Boston Red Sox Rumors

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

AL East Notes: Lindgren, Red Sox, Blue Jays

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.

Minor Moves: Ka’aihue, Roe, Bianchi

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.

Cubs Return Anthony Varvaro To Red Sox

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.”

The Red Sox designated Varvaro for assignment on April 29th and the Cubs claimed him off waivers on May 3rd.  Three days later, the Cubs DFA’d Varvaro and subsequently outrighted him.

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.



AL Notes: Konerko, Happ, Farrell

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.

East Notes: Syndergaard, Duda, Castillo, Red Sox

While neither pitcher toed the rubber in tonight’s tilt, Nationals reliever Aaron Barrett and veteran Phillies starter Aaron Harang played an interesting role in the action by squaring off in a notable pre-game National Anthem stand-off. Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post provides a nice account of the duel, which lasted until after the first pitch was thrown and ultimately mirrored the game itself in producing a tightly-fought victory for Washington.

Here are the latest notes from the eastern seaboard:

  • The Mets continue to fall back in the standings, but have at least received solid initial returns on prized righty Noah Syndergaard, who was something of a tough-luck loser tonight but owns a 3.63 ERA with 16 strikeouts and five walks in 17 1/3 innings. As Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports, the team intends to keep Syndergaard on the active roster when righty Dillon Gee is activated this weekend. In fact, the club may utilize a six-man rotation of some kind for a stretch. That’s good news for Syndergaard, who profiles as a likely Super Two qualifier if he can stick in the big leagues the rest of the way.
  • One of the few bright spots for the Mets on the offensive side of the equation is first baseman Lucas Duda, as Craig Edwards of Fangraphs explains. Duda’s big numbers last year came in spite of struggles against left-handed pitching, but Edwards writes that his overall body of work in that area, including excellent early numbers this year, show promise that he can be a strong everyday option at first.
  • Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo told reporters before today’s game that he does not expect to be a savior for the scuffling club, as John Tomase of WEEI.com reports“Obviously, I’m very excited, but right now it’s just important to keep in mind the job at hand and try to keep the same momentum I had at Triple-A,” said Castillo. His first appearance in 2015 was not a memorable one for him or his team, but Castillo does look like he could be an important piece as Boston tries to work a turnaround.
  • While the Red Sox outfield logjam perhaps no longer holds quite the promise of abundance it once did, managing the roster remains a challenge — and a story to watch as the trade market begins to take form. As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports on Twitter, manager John Farrell says that he plans to rotate Castillo in at both center and right in some kind of time share with Mookie Betts and Shane Victorino. All three hit right-handed, as does left fielder Hanley Ramirez, seemingly leaving at least some role for the switch-hitting Daniel Nava, particularly with Ramirez and Victorino nursing injuries.

Red Sox Promote Rusney Castillo

The Red Sox have made the long awaited move to bring up outfielder Rusney Castillo, according to multiple reports. He will take the roster spot of Jackie Bradley Jr., who has been optioned back to Triple-A, and be in the lineup tonight.

Castillo, 27, received a brief promotion late last year after signing a seven-year, $72.5MM deal with Boston in late August. His first forty MLB plate appearances went well — .333/.400/.528 with two home runs and three stolen bases — but an outfield logjam and minor injury this spring had left Castillo patrolling the grass for Pawtucket in 2015.

Now that he has returned to health and begun putting up solid numbers again at Triple-A, Castillo was the obvious choice to be called upon in hopes of spurring a surprisingly listless offense. Boston’s most robust batting line, that of Hanley Ramirez, does not even crack an .800 OPS, and a number of regulars and reserves have not quite lived up to expectations.

In terms of contract status, the move doesn’t mean as much as it would for other players who lack significant big league experience. Though no public reports seem to confirm the point, it is likely that his deal includes a provision allowing him to reach free agency when it ends, regardless of service time. In any event, the deal gives him the right to opt out after the 2019 season (though he’d have to forego a $13.5MM payday for the following year to do so).

In terms of impact, then, the call-up is notable more for where it could take the Boston front office the rest of the way. If Castillo looks like an everyday player, and Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez aren’t sidetracked by injury, then the status of Shane Victorino and/or Daniel Nava could increasingly be in question. Either player could theoretically be traded, but Victorino is expensive and Nava has not hit at all this year. And, of course, the Red Sox have already dealt with the most significant outfield overcrowding issue by outrighting Allen Craig.


AL East Notes: Craig, Smyly, Ellsbury, Saunders

It is by now well-documented that Allen Craig of the Red Sox has experienced a significant decline at the plate, leading to his outright off of the 40-man roster. But as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe explains, the fall-off has been so steep that it actually has historical dimensions. Looking at other players who posted consistently strong batting lines in their age-26 to 28 seasons, Speier shows that no other player has fallen as far as has Craig (62 OPS+) in the following two years. There could, of course, still be some hope of a turnaround given the complicated role that injuries in his struggles and the fact that he is still only 30.

