Boston Red Sox Rumors

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

Minor Moves: McGrady, Willis, James, Olmsted, Wang

Former NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady, who had been trying his hand as a pitcher with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, announced his retirement from baseball today, writes Brett Dolan of CBS Houston. T-Mac totaled just 6 2/3 innings with Sugar Land, and his lone strikeout came against the final hitter he faced. “That is definitely going in the trophy case,” McGrady said after his announcement. He called the opportunity to get to know and learn from his teammates “an honor.”

Here are the rest of the day’s minor moves:

  • Dontrelle Willis was briefly considering a career in coaching, but the former Rookie of the Year and Cy Young runner-up will instead pitch for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The D-Train is familiar with the Atlantic League, as he made 14 starts for the Long Island Ducks (producing a 2.57 ERA) in 2013. His debut will come on Friday.
  • Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers have signed former first-rounder Chad James to a minor league deal and assigned him to Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach. The Marlins selected James 18th overall in 2009, but he never made it past High-A. Now 23 years old, James had been pitching for the Evansville Otters of the independent Frontier League. He has a career 4.71 ERA between the minor leagues and indy ball.
  • The Portland Sea Dogs (the Red Sox’ Double-A affiliate) announced on Twitter that they have released right-hander Michael Olmsted. The longtime Mets farmhand returned for a second stint in Boston’s farm system when he inked a minor league deal this spring. Olmsted posted a 4.45 ERA with a 37-to-24 K/BB ratio in 32 1/3 innings.
  • The White Sox have made a series of transactions at the minor league level, according to a tweet from its Triple-A affiliate Charlotte Knights (h/t to MLB.com’s Scott Merkin). The team has added righty Chien-Ming Wang on a minor league deal. Wang, who has thrown at least 27 MLB innings over each of the last three seasons, was recently let go by the Reds after opting out of his deal.
  • Meanwhile, the Reds have acquired righty Dylan Axelrod from the White Sox for an as-yet unknown return. The 28-year-old threw 128 1/3 innings last year for Chicago, including 20 starts, but managed only a 5.68 ERA with 5.1 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. He currently sports a 4.50 ERA through 88 frames at Triple-A on the year, logging 7.8 K/9 versus 3.7 BB/9.
  • The White Sox also released Deunte Heath, a 28-year-old righty who has tossed 9 2/3 MLB innings over the past two seasons. Heath will evidently be signing with a Japanese club after posting generally excellent numbers at the Triple-A level over the past several seasons.

AL East Notes: Soriano, Castillo, Cherington, Blue Jays, Yankees

Former Orioles and Rays outfielder/DH Luke Scott has been “fired” from his KBO club after some harsh words for his coach, as Jerry Spar of WEEI.com writes.  The 36-year-old must have been causing problems for SK Wyverns, because he was carrying a productive .267/.392/.505 line in 130 plate appearances for the club. Scott split time at the DH position last year with Tampa, slashing a slightly above-average .241/.326/.415 (108 OPS+).

Here’s the latest from the AL East:

  • The Blue Jays have “checked on” recently-released outfielder Alfonso Soriano, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Soriano, who might provide a power bat while several regulars work their way back off the DL, is “mulling his option,” according to Rosenthal.

Earlier Updates

  • The Orioles will scout Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo at his upcoming workout, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Castillo, 27, is an intriguing player to watch; as Ben Badler of Baseball America writes, he could even have an impact on a big league roster later this year.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said today that a lot of trade chatter has already happened between clubs, in an interview with WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan (audio link). He acknowledged that his struggling club is not conceding the season, but is “engaged in the conversations … to be in position to make the right decisions” at the trade deadline. But he said that the organization is not yet at the point of swapping actual trade proposals, though it is aware of what contending teams’ needs are.
  • Looking back, Cherington says that he “didn’t do a good enough job building a complete offense.” Though the team felt good about things heading into the season, says Cherington, the offensive production has been missing even though the pitching has been good enough to win.
  • The Blue Jays may prioritize upgrades in the lineup (a second or third baseman, most likely) and in the bullpen over acquiring starting pitching help, reports Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. Of course, in spite of GM Alex Anthopoulos’s insistence that the team can add salary in the right scenario, some believe that the club lacks financial flexibility on the big league roster.
  • One reason that observers doubt the Blue Jays‘ ability to boost payroll this year is the club’s pre-season pursuit of Ervin Santana, which involved a reported plan involving salary deferment from several veterans. As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports, MLBPA head Tony Clark criticized that situation, saying “it is not the players’ responsibility to sign a player or bring a player on board.” Clark said that any deferral should redound to the individual player’s ultimate benefit, but was somewhat ambiguous about what in particular concerned him in this case. “As it was brought to our attention, there were a number of conversations that were had, unfortunately with some of those players in the middle,” he said. “How that entire process was handled we don’t believe was in a fashion that was as beneficial to everyone involved as it could have been. The place we ended up suggested the players were able to make, should they decide, those deferrals in an effort to bring in those players.”
  • Yankees prospect Luis Severino has received a promotion to Double-A, as Josh Norris of Baseball America recently tweeted. The 20-year-old righty had only recently been bumped to the High-A level, where he dominated in four starts. Severino landed among the top fifty prospects in the game according to Baseball America’s mid-season update, but another New York youngster — outfielder Aaron Judge — caught the eye of ESPN.com’s Keith Law (Insider link) for his own updated top fifty.

