Boston Red Sox Rumors

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

Pitching Notes: Richard, Masterson, Morrow, Hochevar

Spring Training will always involve unfortunate news of injuries, but it also represents an opportunity for players making a comeback — whether from injury or otherwise — to reestablish themselves. In addition to restoring their own career trajectories (Scott Kazmir, anyone?), such players can deliver immense value to the teams that give them another chance.

Let’s take a look at a few situations from around the league, focusing on pitchers:

  • When lefty Clayton Richard signed a minor league deal with the Pirates, everyone’s first thoughts went to the hurlers whose careers have recently been revived in Pittsburgh. (A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and Edinson Volquez being the prime examples.) As Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, that is essentially what Richard was thinking about, too. “I was able to talk to [Volquez] a little bit and see what he thought of the organization,” said Richard. “It was positive. Just in talking with [GM] Neal [Huntington], [manager] Clint [Hurdle], and [pitching coach] Ray [Searage], I got a good feel of what they are all about. it made sense for me that this was the place.” The non-roster invitee is said to be hitting the gun in the low-nineties, where he previously has worked, and says he is “loosening up my entire body through my delivery” after having seen his motion limited in the past by shoulder troubles.
  • After good vibes at the opening of Red Sox camp, Justin Masterson had a less-than-promising outing yesterday, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. A scout called Masterson’s work “awful,” while manager John Farrell said the righty “started to flash some better stuff into the fourth inning” but lacked “late action” on his pitches from “inconsistencies and when the velocity drops.” That group of issues — i.e., mechanical struggles and waning fastball velocity — were perhaps the two most-cited underlying difficulties that led Masterson to fall from his early perch near the top of this year’s free agent class to a one-year, $9.5MM deal with Boston. Of course, there is still plenty of time for Masterson to rebound this season.
  • Brandon Morrow of the Padres also signed a make-good, one-year deal but was guaranteed much less than Masterson. But he is off to a strong opening to his year, having posted nine innings with one earned run and seven strikeouts against two free passes thus far. In post-game comments today to his counterpart, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon said that Morrow showed “real stuff” in his four scoreless frames, as MLB.com’s Alyson Footer tweets. It seems at this point that the fifth starter’s role is Morrow’s to lose.
  • Royals reliever Luke Hochevar made his way back to competitive action today, throwing a clean inning, as Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports (Twitter links). Working his way back from Tommy John surgery, Hochevar nevertheless landed a $10MM guarantee (over two years) to return to Kansas City. He was throwing in the 92 to 93 mph range in his work today, but despite that successful first appearance still seems likely to start the regular season on the DL.

Quick Hits: Swihart, Bryant, Mariners

The Phillies and Red Sox have made “virtually no headway” on a Cole Hamels trade, and that’s because the Red Sox refuse to include top catching prospect Blake Swihart, Jayson Stark of ESPN writes. Of course, that didn’t stop media speculation when Swihart joined the Red Sox’ starting lineup as they took on the Phillies in Clearwater Sunday. “I think it’s funny just like you guys do,” says Swihart. In the meantime, manager John Farrell expresses confidence in another young Red Sox catcher, Christian Vazquez. “Blake is the name that’s always been in the rumors, because of what he potentially could be attached to,” says Farrell. “But the guy who is as good as anybody in the game right now, as far as catching, receiving and throwing, is Christian Vazquez.” Vazquez will start for the Red Sox while Swihart appears likely to begin the season at Triple-A, a level at which he has only 18 games of experience. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Cubs slugger Kris Bryant is eager to prove he belongs in the big leagues, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. “I want to build on what I’ve done so far. Now I’ve got the gas to the floor, and I’m not going to let up,” Bryant says. The Cubs want Bryant to work on his defense, and he likely won’t start the year in the Majors. Heyman suggests that’s not due to service-time concerns, but the fact that the Cubs will gain an extra year of service time by holding Bryant back for a couple weeks of the regular season is surely, at the very least, a happy byproduct of their likely development plan. Whenever Bryant’s promotion to the big leagues arrives, it will be a momentous occasion. By hitting six homers in his first 23 Spring Training plate appearances, Bryant has done nothing to quiet the hype that swirled around him last year.
  • Jack Zduriencik and the Mariners are hoping to improve on a 2014 season in which they fell just short of a playoff berth, MLB.com’s Mike Bauman writes. “I like what should be our 25-man roster,” says Zduriencik after an offseason in which the Mariners added Nelson Cruz, Seth Smith, J.A. Happ, Justin Ruggiano and Rickie Weeks. He adds that he feels the Mariners’ depth in the minors is also an asset. “We hoped we could have a good, competitive club year in and year out, a good Minor League system that could continue to fill the void when you have a need, instead of what we had a few years ago, when we had 16, 17, 18 players that debuted in the big leagues in one year.”

