In his second season in Boston, Hanley Ramirez is settling into a leadership role, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. In the piece, Ramirez addresses a variety of topics, but perhaps the most interesting is his view of the Red Sox and Marlins franchises. “It’s way different,” he says. “Down there, we were just happy to be there and make it to the big leagues. We didn’t have that kind of pressure. Here, it’s about winning, it’s about success and winning.” Ramirez also describes how Mookie Betts looks to him for advice. Lately, of course, Ramirez has mostly led with his bat, hitting .356/.415/.746 in September even before his two-homer outburst today against the Yankees. After a torrid second half in which he’s run his season line up to .290/.361/.503, Ramirez’s current four-year, $88MM contract looks wildly more successful than it did this time last season. Here’s more from around the big leagues.
The Marlins and agent Scott Boras appear unlikely to negotiate an extension for ace Jose Fernandez early in the offseason, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, who reports the team could shop the right-hander as a result. Several of the majors’ high-payroll clubs, including the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs, would have interest in acquiring and extending Fernandez, per Cafardo. The 24-year-old is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2018 campaign and has thrown a career-high 174 1/3 innings this season. Along the way, Fernandez has posted dazzling numbers – 2.99 ERA, 12.44 K/9, 2.84 BB/9 – which has been the norm since he debuted in 2013.
- Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is likely to remain with the Red Sox in 2017 unless they can get a No. 1-caliber starter for him during the winter, writes Cafardo. The Red Sox and White Sox reportedly discussed Bradley and top starters Chris Sale and Jose Quintana in advance of the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline, but Boston wasn’t willing to part with Bradley then. Dealing him in the offseason would give the Red Sox more time to find a replacement, though Bradley has been an integral part of the club in 2016 and could continue to serve as a key piece going forward. The 26-year-old has slashed .273/.354/.501 with 25 home runs in 585 plate appearances and graded well both on the base paths and in the field.
- Teams will have offseason interest in Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara, an impending free agent, a major league source informed Cafardo. One of those clubs could be the Red Sox, though Cafardo notes that Uehara would need a strong finish to return to Boston for a fifth season. The soon-to-be 42-year-old should also end up with a salary far below the $9MM he’s making now. At 3.95, Uehara has logged his highest ERA since 2009, but his 6.33 K/BB ratio is seventh among relievers who have thrown at least 40 innings this year. Uehara has amassed 41.
8:45pm: Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has more on the Red Sox’ perspective. Boston became aware of the issues with Pomeranz after conducting an MRI on his shoulder and elbow, per the report, identifying “an injury he was receiving treatment for” that hadn’t been logged.
The club still felt it needed to move forward with the July 14th trade, and evidently didn’t feel the issue was severe enough to scuttle the deal. Still, though, Boston “sought compensation in the form of a player but didn’t succeed,” a source tells Cafardo. It is not immediately clear whether the team pursued that remedy directly with the Padres or through the league in some form.
7:55pm: Red Sox chairman Tom Werner had harsh words today for the decision of the commissioner’s office relating to withheld medical information in the summer trade for lefty Drew Pomeranz, as Tom Caron of NESN reports (Twitter links). (Video link via NESN.)
“We were extremely disappointed in the decision,” said Werner. “We felt that some wrong was committed and that it’s important to have a level playing field. The Padres didn’t play on it.”
After allegations from four teams arose regarding the Padres’ insufficient provision of medical investigation, the league opened an investigation. The league announced a 30-day suspension of Padres GM A.J. Preller yesterday, specifying that it related to the Pomeranz deal, but otherwise did not punish the San Diego organization or provide compensation to the Red Sox.
At the time the investigation itself was reported, indications were that Boston was not seeking any modification of the swap. Another Padres deal was partially unwound, with Colin Rea being traded back from the Marlins to San Diego. But that arrangement was apparently worked out between the teams. Since that time, reports have suggested that the Padres attempted to evade medical reporting requirements, suggesting to their trainers that doing so would help the organization to gain an advantage in trade talks.
It is not known whether the Red Sox specifically sought any particular recompense arising from the Pomeranz-related concerns. And it’s fair to note that Werner did not make clear whether that was the cause for his view on the suspension. Some have suggested that the Padres were handled less harshly in this instance than the Red Sox were recently, and the frustration could stem from that potential disparity. Boston was hit with a signing ban and was forced to give up its rights to several international free agent signees after a finding of a rules violation.
Meanwhile, Padres manager Andy Green defended his organization as well as Preller, as Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Insisting that Pomeranz never had any issues of which he was aware, Green went into extensive detail on his view of the situation — which you’ll find in full in Lin’s report. “I see it as that we had all our files in one place and they were not where they needed to be and we accepted responsibility for that and paid honestly a steep price for that,” the first-year manager explained.