Minor Moves: Mitch Lively, Hector Gimenez, Ryan Verdugo

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Righty Mitch Lively has opted out of his contract with the Giants and inked a minor league deal with the Nationals, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links). He can opt out of his new contract on September 1, Cotillo adds. The 28-year-old had spent virtually all of his career in San Francisco, though he has yet to make a big league appearance. He began working as a starter last year after six years throwing exclusively from the pen. At Triple-A this season, Lively owns a 5.08 ERA through 90 1/3 frames (including 15 starts and seven relief appearances), with 8.0 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9.
  • The Brewers have signed catcher Hector Gimenez after his recent release by the Blue Jays, tweets Cotillo. The 31-year-old switch-hitter has seen only limited MLB action, but has been fairly productive in the upper minors in recent years. That has not held in 2014, however: in 127 plate appearances with Jays and White Sox affiliates, he owns a .177/.260/.292 triple-slash.
  • The Red Sox have acquired lefty Ryan Verdugo from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations, Kansas City announced on Twitter. The 27-year-old has only one MLB start under his belt — it did not go well — and has spent most of the last four seasons in the upper minors. Through 46 2/3 frames over 9 starts this year, he owns a 4.24 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.


Red Sox Release A.J. Pierzynski

JULY 16: The Red Sox announced that they have released Pierzyski.

JULY 9: The Red Sox are set to designate catcher A.J. Pierzynski for assignment, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The 37-year-old veteran signed a one-year, $8.25MM deal to join Boston over the past offseason.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays

Needless to say, things did not work out as hoped for the club or the player. Pierzynski owns a .254/.286/.348 line through 274 plate appearances with just four home runs. He had produced at a .275/.311/.462 clip with 44 total long balls over the 2012-13 campaigns.

The veteran could still hold appeal to clubs looking for options behind the dish. As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently explored, the trade market includes relatively few available, attractive veteran backstops. Unless the Sox can find a taker for some of his remaining salary, they will eat the approximately $3.6MM left on Pierzynski’s contract.

Parting with Pierzynski could well be the first step towards at least a partial break-up of a Red Sox team that has fallen well off its World Series from of a year ago. Sitting 10 and a half games out of the division lead, the Red Sox will give a chance to youngster Christian Vazquez, who will learn on the job with help from veteran backup David Ross.

In an appearance on WEEI radio (Twitter links via WEEI.com’s Alex Speier), manager John Farrell confirmed that the club is aiming for something of a youth movement. “We’re turning the page in terms of investing in young players,” he said. Indeed, Vazquez will be one of five rookies in the lineup card for the club tonight, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal tweets.


Latest On Extension Talks Between Red Sox, Lester

Red Sox hurler Jon Lester said today that extension talks could open back up “tomorrow or four months from now,” but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the former option seems highly unlikely. In fact, says Heyman, the likeliest outcome now is that no serious run at a new deal will take place until after the season.

Here’s more:

  • Indeed, in other comments today, Lester sounded like he is fairly committed to waiting for further talks, as WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports. Lester says that his primary concern has been and remains the avoidance of distraction: “I’ve sat down and talked to Ben [Cherington] about that and they understand.” He continued: Like I said before, I’ve expressed it to them, this is where I want to stay. Regardless of whether we do it tomorrow or we wait until the end of the season, this is where I want to be. Hopefully when we get to the end of the season we can figure something out and get it done.” Of course, as Lester noted, his desire may remain the same, but if he reaches free agency, the club will just have more competition.”
  • Lester tells Heyman that he was “thrown off” by the club’s recent efforts to re-open discussions during the year. “Since day one I was told [not negotiating in season] was the policy,” said Lester. “The way I think is pretty black and white. They tell me one thing, and we’re hell-bent on that [so to change gears] throws me off.” 
  • Though the lefty says that “the conversation had picked up” when the Red Sox reached out most recently, he noted that he “never received a [new] offer.” Boston was, however, at least willing to move its offer into the nine-figure range, Heyman reports. Now, team sources tell Heyman that the club understands and intends to honor Lester’s preference to table discussions for the time being.
  • Regarding the initial reported four-year, $70MM offer made by the club, Lester expressed no hard feelings, as Bradford reports. “I don’t know if ‘exploited’ is the right word, but they’re business men,” he said. “They didn’t get to own the Boston Red Sox by being stupid with money. … I think they just took a shot and like you said, Larry and Ben and the collective group put that offer out there and that’s what they wanted to start at. We had plenty of talks after that as far as moving money and moving years, moving money, but never got to another offer … .”
  • Lester also made clear that he understands his market position: “This is business and [they] have a business to run, and when you think about it, I have a business to run,” he said. “I have to run myself. I get it.” He emphasized that discussions have been “amicable,” saying that “I’ve had great, four or five, maybe six conversations with Ben over the last couple of months.”

