Boston Red Sox Rumors

Boston Red Sox trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Red Sox, Rangers Swap Anthony Ranaudo, Robbie Ross Jr.

Rangers executive vice president of communications John Blake has announced, on Twitter, that Texas has acquired right-hander Anthony Ranaudo from the Red Sox in exchange for left-hander Robbie Ross, Jr.

Ranaudo, 25, made his big league debut in 2014 with the Red Sox but experienced underwhelming results, compiling a 4.81 ERA with 3.4 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 34.1 percent ground-ball rate in 39 1/3 innings (seven starts). However, Ranaudo has a respectable pedigree, having previously ranked as a Top 100 prospect, per both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus after being selected 39th overall in the 2010 draft.

Indeed, Ranaudo fared significantly better at Triple-A in both 2013 and 2014, totaling 168 1/3 innings of 2.67 ERA ball with 7.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. He could compete for a rotation spot with a Rangers team that lacked depth last year in what was an injury-riddled season, but it’s also possible that the Rangers view him as a bullpen candidate. Currently, Texas projects to have a rotation consisting of Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Yovani Gallardo, Colby Lewis and one of Ross Detwiler and Nick Martinez.

As for Ross, the 25-year-old struggled when he transitioned from the bullpen to the rotation last year, largely due to those injuries. However, he excelled as a left-handed weapon out of the Rangers’ bullpen the previous two seasons, logging 127 1/3 innings with a 2.62 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. Ross has a 53.8 percent ground-ball rate in his career, including a worm-burning 62.4 percent mark in his 2012 debut.

Curiously, Ross has a significant reverse platoon split. Even when he was at the height of his game in 2012-13, he held right-handed hitters to a meager .223/.292/.282 batting line while surrendering a fairly robust .276/.347/.425 line to fellow lefties.


Cuba Links: Unblocking, Moncada, Olivera

We looked yesterday at the latest on the slowly-moving Yoan Moncada signing eligibility process. Today, there’s an update to that story as well as some more interesting info on the always-intriguing Cuban market:

  • It is Major League Baseball, not the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), that is currently holding up Moncada’s freedom to sign, reports Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Though MLB has already declared him a free agent, and Moncada has met the standards for a “general license” that would leave him free to sign (“unblocked”) in OFAC’s eyes, the league is not permitting Moncada (and others) to reach eligibility based on that general license. Instead, per Badler, MLB has required players since Yasiel Puig to apply for and receive a “specific license,” creating up to a six-month delay. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds (via Twitter) that OFAC changed its rules four years ago, with the additional step (presumably, the specific license) being added at some intervening point.
  • As Badler explains, if the process drags on long enough, it could create some intrigue, as teams like the Yankees and Red Sox will face a two-year international signing ban (for all but sub-$300K bonus amounts) beginning on June 15 of this year.
  • Fellow second basemen Hector Olivera and Andy Ibanez, among other players, are awaiting their specific licenses, like Moncada, Badler notes.
  • Olivera, of course, is more of a plug-and-play option than the other, young Cuban middle infielders. Baseball America passes on some video of Olivera, who cuts rather an imposing figure for a second baseman. Badler wrote up Olivera’s efforts yesterday, noting that the PadresGiantsAthletics, and Braves had significant presences in the stands.

AL East Notes: Monbouquette, A-Rod, Blue Jays, Orioles

Former Red Sox starter Bill Monbouquette passed away Sunday at age 78. The Massachusetts native tossed nearly 2,000 MLB frames, most of them with Boston, and notched a no-hitter in 1962. He was a three-time American League All-Star. MLBTR extends its sympathies to his family and friends.

