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Boston Red Sox Rumors
Amid a flurry of roster moves, the Red Sox announced that infielder Jeff Bianchi has been designated for assignment. That move creates room on the roster to add outfielder Carlos Peguero, who was acquired yesterday in exchange for cash considerations. Additionally, Eduardo Rodriguez has now officially been recalled, with righty Heath Hembree being optioned to Triple-A. The team has also recalled Robbie Ross Jr. and placed outfielder Daniel Nava on the 15-day DL with a sprained thumb.
The 28-year-old Bianchi picked up just a single plate appearance with the Sox before being designated for assignment. He’d signed a minor league contract with Boston this winter and found himself called up after posting a .302/.373/.340 batting line with Triple-A Pawtucket this season.
Prior to the 2015 season, Bianchi played parts of three Major League seasons with the Brewers. In 163 games and 402 big league plate appearances, he’s a .216/.251/.283 hitter with notable experience at second base, shortstop and third base.
The Red Sox have acquired outfielder Carlos Peguero from the Rangers, Boston announced. Cash is headed back to Texas in the deal. Peguero, who had been designated for assignment by the Rangers last week, will join the Red Sox in Arlington for their upcoming weekend series against his former teammates.
Boston certainly does not appear in want of options in the outfield, but its current mix includes only one left-handed bat: Daniel Nava (a switch-hitter). It is conceivable — though far from certain — that the addition of Peguero could ultimately lead to a transaction involving Nava, though the team has alternative means of clearing active roster space in the near term.
Peguero, 28, brings poor on-base ability but strong power numbers to the table, as his .186/.310/.414 line this year suggests. He did hit 38 home runs at the Triple-A level last year, though he struck out over a third of the time on the way to that prodigious long ball output.
Rodriguez may only receive a spot start, per Britton, but regardless it’ll be the first MLB experience for the 22-year-old lefty. Acquired last summer from the Orioles for relief ace Andrew Miller, Rodriguez entered this year (as he did last) as a consensus top-100 prospect league-wide.
With a late May call-up, Rodriguez would stand some chance of achieving Super Two status if he can stick on the roster, but that’s hardly a sure thing. And it seems that he will need to pitch his way into a regular rotation spot, as the club is simply pushing back its current starting five.
Though his value had dipped somewhat at the time he was sent to Boston, Rodriguez was still quite a prize (the result of a trade deadline bidding war). He also quickly restored his former luster, according to reports at the time, by regaining fastball velocity in short order.
After a dominant end to his season at the Double-A level last year, Rodriguez earned a promotion to the highest level of the minors to open 2015. He has not disappointed, striking out 8.2 and walking just 1.3 batters per nine over 48 1/3 innings, posting a 2.98 ERA for Pawtucket.
Now, Boston will see what the youngster can provide at the big league level. It’s no secret that the club’s starting pitching has had its struggles, though the group has been somewhat better in recent weeks. It seems likely that Rodriguez could earn another start, at least, with a solid outing. Certainly, it behooves the Red Sox to give him a chance and see what they have as they weigh outside additions over the summer.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Rays first baseman James Loney is headed to the DL for the next four to six weeks with a broken finger, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. While the 31-year-old has not exactly been tearing things up at the plate, he is a particularly difficult player for Tampa Bay to replace. As Topkin explains, the club’s 40-man roster does not admit of any ready options at Triple-A. That could lead the Rays to look outside the organization, he suggests, with players in DFA limbo (Casey McGehee, Travis Ishikawa), on the open market (Kila Ka’aihue), or possibly available via trade (Garrett Jones) seeming like potential options. Both McGehee and Ishikawa will, presumably, ultimately be exposed to waivers, though both come with significant salary commitments ($4.8MM and $1.1MM, respectively). The Giants could be motivated to strike a deal involving one of those players if Tampa is willing to take on some cash.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Blue Jays star Jose Bautista is still struggling to deal with painful shoulder inflammation, as Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. Bautista says he appreciates the difficulties in lineup construction that the injury has caused, but made clear that he is doing all he can by taking on DH duties. The team’s upcoming interleague stretch and Bautista’s own pain levels were factors in the decision to treat him with a cortisone shot, per the report. It’s an interesting piece that delves into many of the day-to-day matters that have a significant impact on a player over the course of a season, but which often go underappreciated.
