Some items from around the AL East…
- Chris Sale is only under contract through the 2019 season, and his potential future in Boston “could be the key to the entire offseason” for the Red Sox, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes. The Sox are sure to discuss an extension with Sale this winter, though if they don’t feel the southpaw will be staying beyond the coming season (or the team is wary of spending big money on Sale over the long term), then Mastrodonato believes landing another frontline pitcher will become an immediate priority. If the Red Sox are able to extend Sale or believe they’ll be able to re-sign him next offseason, starting pitching likely won’t be a pressing priority this winter. In my opinion, I’d guess the Red Sox would pursue some type of controllable starter regardless of what happens with Sale, given that Rick Porcello will also be a free agent next winter and Eduardo Rodriguez’s injury history makes him a bit of a question mark for 2019.
- Also from Mastrodonato’s piece, he notes that the Red Sox will be bringing Blake Swihart to Spring Training as a catcher. With Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon ahead of Swihart on the catching depth chart, the team experimented with Swihart as a utility player last season in an attempt to get him into the lineup, with unremarkable results. While Swihart will continue to get some work at multiple positions, his trade value would be maximized if he could stick behind the plate. Swihart has been the focus of trade rumors for well over a year, and the Red Sox were known to have a very high asking price in talks with other teams as of last May. Those demands seemed high at the time, given Swihart’s struggles to break through as a Major League player, and he did little to raise his stock over the rest of the season.
- The Yankees “pushed hard” to acquire infield prospect Yu Chang from the Indians when the two teams were discussing the Andrew Miller trade in the summer of 2016, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Chang has made steady progress since, with MLB.com currently ranking him as the sixth-best prospect in the Tribe’s system following a .256/.330/.411 performance over 518 PA at Triple-A last season. It isn’t known if New York still has Chang on its radar, though with the Yankees recently showing interest in trading for one of Cleveland’s top starters, Chang could become a target again if the two clubs expand talks into a multi-player trade. Pluto also notes that other teams have called the Indians about Chang in trade discussions.
- Tuesday is the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 Draft, and the Blue Jays are one of several teams that face losing at least one player, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes. With newly-acquired Tyler Thornton requiring Rule 5 protection, Toronto currently has 36 players on its 40-man, with Davidi figuring that pitching prospects Hector Perez, Patrick Murphy, and Yennsy Diaz will account for three of the four open spots. This leaves multiple Rule 5-eligible prospects vying for just one roster spot, though the Jays could also create more space with trades or releases before Tuesday’s deadline. Yangervis Solarte is a likely non-tender candidate, for instance, and there has been speculation has the Jays could part ways with former top prospect Dalton Pompey, who is out of options and seemingly buried on Toronto’s depth chart. Davidi’s piece also contains a broader overview of the challenges that teams face when they have a surplus of minor league talent at one or more positions, as a club can risk losing or overlooking someone simply due to lack of playing time, only to see that player blossom elsewhere.