Boston Red Sox Rumors

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

Quick Hits: Hamels, Forst, Rule 5 Draft, BoSox

We at MLBTR would like to thank our readers for their support during this memorable Winter Meetings.  Our 24/7 coverage over the last four days proved necessary given all of the news and major transactions that came out of San Diego, and our committed readership was right there with us by checking in with MLBTR at all hours of the day and night.  Here’s some more news from around baseball…

  • ESPN’s Jayson Stark lists the teams he feels were the winners and losers of the Winter Meetings.
  • The Phillies‘ hopes of landing a huge return for Cole Hamels took a hit during the Winter Meetings, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  The Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers (the three teams usually cited as the top potential suitors for Hamels) all made moves to solidify their rotations, thus robbing the Phils of some leverage in trade talks.
  • Athletics assistant GM David Forst discusses his team’s offseason moves, the challenges of competing in Oakland and more as part of an insightful interview with Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris.
  • With the Rule 5 Draft in the books, Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper looks at the scouting reports of the players taken and analyzes the prospects’ chances of lasting the entire season on their respective Major League rosters.
  • The Mets checked in on Yoenis Cespedes at the end of the season but were told by the Red Sox that it would take Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler to obtain the outfielder, Newsday’s David Lennon reports.  Needless to say, negotiations failed to proceed from there.  Rival teams are constantly asking the Mets about deGrom, Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard, Lennon notes, while the club is instead trying to deal Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee from its pitching surplus.
  • The Red Sox need an ace to headline their rebuilt rotation, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines.  From that same piece, Cafardo talks to an NL scout who believes the Sox got the better of the Wade Miley trade.  The scout calls the young left-hander an “unrefined [Jon] Lester right now, but he’s on his way to being a No. 2 [starter].  Not sure what the D’Backs are thinking on this one, except to get more bodies.”

Red Sox Sign Justin Masterson

The Red Sox made another addition to their rotation by signing right-hander Justin Masterson to a one-year contract.  Masterson will earn a $9.5MM base salary, plus he can earn another $2.5MM in total incentives by reaching certain innings thresholds.  He’ll earn another $500K if he hits 185 innings, and then another $500K for every five innings after that, up to 205 innings.MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Baltimore Orioles

Masterson, 29, fell off significantly last year after a three-year run in which he averaged 205 frames and a 3.86 ERA (that included outstanding campaigns in 2011 and 2013 sandwiched around a dud in 2012).  In 2014, he scuffled to a 5.88 ERA in 128 2/3 innings last year, striking out 8.1 and walking 4.8 batters per nine while dealing with a variety of shoulder, knee, and back issues. Masterson lost nearly three ticks on his average fastball velocity last year, though he managed to carry a typically stellar 58.2% groundball rate.

In the aggregate, Masterson presents a classic buy-low opportunity after entering 2014 as a significant extension candidate or future free agent target. He will look to regain his form with the organization that drafted and developed him.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney was the first to report an agreement between Masterson and the Red Sox.  WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reported the contract length and value while Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports had the breakdown of Masterson’s incentives.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


AL East Notes: Red Sox, Miley, Cashman, Bruce

Even with Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello and (eventually) Wade Miley now in the fold, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington didn’t close the door on the possibility of more pitching moves.  “I think we’€™re going to keep working and see what comes to us. Our hope was to really strengthen our rotation, our position with the rotation, this week, or at some point soon. Hopefully we’€™ll be able to do that,” Cherington told reporters, including WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.  The GM said he thinks teams can get by without having a frontline ace atop their rotation, though also pointed out his roster has “a lot of younger pitching that we think in time, some of them have a chance to develop into that type of guy.”

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • The Miley trade hasn’t yet been finalized since the Red Sox and Diamondbacks are “still squabbling about the extra player,” Arizona GM Dave Stewart tells reporters, including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert.  The player in question is a prospect Boston will be sending to the D’Backs along with Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.
  • The Yankees talked to the D’Backs and Tigers about Miley and Porcello, Brian Cashman told reporters (including George A. King III of the New York Post).  “Did I call Arizona? Yes. Did I call Detroit? Yes. I didn’t have [Yoenis] Cespedes to send to Detroit. We are waiting for something we are comfortable with,” Cashman said.  The GM said he “threw a lot of different ideas a lot of different ways” during a quiet Winter Meetings for the Yankees and he’ll “keep conversations alive” throughout the offseason.
  • The Orioles “kicked the tires” on Reds outfielder Jay Bruce but couldn’t match up on a trade with Cincinnati, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.  In the wake of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis signing elsewhere, the O’s have a definite need for corner outfield help.
  • Scott Boras told reporters (including Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi) that the Blue Jays were one of the teams who had expressed interest in Japanese middle infielder Takashi Toritani.  This would be a rare case of a Boras client signing with Toronto, a disconnect that the agent attributes to the club’s policy against contracts longer than five years.  “They’re the only team that has said that limitation is five years. When you do that, you are cutting yourself off from a pool of talent that makes it very, very difficult to compete, particularly in the AL East,” Boras said.  (It should be noted that the Jays’ five-year policy probably isn’t applicable in Toritani’s case, as the 33-year-old infielder is very unlikely to receive that long a contract from any team.)