- Struggling badly hitting from the right side, Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval is seriously considering facing opposing southpaws from the left side of the box, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. “There’s conversation at various points about that. He’s even initiated it at times,” said manager John Farrell. “But until that change is made, that’s something that certainly will include him in that process.” Certainly, it’s interesting to see player and club contemplating such a move just a few months into a five-year, $95MM contract.
- Joe Kelly and the rest of the Red Sox rotation have all been consistently inconsistent, as Britton writes. The up-and-down performances across the staff have put the club in a tough position, making it difficult to pull the trigger on a move to try another option. “There’s no decision here in this moment,” Farrell said of Kelly’s rotation status. “He’s shown us the ability to go out and work deep in a ballgame. There’s no denying the stuff. It’s a matter of consistent location with his fastball.”
- Top Orioles pitching prospect Dylan Bundy has been scratched from his start today after experiencing stiffness in his right shoulder, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports. While it’s far from clear that there is cause for alarm — the team says it hopes Bundy is simply suffering from tendinitis — Bundy has already been forced to rehab back from Tommy John surgery. Another highly-rated young arm, Hunter Harvey, has dealt with more obviously concerning injury issues. The club’s future hinges in no small part on the health and development of those two players, along with the equally-hyped Kevin Gausman.
Here are the latest minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- Lefty Joe Paterson has reached a minor league deal with the Athletics, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Paterson, who just turned 29, had opened the year at Triple-A in the Royals organization after spending his previous seasons with the Giants and Diamondbacks. He threw 40 1/3 innings of 6.25 ERA ball for Arizona at the major league level. This season, he has tossed 12 2/3 frames at the highest level of the minors, striking out 12 and walking six while permitting eight earned runs.
- The Astros released 2009 third-round pick Telvin Nash, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Nash, 24, was repeating Double-A this year and owned a .228/.318/.456 slash with seven home runs over 130 plate appearances. Despite generally excellent power numbers and solid walk rates, Nash has been unable to avoid the strikeout. He has spent most of his time at first or in the corner outfield.
- The Cubs re-signed right-hander Blake Parker to a new minor league contract, team director of player development Jaron Madison tells Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register (Twitter link). Parker was released by the Cubs earlier this month. The righty posted a 3.68 ERA, 10.4 K/9 and 3.54 K/BB rate over 73 1/3 innings out of Chicago’s bullpen from 2012-14, but he’s been limited to only 3 1/3 Triple-A innings this season due to an elbow injury.
- The Red Sox have officially signed second baseman Yoilan Cerse, according to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported earlier this month that the Cuban second baseman was close to a minor league deal with Boston.
- Also from Eddy, the Padres released third baseman Josh Bell. The 28-year-old signed a minor league deal with San Diego in February but has yet to see any action in 2015. Bell appeared in 100 games with the Orioles and D’Backs from 2010-12 and has since played in the minors with the White Sox and Yankees, as well as spending 2014 in the Korean Baseball Organization.
- The Yankees moved shortstop Brendan Ryan from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL and also optioned righty Branden Pinder to Triple-A. Both moves created 25-man roster space to accommodate newly-promoted southpaw Jacob Lindgren. Ryan suffered a calf injury during Spring Training and isn’t expected back in action until early June.
As we approach the draft, one group of players to watch is college seniors, who have very little leverage to negotiate bonuses, as Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper writes. Seniors selected in the fourth round typically get only $50K-$100K, while seniors picked in the tenth round get as little as $1K. Selections of seniors in the first ten rounds, which are now governed by rules regarding draft spending allotments, can be used to free up money for hard-to-sign players in other rounds.
