Boston Red Sox Rumors

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

NL West Notes: Crawford, Dodgers, Zobrist, D’Backs

We took a look at the Rockies earlier today. Now, let’s check in on the rest of the NL West, which could be shaping up to be a busy division at the deadline:

  • The Dodgers plan to utilize outfielder Carl Crawford off of the bench when he is activated from the DL, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. For the time being, then, the club seems to have resolved its long-running logjam. “Carl happened to be the one who got hurt,” explained manager Don Mattingly, who said that Crawford is primarily a left-fielder, but that the position was now occupied by Matt Kemp. As Shaikin notes, Crawford still has $69MM remaining on his deal, including the rest of ths season and his annual payments through 2017, and could potentially be shopped in some kind of large contract swap.
  • Meanwhile, the Dodgers would be interested if the Red Sox make their relievers available, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He lists Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, and Craig Breslow as players who Boston could conceivably listen on, as the first three are set to become free agents while Breslow had a $4MM club option with a $100K buyout.
  • The Giants may have interest in Rays infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist, according to a report from Chris Haft and Ryan Hood of MLB.com. The Giants have sent special assignment scout to Pat Burrell to Tropicana Field recently, and the duo adds that the Rays are believed to have scouted San Francisco’s Double-A affiliate extensively.
  • The Diamondbacks entered this season with a $110MM payroll and are believed to be targeting the same number for next season, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The problem, however, is that the current roster projects to come in around that amount due to arbitration raises and escalating salaries on current long-term deals. As such, the team figures to make trades to shed payroll in the coming weeks. Martin Prado and Aaron Hill are listed by Piecoro as candidates to be dealt.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Red Sox, Pierzynski, O’s, Tanaka, Beltran

The day after designating $8.25MM catcher A.J. Pierzynski for assignment, the Red Sox have done some looking back and looking forward. The embattled veteran was a source of clubhouse discord, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Meanwhile, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes that Pierzynski’s original one-year signing, and his ultimate DFA, fit with the club’s long-term plans behind the dish. GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that his club was in an “unusual spot,” as Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com reports“We believe we can win games with [Pierzynski replacement] Christian [Vazquez] behind the plate,” he said. “It is also an investment in him. We’re in an usual spot. We’re just gong to have to see what the rest of the month brings us, if we go on a run and our outlook changes.”

Here’s more on Pierzynski, the Red Sox, and the rest of the AL East:

  • Cherington said that, going forward, the focus for the Red Sox will be on adding offense. “I still believe a lot of that is going to come from guys already here,” he said. “But clearly offense has been an issue. We’d like to add to the offense, so we’re going to look for ways to do that whether that’s now or after the season or both. We’ve got to find ways to improve the offense.”
  • Pierzynski says that he will “go anywhere,” reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). Though the Twins had made him a two-year offer during the offseason, Wolfson says he’d be surprised if Minnesota looks to bring him back at this point.
  • It is easy to imagine several teams being interested in taking a chance on Pierzynski’s bat returning to its 2013 levels, but the Orioles will not be one of them, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link). Three internal sources told Kubatko that Baltimore has no interest in the controversial backstop in spite of its lack of offense at the position. Not only that, but executive VP Dan Duquette tells Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun that the team is generally happy with the club’s backstop duo of Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley (in addition to the left-handed-hitting Steve Clevenger, stashed at Triple-A).
  • As noted earlier on the site, one player that the Orioles do have interest in is lefty Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. In another piece, Connolly further discusses the O’s situation at the trade deadline, explaining that the team seems unlikely to add a top-of-the-rotation arm. For his part, Kubatko reasons that Baltimore may have some difficult decisions to make if it tries to plug a new arm into the club, as Kevin Gausman has been expected to take a rotation spot going forward. As both reporters note, a bullpen addition — especially a late-inning option — definitely seems to be a possibility.
  • Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka will fly to Seattle to see team doctor Christopher Ahmad, tweets MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Fellow orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache — often consulted on elbow issues — is at the same conference as Ahmad and could also see Tanaka, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Notably, ElAttrache was the doctor who performed a physical on Tanaka that was shared with the rest of the league by the pitcher’s representatives.
  • Meanwhile, the Yankees are also waiting to hear whether outfielder Carlos Beltran will need to miss any time due to two small fractures in and around his nose, tweets Hoch. He sustained the injury in a freak batting practice accident yesterday.

