Today’s acquisition of Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers will end Boston’s foray into the relief market for the winter, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters (including Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe). Most notably, this would seem to end any chance of the Sox re-signing Koji Uehara or Brad Ziegler. Thornburg will join closer Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross, Fernando Abad and (when he is healthy) Carson Smith in the Sox bullpen, plus with Chris Sale now in the rotation, Clay Buchholz, Drew Pomeranz or even Eduardo Rodriguez could now be bullpen options. Pomeranz or Rodriguez would help add some left-handed depth to the pen, as Abad struggled mightly after coming to the Sox last season. Here’s more from around the AL East…
- With Sale off the board, the Rays’ starting pitchers could become even hotter trade commodities, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Some of the teams connected to the Rays’ pitching in trade talks already this winter (such as the Nationals, Astros and Braves) were also suitors to land Sale from the White Sox. The Rays have received more interest in Drew Smyly and Alex Cobb than Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi since the latter two come at much higher asking prices.
- Erasmo Ramirez has also drawn some interest, Topkin reports. The former starter-turned-workhorse reliever for the Rays in 2016 posted a 3.77 ERA, 52.5% grounder rate and 6.25 K/9 over 90 2/3 innings, with 63 of Ramirez’s 64 games coming out of the bullpen. MLBTR projects Ramirez to earn a $3.5MM salary through arbitration next season, which could be a bit pricey for Tampa’s liking.
- The Blue Jays’ talks with Jose Bautista’s representatives today didn’t appear to bring much progress towards a reunion, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Bautista’s market seems rather unclear at this point, with some wondering if a more creative contract (such as front-loaded deal with a player opt-out clause after the first year) could be in store for the veteran slugger.
- The Blue Jays also spoke with catcher Chris Iannetta’s representatives today, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). The Mariners declined their $4.25MM club option on the veteran catcher following a season that saw Iannetta hit .210/.303/.329 over 338 PA, eventually ceding regular duty to Mike Zunino in Seattle. The Jays are in need of a backup catcher for Russell Martin after parting ways with Josh Thole and Dioner Navarro testing the open market.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn’t expect to add a starting pitcher at the Winter Meetings, telling reporters (including George A. King III of the New York Post) that “it’s a tough market and the price tags are extremely high. We could play on a lot of things because we have a lot of prospects people desire and we desire them, too. I would say it’s less likely for us to acquire a starter.”
- The Orioles have had success in landing qualifying offer free agents late in the winter, and Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun writes that this strategy could benefit the team again this offseason. Edwin Encarnacion’s eventual deal will bring some clarity to the market for big bats, though there is still enough uncertainty around the likes of Mark Trumbo and Ian Desmond (not to mention other non-QO free agents) that the Orioles could find some quality hitting at a relatively low price come January or February.