Here are some recent notes from the AL East:

  • We’ve already heard it suggested that the Yankees could seek to invalidate Alex Rodriguez‘s home run milestone bonus clause, and ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand now reports that the team is indeed attempting to craft a legal strategy to that end. If you are interested in thinking about what kinds of arguments the club might come up with, I addressed this very question in a series of posts last year regarding legal theories and remedies that teams could conceivably pursue against players suspended for PED use. The third part, in particular, covered A-Rod’s situation, while Part II (and, to a lesser extent, Part I) include useful background information.
  • The Blue Jays and Orioles now seem destined to return to the status quo in their front offices, at least for the coming season, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that both sides made missteps in the recent run of Dan Duquette-to-Toronto rumors.
  • For his part, once-and-still Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston says that he is glad to still be with the team and that it is time to move on, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. Beeston added that he believes the ownership group would approve additional payroll if the club’s baseball leadership requests it.
  • As for the Orioles, it is time for Duquette and the organization to begin the process of re-establishing trust and normalcy, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The sides were never close to agreeing on compensation, Connolly adds, and Baltimore is still keeping open the possibility of filing tampering charges against Toronto.


Latest On Yoan Moncada

The international market provides opportunities to make (mostly) open-market purchases of the rights to the types of players who rarely can be acquired in that manner. Recent years have brought early-prime starters (Masahiro Tanaka, Hyun-jin Ryu), still-youthful sluggers (Jose Abreu, Yoenis Cespedes), and high-upside talents (Yasiel Puig, Jorge Soler). Cuban second baseman Yoan Moncada certainly fits into that last category, rating as the type of player who would be chosen at or near the top of an amateur draft. In that regard, his ultimate payday (bonus plus ~100% penalty) will provide some fascinating insight into team valuations. But, of course, we are still waiting for the United States Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) to establish Moncada’s eligibility to sign. Here’s the latest:

  • The precise hold-up in Moncada’s seemingly overdue OFAC application is not clear, writes Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs. Moncada’s agent indicated that he has not heard from OFAC since President Obama announced changes in the US diplomatic stance toward Cuba, seemingly indicating that higher-level activity is playing a role in Moncada’s situation. As McDaniel explains, MLB is working with the government to determine how to apply new unblocking policies. For what it’s worth, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez notes on Twitter, a similar policy appears to have been in place several years back, when Cespedes was preparing to enter the market.
  • One entirely hypothetical reason for the delay with regard to Moncada, apart from the broader diplomatic considerations, is the fact that he was allowed to leave the island legally. Per McDaniel, concern that money could flow from Moncada back to the Cuban government is a possible, but by no means substantiated, factor distinguishing his situation.
  • Of note, fellow top young middle infielder Andy Ibanez is also rumored to have left the island with the blessing of the government. There are rumblings that he could be unblocked soon, however, McDaniel notes.
  • As for another largely-uncertain bit of information, McDaniel adds that the latest chatter has Moncada going for about a $80MM total investment (based on a $40MM bonus).
  • Moncada worked out for the Dodgers this morning, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Los Angeles has given public indication of its interest, and if impressed with its private look will certainly have to be counted among the most capable suitors. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and manager Don Mattingly were both on hand, Sanchez reports on Twitter.
  • The other teams to have held private workouts are the BrewersRangers, GiantsYankeesRed Sox, and Padres, Sanchez tweets

Cafardo On Shields, Blue Jays, Price

The Blue Jays didn’t meet expectations in 2014, but that hasn’t discouraged Jose Bautista, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.

Just because we didn’t win doesn’t mean it didn’t work out,” insisted Bautista. “It helped build a core for our team. And the last two years we’ve added to that core. I think the players really appreciate the commitment that [General Manager] Alex [Anthopoulos] has made to building our team.”

Here’s more from today’s column..

