- Red Sox prospect Yoan Moncada suffered a thumb injury while batting in the Arizona Fall League recently, per Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. Moncada didn’t suffer any fractures but has been out for a few days already and could undergo further testing today. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski tells Drellich that while it’s the same hand that Moncada has injured in the past, the issue isn’t believed to be serious at this time. Maintaining his health will be a key for Moncada as he looks to force his way back onto Boston’s roster in 2017. The 21-year-old struggled tremendously in his brief September call-up, collecting four hits and striking out 12 times in 20 plate appearances.
OCT. 25: The Diamondbacks have announced the hiring of Sawdaye and confirmed that his title will be senior vice president/assistant general manager.
OCT. 24: The Diamondbacks will hire another Red Sox executive as they continue to fill out a new-look front office, according to several reports. Amiel Sawdaye will join the Arizona organization as senior VP and assistant general manager, joining new GM Mike Hazen in making the move from Boston.
Sawdaye had been under consideration for an assistant GM role in Boston, too, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). He had served as the Red Sox’ VP of international and amateur scouting, which was essentially the same role Hazen held before he moved up to AGM and, eventually, GM. Before that, Sawdaye was Boston’s director of amateur scouting, overseeing the team’s drafts from 2010 through 2015.
There won’t be any compensation between the teams for either of the executive transfers. While Hazen technically stayed in the same title, his new role came with a significant increase in responsibility, and Sawdaye’s new job seems clearly to represent a promotion.
It’s not clear at this time what additional plans Hazen may have for building out his front office team, but no further Boston execs are expected to go west, per Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald (via Twitter). Hazen is rumored to be interested in speaking with Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, but Drellich tweets that the D-Backs still haven’t asked for permission to speak with him — preferring to await Sawdaye’s decision first. Presumably, that’ll change soon. In other D-Backs’ front office news, via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, the club has parted ways with Ed Lewis, a former veterinarian and long-time acquaintance of executive Tony La Russa who somewhat improbably ran the team’s fledgling analytics department.
Given that the Red Sox were considering Sawdaye only for an assistant GM role, it seems all the more clear that the team likely won’t hire a GM to serve under president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Instead, perhaps, multiple front office members will receive AGM tags — or, at least, will take on the various responsibilities that typically fall under that general role.
Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald tweeted that the move was expected to occur after Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reported earlier tonight it was a strong possibility. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic confirmed that Sawdaye would indeed be hired on Twitter.
The Red Sox have announced that Eddie Romero has been promoted to the position of senior vice president and assistant general manager, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal was among those to report (Twitter links).
Boston will not hire a single general manager to work under president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, at least at this time, the club also added. Instead, Romero and fellow AGM Brian O’Halloran will combine to take the top two roles beneath Dombrowski in the organization’s baseball ops hierarchy.
Romero had run the team’s international amateur scouting department since 2012 and has been with the organization since 2006. Evan Drellich, then with MassLive.com, spoke with Romero a few years back about his experiences mining the Latin American market for young talent. Romero has overseen many notable international acquisitions, including top prospect Yoan Moncada.
The move comes in the wake of several significant front office moves out of Boston. One candidate for an AGM post, Amiel Sawdaye, chose instead yesterday to follow former Sox GM Mike Hazen to the Diamondbacks. Several other notable organizational figures — including, most recently, mental skills coach Bob Tewksbury — are also leaving, as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe documents.
The Red Sox may not necessarily hire a new general manager to replace outgoing GM Mike Hazen, according to a report from Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski declined to say whether he was still interested in assigning the GM title, explaining that he is “still working on some final decisions.”
It’s obviously not alarming to think that the Sox might operate without a GM. After all, Dombrowski has been the everyday face of the club’s baseball operations department since his hiring as president of baseball operations in August of 2015. Then-GM Ben Cherington departed rather than serving under a new executive with final baseball authority, and though Hazen took his title, he never held the same level of authority.
