By Jeff Louderback
Chris Carpenter, the hard-throwing right-handed reliever who was acquired last offseason from the Cubs as compensation for Theo Epstein and was designated for assignment this week to make room for Mike Napoli on the Red Sox 40-man roster – could return to Chicago.
According to ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine, the Cubs “would be interested in signing him if he is put on waivers.” Levine pointed out that the Red Sox and the Cubs have full 40-man rosters, so the Cubs would have to clear space to add Carpenter.
If the Red Sox do not trade Carpenter after 10 days, they must place him on waivers. Though his Major League numbers were not impressive, and he struggles with command, likely Carpenter will be claimed by another team. The Red Sox would re-sign him to a minor league contract if he passes through waivers.
Along with 22-year-old power right-hander Aaron Kurcz, the 27-year-old Carpenter was sent to Boston as compensation for general manager Theo Epstein becoming president of the Chicago Cubs last offseason.
A third round pick of the Cubs out of Kent State University in 2008, the 27-year-old Carpenter has a live fast ball that has reached 100. Though has has command issues – he has averaged 4.2 walks per nine innings over his five-year minor league career – Carpenter tends to generate more strikeouts as a reliever, a role to which he was converted in 2011.
Last March – not long after the deal was announced – Carpenter underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow. He rehabbed and returned to the mound, and posted a 1.15 ERA in 16 relief appearances at Triple-A Pawtucket.
His Major League time with the Red Sox was a disappointment as he logged a 9.00 with 10 walks in six innings and eight games.
With Boston’s bullpen depth, Carpenter will likely open the 2013 campaign at Triple-A Pawtucket if he is not traded or if he clears waivers.