AL East Notes: Cash, Hamels, Swihart, Orioles

The Red Sox have received some impressive performances from non-roster invitees like Mitchell Boggs, Dana Eveland, Dalier Hinojosa, and Noe Ramirez, but they probably won’t crack the 25-man roster due to the numbers crunch, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • Rays manager Kevin Cash will earn $5MM over the life of his five-year deal, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay TimesJon Heyman of CBSSports.com recently reported Cash’s deal was for a lengthy five years, giving him more security than a lot of other skippers around the majors. The pact ties Cash with current Cubs skipper Joe Maddon for the lengthiest remaining guarantee in the game. Of course, the financial terms aren’t exactly the same as Maddon will earn a reported $25MM over the same length of time.
  • The addition of Cole Hamels would undoubtedly separate the Red Sox from the rest of the AL East, but to what degree the club feels pressure to establish that space is what will determine whether they pull the trigger, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. Right now, the Phillies are insisting Boston part with Henry Owens and either Blake Swihart or Mookie Betts while taking on Hamels’ monster deal, so the Red Sox feel that they can live without him. Silverman lays out the pros and cons of Boston waiting on a Hamels trade.
  • Swihart started against the Phillies today going 2-for-3, including a RBI single, and found the timing pure coincidence. “I think people are looking into it too much,” he told reporters, including Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “It’s just my turn to catch right now.” Swihart also addressed the interest shown in him by the Phillies. “It’s an honor that other teams think highly of you. Ultimately, I want to be here (Boston) and to play for this team. Anything I can do to help this team is what I want to do.
  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette spoke with MLB Network Radio (audio link) about how the O’s can replace the offensive production of their free agent losses. Baltimore, of course, saw Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller head elsewhere this offseason.


Cafardo On Wieters, Bradley, Giants

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Red Sox spent a lot of time with Jon Lester trying to get him over his fear of throwing to bases.  It’s an issue that the Cubs will have to address if it arises again and Cafardo is surprised that more opposing teams haven’t tried to pounce on that perceived weakness.  That could change, however, as he hears that one team already is looking forward to testing him this season.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette twice has tried to engage in extension talks with Matt Wieters’s agent, Scott Boras, but now it doesn’t appear that the sides will get together before Wieters becomes a free agent.  After missing most of 2014, Wieters will earn $8.3MM in his final year of arbitration.  The 28-year-old was hitting .308/.339/.500 in 112 plate appearances before right elbow issues forced him to undergo Tommy John surgery.
  • Scouts are beginning to at least discuss what the Red Sox may need to receive in order to part with Jackie Bradley in a trade.  The Sox don’t appear to be in that mode right now, but there are teams who feel Bradley will turn things around at the plate because he’s hit at every level except the majors. “I think Chili Davis is going to be good for him,” said one scout of Boston’s new hitting coach. “I think he needs someone with a tough approach and Chili isn’t afraid to give someone some tough love.”  There has been a great deal of trade talk around Bradley this offseason and Joel Sherman of the New York Post recently suggested that the Braves could make sense as a landing spot.
  • Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that the team offered James Shields a five-year, $80MM contract not long after Jon Lester agreed to join the Cubs.Evans said that Shields wanted time to explore other offers, however, and the timing wasn’t right.  A previous report indicated that the Giants made Shields a four-year, $80MM pitch, which is the same length as his deal with the Padres, but worth $5MM more.  Shields’ agent Page Odle said in February that his client received more than one offer with a higher AAV than the one he ultimately accepted from the Padres.
  • Before Daniel Bard signed a minor league deal with the Cubs this winter, the Red Sox considered bringing him back.  Now that early reports are indicating that Bard is throwing hard and possibly cured of the yips that have troubled him the last couple of years, the Cubs must be glad that they decided to give him another chance.
  • While many scouts believe that the Dodgers’ offense won’t be as productive without Matt Kemp, many also believe that he will hurt the Padres‘ defense.  “Everyone raves about the Padres with Kemp, but they’re going to find some things they’re not going to like, and I’ll leave it at that,” said one scout.  For his career, Kemp has a -13.9 UZR/150 rating in the outfield.

International Notes: Draft, Alvarez, Moncada, Baldoquin

Speaking at the SABR Analytics Conference, Jim Callis of Baseball opined that an international draft would be included in the next CBA (tweet via Matt Eddy of BA). Callis expects the union to concede the issue in exchange for something else. Historically, the union has traded the rights of amateurs in exchange for veteran benefits, so a move like this is not unexpected. The current CBA expires December 1, 2016.

