Clay Buchholz Rumors

AL East Notes: Buchholz, Red Sox Front Office, Hanley, Shapiro, Tolleson

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says that righty Clay Buchholz is done for the year, as Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald tweets. The new top Boston baseball decisionmaker added that he sees it as an easy call to exercise a $12MM option to keep Buchholz — if he is healthy. That’s an important proviso, of course, though the Sox should have time to assess his recovery before making a final decision.

  • Dombrowski spoke with the press today as he accompanied the Red Sox on the road for the first time, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. While the offseason is still a ways away, he’s still short on time. “There’s going to be some shortcomings that are just going to fall through the cracks,” he explained. “I can’t see the minor-league clubs; I just don’t have enough time to be able to do that.” Before deciding on any additions or subtractions to his front office group, Dombrowski says, he’s working to get to know his current staff. “You just have to really do your homework to get to know people and to get to know whose opinions you can feel you really trust,” said the incoming executive. “… The people here will know the players better than I will.”
  • While the Red Sox front office composition remains to be seen, one prominent member is already on his way out. Pro scouting director Jared Porter is heading to the Cubs, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets. It’s important to note that, as Britton explains, Dombrowski indicated that at least one front office member was departing (quite possibly Porter) in a move that had already been in the works before his arrival.
  • Dombrowski also touched upon the Red Sox‘ pending move of Hanley Ramirez to first base, as Britton further reports“It just seemed to make sense” to try the veteran out at the position, he explained. “Not that you have to rush it, but it gives us some time to get him out there. I wouldn’t want to say, ‘Let’s wait until spring training and let’s see if he can do it.’ What happens if he can’t do it? You really need to know that more so now.”
  • If the Blue Jays are going to land Indians president Mark Shapiro to fill that role in Toronto, they may well do so in the coming days, according to Joe Vardon of the Plain Dealer. A source says that “closure” on Shapiro’s status is expected in short order. We learned earlier today that Cleveland has authorized him to meet with the Jays.
  • There’s something of an unusual situation brewing between the Blue Jays and infielder Steve Tolleson, who is on the temporarily inactive list at Triple-A, as John Lott of the National Post writes. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said that Tolleson “just decided he didn’t want to play anymore,” while Tolleson says he’s injured. The question is whether Tolleson was injured when he was designated for assignment by the club, the argument being that he should (if that was the case) be earning a major league salary from the MLB disabled list.

AL East Notes: Sabathia, O’s, Sox, Buchholz, Kelly, HanRam

Yankees lefty CC Sabathia will not need surgery and hopes to limit his absence to an approximately two-week layoff, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports (Twitter links). It had been feared that his balky right knee could end his season. The southpaw also said that he’d be amenable to working in relief when he comes back, if requested, saying he is open to “helping the team any way I can.”

