Former UConn pitcher Matt Barnes will stay with the only Major League Baseball organization he’s ever known after signing a two-year extension with the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. The deal is worth $18.75 million with a club option for 2024 worth $8 million, according to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.
Barnes was set to hit free agency at the conclusion of the 2021 season. He’s having a career year in his first full season as a closer with a 2.68 ERA, 0.865 WHIP and a 6.20 strikeouts to walk ratio — all of which are career-bests so far. Barnes has also slammed the door on 19 of 21 save situations and was named to the American League All-Star team for the first time.
“I just wanted a fair contract for what I was doing…This is just a place I wanted to stay,” Barnes told reporters.
“There really wasn’t a place I wanted to play that wasn’t Boston…The grass isn’t always greener on the other side,” he added later.
The Red Sox selected Barnes with the 19th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. He found out while UConn was in the middle of a win-or-go-home regional final in Clemson, South Carolina and even after the Huskies advanced, Barnes refused to think about it until the season ended.
“Whenever the season was over, we were gonna deal with it,” Barnes told the Boston Herald’s Andrew Callahan. “There were obviously months of negotiating … but to me, it was ‘let’s go win and see if we can get to Omaha.’ Pro ball wasn’t really a thought while I was still playing.”
Barnes eventually signed and made his major league debut in 2014, though he didn’t establish himself in Boston until the next year. In 2018, Barnes helped the Red Sox win the World Series by earning the win in game one and becoming just the second former UConn player to win a World Series title.