  • One prominent baseball official feels that free agent pitcher James Shields has not been marketed properly by his camp.  Few doubt Shields’ talent, but some have the notion that he isn’t a strong postseason pitcher.  Meanwhile, a few executives suspect that the Blue Jays could become interested in his services if the club can convince Rogers Communications to shell out the money.  At present, however, Toronto only has the budget to allow for a bullpen upgrade or two.
  • Over the weekend, David Price reiterated that he would “absolutely” consider a long-term deal with the Tigers.  Entering his walk year, Price doesn’t want to eliminate a big-market team from contending for his services, Cafardo writes.  Still, it’s believed he’ll hit free agency and go elsewhere.
  • With the Astros losing out on Ryan Vogelsong, they might turn their sights to comparable free agents such as Chris Young, Kevin Correia, and Kyle Kendrick.
  • Recently, Cafardo asked Orioles manager Buck Showalter if he’d be interested in being a GM, which was a tough question for him to answer given that Dan Duquette is still with the O’s.  Still, Showalter is already involved in personnel decisions and if Duquette leaves, Cafardo writes that he’d be at the helm along with talent evaluator Brady Anderson and a new GM.  Recently it was reported that the O’s have a list of candidates for the job if it opens up and that includes names like Ned Colletti, Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya, and Kevin Towers.

Quick Hits: Shields, Yankees, Craig

Jim Bowden of ESPN (Insider required) speculates the best fits for the current top 10 free agents. At the head of the list is James Shields who Bowden thinks fits with an AL team. Specifically mentioned are the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, and Rangers. However, now that his price tag may have dropped below five years and $110MM, other teams could get involved too. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also explored nine potential suitors for Shields and turned up plenty of NL contenders like the Cardinals and Padres.


Quick Hits: Shields, Porcello, Buxton

It’s still unclear where James Shields will wind up, and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tracks Shields’ hard-to-read market, guessing at nine potential destinations for the free agent righty. Topping the list is the Cardinals, who showed some interest in Jon Lester and Max Scherzer and likely have room for Shields in their budget. Still, much about the Shields market remains uncertain, without much reported action from traditionally heavy-spending teams, leaving teams like the Marlins, Astros and Padres near the top of Heyman’s list of possible destinations. Here’s more from around baseball.

  • New Red Sox staring pitcher Rick Porcello is not yet ready to discuss an extension, Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com writes. “I just got here and met the guys last night so I think it’s premature for that,” says Porcello. “I’m just trying to settle in and fit in with everybody, get to know the staff and the guys.” Mastrodonato notes that the Red Sox would also probably like to get to know Porcello a bit better before signing him long-term. With a year remaining before free agency and youth on his side, the 26-year-old Porcello stands to cash in if he has a 2015 season similar to his 2014, when he had a 3.43 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and a stingy 1.8 BB/9 in 204 2/3 innings.
  • GM Terry Ryan says that although the Twins aren’t planning to have top prospect Byron Buxton break camp with the team, Buxton could make his big-league debut at some point during the season, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. Buxton only recently turned 21, has only a few plate appearances in the high minors, and missed most of the 2014 season with a wrist injury, so such an aggressive promotion schedule would be unusual for most players, particularly given the Twins’ typically cautious approach. Buxton has exceptional tools, however, and MLB.com currently rates him the top overall prospect in the game, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him in the Majors at some point this season.

Minor Moves: Quintero, Bowker

Here are today’s minor moves from around baseball:

  • The Red Sox have signed catcher Humberto Quintero to a minor-league deal, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy writes. Quintero spent last season in the Mariners system, batting .290/.311/.425 for Triple-A Tacoma and picking up a few plate appearances at the big-league level to appear in the Majors for the 12th straight season. The 35-year-old has a long history as a big-league backup, although it might be tough for him to find playing time in Boston, with Christian Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan and Blake Swihart all on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster.
  • The Giants have signed 1B/OF John Bowker, Eddy writes. The 31-year-old Bowker spent most of the past three seasons in Japan, hitting .248/.291/.411 in 230 plate appearances with Rakuten in 2014. Bowker was the Giants’ third-round pick in 2004, and he played parts of three seasons in San Francisco before being traded to the Pirates and then the Phillies.

