As expected, the Red Sox optioned Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley to Triple-A today, though both manager John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington stressed to reporters (including ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes) that neither decision was easy. Hanley Ramirez, Mookie Betts and Shane Victorino will comprise Boston’s starting outfield with Allen Craig and Daniel Nava as bench depth. The Red Sox outfield surplus has been a topic of speculation all offseason and it still wouldn’t be a surprise to see them make a trade to address the situation early in the season. Victorino’s health could be the major factor in such a decision, as if he isn’t recovered from an injury-plagued 2014 season, the Sox will want to hang onto their depth.
Some more from around the AL East…
- The Orioles and Chris Tillman are “not close yet on [an] extension,” CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). The two sides continue to talk, however, in an effort to get a deal done by Opening Day as Tillman has said that he doesn’t want negotiations to continue into the season.
- Jose Bautista will gain 10-and-5 rights seven days into the season, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports. This will give Bautista automatic no-trade protection, though it’s a moot point at the moment since the Blue Jays obviously aren’t looking to deal the slugger. If the Jays struggle this season or Paul Beeston’s replacement as team president wants to take the roster in a new direction, however, Davidi observes that Bautista could become a major trade chip.
- Bautista is entering his last guaranteed year under contract with Toronto but he believes the team will exercise its $14MM club option on his services for 2016. No extension talks have taken place yet, though Bautista is only focused on the coming season. “When the time comes, Iâm sure that situation will be addressed by both parties, and I’m not in any kind of hurry. I’m doing just fine,” the right fielder said. Davidi believes the Jays will wait until the new team president is hired before “any serious talk of an extension” takes place.
- In other AL East news from earlier today, the Blue Jays signed Felix Doubront to a minor league deal and the Rangers claimed Rule 5 Draft pickup Logan Verrett off waivers from the Orioles.