  • This August has apparently been heavy on waiver claims, with one general manager telling Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com that he’s never seen this many claims made. “The Orioles seemingly claim everyone,” said the unnamed GM. Of course, Baltimore has yet to pull off any deals this month (or end up being awarded any claimed contracts).
  • The Red Sox head towards 2016 as “almost an entirely blank slate,” writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Many pieces of next year’s roster remain to be determined by new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, he explains, to say nothing of the front office and coaching staff.
  • One interesting decision for the Red Sox has been somewhat surprisingly underplayed thus far, says Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, who writes that the team faces a difficult decision on Clay Buchholz and his $13MM option. It’s entirely unclear what Dombrowski thinks, of course, and elbow issues have the remainder of the season in question for the righty. Buchholz has been quite good this year, of course, but isn’t set to resume a throwing program for another week. Even if he doesn’t return to the hill this year, says Bradford, that option still seems like a reasonable risk. The 30-year-old, meanwhile, denies that he views a return as necessary for his own contract situation. “I’ve been assured by a couple of different doctors that if the Red Sox or any other team needed any kind of word on how they should view it they would definitely call and talk to whomever they need to talk to just to reassure I’m 100 percent healthy even without throwing,” he said. “Time is the best doctor for this sort of thing from the information I gathered from Dr. Andrews. What I’m looking to do is just start playing catch.”
  • Especially after a strong recent run, righty Joe Kelly remains an “intriguing” (albeit uncertain) piece for the Red Sox, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. Senior club analyst Tom Tippett rightly noted recently at the SaberSeminar in Boston that evaluations of trades are always changing. In this case, he said, “if we can figure out how to turn Joe Kelly into a number two or three starter with all those great tools he has, it might look very good a few years from now.”
  • Another major Red Sox question mark, of course, is Hanley Ramirez. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe argues that Ramirez should not be considered an option at first base, arguing that he either needs to improve in left field or hit the trade block. But sources tell Cafardo that Ramirez has not put in extra work on his outfield defense since Spring Training, though there appears to be consideration regarding injuries and wear and tear that account for that to some extent. Of course, the trade route doesn’t look terribly promising either, though Cafardo suggests that some kind of bad contract swap could be explored.
  • Interestingly, though Ramirez was spotted today working with a first baseman’s mitt and receiving instruction from David Ortiz and coach Brian Butterfield, Lauber tweets. Needless to say, it’s far too soon to reach any conclusions even as to what kinds of possibilities the club could pursue, underscoring the uncertainty that Lauber highlighted in the above-linked piece.
  • If you’re interested in a discussion of all those moving pieces, be sure to check out last week’s MLBTR Podcast with Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, who did a nice job of setting up the fascinating offseason to come.

Cafardo On Dombrowski, De Aza, Buchholz, Lackey

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe runs down the candidates for the Red Sox GM job.  Frank Wren, who has a history with new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, is believed to be the favorite for the gig, but there are many other candidates who could be in the mix.  Cafardo runs down several intriguing names, including ex-Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd.  For what it’s worth, O’Dowd told Cafardo that he enjoys his current job as an MLB Network analyst and has no idea whether Dombrowski would consider him for a position.  Here’s more from Cafardo….

  • In addition to the Dodgers, the Giants also had interest in acquiring Red Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza after he cleared waivers, but they felt the asking price was too high, Cafardo writes.  Boston acquired De Aza from the Orioles in early June and one has to imagine that the NL West clubs were drawn to him, in part, because he would have served as a highly-affordable rental.  The Red Sox were on the hook for only $1MM of his salary after acquiring him from Baltimore.
  • Ben Cherington probably would have picked up the $13MM option on the injury-prone Clay Buchholz, but Cafardo isn’t sure if Dombrowski will do the same.  One AL GM told Cafardo that Buchholz would likely be in line for “around $15MM on a three-year deal” if he were to hit the open market.
  • Cafardo doesn’t buy the theory that the Red Sox hired Dombrowski quickly in order to give him more time to trade Pablo Sandoval or Hanley Ramirez.  To deal either of the struggling sluggers, Boston “would have to eat major money and that may not be in the cards.”
  • Sources close to Cardinals hurler John Lackey tell Cafardo that the veteran wants to stay in the National League because he’s had an easier time pitching there.  St. Louis has interest in a reunion, though not on a lengthy contract since Lackey turns 37 in October.
  • Tigers adviser Scott Reid has been mentioned as someone Dombrowski could bring with him to the Red Sox, but at this time, Dombrowski has not asked permission to speak with Detroit executives.  Many of those execs also received promotions after Dombrowski’s departure, so it’s not clear if they can be lured away.
  • Agent Alan Nero believes there will be a ripe market for Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park. “We’re just preparing for the process right now,” Nero said. “We believe there’s going to be a lot of interest as there was with [Jung Ho] Kang. Major league teams certainly covet right-handed power.” The Red Sox have been scouting the Nexen Heroes star for most of the season and Cafardo suggests that they could platoon him with left-handed-batter Travis Shaw. Even though Park could carry a notable price tag via the posting system, that could be cheaper for the Sox than going after the likes of Chris Davis or Justin Morneau on the open market.


