- Some fears were seemingly put to rest for Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia after an X-ray on his wrist came back clean, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald was among those to report. But Pedroia, who was injured in a collision while running to first base, has yet to undergo an MRI. The team is sending him back to Boston for a closer look tomorrow morning, with his status to be assessed thereafter.
In the event left-hander David Price falters this year in his return from elbow problems, the playoff-contending Red Sox will be forced to scour the trade market to bolster their rotation, observes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. Jose Quintana, Sonny Gray, Gerrit Cole and Chris Archer represent high-end starters who could end up on the move prior to the trade deadline, notes Silverman, who doubts that the Red Sox would be able to put together a deal for any of the four. Even without factoring Cole into the mix, the Red Sox are bullish on the Pirates’ pitching at both the major and minor league levels, according to Silverman. If Boston and Pittsburgh don’t swing a deal, Miami right-hander Dan Straily could also be a possibility, though Silverman is skeptical that the Sox would meet the Marlins’ likely high asking price for him. Conversely, Silverman regards Royals left-hander Jason Vargas as an ideal fit for Boston and Twins righty Ervin Santana as a “perfect bridge-type acquisition.” Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported Saturday that Vargas and Santana are generating buzz as the trade deadline draws closer.
- It looks as though the Red Sox are targeting next weekend for third baseman Pablo Sandoval’s activation from the DL, writes Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com. Upon his return, Sandoval – unavailable since late April because of a right knee sprain – will provide a much-needed option at third for a team that’s dealing with significant injuries to Marco Hernandez and Brock Holt. Boston’s third basemen have been utterly inept this year, having slashed a paltry .231/.281/.316 in 243 plate appearances. Sandoval didn’t look like part of the solution prior to his injury, though, with a .213/.269/.377 showing in 67 trips to the plate.
- The Red Sox have selected the contract of right-handed reliever Blaine Boyer from Triple-A and optioned left-hander Brian Johnson, per a team announcement. Boyer joined the Red Sox on a minor league contract in the latter half of April and has since thrown 14 1/3 innings with Pawtucket, where he has allowed five earned runs on 12 hits and seven walks (with 12 strikeouts). Boston is the eighth major league destination for the 35-year-old Boyer, who has recently generated quality results at baseball’s highest level despite having issues missing bats. As a member of the Padres, Twins and Brewers from 2014-16, the soft contact specialist logged a 3.31 ERA in 171 1/3 frames and helped offset a subpar K/9 (4.63) with an above-average BB/9 (2.31) and a respectable ground-ball percentage (47.1).
- The Marlins “are actively looking for a taker” for righty Tom Koehler, writes Cafardo. Koehler, whom the Marlins were going to send to the minors before he went on the disabled list May 19 with shoulder bursitis, has drawn interest from both the Dodgers and Red Sox. Los Angeles would use Koehler as a reliever if it were to acquire him, suggests Cafardo, which would be a change of pace for someone who registered 30-plus starts in each of the previous three seasons. Koehler was a fairly stable option over those 97 outings, combining for a 4.07 ERA, 7.08 K/9, 3.74 BB/9 and a 43.7 percent ground-ball rate, but has struggled mightily this season. Across eight starts and 38 1/3 innings, Koehler has pitched to a 7.08 ERA, with 7.26 K/9, 4.46 BB/9 and a 37.1 percent grounder rate. Koehler, 31 in June, is making $5.75MM and will be arbitration eligible for the last time over the winter.
- In another expected move, the Red Sox have announced that they’ve promoted lefty Brian Johnson to start today, with righty Ben Taylor heading to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room on their 25-man. As Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal notes, Johnson’s stay in the big leagues could be brief with David Price about to return from the DL. But Johnson has a chance to make a statement to a Red Sox team that has struggled to find good rotation depth this season, with Kyle Kendrick and Hector Velazquez struggling in scattered starts and Henry Owens walking 6.6 batters per nine innings at Pawtucket. Johnson didn’t fare well in one big-league start of his own this season, but he’s pitched well at Triple-A, with a 2.82 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 over 44 2/3 innings there.
The Red Sox won’t count on Hanley Ramirez being capable of playing first base again this year, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters including Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Shoulder troubles have persisted for the veteran, relegating him to DH duties. “The potential negatives of him going out and [playing first], at this point don’t outweigh the positives that we get from having his bat in as our DH,” Dombrowski explained. “We just have to maneuver around it.” For the time being, at least, rookie Sam Travis is up to provide a right-handed-hitting option at first along side lefty Mitch Moreland.
The Red Sox have halted rehab work for utilityman Brock Holt, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe was among those to report on Twitter. Holt was advised “to shut down from playing for the foreseeaable future” by a head trauma specialist, per the report.
