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January 3, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Red Sox announce signing of Carlos Silva and 11 others to minor-league contracts

Nate Spears (Dave Letizi)
The Red Sox officially announced today that they have signed 12 players to minor-league contracts. All 12 will receive non-roster invites to spring training. Most of the signings had been previously reported, some as long ago as November, but new to the list are right-handed pitcher Carlos Silva and shortstop Pedro Ciriaco. Among those whose signings had already been reported are right-handed pitchers Brandon DuckworthCharlie HaegerWill InmanDoug MathisTony Pena Jr., and Chorye Spoone, left-handed pitchers Rich HillJesse Carlson, and Justin Thomas, and utility player Nate Spears

Silva is the biggest name on the list, as the 32-year-old right-hander has spent nine years in the major leagues. He pitched in the Yankees minor-league system last year after being cut by the Chicago Cubs in spring training, throwing 36.0 innings across three levels with a 2.75 ERA, striking out 28 and walking 6 before being released in July. Silva last pitched in the major leagues in 2010 with the Cubs, notching 113.0 innings with a 4.22 ERA, striking out 80 and walking 24. The 6.4 K/9 was actually the highest of Silva's career and the 1.9 BB/9 was in line with his career averages. He is a pitcher who gives up a lot of contact, but his high groundball rate (48 percent for his career) has been what has kept him effective. With a below-average fastball that sits in the high 80's, Silva will need to rely on his changeup, slider, and control to get hitters out. He will most likely be trying to earn a spot as major league depth in Triple-A Pawtucket this spring.

Ciriaco spent 2011 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, splitting time between Triple-A and the major leagues. He hit .303 with a .324 on-base percentage and .424 slugging percentage in 23 games over six stints with the Pirates, and hit .231/.243/.300 in 71 Triple-A games. He played a majority of his games at shortstop, but also played second base, third base, and left field, and could likely see action at a number of positions in Pawtucket this year as well. Ciriaco has shown very poor plate discipline throughout his career, as he has consistently had walk rates below 4 percent. Although he lacks power, he has some good tools that can be useful to the Sox. According to Baseball America, Ciriaco's speed, defense, and throwing arm all rate out as above-average to plus, and in November, they rated him as the best defensive infielder in the Pirates system. 

Duckworth, Pena, Spears, and Haeger all spent time in the Red Sox system in 2011, the first three spending the entire season with Pawtucket and Haeger pitching mostly for Portland after signing in July. Spears has been a consistent producer since joining the Sox in 2010. He was among the most talked-about players in major league spring training in 2011 before suffering through a number of injuries during the season, but he did make his major league debut in September. Pena threw 116.1 innings with a 3.56 ERA as Pawtucket's swingman, pitching in 33 games, 14 of those starts. Haeger, a knuckleballer who had spent the first half of 2010 with Triple-A Tacoma in the Mariners system, pitched 50.0 innings for Portland, and was in line to make a playoff start with Pawtucket if needed at the end of the year. Duckworth threw 118.0 innings for the PawSox last season, posting a 3.97 ERA. All four are likely headed to Pawtucket this year as well.

For more on the signings of the other players, see the below links:

Dec. 30: Red Sox re-sign left-hander Rich Hill to minor league deal
Dec. 10: Red Sox sign right-handed pitcher Doug Mathis
Dec. 8: Red Sox sign left-handed reliever Jesse Carlson
Nov. 22: Red Sox sign Spoone, Thomas, and Inman