Boston Red Sox Rumors

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

AL East Notes: Rays, Red Sox, Tanaka

Here’s the latest from the American League East:

  • The Rays are going to have to drop a player from their 40-man roster to account for the club’s bullpen injuries, Cork Gaines of Rays Index explains. With C.J. Riefenhauser joining Jeff Beliveau on the major league DL, and fellow southpaws Enny Romero and Grayson Garvin both on the DL in the minors, the club is low on options.
  • While the Red Sox rotation additions have struggled badly to start the year, the club did not have many appealing alternatives available to it, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. MacPherson ticks through the possibilities, explaining that, by and large, Boston was probably wise not to beat other teams’ offers for several top arms.
  • Masahiro Tanaka has trended up in his last two outings for the Yankees, as Brendan Kuty of NJ.com explains. His ability to pitch through a partial UCL tear remains critical to the club not just this year, but looking into the future.

Quick Hits: Soriano, Draft, Price, Red Sox

Scott Boras, Rafael Soriano‘s agent, tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he’s getting an increasing number of calls about his client.  It’s not surprising that interest in Soriano is picking up now that the season has begun and teams are dealing with injuries or ineffective relievers in their bullpens.  The Twins, Tigers and Blue Jays have all been linked to Soriano at various points over the winter, though it’s unknown as to whether any of those teams still have any interest in the veteran.

Here’s some more from around baseball…

  • Commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters (hat tip to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle) that he would like draft prospects’ “medical information to be made available to all clubs before the draft,” but the MLBPA hasn’t accepted this proposed change to the collective bargaining agreement.  Drellich explains the stances of both the league and the union on this issue, which most notably cropped up when the Astros didn’t sign first overall pick Brady Aiken due to concerns about his left UCL last summer.
  • David Price could be more inclined to sign with an NL team next winter since “he loves to hit,” a source tells George A. King III of the New York Post.  While this will likely be a minor factor in what could be a $200MM free agent decision for Price, maybe the desire for more plate appearances could end up being a tiebreaker if he gets otherwise similar offers from an AL and an NL team.  For what it’s worth, Price has an .071/.133/.071 slash line through 30 career PA.
  • With Edward Mujica struggling and his velocity down, CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam wonders if the Red Sox might eventually release Mujica and eat the roughly $4MM remaining on his contract rather than let the righty continue in an important relief role.  In my opinion, releasing Mujica would be a hasty move this early in the season since his xFIP (2.78) and SIERA (2.50) hint that he isn’t that badly, and his 4.70 ERA or 6.90 FIP are due to a couple of wildly inflated peripherals (most notably, 3.52 HR/9).
  • Several of baseball’s top pitchers were acquired by their current teams before they became so-called “aces,” and Alex Speier of the Boston Globe notes that the Red Sox attempted this strategy by acquiring two pitchers with great stuff (Joe Kelly and Eduardo Rodriguez) in the hopes that one or both would develop into a rotation headliner.  This isn’t to say that the Sox might still not try to trade for an established ace in the near future, yet trying to find one in the early stages of his development is sometimes a better strategy than paying a big price to land a proven starter who might already have passed his prime.

AL East Notes: Navarro, A-Rod, Hanley

Though Bernie Williams hasn’t played in a Major League game since 2006, the longtime Yankees outfielder won’t officially hang up his glove until Friday, when he’ll sign his retirement papers prior to the Mets/Yankees game at Yankee Stadium.  Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News notes that Williams is also scheduled to have his #51 retired by the Yankees later this season and be honored with a plaque in Monument Park.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro has been placed on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring, the team announced.  Navarro has been frequently mentioned as a trade candidate since the Jays signed Russell Martin, and Navarro has himself said that he’d prefer an everyday role elsewhere, though he’s committed to the Jays.  The veteran has received semi-regular playing time this season as Mark Buehrle‘s personal catcher and part-time DH duty.
  • With Alex Rodriguez closing in on his 660th career home run and the $6MM contract bonus associated with tying Willie Mays’ mark, Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman of the New York Post look at how the impending dispute between A-Rod and the Yankees will play out.  It’s possible the arbitration hearing to decide the matter wouldn’t take place until the offseason, Davidoff/Sherman write, as “there is no reason to speed this case along, especially because neither the Yankees nor A-Rod seem anxious to mess with the positive vibe around the controversial slugger.”
  • Outfielder Ramon Flores enjoyed a big Spring Training and he’s tearing up Triple-A pitching, yet as Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog writes, the Yankees don’t currently have a spot for him at the Major League level.  New York would have to trade someone to create even a bench spot for Flores, and dealing Flores himself might not net a big return since he has no MLB experience.
  • Hanley Ramirez has looked defensively shaky in his new left field role, yet Red Sox manager John Farrell told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that he doesn’t plan on removing Ramirez for a better fielder in late-game situations.  “I want to show him the confidence to bring him along….I think the benefit of not taking him out far outweighs, at least at this point and time, taking him out because of his continued growth and us showing faith in him in left field,” Farrell said.  Needless to say, the Sox have a lot invested in Ramirez’s development as a left fielder since (at least for this season) they have nowhere else in the field to play him; Pablo Sandoval (3B), Xander Bogaerts (SS), David Ortiz (DH) and Mike Napoli (1B) are locked in at other possible positions.


