January 7, 2015 at 8:27 AM
On Monday, the Red Sox made the re-signing of left-handed reliever Craig Breslow official. In order to make room for Breslow on the 40-man roster, Boston designated catcher Dan Butler (pictured) for assignment. They now have seven days to place Butler on waivers and 10 days to trade him, release him, or outright him to the minor leagues.
Butler is widely well-regarded in the organization for his abilities behind the plate, and seen by some as having the ceiling of a backup at the major league level. He has been in the Red Sox organization since July 2009, when he signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Arizona after being named a Cape Cod League all-star. He has steadily worked his way through the system since, occasionally being asked to jump several levels as a temporary injury replacement.
After serving as Lowell's starting backstop following his mid-season signing in 2009, Butler broke out in 2010 with Greenville, hitting .327/.406/.523 in 61 games and earning a July promotion to Salem. The following year, he was a Carolina League All-Star, hitting 11 home runs before a promotion to Portland in August. As a 26-year old in 2013, he hit .262/.350/.479 with 14 home runs and 19 doubles in 84 games for Pawtucket, breaking out in particular when he was given the opportunity to be the club's primary catcher while fellow catcher Ryan Lavarnway was called up to Boston for a two-month stretch.
On August 10, 2014, Butler finally got a taste of the big leagues. After an 0 for 12 start to his major league career, Butler recorded his first hit on September 10, when he smashed a double off the monster against the Baltimore Orioles.
Breslow will join Drake Britton and Tommy Layne as potential left-handed options for John Farrell out of the bullpen. After playing an integral part in Boston's World Series run in 2013, Breslow fell off a bit in 2014. He posted a 1.81 ERA in 59 2/3 innings in 2013, only to see that number sky-rocket to 5.96 in 54 1/3 innings last season. He allowed more than twice as many home runs in 2014 (eight, after he allowed just three the prior season), and his walk total rose from 18 to 28, raising his per-nine-innings rate from 2.7 to 4.6. With the Red Sox lacking a reliable left-handed option, signing Breslow to a one-year deal for $2 million was a low-risk opportunity to bet on a bounce-back season.
Photo credit: Kelly O'Connor