Royals Interested In Jonny Gomes

Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes is on the Royals’ list of targets as the team continues its search for a right-handed bat, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link).  Kansas City has been rumored to be looking for outfield and bench depth in the wake of Nori Aoki‘s struggles as the everyday right fielder.

Gomes has primarily played in left field throughout this career, though with Alex Gordon filling that role in K.C., Gomes would slot into right as the right-handed hitting side of a platoon with lefty bats Aoki and Raul Ibanez.  Gomes would certainly provide the Royals with pop from the right side of the plate — the veteran has an .832 OPS in 119 PA against left-handed pitching this season, which is actually down from his very impressive .279/.379/.496 career slash line against southpaws.

While there has been some speculation about how much (if any) Royals GM Dayton Moore would be able to add to the payroll for trade deadline additions, Gomes comes at a fairly cheap price, with roughly $2.08MM remaining on his 2014 salary.  The 33-year-old is in the final year of the two-year, $10MM contract he signed with Boston in November 2012.  That expiring contract makes him an expendable piece for the Sox if they decide to become notable sellers before the deadline, despite Gomes’ popularity in the Sox clubhouse and his big role in last year’s World Series championship team (though Boston could also re-sign Gomes as a free agent this winter).


AL East Notes: Peavy, Dempster, Blue Jays

The Red Sox have set their rotation following the All-Star break, and it suggests they could be preparing for a Jake Peavy trade, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. Peavy is not scheduled to pitch again until July 22. If a Peavy trade were to take place before then, the Sox would have enough time to recall Brandon Workman, who was optioned to Triple-A last Wednesday. Here are more notes from the AL East.

  • Sox chairman Tom Werner regrets that the team didn’t do more to address its outfield last offseason, Abraham writes. “[W]e didn’t expect Shane Victorino to be on the disabled list for as long as he has been. We knew that Jackie Bradley had the potential to be a superstar but his season hasn’t been as robust as we all imagined. We’re still very confident about his potential,” says Werner. “But should we have gone after Nelson Cruz? I guess so.” Werner adds that the Red Sox are still deciding whether to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, thinking that there may still be time for them to climb back into the race.
  • Ryan Dempster, a part of the Sox’ rotation last season, says he doesn’t regret taking the 2014 season off, Luis Gomez of the Chicago Tribune writes. “Fortunately, I haven’t missed it,” he says. “Not yet. With the way things ended with the World Series, I don’t feel like I’m missing it. Hopefully I don’t ever get that feeling.” Gomez notes that Dempster isn’t ruling out the possibility of a return in the future. The 37-year-old Dempster passed on the $13.25MM remaining on his contract for 2014 in order to spend time with his family.
  • Jose Bautista hopes the Blue Jays will add talent at the trade deadline, writes John Lott of the National Post. “If he does make a move, it’ll be welcome,” says Bautista. “It’s not necessarily on the players’ side that you feel like you need that to get to the top, but at times it’s nice when you do get that …  A lot of times it has a psychological effects too that help out.” Nonetheless, Bautista won’t be issuing any demands. “[W]e don’t feel like it’s a must,” he says. The Jays have struggled with injuries to players like Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie and are now 3 1/2 games behind the Orioles in the AL East.

AL East Notes: Price, Zobrist, Lackey, Lester

David Price is trying to just focus on pitching amidst the many trade rumors surrounding him, and the Rays ace admitted to being a bit nervous when he was recently summoned from a pre-start hot tub soak to Joe Maddon’s office.  Price told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he was wondering if the long-rumored deal had finally come, but upon arriving at Maddon’s office, the skipper merely wanted to congratulate Price on making the All-Star team.  Topkin’s piece quotes Price and several other Rays on how everyone is handling all the trade buzz surrounding the star left-hander.