Draft Notes: Rodgers, Fulmer, Buehler, Red Sox

We’re about six weeks away from the June draft. Here’s the latest on what’s emerging as a thin class at the top.

  • Shortstop and top draft prospect Brendan Rodgers‘ season ended Monday as Seminole beat Lake Mary in Florida’s 8A-2 playoffs, John Manuel of Baseball America notes (on Twitter). As BA’s J.J. Cooper tweets, that at least ensures that, unlike many potential early draft picks (Brady Aiken, California high school pitcher Kolby Allard, Duke pitcher Michael Matuella), Rodgers will have gotten through the season healthy. It’s been an ugly year for top-end draft talents, but Rodgers’ season ends with him at the top of MLB.com’s draft rankings, as well as Kiley McDaniel’s recent rankings for FanGraphs.
  • Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer had the best weekend of any top draft-eligible college pitcher, BA’s Hudson Belinsky writes. Another Vanderbilt pitcher and top draft prospect, Walker Buehler, had trouble with his command against South Carolina. His changeup has also been inconsistent. “I think that’s kind of been the theme for me this year,” Buehler says of his changeup. Fulmer and Buehler join infielder Dansby Swanson as Commodores likely to be selected in the top half of the first round.
  • In a chat at FanGraphs, McDaniel says that Fulmer to the Red Sox at No. 7 overall is a “rumor that won’t go away.” As noted this weekend, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington watched Fulmer and Swanson on Friday. McDaniel gives Fulmer a 65-70 percent chance of sticking as a starter in the Majors, though he notes in his draft rankings that he likes Fulmer more than most — at 5-foot-11, Fulmer is relatively small for a top-end starting pitcher, and he has a higher-effort delivery.

AL East Notes: Francis, Balfour, Betts, Schoop

The Blue Jays announced today that they’ve selected the contract of veteran left-hander Jeff Francis and optioned fellow lefty Colt Hynes to Triple-A Buffalo. The 34-year-old Francis, a native of Vancouver, will add another Canadian player to Toronto’s roster, joining Russell Martin, Michael Saunders and Dalton Pompey. Francis will hope for better results than he’s seen over the past three seasons, during which he’s posted a combined 5.84 ERA in 203 1/3 innings with the Rockies, Reds, A’s and Yankees. Toronto already had an open 40-man roster spot after designating Todd Redmond for assignment last week.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • Recently designated right-hander Grant Balfour spoke with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times about how he wished his second run with the Rays had yielded better results. Balfour admitted to shying away from his fastball after the realization that the pitch lacked its typical life. The Australian righty wouldn’t state for certain whether or not he’d pursue another opportunity immediately: “Maybe a little bit of rest will be good for me. … I’m not thinking too far ahead. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
  • After speaking to multiple scouts about the futures of Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes that Betts has leap-frogged Bogaerts in the eyes of the baseball industry. “I don’t think you could find anyone in baseball who would pick Bogaerts over Betts right now,” one scout told Silverman. Another said Betts “clearly” has the better bat of the two, while a third scout said that in 20 years, Betts “makes quicker adjustments to his game than anybody I’ve seen.” All of the scouts to whom Silverman spoke are quick to clarify that Bogaerts still has star potential, but the glowing reviews add to the meteoric rise of Betts over the past 12 months.
  • Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop is likely to miss longer than the minimum amount of time on the 15-day disabled list, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The 23-year-old Schoop suffered a Grade 1 partial PCL tear and an MCL sprain, and while surgery is unlikely, an exact timetable is unknown. Encina looks at Anthony Rendon as a possible comparable, noting that Rendon has just resumed baseball activities six weeks after spraining his left MCL.

Cafardo’s Latest: Giants, Craig, Lackey, Hamels, Kazmir, Viola

Though the Giants have had a rough start to the season — their 4-9 record has them at the bottom of the NL West — new GM Bobby Evans isn’t overly concerned yet, and an early-season trade for reinforcements is unlikely, he tells the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo“At this point you’re just going back to players that were offered you before that you didn’t deal for,” Evans explains. “Players who some teams are still trying to move that you took a pass on.” Injuries have already been a problem for San Francisco, who saw Hunter Pence go down with a broken forearm in Spring Training and have already placed both Matt Cain and Jake Peavy on the 15-day disabled list. Cafardo notes, however, that in all three of the Giants’ recent World Series runs, midseason acquisitions such as Cody Ross, Marco Scutaro and Peavy have played integral roles (I’d add Pat Burrell‘s name to that list as well), and this year will likely be no different if the Giants are to ultimately turn things around.

