The Red Sox have been one of the most active teams in baseball on the undrafted free-agent market, and it turns out they’re pulling out all the stops to get the guys they want.

One of those players was Jordan DiValerio, a senior right-handed pitcher from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. DiValerio, who knew there was a good chance he’d go undrafted and be eligible to sign with a team for a maximum bonus of $20,000, knew the Red Sox had interest in signing him and he had Boston at the top of his list.

Shortly after the negotiating window opened at 9 a.m. Sunday, DiValerio got a text from Ray Fagnant, the Sox’s Northeast area scout. The message shocked DiValerio.

“He texted me out of nowhere and was like, ‘Hey, expect a call from Chris Sale,’” DiValerio said by phone Monday night. “I was like, ‘No way. Are you serious?’ And then, he told me if I got a call from a random number, to pick it up.”

The Red Sox had enlisted Sale – one of the best pitchers in baseball over the last decade – to help recruit DiValerio. The righty, who posted a 10-10 record and 3.97 ERA over parts of four seasons for St. Joseph’s, had interest from a handful of other clubs and another offer in hand early Sunday morning.

Before Sale called, DiValerio made his intentions clear to Fagnant. At that point, the Nescopeck, Pennsylvania, native was close to a decision and was leaning heavily toward Boston.


Then came the call from that random number, followed by an introduction on the other line.

“Hi, this is Chris Sale,” Sale said.

DiValerio couldn’t believe his ears.

“I was definitely nervous,” DiValerio said. “But he’s just a normal dude. When it boils down to it, he’s really normal, easy to talk to. We talked about Pennsylvania a little bit. He said he’s excited to have me as part of the club.”

Sale had heard from Fagnant that DiValerio was coming to the Red Sox, so the lefty spared DiValerio a full-on recruiting pitch and gave him some casual advice instead. Sale congratulated Boston’s newest signee and raved about how much he has enjoyed his time with the organization.

“He said it’s one of the best, if not the best organization in baseball,” DiValerio said. “He said once you get in, the family environment is really just incredible. He’s so happy to be a part of it. He told me I’m going to be happy to be in it as well.”


With the MLB draft shortened to five rounds from 40 this year, the market for undrafted free agents was unprecedented and wild. With bonuses being capped at $20,000, money was basically equal. Teams needed to find ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

DiValerio had other teams express interest, but none of those clubs had any of their major-leaguers call and try to recruit him. During the period before the end of the draft Thursday night and the beginning of amateur free agency Sunday morning, the righty wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.

“Saturday was probably the longest day of my life,” DiValerio said. “It just dragged on forever. I knew Sunday morning was going to come but it kind of felt like it never would. I didn’t sleep very well, I woke up a couple times during the night having weird baseball-related dreams.”

Shortly after he woke up, DiValerio’s real-life dream of becoming a professional baseball player came true. He’ll never forget how far the Red Sox went to make sure he signed with them.

“It was definitely really surprising,” DiValerio said. “It means so much to just be wanted by such a great organization.”

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