More than anything, perhaps, the news is a reminder that teams’ executive titles are in a state of flux around the game, with similar-sounding positions meaning different things from one place to the next. Indeed, some have even concocted whole new terms, such as “chief baseball officer.”
But that’s not to say that the apparent shift in plans is without importance. Previous indications were that Boston was looking inside its own organization for a new lieutenant to Dombrowski. Now, Abraham suggests, the team may spread the responsibilities around among multiple executives.
That may well suggest that Red Sox VP of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye — who had been seen as a candidate for a promotion — will be heading to Arizona to join Hazen. Indeed, Abraham calls that a “strong possibility.” The Twins have also said to be in the mix to add Sawdaye in some capacity, though their front office buildout is on hold while top executive hiree Derek Falvey completes his duties with the Indians.
Red Sox vice president of international and amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye is weighing whether to accept Boston’s general manager job or take the Diamondbacks’ assistant GM position, Peter Gammons reports (Twitter link). It’s also possible Sawdaye could join the Twins’ front office, a source told Gammons.
The Red Sox have been looking for a GM since Mike Hazen departed last week to lead the Diamondbacks’ baseball department. Boston’s president of baseball operations, Dave Dombrowski, revealed Monday that he wants to replace Hazen from within, and based on Gammons’ report, it seems Sawdaye is his top choice. In the event Sawdaye follows Hazen to Arizona or heads to Minnesota, Red Sox assistant GM Brian O’Halloran, senior vice president of player personnel Allard Baird, pro scouting director Gus Quattlebaum or VP of international scouting Eddie Romero could end up as Hazen’s successor if the team makes an internal hire. Senior VP of baseball operations Frank Wren has more experience as a GM than any of Dombrowski’s underlings, but he’s content in his current role.
It’s unclear which title Sawdaye would have with the Twins, who named Indians assistant GM Derek Falvey their executive vice president and chief baseball officer earlier this month. When the Twins hired Falvey, who will officially take over after the World Series, a report indicated he would be able to name a GM. Given that the Twins are in contention for Sawdaye, it’s reasonable to suggest he could become Falvey’s second-in-command.
The decision the Red Sox made in 2003 to hire Terry Francona over Joe Maddon as their manager has worked out for all parties, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. The Red Sox won two World Series and 574 regular-season games under Francona from 2004-11, while Maddon ended up with the Rays a couple years later and established himself as one of baseball’s top managers. Now, after several seasons of squaring off as AL East rivals, Francona (Indians) and Maddon (Cubs) will meet in this year’s World Series. On losing out to Francona for the Boston job, Maddon told Silverman, “I thought Tito was more prepared for that moment than I was at that time and I’ll stand by that. I got the right job at the right time with Tampa Bay. Tito was the right guy back then. But the experience for me was fantastic moving forward.” Theo Epstein, the executive who picked Francona in Boston, also hired Maddon in Chicago. Epstein explained his call to pass on Maddon 13 years ago, telling Silverman, “In the end, we loved him but we thought taking over a veteran team in a big market, there would have been some risk involved because he’s so unique. I think it worked out best for both sides. He could go to Tampa, which was really like a petri dish at that time, he could try things out, grow into it with young players and obviously blossom.”
- Given that the Dodgers were still in the postseason Saturday, left-hander Rich Hill was unwilling to discuss free agency or a potential return to Boston, but the late bloomer did give credit to the Red Sox for his shocking breakout. “Whether it was with (director of pitching analysis and development) Brian Bannister or (pitching coach) Carl Willis. Just the combination of those two guys,” he told Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. “And also, just the overall opportunity that I did get there, I’ll never forget. Definitely translated over and started something for me that gave me a blueprint on moving forward.” Hill, of course, had a stint in the independent Atlantic League last summer. He then joined the Red Sox, turned in four excellent starts in September and inked a $6MM deal with Oakland last offseason. After continuing to post ace-like numbers with the Athletics and Dodgers this season, the 36-year-old journeyman will earn a substantial raise as the top starter available on the upcoming market.
