By Sean McAdam
The Red Sox' bullpen for 2011 is beginning to take shape, as the team has reached agreement with ex-Tampa Bay reliever (and Warwick, RI) native Dan Wheeler on a one-year contract, plus an option for 2012.
The news was first reported by ESPN Boston and later by WEEI.com.
Wheeler, 33, has pitched for Tampa Bay since 2007. He had a 2-4 record with 3 saves and a 3.35 ERA in 48 13 innings over 64 games for the Rays last season. His WHIP was 1.076, after having been below 1.0 (0.995 in 2008 and 0.867 in 2009) over the two previous years.
Wheeler broke into the majors with the Rays in 1999 and pitched parts of three seasons for them before being released on Dec. 13, 2001. He spent 2002 in the Braves' organization and was released again, then signed with the Mets and spent his first full year in the major leagues in New York in 2003. He was traded to the Astros in August 2004, and then back to Tampa Bay in July 2007.
He earned 3.5 million last season. He will make 3 million in 2011, and the option -- which kicks in if he appears in 65 games -- for 2012 is also worth 3 million. It will rise to 3.25 million if he appears in 75 games in '11.
Since the end of the season, the Red Sox have rebuilt their bullpen with Wheeler, Bobby Jenks and Matt Albers from the right side, and Andrew Miller and Lenny DiNardo from the left. They join returnees Jonathan Papelbon, Daniel Bard, Scott Atchison, Tim Wakefield, Felix Doubront, Michael Bowden and Rich Hill.