Boston Red Sox Rumors

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

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.

Central Reliever Notes: Robertson, K-Rod, Bard

New White Sox closer David Robertson discusses his decision to go to Chicago with ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick“I’m here for a reason,” Robertson said. “I want to win some ballgames and get back to the postseason. Chicago likes a winner, and I want to be a part of it.”

Here are a few more quick notes out of the game’s central divisions:

  • Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez has now received his visa and will be on his way to camp in short order, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports on Twitter. That is good news for Milwaukee, which now has a much greater financial stake in K-Rod than it has over the past two seasons.
  • Daniel Bard‘s comeback effort with the Cubs appears to be showing some promise. As MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat reports, the 29-year-old threw a simulated game on Sunday for the first time this spring. “I haven’t felt this good in so long,” said Bard. Indeed, the former Red Sox relief ace was working into the upper 90s with his fastball today, ESPN’s Rick Sutcliffe tweets. Muskat takes a deeper look at Bard’s trials over recent years in an interesting piece that details the physical and mental developments that have helped boost him in camp thus far.


NL West Notes: Olivera, Morrow, Federowicz, McCarthy, Sandoval

Current Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart is a good friend of Kevin Towers, the man he replaced in that role. As Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes, Stewart really did want Towers to stay on as a special assistant, and Towers truly felt he owed it to his replacement to go against his wishes so as to avoid any difficulties down the line. It’s a fascinating story, all the more so since Stewart is currently rooming with Towers at the latter’s Arizona home during Spring Training.

  • The Padres, like the Braves, are not expected to spend up to the $70MM level that Hector Olivera is said to be seeking, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. San Diego is a great fit, as Rosenthal notes, but that is quite a price tag to tack on after an offseason of additions.
  • Brandon Morrow is hoping to break the Padres rotation and reestablish his career trajectory, as ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes. Morrow, who has battled numerous and varied injuries in his career, is battling with Odrisamer Despaigne for the fifth starter’s spot.
  • Padres backstop Tim Federowicz has suffered a lateral meniscus tear in his knee, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets. Surgery appears to be all but a foregone conclusion, which could sideline Federowicz for some time. Veteran Wil Nieves probably has the inside track to step into the backup role behind Derek Norris, though one wonders whether top prospect Austin Hedges could eventually get a look.
  • Newly-minted Dodgers righty Brandon McCarthy says that he believes in his ability to provide value over the life of his four-year, $48MM deal, as Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports“I would kind of hope my 30s are where my career really begins,” says McCarthy. “As dumb as that sounds. I’ve spent a long time figuring [things] out — health being the biggest thing — and transforming as a pitcher.” President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman cited McCarthy’s inning load last year and “changes in his workout regiment” — along with his quality offerings from the mound — as reasons for optimism. A training program in his Dallas neighborhood improved McCarthy’s overall strength, aiding his return to form.
  • Pablo Sandoval says that he “knew early in Spring Training last year I was going to leave” the Giants, as Scott Miller of Bleacher Report writes. The one-time San Francisco favorite did not mince words, accusing GM Brian Sabean of not respecting his representatives in discussions at that time. “The Giants made a good offer [in free agency],” said Sandoval, “but I didn’t want to take it. I got five years from Boston. I left money on the table in San Francisco. It’s not about money. It’s about how you treat the player.”

Farrell: Red Sox “Fully Expect” Allen Craig To Be On Roster

Red Sox skipper John Farrell said today that “we fully expect” first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig to break camp with the club, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. The veteran will need to find his opportunities from the bench, says Farrell, but there is “nothing to expect” regarding a transaction involving Craig.

While it is certainly possible to downplay the importance of Farrell’s comments as regards Craig — broadcasting a desire to deal him would probably be unwise — they nevertheless provide some insight into Boston’s plans for its voluminous collection of outfield bats. As I wrote recently, the club has at least eight viable contenders for the team’s various outfield slots and bench roles.