Here’s more from Cafardo’s weekly Sunday Baseball Notes column…

  • The Red Sox are in a catch-22 with Allen Craig, writes Cafardo. His poor 2014 performance has reduced him to a bench player, and no team is currently making much of an effort to acquire the first baseman/outfielder. However, if he doesn’t play much, he’s unlikely to look any better and boost his trade value.
  • Right-hander John Lackey is hopeful that the Cardinals will approach him about a contract extension, Cafardo reports, but the team is currently thrilled to have him at just the league minimum. Lackey’s preference may be to remain with the Cardinals, but he’ll likely pitch in 2016 whether it’s in St. Louis or elsewhere, as he recently told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that he wouldn’t be pitching this year if he didn’t plan to play beyond 2015.
  • One general manager who has inquired recently tells Cafardo that the Phillies‘ asking price on Cole Hamels has not dropped one bit since the beginning of the season, despite the fact that Hamels has had two rough starts in his first three appearances of the year. Hamels has, somewhat incredibly, yielded seven homers in just 18 innings after surrendering only 14 in 204 2/3 frames last year. Of course, homer-to-flyball ratio tends to stabilize around 10-11 percent (Hamels’ career mark is 11.2 percent), and he’s currently sporting a remarkably high 36.8 percent HR/FB, so better days are almost certainly ahead for Hamels.
  • An AL scout who has attended both of Scott Kazmir‘s starts this season says he’s never seen the left-hander more confident or more impressive on the mound. “Don’t know if it’s because it’s his walk year and he can become a free agent, but if he keeps this up most of the season, he’s going to make himself a lot of money,” said the scout. Of course, that’s just one scout’s take, but Kazmir has been electric to date. The 31-year-old has whiffed 18 hitters against five walks in 13 innings, and the 91.7 mph he’s averaged on his two-seamer in those two starts is up from last year’s average of 90.9, though it remains to be seen whether not that increase can be maintained.
  • David Price‘s hot start to the season makes it likely that his offseason price will land somewhere in the vicinity of Max Scherzer‘s seven-year, $210MM and Clayton Kershaw‘s seven-year, $215MM pact, one Major League source opined to Cafardo.
  • Former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is helping Frank Viola III, the son of former AL Cy Young winner Frank Viola, develop a knuckleball, Cafardo writes. Viola III was a 29th-round pick by the White Sox back in 2004, but Tommy John surgery and knee surgery derailed his career, and he retired from the game in 2010. He returned in 2014 and pitched with the Blue Jays’ Class-A affiliates, and he’s now aiming to get a look in the independent leagues as he attempts to work his way back into the game. Viola III has also worked with R.A. Dickey and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro on honing is skill with the pitch.

Minor Moves: Huff, De La Cruz, Bautista, Meyer

Here are today’s minor moves from around the game.

  • The Dodgers have announced that they’ve outrighted lefty David Huff, who has accepted an assignment to Triple-A Oklahoma City. The Dodgers designated Huff for assignment on Wednesday after he made one four-inning start for them. The 30-year-old has a 5.06 ERA, 5.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in parts of seven seasons with the Indians, Yankees and Giants in addition to the Dodgers.
  • The Yankees have outrighted righty Joel De La Cruz, then sent him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The 25-year-old posted a 4.44 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 121 2/3 innings in the high minors last season. The Yankees selected his contract last week, but he did not appear in a game before they optioned him back to the minors.
  • The Red Sox have signed righty Denny Bautista to a minor-league deal, Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweets. The 32-year-old Bautista last appeared in the big leagues with the Giants in 2010 and previously pitched for the Orioles, Royals, Rockies, Tigers and Pirates. He pitched in Mexico in 2014 (struggling with his control, also a problem in his big-league days) and in Korea from 2011-2013.
  • The Padres have signed former Astros third-round pick Jonathan Meyer, Eddy tweets. Meyer had been an infielder in the Astros’ system, but the Padres will use him as a catcher. The 24-year-old hit .215/.274/.280 at Double-A and Triple-A last year before Houston released him.
  • The Nationals are having infielder Emmanuel Burriss join the team, James Wagner of the Washington Post tweets. It’s not clear how the Nats will make room for Burriss on their 25-man roster, although Yunel Escobar suffered a groin strain against the Phillies on Friday. (MLB.com’s Bill Ladson tweets that Burriss is not listed on the Nats’ lineup card today, and Wagner notes that Burriss could simply be with the team as insurance in case the Nats need to make a move.) Burriss, a D.C. native, was hitting .286/.359/.486 in 39 plate appearances with Triple-A Syracuse. The Nats re-signed him to a minor-league deal last November. The 30-year-old appeared in parts of five seasons with the Giants from 2008-2012, hitting .243/.304/.269 in 801 plate appearances.