  • Right-handed Cuban hurler Yadier Alvarez will hold his next open workout on April 8th in the Dominican Republic, tweets Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs.com. The 18-year-old is currently restricted from signing until at least July 2nd due to MLB registration rules. Presently, Alvarez is trying secure an exemption from commissioner Rob Manfried so he may sign sooner. Several teams including the Yankees, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Angels will be ineligible to sign Alvarez in the next international spending period.
  • The Red Sox first stumbled upon Yoan Moncada in 2010, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe in the first of a three-part series. Speier describes the early scouting process used by the Red Sox as they tracked Moncada. It began with a 16-and-under showcase where Moncada appeared as just another line in a spreadsheet. Even then, his tools and physicality drew remarks. Boston’s best looks came in an 18-and-under tournament in Taiwan featuring names like Brady Aiken, Justus Sheffield, and Jacob Nix.
  • The Angels got their first looks at Roberto Baldoquin during a Yasmany Tomas showcase, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. Baldoquin showcased with Tomas due to personal connections. The Angels decided to take a shot on what they perceived to be a strong work ethic and fierce mentality. Said GM Jerry Dipoto, “I love the look in his eye, the way he interacts with people…he was a leader. He’ll likely be the youngest player on his team this year, but he will be one of the most mature.” The 20-year-old shortstop signed for $8MM in January. Dipoto expects to see him in Los Angeles this season.

Notes On Yoan Moncada

The Red Sox have been aware of newly signed Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada since 2010, when he played in a tournament in Mexico, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Since then, Moncada has followed a mysterious path from Cuba to Guatemala and then to Florida, but GM Ben Cherington says the team isn’t overly concerned about that. “Our obligation is to say, ‘OK, here are the players that are available. Let’s scout them and figure out what this guy’s worth and if we should make an offer,'” says Cherington. “How they get to that place is not our job or responsibility, so we simply don’t spend a lot of time on it. We do background on the human being … but we understand there’s other things going on that we’re not involved with.” The Red Sox introduced Moncada to the press yesterday, but many questions about his life remain unanswered. Here are more notes on Moncada.

  • The details of Moncada’s journey remain unclear, but Ron Borges of the Herald speaks to former Indians and Red Sox star Luis Tiant about a somewhat similar journey he made more than 50 years ago. “I was in Cuba during the Bay of Pigs invasion,” says Tiant. “Just when I was supposed to go back to Mexico, the borders opened up for a month or so. I caught the last flight out. My father said go. I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t gotten out of Cuba.” The Indians purchased Tiant’s contract after that 1961 season, and he made it to the big leagues three years later. Meanwhile, however, he could not see his family for 14 years.
  • Moncada will likely start this season with Class A Greenville, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Moncada expects he could make the big leagues next season.

AL East Notes: Moncada, Santana, Hendriks

The Red Sox‘ recent signing of Yoan Moncada finds its roots in one of GM Ben Cherington’s first decisions on the job, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. By promoting Eddie Romero to director of international scouting and soliciting more international input from VP of player personnel Allard Baird, Cherington was preparing to explore new ways for the team to make wise investments in new talent. “There are fewer and fewer opportunities to gain advantages,” says Cherington. “A lot of things have been leveled out, so attention to [international] areas was definitely a reaction to that.” The piece is too long to fully describe here, so be sure to give it a read.

  • Moncada says he hopes to be in the big leagues in one year, he told reporters including Boston.com’s Steve Silva. But he seemingly acknowledged that goal was hardly a sure thing, or even his primary purpose. “I’m just looking forward to getting back on the field and playing baseball,” he said. “It’s been so long. … I want them to see me as a dedicated teammate and a good guy.”
  • Veteran Blue Jays lefty Johan Santana is still passionate about his craft, as Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun writes. Indeed, that’s the reason that he is still trying to come back after a series of setbacks. Soon to turn 36, Santana is still building up strength with short throwing sessions (in both time and distance). “When it’s time to move on I’ll move on but I still feel that I can do this,” says Santana. “I had a great career, a lot of ups and downs but I’ve always had a positive outlook, through good days and bad days.”
  • Fellow Blue Jays hurler Liam Hendriks is facing a different set of challenges, as MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm writes. Out of options and adjusting to life as a reliever, Hendriks says he hopes to crack the Toronto pen out of camp — not least of which to script a worthwhile follow-up to a 2014 season after which he was named the best Australian ballplayer.