AL East Notes: Abreu, Tanaka, Lester, Sox, Jays, Headley, Yanks, O’s

The Red Sox were within $5MM of the final bidding (six years, $68MM) for now-White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Interestingly, Boston felt that Abreu could be used across the diamond at third base. Chicago GM Rick Hahn said that, in learning more about the bidding after landing Abreu, “it turns out there were several teams, not just us and Boston, that were awfully aggressive and pretty close to where we were at the end.” As things stand, it looks like Hahn made the right choice to outbid that dense market.

Here’s more from Boston and the rest of the AL East:

  • Prized Yankees hurler Masahiro Tanaka is set to undergo an MRI on his right arm, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Made available by his Japanese club in December, the righty inked a seven-year, $155MM contract (with an opt-out after four seasons). He has been outstanding, compiling a 2.51 ERA with 9.4 K/9 against just 1.3 BB/9 in 129 1/3 frames, but has recently worked through two rough starts. After his most recent outing, he reported “a little discomfort,” according to a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
  • For now, the situation warrants close attention, though it would be unwise to jump to conclusions. Obviously, a layoff of any significant duration would have critical implications for a New York club that has relied heavily on the 25-year-old, who has notched a league-leading 12 wins. The club has called up outfielder Zoilo Almonte but has yet to announce a corresponding roster move, leading Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News to suggest (via Twitter) that the Yankees could be waiting to learn more about Tanaka’s status before acting.

Earlier Updates

  • The Red Sox are having ongoing “conversations” that may result in a new, increased offer to lefty Jon Lester, reports ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes. Boston should — and probably will — reach an extension with Lester, opines Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. At various points, the on-again/off-again talks have variously made a deal seem close and free agency appear inevitable. Abraham ticks through the reasons that keeping Lester in Boston makes good sense for both sides.
  • Meanwhile, the club may be close to making some kind of change behind the plate, according to a tweet from Abraham. Veteran A.J. Pierzynski has scuffled to a .254/.286/.348 line in 274 plate appearances after joining the Red Sox on a one-year, $8.25MM deal. While he might appeal to some contenders, that contract means that Boston would likely need to eat some cash to get any kind of return. Well-regarded prospect Christian Vazquez is waiting in the wings at Triple-A, and could be given a taste of MLB action.
  • Mired in last place in the division, Boston is highly likely to sell, but there are many permutations that could take. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes a look at the possible chips and names their likeliest suitors. While rumors reached crescendo without a deal yesterday, MacPherson still sees the Cardinals as a good fit for Jake Peavy. He goes on to name several players with potential matches: outfielder Jonny Gomes (Mariners), Pierzynski (Pirates), Koji Uehara (OriolesTigersAngelsPirates), and shortstop Stephen Drew (TigersBrewers) as other possibilities to be flipped.
  • In yet another reminder of how quickly things can change, the Blue Jays now seem to have a greater need in their lineup than the rotation, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. A right-handed hitting second or third baseman, right-handed outfield bat, and potentially a catching upgrade all rate as areas to explore, according to Nicholson-Smith. The team could stand to add a starter if an impact arm could be had for a reasonable price, he adds, and may also look to pick up a righty for the pen.
  • One possibility for the Blue Jays could be Chase Headley of the Padres, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reporting on Twitter that the two clubs have had discussions on the third baseman. Headley is a switch-hitter, which would open up some flexibility for the Jays. On the other hand, he has generally been more successful against righties, reducing the utility of playing him in some form of a platoon with the righty-mashing Juan Francisco.
  • The Yankees are going to go for it, but should not gut the farm to do so, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman says that the Brandon McCarthy acquisition was a good model, because it did not require the sacrifice of a player with a significant part in the club’s future plans, and that the organization can always utilize its unmatched financial capacity to add talented players on big contracts. But with a roster that looks to have a less-than-even chance to take the division, says Sherman, the organization’s best minor league pieces should not be sacrificed for pure rentals.
  • Implicit in the above notes, I would suggest, is that the Orioles may have an unmatched window to make a run at the division. The Rays and Red Sox probably have too much ground to gain, the Yankees don’t look to have the youth or across-the-board talent, and the Blue Jays have faded quickly of late. While the loss of Matt Wieters certainly hurts, the Orioles look like they could be the odds-on favorite. Should the club move to bolster its chances with a mid-season addition or two, it could easily achieve bottom-line impact because it has two positions ripe for upgrade in second base and catcher. Of course, a rotation acquisition may also make sense. While Baltimore will surely be loath to do so, it does have a relative abundance of high-end young pitching to deal from.


Latest On Trade Talks Involving Red Sox Starting Pitchers

TODAY, 10:19am: The Braves are not interested in adding Peavy, sources tell David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).