  • Rays lefty Drew Smyly appears to be reconsidering the surgical route and could instead attempt to rest and then rehab his ailing left shoulder, ESPN.com reports. It’s not clear what precipitated the changed approach, but manager Kevin Cash says that the current plan may allow Smyly to return later this year. “We’re optimistic,” Cash said. “We’re hearing good things.” While any return to action would, at this point, presumably be rather late in the year — Smyly was just placed on the 60-day DL and would obviously require a lengthy resting and rebuilding process — the realistic possibility of a return could impact the team’s summer trade market plans.
  • The Yankees good news on Jacoby Ellsbury, who will not need surgery on his just-injured right knee, as Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com reports“It is not anything that requires surgery so we are not holding anything that is doom or gloom,” said manager Joe Girardi. “We just have to see how he responds over the next few days and see what [team doctor Chris] Ahmad says.”
  • Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are still set to be without outfielder Michael Saunders for three to five weeks, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisolm reports. Saunders says he suffered a bone bruise in his left knee that arose out of his recent surgery to remove his meniscus. The Jays are still bringing up the rear in the division, of course, and will hope that Saunders can return to action sooner rather than later.

Red Sox Acquire John Cornely From Braves

The Red Sox announced today that the club has acquired right-handed pitcher John Cornely from the Braves. Atlanta will receive cash considerations in the deal.

The 26-year-old saw just one inning with the Braves, his first as a big leaguer, before being designated for assignment yesterday. He has posted 17 1/3 innings of 4.15 ERA pitching at Triple-A this season, showing promise with 11.9 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9.

This is Cornely’s first season at the highest level of the minors. He earned the promotion after posting a 2.49 ERA in 68 2/3 Double-A frames last year. The former 15th-round pick will head to Pawtucket on optional assignment for Boston.


Quick Hits: Martinez, Rusney, Difo, Tabata, Judge

One international scouting director calls Cuban center field prospect Eddy Martinez an “impact talent,” Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs reports (Twitter links). McDaniel credits the 20-year-old with 70-grade speed and 50-grade raw power, joining other recent observers in expecting an eight-figure bonus for the youngster. Though we’ve heard suggestions that a signing could come quickly, McDaniel says it remains unclear whether he’ll wait until the next July 2 period kicks off. Martinez will, of course, be subject to international bonus pool restrictions regardless of when he signs.

Here are some more notes on prospects and promotions:

  • The Red Sox no longer have any good reasons to keep outfielder Rusney Castillo in Triple-A, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com opines. Stats and scouts suggest he is ready, says Edes, and the big league club could use an offensive boost. While the team still has more outfielders than it knows quite what to do with, even after outrighting Allen Craig, Edes says that should not get in the way of Castillo — particularly given the club’s huge investment in him.
  • The Nationals will make a surprising call-up of middle infield prospect Wilmer Difo, the team announced (and as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted earlier today). The 23-year-old broke out last year and earned Baseball America’s seventh slot on the club’s prospect list entering the season. As BA noted, Difo has ample tools, and finally put them to use in A ball in 2014. He had already earned a jump to Double-A this season, where he owns a .308/.339/.500 slash over 56 plate appearances. For now, it seems Difo will just get a taste of big league action while filling in for Jayson Werth, who needs to rest an injured wrist but has apparently avoided serious injury.
  • Outfielder Jose Tabata is headed back to the Pirates today, as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports on Twitter. The 26-year-old once looked like a cornerstone player, but has struggled to maintain consistency in recent years and was ultimately outrighted last season. He has been impressive at Triple-A this year, however, slashing .352/.422/.396 with eleven walks against just eight strikeouts over 102 turns at the plate. Tabata is owed $4MM this year and $4.5MM next season under the early-career extension that he signed. Pittsburgh can also control him for three additional seasons through a series of club options.
  • Towering Yankees prospect Aaron Judge is putting up strong results against Double-A pitching and could be due for a move to the final level of the minors, ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand writes. Judge could be with the club as soon as early 2016, Marchand writes, and he’s not the only prospect making waves. Slade Heathcott, a former top prospect who lost his 40-man roster spot, is enjoying renewed success and has forced himself back into the Yankees’ plans. Said GM Brian Cashman of Heathcott: “He is a legitimate option for us at the major league level.”

Red Sox Outright Allen Craig

The Red Sox announced this afternoon that first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A, meaning that he is no longer on the club’s 40-man roster.

That Craig cleared waivers unclaimed isn’t necessarily a surprise, given the lack of production he’s experienced in the past two seasons and the significant amount of money that remains on his contract. Had any team claimed the 30-year-old Craig on waivers, they would have been required to assume the remaining $25.2MM that he is owed through the end of the 2017 season. The outright does put an exclamation point on what has been an exceptionally sudden fall for Craig, who as recently as 2013 was one of the Cardinals’ most productive bats.

Craig suffered a lisfranc fracture in his foot at the end of the 2013 season and was never himself in 2014 before reaggravating his left foot following a trade to Boston. (Craig, along with Joe Kelly, joined the Sox in exchange for John Lackey.) Over his past 564 Major League plate appearances, Craig is hitting just .207/.275/.302. The Sox had already optioned him to Triple-A earlier this month, but the outright removes him from the 40-man roster, which is now at 37.

Craig, technically, has the right to refuse his outright assignment, but doing so would mean forfeiting the money remaining on his contract, so he’ll remain with Triple-A Pawtucket in hopes of rediscovering his stroke. Boston’s offense has struggled of late and has been anemic all season long when facing left-handed pitching, so a productive Craig would go a long ways toward boosting the team’s overall outlook. In 25 plate appearances at Pawtucket thus far, Craig is hitting .261/.320/.391 with three doubles.