- The Red Sox are seriously considering exercising their $13.5MM club option for 2017 on right-hander Clay Buchholz, per Heyman. The weak group of free agent starters could lead Boston to pick it up, as Heyman concurs with MLBTR’s Steve Adams that he’d potentially end up with a multiyear deal on the market. The 32-year-old Buchholz has been inconsistent during his Red Sox tenure, including a subpar 2016 spent both in the rotation and bullpen, though he was highly effective as recently as last season and could garner trade interest if the club retains his rights.
- Angels first base coach Gary DiSarcina could be a candidate for two jobs with other clubs, based on his past experience working in the Red Sox front office and managing their A-ball and Triple-A affiliates. Cafardo suggests that Mike Hazen (the former Red Sox GM and newly-hired Diamondbacks GM) could consider DiSarcina as the new D’Backs manager. Boston bench coach Torey Lovullo has been rumored to be a top contender for the Arizona job, so if he indeed leaves, Cafardo wonders if DiSarcina could return to Fenway for a job on John Farrell’s staff.
The Blue Jays are expected to pick up the team’s $3MM option over righty Jason Grilli, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca notes in his breakdown of the team’s upcoming offseason plans. That’s hardly a surprise now, though it probably is one if you backtrack all the way to May 31, when he came to Toronto via trade. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained at the time, it was possible to see the potential for a rebound from the veteran, with the Jays only accepting a minimal amount of salary obligations. The 39-year-old ultimately delivered just what Toronto hoped for, contributing 42 innings of 3.64 ERA pitching with 12.4 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. He’ll enter the 2017 as a key set-up option for the Jays, with his affordable option locking up one bullpen spot at a reasonable price.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Several notable Blue Jays players may well end up heading to other organizations, of course. As Davidi writes, it appears rather likely that veteran knuckler R.A. Dickey will be among them. Dickey did not commit to continuing his playing career, but says he’ll listen to any opportunities as they arise this winter after taking some time away from the game. He spoke fondly of his four seasons in Toronto, over which he turned in 824 1/3 solid innings but was never quite as dominant as hoped when the club parted with significant talent (including then-prospect Noah Syndergaard) to acquire him after three outstanding years with the Mets.
- David Ortiz’s unbelievable final season with the Red Sox may have been more remarkable than most of us truly realized as it unfolded. As WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes, the aging slugger was fighting through lower-leg and foot issues that were far more serious than was known publicly. Widespread problems meant that Ortiz “was essentially playing on stumps,” in the words of coordinator of sports medicine services Dan Dyrek — the man who helped him hang on as long as he did. Boston fans, in particular, will want to read the entirety of this piece, in which Dyrek breaks down the immense challenges faced by Ortiz and the team’s medical staff dating back for several seasons.
- Orioles outfielder Joey Rickard never returned to action after tearing a thumb ligament on July 20, but the hope is he won’t need surgery to address the issue, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. More importantly, highly paid slugger Chris Davis is set for doctors to check out his hand after dealing with discomfort throughout the year. Though Davis battled through the injury all year, he didn’t quite perform as hoped, and the team wants to double check that some kind of offseason procedure isn’t necessary.
By now, everyone who follows free agency in baseball should be keenly aware that the offseason market for free-agent starting pitching is arguably the worst in history. This winter’s top names will include a 36-year-old that was pitching in independent ball last season (Rich Hill), a former Rookie of the Year that was moved last winter in what amounted to a salary dump (Jeremy Hellickson) and a 30-year-old that opened the season in a long-relief role before a stunning transformation following a trade to the Pirates (Ivan Nova). That’s a far cry from the 2015-16 offseason, when David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija and Mike Leake each reeled in contracts of at least five years in length and at least $80MM in total value.
The paucity of not only top-tier starting pitchers but simply reliable arms that can be plugged into the middle or back of a rotation on this year’s open market has an impact not only on teams looking for starting pitching, but teams with decisions to make regarding club options on starters that, frankly, didn’t do a lot to justify the salaries that are included in those options in 2016.
