cardinals (2014), going 60-72 with a 4.24 ERA and 955 strikeouts. In 10 career postseason games between the Red Sox (2008) and Indians (2013), all out of the bullpen, he is 1-0 with a 1.54 ERA.  

His 59 percent ground ball rate in 2014 was the third highest among major leaguers with at least 100.0 innings last season. Beginning with his 2008 debut, the only pitcher with at least 1,000 innings and a ground ball rate higher than Masterson's 57 percent mark is Tim Hudson at 58.

In his career, Masterson has held right-handed batters to just a .220/.306/.301 line and just a .607 OPS. Among pitchers who have faced at least 1,500 right-handed batters since 2008, none have a better opponent slugging percentage and only Clayton Kershaw has a better opponent batting average (.214).

With the signing of Masterson, Boston's 40-man roster is now at 39.