AL East Notes: Moncada, Castillo, Tanaka, Estrada, Jays

In his latest at WEEI.com, Rob Bradford takes an excellent look at Yoan Moncada‘s journey from Cuba to Boston, chronicling his relationship with agent David Hastings along the way. Hastings, a Tampa-based CPA, was introduced to Moncada through a client and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to represent him, but he admits to being stunned at the level of work that went into it. Hastings recalls that his printer ran out of paper as he printed 300+ pages of rules and regulations for representing a player. “Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. It became a life,” Hastings tells Bradford. Moncada and friend Carlos Mesa (a 27-year-old outfielder who became Moncada’s mentor and was also signed by Boston) became part of the Hastings family, writes Bradford. Hastings’ wife, Jo, who was born in Cuba, formed a quick bond with the pair at an apartment they had previously had built for Hastings’ mother-in-law. Bradford includes plenty of quotes from Sox international scouting director Eddie Romero and the details of a last-minute push to increase their original offer of $25MM. Asked if they could up their offer to $30MM, GM Ben Cherington and Romero tried to track down owner John Henry, who was at the Daytona 500. When Henry’s wife got a hold of him, his response spoke volumes about the team’s top-to-bottom interest in Moncada: “Go to 31.” Another $500K was tacked on shortly after, writes Bradford, and the two sides had their deal. Still, Bradford notes that Hastings was seemingly more concerned with Moncada’s well-being early in the negotiation process, asking where he would live, where he would eat, and who would help him transition to his new life before even attempting to get the Sox to up their offer.

Moncada’s introductory press conference will be held at 11:30 ET today, but in the meantime, here are a few more notes more from the AL East…

  • Rusney Castillo may not be ready for Opening Day, writes MLB.com’s Ian Browne. Even if Castillo is healthy by that point, however, it’s not a guarantee that he’d make the Red Sox‘ 25-man roster, Browne notes. Mookie Betts has been excellent in camp thus far, and Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino are expected to man the outfield corners. Castillo’s injury status might make it more likely that both Allen Craig and Daniel Nava remain with the club as bench options, however. Manager John Farrell recently said the team fully expects Craig to remain on the roster, but the out-of-options Nava makes sense as a trade candidate on paper.
  • Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka fired two perfect innings and struck out two in his spring debut yesterday, writes Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. While individual spring starts rarely carry significant meaning, this was Tanaka’s first test of his elbow a season after slightly tearing his UCL. “We’re aware that things could crop up at any time, but it’s been very positive,” said pitching coach Larry Rothschild. “I think (the injury) hasn’t affected him because he hasn’t felt anything. He’s going at it like it’s normal. He’s just going to pitch.” Tanaka used all of his pitches, including his splitter, in the outing.
  • Marco Estrada tells John Lott of the National Post that his preference is to pitch out of the Blue Jays‘ rotation, but he’s happy to work in relief as long as the team is winning games. While Estrada’s ERA as a starter and ERA as a reliever last season were separated by nearly two full runs, Estrada doesn’t feel that indicates that he’s better deployed as a reliever; rather, he maintains that he corrected some mechanical flaws shortly after his move to the bullpen and feels that he’d have seen a similar turnaround even in the Brewers’ rotation. Estrada is in the mix for two open rotation spots, along with top prospects Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris, following the loss of Marcus Stroman to a torn ACL.
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that if the Blue Jays go with Brett Cecil as their closer, then manager John Gibbons would like to have a third lefty in his ‘pen in addition to Cecil and setup man Aaron Loup. Lefty options on the 40-man roster include Jayson Aquino, Scott Barnes, Colt HynesRob Rasmussen and Norris. Non-roster lefties in camp include Jeff Francis, Andrew Albers and Johan Santana, though Santana isn’t expected to be healthy by Opening Day.

Red Sox Sign Yoan Moncada

The Red Sox have officially signed heralded Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada to a minor league contract, the team announced.  Terms of the deal weren’t announced, though Moncada reportedly received a $31.5MM signing bonus according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links).

Because Boston had already exceeded its bonus pool for the 2014-15 international signing period, the team will pay a full 100 percent tax on Moncada’s bonus, bringing the total cost for his services to $63MM.  On top of that, the Red Sox will now be restricted from signing any international amateur for more than $300K in the 2015-16 and the 2016-17 international signing periods.

