Just what are the Red Sox thinking by tying up a 40-man roster spot on righty Ryan Weber? Chad Jennings of The Athletic explores (subscription link). The club sees Weber as a clear candidate to take the fifth starter’s role or at least to serve as valuable depth. (He can still be optioned.) While his stuff isn’t eye-popping, it seems the org’s talent evaluators were wowed by Weber’s “command and execution.” And new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom evidently hasn’t seen cause yet to disagree. Weber doesn’t throw hard and owns only a 5.04 ERA in 114 1/3 MLB innings over the past five seasons. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Sox can help him find a path to contributing value in 2020.
In other news out of Boston, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com rounds up a series of interesting stories on the Sox. We’ll take a brief look at those of particular hot stove relevance …
- There’s some good news on the progress of recently acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo, but also some added questions. Bradford writes that the 23-year-old has made major strides just since camp opened — but also that he may miss a month or more of the regular season. “The fact it is taking this long is frustrating,” says Verdugo. “What keeps me positive is that all the players, the staff, the trainers, they all support me. They all want me to wait until I’m fully healthy and get back.” Verdugo spoke about the lingering back and related issues that have plagued him for some time now, saying that he had been on a “regular workout plan” from the Dodgers that (it now seems) may not have been the best approach.
- Regardless whether this lengthy recovery process could’ve been shortened, it’s certainly disappointing that the Boston organization is dealing with this sort of uncertainty surrounding the key player acquired in exchange for Mookie Betts. And Verdugo’s potential also makes for a key component of the team’s 2020 outlook. Even without Betts, the club is certainly at least a plausible Wild Card contender. Fans feeling down about the situation may at least be buoyed somewhat to learn of Verdugo’s unabashed affinity for legend David Ortiz (Twitter link).
- Returning veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland spoke of his most recent stint on the open market. While he again ended up inking with the Sox, it wasn’t an obvious outcome for much of the winter. Moreland, a Mississippi native, says he fielded interest from a number of other clubs, including some “really close to home that were enticing.” Ultimately, the Red Sox re-engaged — and Moreland says he was happy to work it out to remain in Boston. The Sox will be pleased if they get a repeat of Moreland’s 2019 output; he slashed .252/.328/.507 (112 wRC+) after putting up only league-average offensive output in his first two years with the club.
- The free agent process can certainly have its twists and turns, but center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. sees it in a positive light. Bradley, who’ll hit the open market next winter, tells Bradford that he’s looking forward to having the ability “to finally make a choice for yourself.” There are ways in which nearing free agency can be stressful, he acknowledged, but that’s all a matter of perspective. For Bradley, there’s nothing but upside: “Why not be excited about it?” he queried.