10:07am: While Peavy remains the pitcher that the club is most interested in dealing, Boston has fielded strong interest in fellow starter John Lackey, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. That is not terribly surprising: since the start of last year, Lackey has logged 306 2/3 innings of 3.64 ERA ball with 7.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. And he is under contract for the league minimum for 2015.

YESTERDAY, 10:12pm: Peavy said that he has spoken with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and understands that there is a possibility he will be dealt, tweets Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. “Don’t think people are making stuff up,” he said.

6:31pm: Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says that the team believes it would need to give up one of its own starters to get a “top starter” in return, resulting in a net loss of years of control, tweets Goold.

6:06pm: The Cardinals are “looking for offense not Peavy” right now, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). Goold says there is no match with Boston, given that Joe Kelly is expected to return to the rotation in short order.

5:52pm: Boston is discussing starting pitching — not just Peavy — with many teams, but there is “nothing imminent,” a team source tells Abraham (Twitter link).

4:20pm: The Braves are also involved in talks regarding Peavy, reports Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.

4:16pm: The Cards and Red Sox are in active trade talks regarding Peavy, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

12:45pm: ESPN’s Jayson Stark is now also hearing that the Cardinals are interested in Peavy, and he hears that something could come together quickly (Twitter link). The only Red Sox game that the Cards have scouted was the Peavy start that Edes originally referenced, according to Stark.

12:01pm: The Cardinals have had their share of pitching injuries of late, with Jaime Garcia out for the season and Michael Wacha out indefinitely, and Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com tweeted yesterday that the team scouted Jake Peavy‘s most recent start for the Red Sox. Peter Gammons also tweets that he’s hearing the Redbirds have interest in Peavy.

The 33-year-old Peavy has struggled, to an extent, this season in what has been one of the least-effective campaigns of his 13-year career. He’s posted a 4.64 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 39.2 percent ground-ball rate. His 89.9 mph average fastball velocity is the lowest mark he’s posted since his rookie campaign in 2002. He’s been healthy, however, and has averaged more than six innings per start this season. A move to the NL, of course, could help his numbers as well.

Then again, Peavy wouldn’t need to do much to be an upgrade to the back of the St. Louis rotation. With their current injuries, the Cardinals are using a rotation of ace Adam Wainwright and right-handers Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez (with Joe Kelly set to come off the DL in the next few days). Miller has seen his control disappear, along with his ability to miss bats, and he’s posted a 5.50 ERA over his past nine starts as a result. Martinez has pitched well since transitioning from the bullpen, but he threw just 108 innings last year and is already at 53 in 2014. Marco Gonzales, the club’s 2013 first-rounder, served up 11 runs with more walks than strikeouts in a three-start cameo recently. Peavy could serve as a durable back-end piece to complement veterans Wainwright, Lynn and Kelly while serving as an insurance policy for the club’s younger arms.

Peavy is earning $14.5MM this season and has a vesting player option that he won’t trigger. That option, valued at $15MM, required that Peavy pitch 400 innings from 2013-14, but he is still 144 2/3 frames shy of that mark after spending time on the DL last season. As such, he’s owed roughly $6.58MM over the remainder of the 2014 campaign and will be a free agent at year’s end.

As Edes points out, this isn’t the first time that the Cardinals have had interest in Peavy. The team expressed interest in the former NL Cy Young winner last summer. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported over the weekend that Peavy could be of interest to some NL clubs if Boston were to eat some of the remaining salary on his deal.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


NL East Notes: Mets, Murphy, Phillies, Braves, Miller

Mets GM Sandy Alderson maintains that the club is still assessing what course it will take at the trade deadline, reports ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin“Look, let’s see where we are at the end of this week,” said Alderson. “We’re always willing to listen. We may be thinking in terms of the second half of this season. We may be thinking more in terms of next season.” Alderson continued to note that, even if the team sells, it may not be willing to settle for lower-level talent: We’ve made a lot of deals in recent years where we’ve gotten prospects who are a good ways away. I don’t think we’re thinking that way these days, although sometimes that’s the value in a return.” 