Here’s some more news from around the AL East…

  • The Giants are considered to be the team most interested in Ben Zobrist, Marc Topkin reports, with the Reds and Mariners among other teams also intrigued by the 33-year-old.  Zobrist would help the Giants and Reds at second base while the versatile 33-year-old would fit in Seattle as a shortstop or right fielder since Robinson Cano has the keystone locked up for the M’s.
  • The Red Sox have over $72MM coming off the books this offseason and will have lots of payroll flexibility to get the team back in contention, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  While the Sox seem adverse to signing veteran free agents to major contracts, there’s still plenty of payroll space for moves like re-signing Jon Lester.  The Sox are still committed to their young prospect base, though Cafardo notes that the club could trade from this minor depth to acquire a more expensive proven Major Leaguer.
  • John Lackey worries that the negotiations between Lester and the Red Sox have resembled his own extension talks with the Angels, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes.  Lackey and the Halos tabled talks during Spring Training of Lackey’s final contract year in 2009 and then the Angels were outbid on the open market by the Sox.  Now, Boston could be the ones who lose their ace due to another aggressive bidder if Lester ends up testing free agency.  “(The Red Sox) messed up in spring training for sure. The price of gas is going up every time (Lester) goes out there,” Lackey said.
  • Lackey also didn’t say whether he will approach the Red Sox about an extension, given that he’s under contract for a league minimum salary in 2015.  “I haven’t even thought that far ahead. I’m just worried about pitching right now, and we’ll see what happens at the end of the year,” the righty said.
  • Derek Jeter‘s retirement marks the end of the “Core Four” era for the Yankees, and ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand notes just how unlikely and special it was for the franchise to reach the postseason from every year, save one, from 1995-2012.

Cafardo On Napoli, Stanton, Marlins, Rockies

The Red Sox, Rangers and Phillies are all struggling this season but for different reasons, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe touches on each team’s situation in his weekly Sunday notes column.  Boston’s young talent (as either lineup upgrades or trade chips) puts them “in the best shape” according to one AL executive, while Rangers GM Jon Daniels intends to address his team’s injury-riddled rotation at the deadline.  Philadelphia seems to be in the toughest shape of the three given that they both have a number of hard-to-move expensive veterans on the roster, plus Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley haven’t seemed willing to waive their no-trade clauses.

Here’s some more from Cafardo’s latest…

  • The Red Sox have received some calls about Mike Napoli.  The first baseman has spent some time on the DL this year but is still hitting .265/.386/.432 with 10 homers in 316 PA.  The two-year, $32MM contract that Napoli signed last winter carries some limited no-trade protection.  Though Napoli’s bat makes him an attractive commodity, I’d be surprised to see the Sox move him given their own need for power hitting both this season and beyond.
  • A recent Marlins slump led to a renewed series of calls about Giancarlo Stanton, and Miami GM Dan Jennings again reiterated that Stanton isn’t for sale.  Cafardo notes that the Stanton trade rumors won’t die down until he signs a big extension with the Marlins, something that seemed unlikely two offseasons ago when he was upset by the club’s fire sale trade with the Blue Jays.  Now, however, Jennings says, “I think some things have changed for Giancarlo.  He’s taken a leadership role here. He knows we’re serious about winning and how much we want him to be part of that. He’s seen the team come together and the young talent developing around him.”
  • Jennings told Cafardo on Friday that the Marlins would look to be trade deadline buyers if they were within five or six games of the NL East lead going into the All-Star break, and the GM was meeting with owner Jeffrey Loria this weekend.  Miami sits 6.5 games behind the tied Nationals and Braves heading into today’s action.
  • It seems unlikely that the Rockies will deal Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez since owner Charles Monfort feels moving either star would negatively hurt Colorado’s ticket sales and TV ratings.  “Monfort centers everything around Tulo and Cargo,” a Major League source tells Cafardo.  Dick Monfort, the other half of the club’s ownership team, recently said there were no plans to deal wither Tulowitzki or Gonzalez.

AL Notes: Peavy, Drew, Tigers

Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy is scheduled to start today against the Astros. The Red Sox have no contingency plan in place in case he’s unable to start, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes, which likely means no trade is imminent. “If I’m made aware that something is imminent there will be a contingency plan, but there’s no contingency for him,” says manager John Farrell. The Red Sox will likely trade Peavy in order to clear space for younger pitchers in Rubby De La Rosa and Brandon Workman. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Less than two months after signing with the Red Sox, Stephen Drew is contemplating the possibility of being traded, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. “Hopefully I’m here for the year. But I can’t tell you that,” says Drew. The shortstop says he has “no regrets” about rejecting the Red Sox’ qualifying offer, a decision that ultimately cost him money. But, he says, “It’s something that, we’ve got to look at that rule that kind of hurt some players and myself. It’s difficult to come up here and these guys have three months on you until the season’s over all the time.”
  • The Tigers are likely to be linked to plenty of relievers as the trade deadline approaches, Chris Iott of MLive.com writes. The Tigers aren’t likely to take on a big commitment, which could make someone like the Padres’ Joaquin Benoit (who is due significant salary in 2015) a less likely target than someone like the Rangers’ Joakim Soria (who will be a free agent after the season if his club option is declined).