Red Sox Notes: Dombrowski, Buchholz

Former Braves GM Frank Wren might be the front-runner for the Red Sox’ open GM position, but ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes looks at other potential candidates for the job now that the Sox have hired Dave Dombrowski to be their president of baseball operations. Given the Sox organization’s strong interest in analytics, some of Edes’ potential candidates, like former Cubs GM Jim Hendry and former Dodgers exec Ned Colletti, seem to me to be somewhat unlikely. Edes notes that Hendry worked with Dombrowski in the Marlins organization, however, and that past ties often help determine who gets hired. Here’s more on the Red Sox.

  • Tim Britton of the Providence Journal looks at Dombrowski’s five best trades as GM of the Tigers and Marlins. Dombrowski’s 2007 acquisition of Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis for a package headed by Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin unsurprisingly tops the list, which also includes his less-remembered but still very helpful deals for Carlos Guillen and Placido Polanco in Detroit and for Mike Lowell in Florida.
  • Clay Buchholz, currently on the 60-day DL with a right elbow strain, is not currently throwing, Tom Layman of the Boston Herald writes. “He feels good enough to throw, but we are evaluating him daily to see where he’s at,” says interim manager Torey Lovullo, who adds that Buchholz has not had a setback. Lovullo says the Red Sox haven’t determined that Buchholz will be shut down for the season. It seemingly wouldn’t be surprising if he didn’t pitch again this season, however. There’s only a bit more than a month left, it takes time to be able to pitch enough innings to start, and the Red Sox are out of the playoff race.

Red Sox Claim Jean Machi From Giants

The Red Sox announced that they have claimed right-handed reliever Jean Machi off waivers from the Giants. In order to clear room on the 40-man roster, right-hander Clay Buchholz has been transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL, meaning he can’t be activated until at least Sept. 9 (h/t: Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, on Twitter).

The 33-year-old Machi had a somewhat surprising breakout season in San Francisco’s bullpen in 2013, and over the ’13-’14 seasons he totaled a 2.49 ERA with 7.7 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 in 119 1/3 innings of relief. However, he’s struggled a good deal in 2015, with an ERA of 5.14 in addition to K/9 and BB/9 rates that have taken significant steps backwards. He’s also missed about three weeks due to a groin strain.

On the plus side for Machi, his velocity (92.6 mph) is still about the same as it was in previous seasons. His ground-ball rate, while down a bit, is still an above-average 49.6 percent. The Red Sox will hope that the strong 119 1/3 innings he displayed from 2013-14 are more indicative of his talent level than the 35 poor innings he’s delivered in 2015. Machi figures to be a Super Two player this winter, as he’ll finish the year with two years, 154 days of big league service if he remains on Boston’s big league roster all year. The Sox will have the ability to control him through the 2019 season if he can rediscover the successful form he showed in recent seasons.


Red Sox Notes: Buchholz, Cherington, Rotation

A second opinion for Clay Buchholz from Dr. James Andrews confirmed that the right-hander does not need surgery, but he’ll received a platelet-rich plasma injection and won’t throw for five to six weeks, writes Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. As Mastrodonato points out, the Red Sox have a $13MM club option on Buchholz, so avoiding a serious injury is key for the right-hander. Buchholz hopes the option will be exercised — “I’ve definitely been here my whole career,” he said. “I don’t really want to go anywhere.” — and barring a significant injury, that seems like a foregone conclusion, Mastrodonato writes. Buchholz’s injury is a flexor strain, and the right-hander pointed to Royals lefty Jason Vargas as a reason to exercise caution: “I think it’s the exact same thing that [Royals starter Jason Vargas] got hurt the other day. That’s what he went on the DL for was flexor. Seeing that, that’s definitely not what I want to do. I’m going to take the time I need to take off for it to be better.” Vargas, of course, did originally hit the DL with a flexor strain, and he returned quickly, only he end up re-injuring his arm and requiring Tommy John surgery.