Here’s the latest out of New York and the rest of the National League East:

  • After talking with people familiar with Alderson’s thinking, David Lennon of Newsday gets the sense that the Mets‘ GM isn’t necessarily committed to the idea of trading Daniel Murphy. Lennon does note that the team is eager to get another look at Wilmer Flores, who is playing second base at Triple-A Las Vegas these days.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. took to the air to defend the capabilities of several of the team’s veterans in a radio interview (audio link) with Mike Missanelli of 97.5 The Fanatic. “If you want to talk about declining, that happens,” said Amaro. “But that doesn’t mean they aren’t producing in some way shape or form and Chase [Utley] is one of those guys.” Nevertheless, Amaro acknowledged that several of the team’s long-term deals have not worked out as hoped: “Unfortunately these guys are human beings and they aren’t living up to what we expected and we’re trying to do something about that right now.” Going forward, the team is in a “fluid situation,” said the Philly GM. “I talk to [team owner] David [Montgomery] and our group all the time about what our direction is,” he said.
  • The Braves are prioritizing the acquisition of a “lockdown-type left-hander” for the bullpen, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O’Brien argues that the club should make a push to add Andrew Miller of the Red Sox, noting his outstanding 14.7 K/9 mark and domination of opposing left-handed hitters. The 29-year-old has indeed been outstanding, with a 2.41 ERA through 33 2/3 frames thus far in his walk year.

 Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Tulo, Dodgers, Valbuena, Peavy, Sox

In his latest notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki ask for a trade this offseason. One friend of Tulo told Rosenthal, “I think the guy is going to lose his mind,” due to Colorado’s consistently poor results. He adds that this offseason will be a better time to deal Tulo or Carlos Gonzalez (with an eye on a larger rebuild), and while owner Dick Monfort may prefer to move CarGo, plenty of teams would make sense as a landing spot for Tulowitzki.

Here are some more highlights from Rosenthal’s newest work…

  • One reason that Tulo could be particularly frustrated is with the Rockies‘ inability to build a competitive pitching staff at Coors Field. That’s no easy task, as Rosenthal notes, but it isn’t helped by the fact that free-agent pitchers simply don’t want to go there. While Jon Gray and Eddie Butler are promising, Butler joins a long list of currently injured Rockies starters. Additionally, rival scouts opined to Rosenthal that Colorado pitchers are poorly prepared: “They pitch not to hitters’ weaknesses but hitters strengths,” one scout told Rosenthal.
  • The Dodgers talked with the Cubs about Jeff Samardzija before he was dealt to Oakland, but talks never got serious, as Los Angeles didn’t want to part with Joc Pederson or Corey Seager.
  • Speaking of the Samardzija trade, Rosenthal hears that the deal was almost larger, as the Athletics at one point were trying to get Chicago to include Luis Valbuena in the deal as well. The A’s like Valbuena as a potential second-base upgrade and could rekindle talks for him later this month, but Chicago is reluctant to deal him, as he’s controlled through 2016, according to Rosenthal.
  • The Cubs are receiving interest in lefty relievers James Russell and Wesley Wright, both of whom are more likely to be traded than Valbuena.
  • Multiple reports today have indicated that the Cardinals have interest in Jake Peavy of the Red Sox, and Rosenthal reports that the two sides spoke a month ago, though not necessarily about Peavy. Boston has interest in the Cardinals’ young outfielders, and while St. Louis won’t deal Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty for Peavy, the teams could expand the deal to include other players and make something work. Rosenthal floats the idea of a scenario in which Allen Craig heads to Boston, though that appears to be speculation.
  • In other Red Sox rumors, he writes that the Sox don’t necessarily want to move free agents they would like to re-sign after the season even if they end up as sellers. In other words, Jon Lester and Koji Uehara may stay put regardless of the team’s approach. Beyond that, the team’s chips are largely underwhelming, as Jonny Gomes, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew and A.J. Pierzynski either don’t have huge appeal to buyers or would net marginal returns at best.