The Rangers, for instance, hold an $11MM option with a $1MM buyout over left-hander Derek Holland. For a pitcher whose ERA has come in just shy of 5.00 over the past two seasons and has averaged just 68 innings per year dating back to 2014, an $11MM salary seems steep, to say the least. Holland, as Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out in examining his option case, has had two shoulder injuries and a major knee injury in the past three years and has scarcely been able to take the mound at all. The Derek Holland that pitched 213 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the 2013 Rangers probably feels like a distant memory for Rangers fans.
However, it’s also worth considering that even a bounceback candidate like Doug Fister received a one-year, $7MM deal last winter, while Mike Pelfrey pulled in two years and $16MM coming off a dreadful three-year run with the Twins. The Rangers owe Holland $1MM one way or the other, by virtue of the buyout on his option, so they effectively have to determine whether he’s worth investing an additional $10MM. Given the dearth of quality options this offseason, it’s not unthinkable that even rebound candidates will command numbers not that far off from that level. Edinson Volquez and Andrew Cashner, for instance, will probably both receive fairly notable contracts despite coming off of poor seasons. And while each has a better recent track record of health, neither delivered demonstrably better bottom-line results than Holland (who is also three years younger than Volquez). The Royals are effectively deciding that Volquez isn’t worth offering another $7MM by reportedly planning to buy out his $10MM mutual option for $3MM, but that certainly doesn’t mean that he won’t find a taker at or above that $7MM rate on an open market that is devoid of talented arms. In fact, I’d wager that he will top that $7MM mark and come out ahead of the $10MM he’d have earned via that mutual option.
The same logic can be applied to the options held by the Cardinals over Jaime Garcia ($12MM with a $500K buyout) and Clay Buchholz with the Red Sox ($13.5MM with a $500K buyout). An $11.5MM net investment in Garcia, who logged a 4.67 ERA in 171 2/3 innings this year and has his own history of durability issues, might seem steep to some, but a 30-year-old left-hander with a decent track record that finished the year healthy would probably command a multi-year deal in the upcoming market. If anything, his agents may be hoping that the Cardinals elect to decline the option option, but the context of the free-agent market suggests that there’s some value in that one-year commitment, even if the team explores the option of trading him after exercising the option.
Buchholz’s option may look even more daunting, as investing $13MM more into a pitcher that lost his rotation spot and finished the year with a 4.78 ERA and lackluster peripherals absolutely feels like an overpay. But Buchholz pitched more effectively in 28 2/3 innings after returning to the rotation in September, and he’s only a season removed from a 3.26 ERA that came with outstanding peripherals. While he’s been one of the more mercurial arms in the league over the past half-decade, the type of upside he brings on a one-year commitment is greater than that of most other options on the free-agent market. As is the case with Garcia, a multi-year pact could be attainable if he were to reach the open market (remember, again, that Pelfrey found two years last winter coming off not just a poor season but a poor three years and has never matched the success of Buchholz’s best years).
None of the three players in question here enjoyed a particularly good season, but each at least finished the year healthy enough to take the ball and has enjoyed quality results in the past. Even if their current teams feel that there’s no fit on the 2017 roster for a pitcher with these levels of question marks, it still makes sense to exercise the options and explore the trade market. Even if the Rangers, for instance, include $4MM to trade Holland elsewhere in exchange for a minor leaguer or two, they’re effectively purchasing those prospects for $3MM. It’s far from a lock that these options will be exercised, of course, and it’s worth also mentioning the likes of Gio Gonzalez and Jason Hammel, who seem like easier calls but wilted in the final month of the season in this discussion as well. From where I stand, so long as a pitcher finished the season in a reasonable state of health, committing to a one-year deal at a not-backbreaking rate given the market alternatives and the number of rival clubs that figure to be on the hunt for rotation help is the right call.