Assuming that Craig joins Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Brock Holt on the Opening Day roster, with Holt serving in part as a reserve infielder, the club will likely have only two additional spots to allocate between Rusney Castillo, Mookie Betts, Daniel Nava, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Each of those players, excepting Nava, is eligible for an optional assignment, though there are fairly strong reasons to think that Boston would rather not take that route with Castillo and Betts.

A seemingly minor injury to Castillo has slowed his start, and could provide some justification for starting him off at Triple-A along with Bradley. But unless Castillo suffers a setback or another injury intervenes, the Sox will presumably need to decide whether to option him or Betts, or instead to strike a deal to move one of Craig, Nava, or Victorino.


Out Of Options Players: AL East

The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options.  That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so.  I’ve included players on multiyear deals.  This list was compiled through MLBTR’s sources.  Today, we’ll take a look at the AL East.

Blue Jays: Scott Barnes, Brett Cecil, Josh Donaldson, Kyle Drabek, Liam Hendriks, Todd Redmond, Justin Smoak, Steve Tolleson, Danny Valencia

Cecil is in the mix for the Blue Jays’ closer job, but he’s battling shoulder inflammation and it’s not clear whether he’ll be ready for the start of the season.  That could have a trickle-down effect and make one more bullpen spot available.  Last Thursday before Cecil’s injury surfaced, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star took a look at the team’s bullpen, calling Redmond a near-lock.  Drabek, one of the big prizes of the 2009 Roy Halladay trade, is on the bubble.  Hendriks and Barnes also could have an uphill battle for one of the seven bullpen spots.

Slugger Edwin Encarnacion will be a regular at first base and DH, with Smoak battling non-roster invitees Daric Barton and Dayan Viciedo for playing time at those positions.  Smoak appears likely to make the team.  Complicating matters is catcher Dioner Navarro, who would join the team’s bench if he’s not traded.  Valencia, who can play both corner infield positions, has a spot on the team.  Tolleson might stick as well, given his ability to play second base and the outfield.

Orioles: Brad Brach, Zach Britton, David Lough, Brian Matusz, Jimmy Paredes, Travis Snider, Chris Tillman

In February, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun wrote that Brach is likely to make the Orioles.  The team does have a crowded bullpen situation, however.

Lough may earn a spot on the team, though that would mean the Orioles might break camp with six players capable of playing the outfield (Lough, Snider, Delmon Young, Alejandro De Aza, Adam Jones and Steve Pearce).  Young will probably spend time at DH, though, and Pearce can help there and at first base.  If any of that outfield mix goes, if could be Lough, whose defensive skills and solid work against righties would have appeal to other clubs.  He can be controlled through 2019 and isn’t arb eligible until next offseason.

The Orioles added Everth Cabrera to potentially play second base, perhaps pushing Jonathan Schoop into competition with Ryan Flaherty for a utility infield job (both can be optioned to the minors).  That leaves Paredes on the bubble, as it’s hard to see the Orioles optioning both Schoop and Flaherty just to keep him.

Rays: Chris Archer, Jeff Beliveau, Brad Boxberger, Alex Colome, Ernesto Frieri, Kevin Jepsen, Jake McGee, Rene Rivera, Brandon Guyer

McGee will open the season on the disabled list.  Boxberger, Frieri, Jepsen, and Beliveau have spots in the bullpen.  Colome is in the rotation mix, though he has yet to arrive at camp due to visa issues.  If Drew Smyly has to open the season on DL, that would help Colome’s chances.

Rivera is the starting catcher, and Guyer seems to have a fourth outfielder role locked up.  If that is indeed the case with Guyer, it could lead the team to shop David DeJesus at the end of Spring Training.  The 35-year-old DeJesus is earning $5MM this season and has a $1MM buyout on a $5MM option for the 2016 campaign.