That only works if those seniors sign, of course — if a team drafts a senior in the first ten rounds and he doesn’t sign, they lose the ability to spend the entire amount associated with his draft position. So, as Cooper notes, a senior’s willingness to sign is even more crucial than his actual talent. “I need to be able to tell the scouting director, ‘I don’t have this guy as a top-10 round talent, but if we need a budget saver, I promise you I will sign him and he will not screw us over,'” as one scout explains. As Cooper notes, the system could give a senior a fair amount of power, in that a senior who expressed willingness to sign cheaply before the draft but changed his mind after being drafted could torpedo a team’s ability to sign other players. But a team could then ruin the player’s career by refusing to let him play in the minors. Here’s more on the draft.
- In 2003, the Royals took full advantage of senior picks’ lack of leverage, Cooper writes. Faced with an inadequate draft budget, the Royals took several seniors in the early rounds and paid them bonuses of just $1K. Several of them ultimately got to the big leagues, including Mike Aviles, Ryan Braun (the reliever, not the Brewers slugger) and Irving Falu. They also got lefty Dusty Hughes for $3.5K. “We called them all in advance. We told them, if you take this offer, we’ll draft you. They were all willing to do it. They wanted to play,” says then-scouting director Deric Ladnier.
- More than 20 teams passed on Mike Trout in the 2009 MLB Draft before the Angels took him. The Red Sox weren’t one of those teams, but if he had still been on the board when they had picked at No. 28, they probably would still have selected Puerto Rican outfielder Reymond Fuentes, WEEI’s Rob Bradford explains in a piece that provides an unusually close look into a drafting team’s thought process. Trout had his partisans within the Red Sox organization, and Northeast region scout Ray Fagnant says he was one of them. Then-assistant GM Ben Cherington took Trout seriously, too. But the Red Sox already had a somewhat similar outfield prospect in Ryan Westmoreland who some in the organization liked better, and they saw the speedy Fuentes as a potentially disruptive player in the mold of Jacoby Ellsbury. Westmoreland hit brilliantly in the minors in 2009, but a cavernous malformation in his brain prematurely ended his career. The Red Sox sent Fuentes to the Padres in the first Adrian Gonzalez deal, and he’s played only briefly in the Majors.
The Yankees promoted reliever Jacob Lindgren to the big leagues this weekend after less than a year in the minors, as Ryan Hatch of NJ.com notes. Lindgren was a second-round draft pick just last June. “Them picking a reliever kind of high, I guess there’s always that chance [of being called up],” Lindgren says. “But I kind of had to pitch my game and show them what I could do.” Lindgren is, of course, right to note that college pitchers chosen early in the draft and used as relievers can make the Majors quite quickly. Another reliever, Brandon Finnegan of the Royals, was the first 2014 draftee to reach the big leagues, and other recent early-round relievers, like Drew Storen and Paco Rodriguez, have taken quick routes to the Majors as well. Lindgren’s dominance in the minors is still worth noting, however — he’s posted a 1.74 ERA, 14.8 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 46 2/3 innings since turning pro. Here’s more from the AL East.
- Despite an uneven start to their season, the Red Sox have an opportunity to win a flawed AL East division, and they need to take advantage by making a big move, Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald writes. The division will most likely go to the team that does the most to improve itself, says Buckley.
- On a related note, Michael Silverman of the Herald writes that the AL East generally simply doesn’t have as much talent as it once did, with most of the game’s elite players (Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and so on) playing elsewhere. The division’s shortstop talent is a microcosm of the lack of star-caliber players in the AL East — the division once boasted players like Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra at shortstop, but now it has the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera, Didi Gregorius and Ryan Goins.
- GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons could be fired if the Blue Jays don’t start winning, Jim Bowden of ESPN writes (Insider-only). Bowden notes that the executives the Jays reportedly sought last offseason to replace business-oriented team president Paul Beeston, like Dan Duquette of the Orioles and Ken Williams of the White Sox, have baseball backgrounds. That might say something about the organization’s level of satisfaction with its on-field product. The Jays have gone heavily after veteran talent in the past several seasons, but they have little to show for it, and they’re currently in last place in what’s been a mediocre division.
Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.
- The Nationals have released first baseman Kila Ka’aihue, according to the International League transactions page. The former Royal and Athletic was hitting .194/.314/.328 with Triple-A Syracuse after playing in Japan in 2014 and part of 2013. Ka’aihue has hit .221/.305/.382 in parts of four big-league seasons, the last of which came last year.
- The Orioles have announced that they’ve selected the contract of righty Chaz Roe and optioned lefty T.J. McFarland to Triple-A Norfolk. To clear space for Roe on their 40-man roster, they moved lefty Wesley Wright to the 60-day DL. The Orioles played 13 innings against the Marlins yesterday, so Roe gave them a fresh arm. He pitched two scoreless innings today. The 28-year-old had a 2.19 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 24 2/3 innings for Norfolk.
- The Red Sox have placed Shane Victorino on the 15-day DL with a calf strain and selected the contract of utilityman Jeff Bianchi. Bianchi played parts of three seasons with the Brewers from 2012 through 2014, playing second, third, shortstop and both outfield corners. He had been hitting .302/.373/.340 in 61 plate appearances for Triple-A Pawtucket.
The Red Sox announced that pitcher Anthony Varvaro has been returned to the club. The right-hander was designated for assignment by the Red Sox in late April and claimed off waivers by the Cubs days later.
Varvaro, it turns out, has a torn right flexor tendon and will undergo surgery Tuesday ending his season, reports Cormac Gordon of the Staten Island Advance.com.
“The tendon is partially torn off the bone, but the elbow is stable otherwise,” the 30-year-old told Gordon. “I was worried I might need another Tommy John surgery. That’s not the case. This is the best possible outcome.”
Rehabilitation is expected to last six months, so Varvaro could resume throwing in November. The Red Sox say they were unaware of how severe the injury was, so both clubs agreed that it “would be appropriate to return Varvaro to the Red Sox for placement on the disabled list in accordance with the major league rules.”
Varvaro posted a 2.74 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate near 48 percent with the Braves from 2012-13. With the Red Sox this year, Varvaro appeared in nine games and totaled 11 innings. The five runs he surrendered aren’t particularly concerning, but his velocity was down from an average of 92.5 mph in 2014 to 91.1 mph in 2015. That, combined with the 14 hits and six walks he yielded in his 11 innings, likely aided in his swift exit from the Boston organization. Now, for the time being, he’s back in Boston.
White Sox great Paul Konerko‘s number will be retired today, as Bruce Levine of CBSChicago.com notes. Since retiring last season, Konerko says, he has watched the White Sox on occasion but hasn’t spent much time watching baseball. He did, however, attend Wayne Gretzky’s fantasy hockey camp, and he has three young children. “A lot of guys I talked to said, ‘Listen, you have to find things to do,'” says Konerko. “When you go home, they said, ‘You can only play so much golf.’ I definitely have a lot of stuff going on to keep me sharp.” Here’s more from the American League.
- Of all the players who left the Blue Jays last winter, the one who would have helped the team the most is, improbably, J.A. Happ, Brendan Kennedy of TheStar.com writes. The Jays’ rotation has struggled this season, while Happ has produced a 3.61 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 for the Mariners. Happ had frequently been little more than a contingency plan in Toronto. “They must have felt like they had better options,” says Happ. “I just tried to take advantage of the opportunities when I got them, but I was definitely trying to fight for my cause.”
- The Red Sox should at least consider firing John Farrell, writes Christopher Smith of MassLive.com. Since winning a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013, Farrell has a .441 winning percentage as manager, and this year’s team is filled with expensive but struggling veterans. Nonetheless, the AL East hasn’t been a strong division this year, and the Red Sox could still win it. Smith suggests that might be difficult, though, if the Red Sox don’t dramatically improve or make changes.