Holt, 28, has already missed significant time with vertigo. It seemed he was nearing a return when recurring symptoms arose, leading to the change in plans. It seems the experts advised a more cautious approach after prior efforts at recovery proved halting.
There’s no timeline at present for Holt’s return; indeed, the entire undertaking seems designed to allow the issues to fully abate before Holt pushes again. As Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald tweets, the plan is to wait until Holt’s “symptoms totally fade.” It’s obviously not possible to know just when that will occur; the focus will surely be on ensuring Holt’s overall well-being before considering how to get him back on the field.
Boston would surely have liked to have Holt available to help out at third base, but instead the club has gone most of the year without the versatile defender. Holt has appeared in just six contests after averaging more than one hundred annually over the past three campaigns. Over that span, he compiled a .274/.335/.381 slash with 13 home runs and 24 stolen bases over 1,325 plate appearances.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- The Orioles released outfielder Henry Urrutia, per a club announcement. The 30-year-old had been removed from the 40-man roster last year after seeing minimal major league action in 2013 and 2015. Urrutia, who the O’s signed out of Cuba, had struggled to a sub-.500 OPS in seventy plate appearances this season at Triple-A. Through parts of five seasons and over 1,000 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors, he owns a .277/.327/.374 batting line with 13 long balls.
- Outfielder Jeremy Barfield is heading to the Red Sox after his contract was purchased from the indy ball Sugar Land Skeeters, per an announcement from Boston’s Double-A affiliate. Barfield, 28, has spent quite a bit of time in the upper minors with the Athletics and Rockies organizations but has never cracked the major leagues. He was performing well again for the Skeeters early this season, leaving him with a composite .299/.379/.539 batting line in 878 trips to the dish in Atlantic League action since leaving the affiliated ranks in 2015.
The Red Sox will activate lefty David Price to make his season debut on Monday, skipper John Farrell told reporters including Ian Browne of MLB.com (via Twitter). He had spent the early portion of the season rehabbing from an elbow injury.
That’s obviously welcome news for a Boston organization that hasn’t exactly sprinted out of the gates. While the club is in fine position at three games over .500, it sits third in a tightly packed AL East.
The rotation, in particular, has been a source of some consternation. Chris Sale has been every bit as good as advertised, and Eduardo Rodriguez is throwing quite well. But reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello hasn’t been nearly as dominant as he was last year, Drew Pomeranz has struggled, and Steven Wright was knocked out for the rest of the year with a knee injury.
With the plug-in options scuffling in Wright’s stead, Price will be welcomed back with open arms. The expectation had been that he and Sale would make up the best lefty-lefty rotation duo in the game, but his worrying spring injury threw that in doubt. Now, the team will finally see what it has in a complete staff, though all eyes will remain on Price to see how he responds.
After all, the 31-year-old southpaw isn’t just another pitcher. He signed the richest-ever contract for a starter in the 2015-16 offseason, landing with the Red Sox for $217MM over seven years. But the long-time ace managed only a 3.99 ERA in his league-leading 230 frames last year before the elbow injury arose this spring. His return — and his health and effectiveness — are thus of significant importance to the team. (It matters for Price’s bottom line, too; he can opt out after 2018, but will surely only do so if he thinks he could earn quite a bit more money.)
Given the stakes, it’s perhaps a bit surprising that the Sox are moving Price back up to the majors right now. He has thrown only 5 2/3 innings over two starts on his rehab assignment, allowing six earned runs on 12 hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. Perhaps that’s not particularly concerning for a pitcher of Price’s standing, but if nothing else it’ll increase the challenge for managing his workload. Skipper John Farrell acknowledged that he expects to hold Price to a pitch count — that coming by way of Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, on Twitter — while also saying that he thinks the poor rehab starts were attributable to the veteran shaking off the rust from his long layoff.
Though the Red Sox haven’t lived up to their preseason status as division favorites, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi told reporters Tuesday that he doesn’t place the blame for the team’s relatively slow start on manager John Farrell (link via Jen McCaffery of MassLive.com). Dombrowki pointed to the fact that the Sox won the AL East under Farrell’s guidance last season and also noted that injuries up and down the roster are beyond Farrell’s control. Indeed, the team has been without David Price, Tyler Thornburg and Carson Smith all season, while injuries to Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt and now Marco Hernandez have created a revolving door at third base.
That said, FOX’s Ken Rosenthal penned a lengthy column of his own on Farrell’s job security today, noting that while the manager doesn’t necessarily appear to be at immediate risk, there are some Red Sox players that would like to see Farrell defend them more to the Boston media during the team’s struggles. Rosenthal points to the Manny Machado debacle and a more recent dugout altercation with Drew Pomeranz as two instances this season in which Farrell hasn’t looked his best.