Tigers, Red Sox Swap Porcello For Cespedes

The Tigers and Red Sox have officially agreed to a deal that will send outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Detroit in return for starter Rick Porcello, as C.J. Nitkowski of FOX Sports and MLB Network first reported on Twitter. Righty Alex Wilson and lefty Gabe Speier are also heading to Detroit, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reported (Twitter links).

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals

In moving Porcello, who is arb-eligible a final time before reaching free agency (at a projected $12.2MM salary), the Tigers have made yet another stunning move involving the club’s high-powered rotation. He joins Doug Fister and Drew Smyly as former Detroit starters. The latter, of course, was part of the deal that brought David Price to Motown. Needless to say, Cespedes will add to an already-formidable middle of the order, while also filling an uncertain spot in the outfield.

For Boston, meanwhile, this swap closes a loop on last summer’s Jon Lester trade, which brought in Cespedes. The club added several other outfield pieces to a crowded situation, which made another deal of some kind seem inevitable. Bringing back an arm of Porcello’s quality would certainly be a nice consolation prize for missing out on a chance to bring back Lester. Cespedes is owed $10.5MM before he reaches the open market after the year, and will not be capable of receiving a qualifying offer due to a clause in his deal.

Lest anyone think that this trade settles things for these two organizations, preliminary reports, and common sense, suggest that both are angling for more additions to their staffs. For Detroit, the rotation now looks to be one arm shy, with ace Max Scherzer still available but the team insisting it is not maneuvering to add him. And for Boston, the addition of Porcello still leaves the team without the ace that it is said to be seeking.

With generally equivalent contractual situations between the two players — Porcello will cost slightly more, but comes with the possibility of a qualifying offer — this deal is a fairly straightforward talent swap.

Porcello, who is still not quite 26 years of age, had a breakout 2014 after years of promise. His 3.43 ERA was backed by his peripherals, even though his strikeout rate dropped, and ERA estimators have liked his work for some time. Porcello continues to induce grounders at about a 50% clip, and also went over 200 innings for the first time in his career. All said, he is a steady three-win arm that any rotation would be glad to have.

Cespedes, on the other hand, is himself only 29 and features plenty of power in his right-handed bat. Despite playing in Oakland for most of the last three seasons, Cespedes has hit more than twenty long balls in each campaign. But his ability to reach base has not been so consistent, and his overall production levels have fallen off since a huge rookie campaign back in 2011. On the other hand, defensive metrics are now more favorably inclined toward his work in left, leaving him — like Porcello — as an approximately three-win player.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that the deal was finalized. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported early aspects of the swap (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Tigers, Reds Discussing Deal Involving Starter

10:09am: The deal being discussed is not for Latos, Jason Beck of MLB.com tweets. That would appear to mean that Cincinnati is having active discussions on two of their starters.

9:35am: The Tigers are talking about a deal with the Reds to add a starting pitcher and could be close to an agreement, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Discussions are completely separate from Detroit’s talks with the Red Sox, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets.

Cincinnati, of course, has several quality starters playing out the final year of their contracts. The club has long been rumored to be a possible trade partner for teams seeking to boost their 2015 rotations. Of course, it was not at all clear that Detroit would be such a club, but it appears that it re-entered the market for starters after agreeing to send Rick Porcello to the Red Sox today.

With the Reds said to be in talks with both the Tigers and Marlins on starters, it will be fascinating to see whether that means the club is shipping out two arms or instead overseeing a bidding war over the same one. Reports have tied the Marlins’ interest to Mat Latos, though Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon all are theoretical trade candidates as well.


Minor Moves: Morgan, Snodgress, Cubs

Here are some minor moves from around baseball…

  • Nyjer Morgan has signed a contract with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization, as per a report from Naver Sports (hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net).  Morgan played in Japan in 2013 before signing a minor league deal with the Indians last offseason.  He was only able to play in 15 games for the Tribe due to injury, however, and was released in August.
  • The Angels signed left-hander Scott Snodgress to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports.  Snodgress was non-tendered by the White Sox last week.  The 25-year-old lefty made his Major League debut in 2014, pitching 2 1/3 innings over four games for Chicago.
  • On Thursday, the Cubs, Red Sox and Athletics will complete some business left over from two trades from last summer, ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers tweets.  The A’s will send a player to be named later to the Cubs to complete the deal that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland.  The Cubs will then send another PTBNL to the Sox to complete the two clubs’ deal for Felix Doubront.