At base, Green asserted that there was no “malicious intent to deceive anyone in the process” by the San Diego organization. “There was never this belief that we’re trading anybody that was hurt,” he continued. “There was never this belief that we’re trying to pull one over on the rest of Major League Baseball. … [E]very mistake that’s been made was well-intentioned. Mistakes have been made. We’ve owned them.”
- The Red Sox are expected to pursue relief help on the upcoming free agent market, Heyman says. That’s not surprising to hear, of course, as depth and quality have both been in question at times and the team is set to watch pitchers such as Brad Ziegler, Koji Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa depart via free agency.
Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Padres’ medical information practices is nearing its completion, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney, and the Friars could face penalty as a result of the findings. Olney reports that multiple sources have informed him that the Padres instructed their medical staff to compile two separate reports on each player — one for industry usage (i.e. medical reviews in trade talks) and one to be kept internal.
The difference between the two files, according to Olney, would be that the file for industry consumption would only contain information on injuries that required trips to the disabled list, whereas the in-house file would contain data on more minor injuries/maladies and preventative treatments that occur over the course of a given season. Three teams with which the Padres executed trades — the Red Sox (Drew Pomeranz), White Sox (James Shields) and Marlins (Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea, Fernando Rodney) were “enraged” and felt they were knowingly deceived by San Diego, Olney writes, adding that a fourth unspecified club filed a complaint with the Commissioner’s Office as well. Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald tweets that punishment for the Padres should be expected, adding that a common point he’s hearing in digging on this matter is that Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski “is [the] wrong guy to cross.”
The Marlins’ case, of course, is the most well-publicized. Rea departed his first start as a Marlin in the fourth inning due to elbow discomfort, and a subsequent MRI revealed ligament damage that ultimately required a platelet-rich plasma injection and may eventually lead to Tommy John surgery. The Padres ultimately traded highly touted minor league right-hander Luis Castillo back to the Marlins in exchange for Rea, and Olney now reports that Rea revealed to the Marlins that he’d been receiving treatment on his elbow for weeks leading up to the trade. That information, according to Olney, was not contained within the Padres’ medical records on Rea, therefore giving the Marlins no opportunity to back away from the deal due to concerns surrounding the young right-hander’s elbow.
As Olney explains, virtually any form of treatment — everything from DL trips down to the use of aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications — is supposed to be logged in a player’s medical file, and those files are logged to MLB’s central database and are available for review in trade talks. One source told Olney that an average team will have filed somewhere in the vicinity of 60 submissions to the database by the All-Star break, but the Padres had filed fewer than 10 submissions this season.
Perhaps most damning, Olney cites multiple sources with direct knowledge of meetings held by the Padres in Spring Training in reporting that the team specifically told its training staff that keeping separate files on the players would ultimately prove beneficial in trading efforts. If proven to be true, this would be far from the first controversy surrounding general manager A.J. Preller’s career as a Major League executive. Preller was suspended for violating signing guidelines and practices while heading up the Rangers’ international department and, per Olney, has also been reprimanded by the league since joining the Padres for violating industry regulations while conducting a workout with an unsigned player.
Those interested in the story are highly encouraged to read Olney’s full column, which goes into considerably greater detail on the matter and contains quotes from multiple unnamed executives on the Padres scandal.
The Mets are understandably anxious to get righty Jacob deGrom back on the big league hill, and with minor league seasons wrapping up, they may allow him to ramp up fully while pitching from the bullpen, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets. DeGrom threw 35 pitches at full tilt today as he recovers from a recent bout of forearm tightness, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter, and it seems he could be back in uniform in a few days. It’ll be interesting to see how deGrom is deployed, but regardless, it’s obviously good news for the Mets as they battle for a Wild Card berth.
- One of New York’s primary competitors, the Cardinals, appear set to welcome back an important piece of their own in outfielder Matt Holliday, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports on Twitter. The veteran reported that his injured thumb felt good after an on-field BP session today. It still seems unlikely that St. Louis will pick up its $17MM club option on Holliday for 2017, though team and player could always work out an alternative arrangement.
- Likewise, the Red Sox will get back an outfielder for the stretch run. Rookie Andrew Benintendi may be ready to go by the middle of the week after making good progress following a knee injury, manager John Farrell told reporters including Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. The left-handed hitter is likely to return in a time share, despite his immense early production, as the righty-swinging Chris Young is hitting well since he was activated from a DL stint.
- The news wasn’t as good for Red Sox righty Steven Wright, who is dealing with shoulder issues, ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber reports. The knuckler may be able to begin throwing soon, but Farrell suggested that it will be a “challenge” for him to return to full duty in time to play a role late in the regular season or even the playoffs. Wright, 32, hasn’t maintained his breakout first-half production, managing only a 5.06 ERA in 42 2/3 innings over his most recent seven outings.
- Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock is expected to return at some point over the next few weeks, Jack Magruder of Fan Rag tweets. After working back from a broken bone in his elbow that took most of his season, Pollock went down recently with a groin strain. But it seems he’ll be able to log a few more plate appearances late in the year, with the training staff saying that he is ahead of schedule in recovering.
- It’s still unclear what, if anything, the Dodgers can expect from southpaw Scott Kazmir, who has been diagnosed with thoracic spinal inflammation. Manager Dave Roberts says that he hasn’t been updated as to Kazmir’s status, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times tweets. The entire campaign has been a struggle for the veteran lefty, but he has been hit harder (.277/.333/.493) in seven starts over the second half and it’s not at all apparent whether he’ll be a factor in the postseason. With two years and $32MM left on his contract, Kazmir seems unlikely to trigger his opt-out clause after the season.
- The Red Sox will be in the market for a big bat to replace retiring designated hitter David Ortiz, which could lead them to pursue free agents-to-be Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Carlos Beltran, Mark Trumbo and Mike Napoli. Boston is quite familiar with all of those players – Encarnacion, Bautista and Trumbo are currently in its division, while Beltran was in the AL East until the Yankees traded him to Texas in July. Napoli, who’s in the midst of a bounce-back year in Cleveland, is the only member of the group with past Red Sox experience. The soon-to-be 35-year-old was with Boston from 2013-15 and was a key part of its latest World Series-winning team in his first season with the club.
- Manager John Farrell said Saturday that the first-place Red Sox are likely going to use elite infield prospect Yoan Moncada as a reserve for the rest of the season, writes Ian Browne of MLB.com. While Moncada has picked up five starts at third base since debuting Sept. 2, the 21-year-old has struck out 11 times and walked only once in 19 plate appearances. At the same time, fellow third baseman Travis Shaw has been swinging a hot bat, which doesn’t bode well for Moncada’s chances to garner playing time. “This is a great learning experience for Yoan,” Farrell said of Moncada. “I think while he got a boost of confidence by coming to the big leagues, you get challenged a little bit and you have to take a step back to rebuild that. Still, our primary goal is to win. Development in this situation does not take a front seat.”
A second opinion on Steven Wright’s ailing right shoulder from renowned orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache showed no damage beyond the initial diagnosis of bursitis, Red Sox manager John Farrell tells Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald. However, the Red Sox still aren’t certain whether the breakout knuckleballer will pitch again this season. “He’s able to pick up a ball when the symptoms he might be feeling are subsided,” said Farrell. “So I can understand and respect the next question of will he return this year. I don’t have that answer yet.”
While some believe that the Sox rushed Wright back from a DL stint — he returned after three weeks and surrendered nine runs in 10 innings over two starts — president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski strongly rejects that notion. “We don’t rush guys back,” said Dombrowski. “We don’t really do that. The doctors felt he was comfortable to (return), he said he was comfortable to do that. No. I’ve never rushed a guy back.”
Wright recently told reporters, including MassLive.com’s Jen McCaffery, that he’s been pitching at about “50 percent” strength since returning from the DL, and while Dombrowski declined to go into specifics on his conversations with Wright, he did say today that Wright did not express that level of severity to the team. “Well, I’m really not going to get into every step of our conversations with the player and all that,” said Dombrowski (via Drellich). “We would never put a player out there that we thought was only 50 percent. … I can’t say it’s a mistake for guys, but I think most pitchers try to pitch through things at times. It just depends what it is.”
The circumstances of Wright’s injury, of course, are somewhat notable as well. Wright didn’t incur the damage to his shoulder while on the mound — on the contrary, he threw a shutout in his last start prior to the injury — but rather on the basepaths after being used as a pinch-runner in the sixth inning of an Aug. 7 game against the Dodgers. Wright dove back into second base when right-hander Joe Blanton spun to throw to the bag and suffered the injury upon hitting the dirt.
The Red Sox, currently in possession of an American League Wild Card spot but also just a half-game out of the division lead, would love to have a healthy Wright back in the mix not only for the remainder of the regular season but also for the postseason roster. The Sox can still turn to David Price, Rick Porcello and Drew Pomeranz in the event that they reach the divisional series, but Wright, who has a 3.33 ERA in 156 2/3 innings even after the aforementioned drubbing he took in his two most recent outings, certainly would’ve been in the mix as well. In the meantime, the Red Sox turned to Clay Buchholz to start in Wright’s place tonight, and Buchholz has answered the challenge with aplomb so far. He’s through six innings and has yielded just a run on six hits and no walks with four strikeouts.
- Red Sox right-hander William Cuevas has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal was among those to tweet. Cuevas, whom the Red Sox designated for assignment Friday, has thrown just five of his 136 innings this year in the majors. The 25-year-old has compiled a 4.19 ERA, 5.84 K/9 and 3.09 BB/9 in 131 frames with Pawtucket.