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Red Sox are moving on from former closer Matt Barnes

BOSTON -- The life of a Major League reliever is a wild one. One year you can be the All-Star closer for a World Series contender, and a few years later you can find yourself looking for a new job.

Just ask Matt Barnes. The Red Sox needed to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for newly signed outfielder Adam Duvall, and to make room, Boston DFA'd its longest-tenured player on Tuesday night.

Barnes, an All-Star closer for the Red Sox just two years ago, was designated for assignment on Tuesday night, potentially ending his run with the team. The Red Sox now have a week to either trade Barnes or place the 32-year-old on irrevocable outright waivers.

Barnes was drafted by the Red Sox with the 19th overall pick out of UConn in 2011. He debuted in 2014 and spent nine seasons coming out of the Boston bullpen, making 429 appearances (second in franchise history) and racking up a 32-30 record with 47 saves. He was a major piece out of the pen during Boston's 2018 run to a World Series title, allowing just one run over 8.2 innings. 

He took over as Red Sox closer in 2021 and made his first All-Star team as he racked up 19 saves before the break. The team rewarded Barnes with a two-year, $18.75 million contract extension that included a team option for the 2024 season. That deal was seen as a bargain at the time.

But it all went downhill for Barnes after the All-Star Game. He had five saves the rest of the way, with his final save of the season on Aug. 4. He lost two games and blew two saves along the way, sporting a 9.26 ERA over the final two months of the season. He lost his job as closer, and was left off the team's initial postseason roster.

Barnes' struggles continued in 2022, when he had a 4.31 ERA and 1.437 WHIP over 44 games. He missed two months of action with a shoulder injury. 

He did look better to close 2022, with a 1.59 ERA over his final 24 appearances, but the Red Sox are opting to move on from their former closer. The team added veteran closer Kenley Jansen along with setup men Chris Martin and Joely Rodriguez over the offseason, and must feel pretty good of their crop of relievers heading into 2023.

With Barnes set to leave town, Rafael Devers, Chris Sale, and Ryan Brasier are the only holdovers left from Boston's 2018 World Series championship team.

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