McDaniel On The June Draft

Here’s the latest on the 2015 draft, via a massive post from FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel.

  • McDaniel notes that there isn’t much top-level talent in this draft (an opinion shared by many analysts), and says that the industry is unclear what the Diamondbacks will do with, or even how they’re thinking about, the first pick in the draft.
  • The Astros, who have the second overall pick, appear to be focused on high school shortstop Brendan Rodgers, UC-Santa Barbara pitcher Dillon Tate, and Vanderbilt infielder Dansby Swanson, who McDaniel ranks the top three prospects in the draft.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was seen on ESPNU last night watching Swanson and Vanderbilt pitcher Carson Fulmer. The Red Sox pick seventh. They’ve also been connected to LSU shortstop Alex Bregman. McDaniel ranks Bregman the fourth-best prospect in the draft, Fulmer the seventh.
  • Since the draft lacks much top talent, one possibility is that many teams will draft second-round-type players in the first round and save money against their bonus pools for later picks in the draft.
  • McDaniel ranks Astros unsigned 2014 No. 1 pick Brady Aiken the No. 24 prospect in the draft, noting that many in the industry feel that Aiken’s arm issues go beyond Tommy John surgery and that he could have further injury problems later in his career.

Heyman’s Latest: Padres, Buehrle, Greene

The Padres declined to part with top outfield prospect Hunter Renfroe in their deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  At the same time, the Braves weren’t sold on top catching prospect Austin Hedges and feared that his hitting might not develop enough. Ultimately, that left pitcher Matt Wisler as the key prospect in the deal.  Here’s more from Heyman’s column..

  • Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle is considering retirement following the 2015 season, Heyman reports. While he notes that April retirement ruminations often prove to be inaccurate, there seems to be a strong possibility that the 36-year-old Buehrle will call it quits.
  • Tigers executives were shocked that they were able to pry right-hander Shane Greene away from the Yankees this winter, Heyman writes. The Yankees considered trading Greene “painful,” but the team was desperate for a shortstop, and New York scouting guru Gene Michael was a strong supporter of Gregorius.
  • Trading Ryan Howard seems less and less likely for the Phillies each coming day, Heyman writes, noting that one scout said that Howard simply looks “lost” at the plate. Heyman also notes that the stacked starting pitching class on next year’s free agent market may be hindering the Phillies’ ability to move Cole Hamels, as teams are content to wait to bid on the likes of David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija and others.
  • The Orioles checked in on Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro at some point late in the spring.  Navarro, who has been supplanted as the starting catcher in Toronto by Russell Martin, is hoping to go elsewhere and start.  The diplomatic Navarro spoke with MLBTR’s Zach Links last month about the trade talk surrounding him.
  • One GM who has some interest in Elvis Andrus suggested to Heyman that it’d be hard for the Rangers to trade him now.  While Texas has infield depth, most of it is at the lower rungs of their system.  Meanwhile, they’ll be without Jurickson Profar for a second straight year.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has one year to go on his contract, but word is that the front office likes him and they mainly want to see progress from their younger players before extending him.  It’s said that Gonzalez won’t be judged on his win-loss record, but so far he’s doing pretty well in that department too.
  • The Red Sox made at least a preliminary offer to Yoenis Cespedes before trading him, which seems to poke a hole in the theory that Boston coaches “hated” the outfielder.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Jays, Sox, Holt, Sabathia

If the Blue Jays are in position at the trade deadline, the team may well have some extra cash to use. According to the math of Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, Toronto might reasonably expect to have $5MM to $8MM in free 2015 salary available to work with.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • The Red Sox held their breath last night as the left side of their infield was evaluated for injuries that appeared to have at least some possibility of being worse than they first looked. As Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports, however, both Xander Bogaerts and Pablo Sandoval are dealing with nothing more than bumps and bruises at this point.
  • Had either of those players gone down, of course, Brock Holt would have been a crucial component of the Red Sox‘ reaction. As Bryan Grosnick of Baseball Prospectus explores, Holt has (rather surprisingly) turned into an extremely versatile, useful big league player who makes it possible for Boston to carry an unusual bench arrangement.
  • The Yankees remain encouraged by how C.C. Sabathia is throwing the ball, even if the results have not yet been there, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. His right knee has felt good, and manager Joe Girardi sees a difference. “I’m just seeing better movement on his fastball,” Girardi said. “I’m seeing consistency in his changeup, it’s not cutting. His slider is better. I just think he’s locating a lot better and I think it’s because he’s healthy. It’s hard when you’re dealing with nagging injuries to go out there and perform at a high level.”