Red Sox: Anthony Varvaro, Daniel Nava

Varvaro seems likely to secure a spot in Boston’s bullpen.  If all the Red Sox first basemen/outfielders are healthy at the beginning of the season, there might not be room for both Nava and Allen Craig.  However, Rusney Castillo is currently battling an oblique strain.  One would think that Nava, earning $1.85MM and controllable through 2017 via arbitration, would have some appeal to other clubs.

Yankees: Austin Romine, Esmil Rogers, Ivan Nova, David Carpenter

The Yankees seem to prefer John Ryan Murphy over Romine for their backup catcher job, which could set up Romine as a spring trade candidate.  The former top prospect is still just 26, is not yet arb eligible and can be controlled through 2018.

Rogers is competing for the Yankees’ fifth starter job but could end up the team’s swing man, according to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com.

Nova is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and could be ready around June.  He’ll open the season on the 60-day disabled list, so there’s no worry of him losing his spot.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: McFarland, Hamels, Olivera

Many players grow up as fans of the game, but once they sign with a pro team, the nature of their fandom changes, FanGraphs’ David Laurila writes. “Once you sign a contract, you have a team of your own,” says Orioles reliever T.J. McFarland, who grew up a fan of the White Sox. “My family still roots for the White Sox, but I went from being a fan to an employee – an actual worker – within the profession.” Of course, the associations they had with veteran players they rooted for as kids don’t just disappear. McFarland says he took pride in playing opposite Mark Buehrle and Paul Konerko, and says he found it “surreal” when he faced Derek Jeter. Here’s more from throughout the league.

  • Earlier today, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported that the Yankees had come closer than any other team to acquiring Phillies star Cole Hamels. If that’s true, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes, that might mean the Phillies haven’t come close to dealing Hamels to any team, because the two sides have not had discussions recently and never were near a deal. The Phillies are fans of Yankees prospects Luis Severino and Aaron Judge, but the Yankees likely don’t want to trade Severino in a Hamels deal. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have refused to deal Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart for Hamels. The Rangers are another possibility, but they too appear disinclined to trade their top prospects, including Joey Gallo and Jorge Alfaro.
  • Cliff Lee‘s recent bout of elbow soreness demonstrates the risk the Phillies are taking with Hamels, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. Each time Hamels pitches, he could get injured, causing his trade value to decrease or simply vanish.
  • It’s wise to be skeptical of reports suggesting Cuban infielder Hector Olivera will get $70MM or more, FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel writes. That says more about Olivera’s representative Rudy Santin’s use of the media than about Olivera’s actual market. Finding comparables for a Cuban player with no MLB experience is difficult, so it’s hard for the U.S. media to be appropriately skeptical of reported offers for a player like Olivera, McDaniel argues. McDaniel says he would be surprised if Olivera topped $50MM.

AL Notes: Craig, Street, Samardzija

The Red Sox shouldn’t be in any rush to trade Allen Craig, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. Craig gives them depth at first base, DH, and both outfield corners, all positions where the Sox have injury and age concerns. He’s not an obvious fit for the Red Sox’ lineup right now, but after a miserable stretch run (Craig hit .128/.234/.191 in 107 plate appearances after Boston acquired him), he doesn’t have trade value either, so it would be best for the team to wait before dealing him. Here’s more from the American League.

  • It’s not often wise for players to represent themselves, but Angels reliever Huston Street is an exception, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. Street, who is about to exchange extension figures with the Angels, is a real-estate investor in Austin who’s capable of handling contract negotiations. (If Street hits the free-agent market next winter, though, he’ll trust Austin lawyer Bill Stapleton to represent him.) “There’s mutual interest,” Angels GM Jerry Dipoto says regarding extension talks. “He understands where we are, and we understand where he is. He’s a big part of what we’re doing. But it’s not going to happen today or tomorrow.”
  • White Sox starter Jeff Samardzija is trying not to focus on his impending free agency, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. “When you step back and look at your situation from afar, it’s a pretty intense situation with a lot on the line,” says Samardzija. “But … I like to think what I demand of myself each time out is more pressure than what a contract or what situation my career is in (can bring).” The White Sox hope to retain Samardzija, but it doesn’t appear that any extension is imminent.