Latest On Wade Miley

7:30pm: Stewart discussed the Miley rumors with reporters, including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert (Twitter links).  Arizona did indeed talk to the Red Sox, Rangers and Marlins about a possible deal, though none of the teams offered what the D’Backs wanted in return.  Nothing is currently happening involving Miley, Stewart said.

4:23pm: D’Backs GM Dave Stewart said “We are not talking to Boston” about a Miley deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  Officials from both Arizona and Boston tell Nightengale (Twitter link) that there aren’t any active trade talks about Miley.  The Marlins thought they were close to acquiring Miley before the Diamondbacks pulled out, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports.

3:46pm: The Red Sox are actually not involved at all in discussions on Miley, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. Miami is still in the picture, Nightengale tweets.

3:40pm: The Red Sox are indeed nearing a deal to acquire Miley, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter.

3:21pm: The Marlins and Rangers are out on Miley, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, leaving the Red Sox as the likely suitor unless another team has jumped in.

3:02pm: One team that had been in discussions on Miley has dropped out, believing a deal to be nearing between the Diamondbacks and Red Sox, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com tweets.

2:37pm: The D’Backs are nearing a deal involving Miley, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.

12:26pm: Arizona appears to be after young pitching in return, Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports.

9:14am: The Diamondbacks are listening to offers for starter Wade Miley, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. Arizona appears to have at least some inclination to move him, as the club is attempting to drop its payroll under the $90MM threshold.

Miley, 28, is in his first of three seasons of arbitratration eligibility. The lefty has been a sturdy presence in the D’Backs rotation over the past three seasons, posting a total of 598 2/3 innings at a 3.74 ERA clip over that stretch. Though his results took a step backward last year, ERA estimators suggested he was much the same pitcher, if not better. Indeed, Miley also managed a career-best 8.2 K/9.

Of course, with that kind of volume of productive innings, Miley’s arbitration earnings will not be low. MLBTR and Matt Swartz project that he will take home $4.3MM this year, and that number will only rise in future seasons.

Nevertheless, Miley is a durable, controllable starter who figures to draw plenty of suitors. The Red Sox, Marlins, Blue Jays, and Rangers are already said to have some interest. Of course, the same things that make him attractive to other clubs presumably make him a nice commodity to the D’Backs, so it remains to be seen how serious the club is about striking a deal.


AL East Rumors: O’s, Snider, Matusz, Lester

A look at the AL East..

  • The Orioles had preliminary discussions on a deal with the Pirates that would send Travis Snider to Baltimore for Brian Matusz, but there doesn’t seem to be much progress at the moment, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington wishes he was given more opportunities to negotiate with Jon Lester in the spring, writes Jason Mastrodonato of The Springfield Republican.  Still, he says that he does not have any regrets about his bidding this winter.
  • The Blue Jays will look at short-term free agent options – meaning deals of 1-3 years in length – at second base, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.  Alternatively, GM Alex Anthopoulos could stay put and spend on relief instead.

Orioles Interested In Yoenis Cespedes?

2:37pm: The O’s have not had internal talks about acquiring Cespedes, a source tells Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).  There have been no true discussions between Boston and Baltimore regarding the outfielder.

1:47pm: The Orioles have interest in Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (via Twitter).  Nothing is “remotely imminent” on that front but the O’s view the slugger as a good potential fit.

Baltimore is in search of a power bat and Cespedes would undoubtedly fit the bill for them.  Whether they could hammer out a deal with their AL East rivals without paying a premium, however, remains to be seen.

Cespedes has found himself on the pages of MLBTR quite a bit over the past few weeks.  At one point, the Tigers were discussing a deal that would have involved Cespedes and Rick Porcello, but those discussions have apparently cooled off.  The Padres have also discussed Cespedes with Boston and the Reds have been connected to him, though GM Walt Jocketty denies talking with the Red Sox about him.

Cespedes has one year remaining before he hits free agency.


Free Agent Rumors: Furcal, Grilli, Young, Mets

Free agent infielder Rafael Furcal could be a fit for the Royals on a minor league deal thanks to his connection with GM Dayton Moore, according to Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (via Twitter).  Here are some of the latest free agency rumors out of San Diego..

  • Jason Grilli has multiple offers from teams in major markets but the Tigers are not one of them, his agent tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter).
  • The Rangers have interest in Eric Young Jr., but they may have already been outbid, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he is considering bidding in the posting of Jung-ho Kang, but he’s unresolved as to whether he will, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • The Orioles could be a landing spot for former Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (via Twitter).
  • After signing Jon Lester, the Cubs are now pursuing outfielder Jonny Gomes in an apparent effort to get the band back together, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
  • Catcher David Ross tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) that he’s not close on a deal with any club even though he has interest from the Red Sox, Cubs, Braves, D’Backs, and Padres.