AL East Notes: Price, Burnett, McCarthy, Breslow

With 10 wins in their last 12 games, the Rays have escaped the AL East basement and added another wrinkle to the David Price trade rumors.  As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times outlines, it still makes a lot of sense for the Rays to deal Price, given that the club needs to replenish its minor league stock and the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade only increases Price’s value as the best starter available.  On the other hand, the Rays have already invested a record payroll into this year’s team and they could still make a comeback in a weak AL East, then wait until the offseason to explore trading Price.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • “The Yankees don’t have a strong interest in” reacquiring A.J. Burnett, George A. King III of the New York Post reports.  Burnett is a logical trade candidate if the Phillies decide to sell, though the veteran has a partial no-trade clause in his contract.
  • Brandon McCarthy‘s tendency to allow home runs and grounders might be a problem given Yankee Stadium’s small dimensions and the Yankees‘ poor infield defense, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News still feels the Bombers made a good move in acquiring the righty from the Diamondbacks.  McCarthy’s peripherals indicate that he’s due to pitch better in the second half, and even if he’s only average, Martino still considers that an upgrade over the struggling Vidal Nuno.
  • Before dealing for Rich Hill, the Angels showed some interest in acquiring Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow but felt that Breslow’s stuff had declined since last year, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reports.  Breslow posted a 1.81 ERA (though a 4.37 xFIP) over 59 2/3 relief innings for the Sox in 2013 but has struggled this season, managing only a 5.04 ERA and almost as many walks (20) as strikeouts (21) over 30 1/3 innings.  The southpaw is also averaging just 87.8 mph on his fastball, down significantly from his 89.9 mph average last year.
  • Also from Edes’ piece, he lists several Red Sox veterans who could be traded this summer now that Boston is on the brink of falling out of contention.
  • While it may not seem likely Jon Lester and the Red Sox will work out a new contract before Lester hits free agency, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reminds us that Cole Hamels and the Phillies were in a similar situation two years ago and agreed on a midseason extension.  Lester has been unwilling to negotiate during the year for fear of distractions, though it was recently reported that he would be open to hearing an offer if it led to a quick signing process.  (One would think he’d be very quick to agree if the Sox presented Lester with the six-year/$144MM deal the Phillies gave Hamels, though I strongly doubt Boston would offer that much.)
  • The Blue Jays have done a poor job of drafting and developing position players over the last decade-plus, Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun writes, a problem that has been underscored by the lack of depth available to fill in for several injured Jays regulars.

Cafardo On Bryant, Russell, Twins, Peavy, Mets

Cubs executive Jason McLeod sees flashes of Troy Glaus in top prospect Kris Bryant, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. “Definitely 40-home run power,” says McLeod. “There’ll be some strikeouts, but he has a great eye at the plate. He’ll take his share of walks and work the count.” Bryant, last year’s second overall draft pick, continues to dominate after having been promoted to Triple-A Iowa, hitting .364/.432/.773 in 74 plate appearances there. Here’s more from Cafardo.

  • One reason Addison Russell made sense for the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija deal, Cafardo suggests, is that Russell is unlikely to stick at shortstop, meaning that he won’t be blocked by Starlin Castro and/or Javier Baez.
  • The Twins‘ best trade chips could include Josh Willingham and Kendrys Morales, Cafardo writes. Willingham could make sense for the Red Sox or Royals.
  • Some NL teams could show interest in starter Jake Peavy if the Red Sox are willing to eat some of the remainder of his 2014 salary.
  • Daniel Murphy could make sense for the Giants if the Mets decide to deal him. AL East teams could have interest in Bartolo Colon, and the Mets might be able to get at least some talent in return if they elect to trade him. The Mets are trying to decide if they can make enough noise in the second half to keep players like Murphy and Colon, Cafardo writes.

Red Sox Reluctant To Move Will Middlebrooks

The Red Sox have been receiving decent trade interest in recent days in third baseman Will Middlebrooks, but Red Sox people are said to seem quite reluctant to deal him, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Middlebrooks is on injury rehab following his slow start in Boston but the Sox seem intent on keeping him past July.

Still only 25, Middlebrooks has power, and it isn’t easy to come by power bats in baseball these days. On top of that, if Middlebrooks can show something in the second half, he could be a piece if the Sox try and make a run at Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton.  It would obviously take much more than Middlebrooks to get a deal done, but Miami did have some interest in Middlebrooks last winter. Stanton would provide a huge boost for the Red Sox and Boston can build a package with some of the best prospects in baseball to entice Miami if they make Stanton available over the winter. In 21 games this season, Middlebrooks has hit just .197/.305/.324 with two homers.


Jon Lester Would Consider Mid-Season Extension

Red Sox staff ace Jon Lester would consider an in-season extension, if the team comes forward with an offer that seems likely to lead to quick finalization of a deal, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.

Recent reports have fluctuated as to the plausibility of an in-season extension between the two sides. After we learned that the club intended to make a final run at a deal, a later report indicated that the lefty prefers to avoid the distraction of talks during a campaign. It now appears that he is not entirely unwilling to talk contract, so long as the side effects can be minimized.

Bradford writes that Lester might be inclined to allow a re-opening of discussions if the team ups its offer to the five-year, $120MM range. That would represent a major jump up from the last reported offer, a four-year, $70MM price that the club has since characterized as a starting point. As Bradford notes, that would land in the neighborhood of the Cole Hamels extension (six years, $144M), which was signed under somewhat similar circumstances.