AL Notes: Darvish, Porcello, Kluber, Royals, Gattis

The Rangers have an insurance policy on Yu Darvish and could recoup more than half of his $10MM salary if he undergoes Tommy John surgery and misses the year, reports Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. The Rangers could use the insurance proceeds to add payroll. The policy’s total value to the club, however, is dependent on when the clock begins on the deductible. Grant notes the Rangers could make a case that this injury is a recurrence of the elbow problems Darvish suffered last year sidelining him for the final 50 days of the 2014 season.

Elsewhere in the American League:

  • Darvish’s injury is not just a blow to the Rangers, but to all of baseball, opines CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.
  • Rick Porcello told reporters, including Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via Twitter), he has not had extension talks with the Red Sox this spring and does not expect to have any.
  • The Indians and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber have not made any progress in negotiating a contract extension, writes Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Kluber is a pre-arbitration eligible player and Wednesday is the deadline for signing such players. If a deal cannot be reached, teams can renew the contracts of those players at their discretion, usually for a fraction above the MLB minimum of $507.5K. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently provided a primer on understanding pre-arbitration salaries.
  • In a separate article, Hoynes chronicles how the Indians have re-built their farm system through the draft (especially their willingness to select high-upside high schoolers rather than college players), trades, and international free agent signings.
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan right-hander Chris Young, who the club signed yesterday, will make the team and pitch out of the bullpen. Flanagan notes, in a second article, the Royals have discussed keeping eight relievers and, if so, will have several contenders battling for just one spot.
  • Evan Gattis has had two months to reflect upon his trade to Astros and still has mixed feelings, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The negative is that there’s a good fan base in Atlanta, I felt loved there,” Gattis said. “The positives are that I’m in the American League, I might be a little more durable; I’m going to try to have a healthy season. And I’m in Texas, stoked about that. So yeah, positives and negatives.

AL East Notes: Rays, Orioles, Sabathia, Ramirez

Drew Smyly has been slowed by shoulder tendinitis this spring and may not be ready for the start of the regular season, but Rays manager Kevin Cash isn’t about to panic, Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune writes. Meanwhile, Nathan Karns, Burch Smith and Matt Andriese, who began camp competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, could be pitching for a second spot, if Smyly isn’t ready.

Here’s more from the AL East:

  • Orioles GM Dan Duquette sent his best starting pitching prospect, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, to the Red Sox in order to land Andrew Miller last season. If he had his druthers, that’s not neccessarily the deal he would have made, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes.  “I offered about 50 other pitchers before him,” said Duquette. “It was required that we give up Rodriguez for Andrew Miller. We had to take a shot.” O’s manager Buck Showalter thought the deal was worth it for both teams, but Silverman wonders if Rodriguez could prove to be the next great ace in Boston.
  • CC Sabathia threw live batting practice this morning and remains on track in his recovery from right knee surgery, reports MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. “I haven’t had a setback and I’ve been feeling so good,” Sabathia said. “I’ve been able to participate in every drill and haven’t had where I’ve needed a day [off]. I feel good about how we’re going and the pace that we’re moving at.” The Yankees left-hander could make his Grapefruit League debut next week, if an upcoming two-inning simulated game goes well.
  • The Red Sox‘s decision to play Hanley Ramirez in left field is the biggest gamble a team is taking on a position switch, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
  • The AL East is wide open for the taking by any of the five teams, not because of its strength but because of its mediocrity, opines CSNNE.com’s Sean McAdam. “I never thought I’d say this,” one talent evaluator told McAdam, “but you could make the case that the AL East is the thinnest division in the game.