More Red Sox notes…

  • The team’s second-half woes have halted its pursuit of short-term starting pitching acquisitions, sources tell WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. The Sox had entertained the thought of a run at Johnny Cueto to give themselves an increased chance to sign him and to make a push in 2015, but that thinking has been tabled. Boston wasn’t involved in talks for Scott Kazmir, Bradford hears, although they had previously had some interest in him.
  • In a second piece, Bradford urges Red Sox GM Ben Cherington to send a message to a team that looks to have lost direction by committing to a big-name starting pitcher to front the rotation — even if it means a painful parting of ways with top prospects. The Red Sox in recent years have focused too much on what might be (prospect value) as opposed to what presently is, Bradford opines, and that philosophy has led the team to its current predicament.
  • Cherington met with the Boston media recently, and ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes has a number of highlights from his conversation, including Cherington’s thoughts on the team’s lack of front-line pitching and the possibility of moving Hanley Ramirez out of left field and to a new position. Cherington feels that Ramirez’s defense on the road is beginning to stabilize, though he admits that Ramirez faces challenges playing left field in Boston with the Green Monster. As far as the team’s rotation goes, the quest to add front-line pitching doesn’t end July 31, Cherington says, and the team will explore multiple avenues to try to acquire such an arm. He notes that the front office believes some pitchers currently in the organization could achieve the desired lofty heights. (That quote, in particular, is one that prompted the above-linked column from Bradford.)
  • Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines that despite all of the questions surrounding Rusney Castillo, Pablo Sandoval, Ramirez and the team’s pitching staff, the biggest question facing the Sox is whether or not Cherington is the right man to lead Boston to a sustainable run of success. Lauber praises Cherington for being accountable and placing the organization’s struggles on his own shoulders, but he also notes that such accountability is easier when owner John Henry recently gave his GM a large vote of confidence.
  • Shane Victorino hopes to remain with the Red Sox through the end of his current contract, he tells Bradford. As Bradford notes, even if the Red Sox do sell pieces, Victorino could very well remain in Boston, as he’s been injured for much of the past two seasons and has more than $5MM remaining on his 2015 salary.

East Notes: Buchholz, Kelly, Sandberg, Yankees

Red Sox ace Clay Buchholz will see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his strained flexor tendon, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Buchholz doesn’t believe the injury is more serious than originally thought. However, he trusts Andrews’ opinion as an impartial observer, and they have consulted over previous injuries. Interestingly, Buchholz mentioned his contract status as a reason to seek an opinion outside of the organization. The Red Sox own team options for 2016 and 2017.

Here’s more from the East divisions:

  • Marlins utility man Don Kelly had season-ending Tommy John surgery, tweets Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Kelly got into just two games for the Marlins in early April. He also spent a short stint at High-A. In 1,190 plate appearances, mostly with the Tigers, he’s a .232/.296/.335 hitter.
  • A roster move is in the Orioles immediate future and Chris Parmelee may wind up with the short straw, writes Roch Kubatko of MASN. The club plans to recall Kevin Gausman for a start on Wednesday. The O’s are currently carrying just 11 pitchers, so a position player will have to go. In addition to Parmelee, I could see Ryan Flaherty, David Lough, and Nolan Reimold as players who could be designated. Jonathan Schoop could be temporarily optioned if Baltimore didn’t want to risk losing anybody. Also per Kubatko, the Orioles are monitoring prospect Dariel Alvarez. They could promote him soon despite concerns about his defense and plate discipline.
  • When Ryne Sandberg resigned as Phillies manager, it caught colleague and friend Larry Bowa by surprise, writes Jim Salisbury of Philly.com. In an interesting interview, Bowa offered some opinions as to why Sandberg walked away. In addition to expected changes related to the hiring of Andy MacPhail, Bowa posits that Sandberg was fed up with a lack of work ethic in modern players. Bowa offers quite a bit more nuance so I recommend Phillies fans read the article.
  • According to assistant GM Billy Eppler, the Yankees are engaged in several trade discussions, reports Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. Eppler played coy to the specifics, but he did note that it would be hard for the club to outdo the reinforcements they received off the disabled list – namely Jacoby Ellsbury and Andrew Miller.

