December 3, 2013 at 1:15 PM
A series of injuries underlies Boston's decision yesterday not to tender contracts to outfielder Ryan Kalish (pictured) and reliever Andrew Bailey for the 2014 season. While both arrived in Boston carrying exceptional talent and great expectations - Kalish after a sterling minor league career and Bailey after a blockbuster trade - neither have been able to overcome a series of frustrating setbacks that have made the two unable to capitalize on their outstanding tools.
Kalish, 25, was the top prospect in the Boston system who has seen his career sidetracked. Drafted in the ninth round of the 2006 draft out of Red Bank (NJ) Catholic High School, he impressed from the start, earning all-star recognition playing for Short-Season A Lowell in 2007, his first full pro season. A broken hamate bone in his right wrist ended that 2007 season early and delayed the start of his 2008. Fully healthy in 2009, Kalish was named the Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year and the SoxProspects.com Breakout Player of the Year, compiling a .279/.364/.457 line with 18 home runs and 21 stolen bases between High A Salem and Double-A Portland. He followed that by made his major league debut in 2010, appearing in 53 games and hitting .252/305/.405. After that promising debut, however, it has been a series of disappointments for the young outfielder.
In April 2011, Kalish tore the labrum in his left (throwing) shoulder while attempting to make a diving play. While rehabbing that injury, he developed a bulging disc in his neck, necessitating surgery that September. That December, it was reported that Kalish needed follow-up surgery on the initial shoulder injury, which would delay the start of his 2012. He returned in a rehab assignment on May 26 and was recalled to the majors on June 17 and appeared in 36 games in three stints with Boston. The following off-season, Kalish injured the labrum in his other shoulder, requiring surguery that would cause him to miss the start of the 2013 season. Before returning, it was revealed that Kalish would undergo cervical fusion surgery that included the removal of a disc in his neck.
While reports indicate that Kalish is likely to be ready for spring training, the Red Sox were unable to commit a 40-man roster spot after three lost seasons. Now a free agent, there is still the chance he could return to the Red Sox on a minor league deal.
Like Kalish, Bailey's Red Sox career has been marred with injuries. Acquired after the 2011 season in exchange for outfielder Josh Reddick, first baseman Miles Head and pitcher Raul Alcantara to take over the closer role, Bailey appeared in only 49 games across two seasons, saving 14 games. His 2013 season ended in July when he needed surgery on his right shoulder. A third-year arbitration player, Bailey was likely to earn a slight raise on the $4 million he earned in 2013, a price that was high with the right-hander likely sidelined until midseason. Now a free agent, he also may return to the Red Sox, either on a minor league contract or a more team-friendly major league deal.
The two moves leave the Red Sox 40-man roster at 38, which will be 39 once the one-year, $8 million signing of catcher A.J. Pierzynski is made official.
Photo Credit: Ryan Kalish by Kelly O'Connor