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Red Sox sign Tavarez
01/12/2006 10:23 PM ET
BOSTON -- There will be no shortage of setup men in Boston's 2006 bullpen. After retaining Mike Timlin, acquiring Guillermo Mota in a trade and signing Rudy Seanez, the Red Sox signed free agent right-hander Julian Tavarez to a two-year, $6.7 million contract.

Tavarez gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $3.1 million in each of the next two seasons. The agreement also includes a club option for 2008 of $3.85 million. That option would become guaranteed if Tavarez appears in a total of 125 games in the next two seasons or 65 games in 2007.

The Red Sox took care of another procedural matter on Wednesday, signing infielder Tony Graffanino to a one-year deal.

Graffanino was already under the contractual control of the Red Sox after accepting the club's offer of arbitration on Dec. 19. His role is uncertain at this point, but he might function as an all-purpose backup, rotating around the infield.

That scenario would be particularly ideal if Alex Cora winds up being the starting shortstop.

When he puts on the Red Sox uniform in 2006, the 32-year-old Tavarez will have a chance to erase a bitter memory of Fenway Park, where he surrendered a game-winning home run to Mark Bellhorn in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox went on to sweep the Cardinals in that Fall Classic.

Pitching for the Cardinals the last two seasons, Tavarez was one of the most durable setup men in baseball, making a total of 151 appearances. Last year he went 2-3 with a 3.43 ERA. Two years ago he posted a 2.38 ERA.

Tavarez started his Major League career with the Indians in 1993, spending four seasons with Cleveland. He moved on to the Giants for three seasons, logging a career-high 89 appearances in 1997. He spent one-season stints with the Rockies, Cubs, Marlins and Pirates before moving on to St. Louis.

The well-traveled veteran has a solid fastball and is known as a ground-ball pitcher.

The biggest question mark now regarding a deep Boston bullpen is closer Keith Foulke, and how effective he will be coming off a season in which he had operations on both knees. Foulke was 5-5 with a 5.91 ERA in 2005, posting 15 saves.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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