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Giolito's deal with Red Sox could be worth up to $58M with incentives

Lucas Giolito Cleveland Guardians Lucas Giolito - The Canadian Press

BOSTON (AP) — Lucas Giolito hopes to revive his career with the Boston Red Sox.

The 29-year-old right-hander finalized a $38.5 million, two-year contract on Wednesday, a deal that allows him to earn up to $58 million over three seasons.

Giolito was 42-38 with a 4.19 ERA from 2016-21 but is 19-24 with a 4.89 ERA since.

“I’m not a fan at all of my recent performances,” Giolito said during a Zoom news conference, “so I’d like to do the more like short-term option and really kind of re-bolster and ... get back to what I know I can do in this league and go from there.”

Giolito gets $18 million this year and has a $19 million player option for 2025 with a $1 million buyout. If he exercises the 2025 option, the Red Sox have a $14 million option for 2026 with a $1.5 million buyout.

If Giolito pitches 140 or more innings in 2025, the 2026 option would become a $19 million mutual option with a $1.5 million buyout.

He can earn up to $1 million in performance bonuses in 2024 and '25: $250,000 each for 150, 160, 170 and 180 innings.

“I’m coming off of a down season and the year before that was a down season, too, so for me committing to a big long-term deal at a value that I don’t necessarily see myself at — or not really having interest from teams in that type of deal — it didn’t really make sense,” he said.

Given his recent performance, Giolto didn't have a lot of bidders.

“It wasn't very many,” he said.

Giolito struggled to an 8-15 record with a 4.88 ERA last year for the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Guardians. He allowed 41 homers, second-most in the majors, and tied for the big league lead with 33 starts.

“It's kind of an astounding number, how many home runs I gave up,” he said. “I get to the point where I’m more consistently executing pitches where they need to be and sequencing better, then we’ll be able to bring that number down significantly.”

Mixing fastballs, sliders and changeups with occasional curveballs, Giolito struck out 204 in 184 1/3 innings while walking 73, his most since 2018. He got 81 of his strikeouts on fastballs, 65 on changeups and 56 on sliders.

“It starts mechanically,” he said. “I’m always at my best when I’m compact and athletic, and I feel that over the last couple of seasons that I’ve fallen into a few bad habits where I kind of like leak down the mound, get a little long and it puts me in a position to not be able to deliver pitches consistently, missing spots and maybe losing stuff here and there.”

He joins a rotation that appears thin, with right-handers Brayan Bello, Kutter Crawford and Tanner Houck among the best options.

Selected by Washington with the 16th overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, Giolito debuted for the Nationals in June 2016 and was acquired by the White Sox that December with right-hander Dane Dunning for outfielder Adam Eaton. Giolito was an All-Star in 2019, when he was 14-9 with a 3.41 ERA and tied for the major league lead in complete games with three and shutouts with two.

Giolito went 59-52 with a 4.20 ERA in 162 starts with the White Sox, who traded him to the Angels on July 26 with right-hander Reynaldo López for minor league left-hander Ky Bush and catcher Edgar Quero. After going 1-5 with a 6.89 ERA in six starts for Los Angeles, Giolito was claimed off waivers by Cleveland and went 1-4 with a 7.04 ERA in six starts for the Guardians.

He has a 61-62 record with a 4.43 ERA in 178 starts and two relief appearances.

To clear a roster spot for Giolito, right-hander Mauricio Llovera was designated for assignment. He had a 5.46 ERA in 25 games and 29 2/3 innings. Llovera was claimed off waivers from San Francisco on July 26.