Moncada, a 19-year-old switch-hitting infielder, is the most sought-after international prospect in recent history. Said to be a true five-tool talent, scouts have likened his upside to that of Robinson Cano and Chase Utley (in his prime). Prospect specialists at Baseball America, MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus and Fangraphs have all suggested that Moncada would rank in the top five to 15 prospects in Major League Baseball upon signing, which will make him Boston’s new No. 1 prospect. Unlike recent Cuban signings such as Jose Abreu and Rusney Castillo, however, Moncada will likely require at least one season in the minors — possibly two.

Over the past several months, the Red Sox have been one of the primary teams connected to Moncada, although many believed the Yankees and Dodgers to be in a better position to land him, as the Red Sox don’t have a clear long-term need in the infield with Dustin Pedroia at second base and Pablo Sandoval entering the first of a five-year, $95MM contract. (Sandoval, of course, could move over to first base in a few years.) Xander Bogaerts figures to be the long-term answer at shortstop, though the expectation among scouts is that Moncada will end up at second, third or possibly in center field (where Castillo is currently slotted).

As Sanchez wrote last week, the overage tax must be paid to the league in full by July 15, whereas the bonus can be paid out in installments over the course of the next three years. It’s not known at this time whether or not the Red Sox made the best offer, but agent David Hastings did say recently that size of the bonus would not be the sole determining factor in choosing a team. Moncada also had private workouts for the Yankees, Dodgers, Padres, Brewers, Rays, D-Backs, Tigers, Giants, Rangers and Cubs (though the last two would have been ineligible to sign him until July 2, as they had incurred maximum penalties in the 2013-14 international signing period, thereby restricting them in the 2014-15 period).

With this agreement, Moncada has absolutely shattered the previous record signing bonus for an international amateur. That distinction was held briefly by infielder Roberto Baldoquin, following his $8MM bonus from the Angels earlier this winter, and then held even more briefly by right-hander Yoan Lopez, who received an $8.27MM bonus from the D-Backs. The size of Moncada’s bonus will likely come up in discussing the next collective bargaining agreement, as it figures to be a major talking point among proponents of an international draft.

MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez was the first to report Moncada’s deal with Boston (via Twitter).


AL East Notes: Orioles, Matsui, Drew, Red Sox

Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy spoke with MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko about the extension he signed last October, explaining that he told agent Mike Seal he enjoyed Baltimore and wanted to remain there due to the club’s winning ways. Wondering where he was going to play the 2015 season did weigh on him throughout the season, Hardy said, and he was happy to agree to terms on a deal to keep him with the O’s. However, Hardy also discussed the departure of Nick Markakis, noting that the move didn’t necessarily sit well with him or franchise cornerstone Adam Jones“Adam and I have both thought about that,” Hardy told Kubatko. “I know Adam thinks about it a lot. I mean, losing Nick was big. He was one of the guys out there every single day with us. Obviously, we want to win and the reason we signed our extensions is because we like it here and we like the guys who were around, so if everyone starts leaving, I don’t know.” Hardy said he hasn’t voiced any concerns to executive vice president/general manager Dan Duquette or manager Buck Showalter and that, when signing, he trusted that the Orioles would do everything possible to keep their players. Hardy also discussed teammates Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, pointing out that each has Scott Boras as an agent. “[Boras] kind of does a lot more decision-making,” Hardy said, adding that he hopes to see both Wieters and Davis stay in Baltimore.

More from the AL East…

  • The Yankees announced that Hideki Matsui has been hired as a special adviser to GM Brian Cashman. Per ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand, Matsui will work closely with Cashman and vice president of player development Gary Denbo, and he’ll spend much of the 2015 season visiting minor league affiliates to work with their managers, coaches and players, focusing on aspects of hitting.
  • Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News spoke to Cashman about why the Yankees re-signed Stephen Drew. The GM explained that the team believes Drew’s rapid offensive deterioration in 2014 to be an aberration, and there’s little concern about the defensive en of the equation despite a change of positions. Andrew Miller, newly signed with the Yankees but a teammate of Drew’s last year in Boston, also weighed in with Feinsand, stating that he doesn’t envy the situation Drew entered in 2014. “Missing spring training and trying to come in with that weight on your shoulders, for it to be such a big story, have a team act so excited to see him, it was a little unfair to him,” Miller explained. “I can’t imagine missing that time and then trying to go to game speed.” Drew himself adds that the missed time hurt him quite a bit, and he’s pleased to be getting reps on schedule this year with the rest of the league.
  • The Phillies scouted both the Yankees and Red Sox today, via Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter links). Of course, having a senior scout in attendance doesn’t necessarily indicate that anything eventful is on the horizon in terms of trade activity, as scouts are frequently watching multiple teams over the course of Spring Training. Still, Abraham notes that the Phils have taken quite a few looks at Boston third base prospect Garin Cecchini.