Clay Buchholz Leaves Start With Elbow Tightness

SATURDAY: The Red Sox have placed Buchholz on the 15-day DL, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com tweets. He does not have any ligament damage, however, which looks like good news for the Red Sox. It appears the newly promoted Brian Johnson will start in his absence, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald implies (Twittter links), although he’ll be in the bullpen today. The official diagnosis on Buchholz’s injury is a right flexor strain.

FRIDAY: Red Sox righty Clay Buchholz has left tonight’s start against the Yankees in the fourth inning. The Sox have since announced that he is dealing with right elbow tightness.

Trade rumors earlier this summer had connected teams like the the Astros and Pirates, to Buchholz. The Red Sox have won nine of their last 12 games and aren’t entirely out of the playoff race, however, and they hold options on Buchholz for 2016 and 2017 at reasonable prices, so it’s not surprising that rumors about Buchholz haven’t been particularly active lately. In fact, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reported in late June that the Red Sox had no interest in dealing Buchholz. As the Providence Journal’s Brian MacPherson tweets, though, the threat of injury was one key reason a trade might have made sense.

The Red Sox’ recent surge has them only five games back of the second Wild Card spot in the American League, although they remain in last place in the AL East and are just two games up on the Athletics, who have the AL’s worst record. Buchholz’ excellent season (he has a 3.26 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 113 1/2 innings thus far) is one of the key reasons the Sox remain on the fringes of contention, and losing him for any significant period of time would be a serious blow to the Sox’ pitching staff and to their season as a whole.


Cafardo On Buchholz, Samardzija, Cueto, Hamels

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias.  Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway.  Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove.  That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.

No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”

More from today’s column..

  • The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija.  That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo.  Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija.  Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
  • The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter.  Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit.  Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston.  Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
  • Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
  • The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline.  However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
  • Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
  • Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
  • Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing.  Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.

Pitching Market Notes: Wilson, Bucs, Yankees, Dodgers

The starting pitching market is beginning to take shape around the league. Let’s have a look at the latest reports:

  • As the Angels try to remain patient with their lack of production from many lineup spots, they remain in the market for bats and “have dangled” starter C.J. Wilson, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports. The Halos would also consider moving prospect arms, per the report, though the team is not interested in parting with the best of the bunch: Andrew Heaney, Sean Newcomb, and Chris Ellis. Wilson, who is playing on a $18MM salary this year and is owed $20MM for next season, has worked to a 3.92 ERA with 7.8 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 over 96 1/3 innings.
  • The Pirates are looking at both the Red Sox and Phillies as they consider adding a starter, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Pittsburgh is also interested in a first base upgrade, per the report. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported recently on the Bucs’ interest in Clay Buchholz, though he noted that it seems unlikely that Boston will deal away the righty with two reasonably-priced option years still left on his deal. Philadelphia is sending a scout to take a look at the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate, says Biertempful, who suggests that Aaron Harang could conceivably make sense to add rotation depth.
  • At least as of yesterday afternoon, the Yankees “were not on [Cole] Hamels,” Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Nevertheless, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, New York could ultimately feel it necessary to add a high-quality arm. Sherman ticks through some options, noting that there is “nothing active ongoing with the Reds” and suggesting that Jeff Samardzija could be a prime target if the Yankees decide to pursue a starter.
  • The Dodgers had a top scout (Galen Carr, per Sherman) on hand to watch Hamels pitch at Yankee Stadium yesterday, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reported. That outing likely did not do much to commend the lefty, but obviously the club will be looking at a much broader body of work in assessing whether to move on Hamels.