Red Sox Notes: Pitching, Diamond, Betts

If the Red Sox are serious about not wanting to over-commit in money or years to starters in free agency, then Alex Speier of the Boston Globe thinks the club might already be out of the running for next year’s available hurlers.  David Price seems likely to command a contract in the Max Scherzer range, while an NL evaluator thinks Johnny Cueto and Jordan Zimmermann could find deals similar to Jon Lester‘s contract with the Cubs.  The Sox topped out at $135MM for Lester this winter and they were only wiling to go that high because they were familiar with him and because he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached.  The volume of high-level aces available in free agency next winter might not do much to keep prices down, Speier writes, as Scherzer and Lester showed this year that frontline starters will always command big contracts.

Here’s some more from Fenway Park…

  • Left-hander Scott Diamond will throw a bullpen session for the Red Sox, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter).  Diamond posted a 4.43 ERA, 4.2 K/9 and 1.92 K/BB rate over 343 innings (all as a starter) with the Twins from 2011-13.  He spent last season pitching for Minnesota and Cincinnati’s Triple-A affiliates.
  • Mookie Betts‘ name surfaced in many trade rumors this offseason, but the top prospect tells MLB.com’s Ian Browne that he’s happy to still be with the Red Sox.  He tried his best to avoid the rumors, though his friends and family “try and keep up with all that stuff. I guess they want to play GM. They let me know the things that are going on.”  Betts’ loved ones may be letting him know about this next item…
  • …as Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron argues that a trade of Betts-for-Stephen Strasburg makes some sense for both the Red Sox and Nationals, though such a deal is “almost certainly not going to happen.”  Betts would give the Nats an elite controllable talent, a big bench upgrade and he’d probably find plenty of everyday work filling in for the injured Jayson Werth or perhaps displacing Yunel Escobar at second.  Tanner Roark could take Strasburg’s spot in the rotation and allow the Nats to explore re-signing Zimmerman.  For Boston’s side, Strasburg gives their rotation a clear ace, and while Betts is a valuable piece for the Sox, his best positions (2B and CF) are both blocked by Dustin Pedroia and Rusney Castillo for the foreseeable future.
  • The Sox are “focused short-term” on Allen Craig, GM Ben Cherington told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford, as the team just wants him to get back into a rhythm following an injury-plagued season.  Craig’s versatility will help him earn playing time on a crowded Boston roster, and John Farrell noted that Craig is open to all options, potentially even his first taste of third base since 2008.

Red Sox Unlikely To Make Significant Rotation Upgrade

While many fans are waiting to see the Red Sox add a front-line starter to “complete” their offseason rebuild, so to speak, general manager Ben Cherington implied on Thursday that such a move is unlikely. As WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes, Cherington explained that the Sox are more focused on the five arms they currently have in house — Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello and Justin Masterson — and adding depth than they are on making a big splash to add to the rotation.

“We’re pursuing some stuff but I think it’€™s more what you would classify as depth related,” Cherington said. “…We like where we’€™re at. We like the collection of pitchers we have. We think there’€™s untapped potential in the group and the collection we have now can give us a strong pitching staff this year.”

Regarding James Shields, specifically, Cherington said that the Sox met with his agent at the Winter Meetings in San Diego last month, but he was quick to add that they met with a number of agents and didn’t single out Shields’ agent, Page Odle, in any way. “We’€™re pursuing some opportunities maybe on some depth in certain areas, but there’€™s nothing on the front burner that would grab headlines,” Cherington added.

Boston has been commonly linked to Shields as well as trade rumors/speculation regarding Cole Hamels and, over the past few days, Jordan Zimmermann. However, the Sox are also set to cross the luxury tax threshold as it is, and therefore, adding a significant salary to the rotation would be even more costly for Boston than it would appear on the surface. In addition, the team has already sacrificed a pair of draft picks to add Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, and while some would say that makes it easier for them to part with a third pick to bring in someone of Shields’ ilk (he’d cost them “only” a third-round pick after forfeiting a second-rounder and a Comp Balance Round B pick), the Sox may not wish to deplete their draft pool any further.