- Red Sox skipper John Farrell met with the Boston media today and addressed a number of roster issues, including the team’s outlook at third base and in the rotation (Twitter links via Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal). Per Farrell, there’s still a “note of competition” at the hot corner between Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt and Rule 5 pick Josh Rutledge. Sandoval’s contract, presumably, makes him the favorite, but I’d wager that he’ll be on a short leash and will have to show semblance of rebound potential in Spring Training and/or early in the year. Also, it sounds as if only Chris Sale, David Price an Rick Porcello are assured rotation spots, as Farrell said the final two spots will be a competition between Drew Pomeranz, Steven Wright and Eduardo Rodriguez.
- MacPherson’s colleague, Tim Britton, adds that Farrell also discussed the Red Sox’ catching situation (all Twitter links). Farrell said that as it stands, Sandy Leon is heading to camp as the No. 1 catcher, but Blake Swihart will be able to challenge him for that role. Britton notes that Farrell didn’t mention Christian Vazquez. However, Vazquez is out of minor league options, and the team isn’t sure how Swihart’s ankle will be able to hold up for regular work behind the dish, so Britton’s interpretation of the situation is that Leon and Vazquez will open the year as Boston’s catching tandem.
- Looking at the bigger picture for the Red Sox, the team has yet to sit down with star outfielder Mookie Betts about an extension, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. The 24-year-old said there haven’t been talks, and hinted that he’s not particularly interested in pursuing a long-term arrangement. Betts said that his preference is to focus on his play while going “one year at a time” for his salaries. Meanwhile, shortstop Xander Bogaerts largely demurred when asked whether he had engaged in any long-term contract talks.
10:17pm: Kendrick’s contract comes with a $1MM base salary and multiple opt-out dates, according to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald (Twitter link).
4:20pm: The Red Sox announced that they’ve signed veteran right-hander Kyle Kendrick to a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
Kendrick, 32, was a fixture on the Phillies’ pitching staff from 2007-14, totaling 1138 2/3 innings of 4.42 ERA ball with 4.9 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 46.1 percent ground-ball rate. Upon reaching free agency for the first time, the durable innings eater inked a one-year deal with the Rockies that proved to be ill-fated. In 142 1/3 innings with Colorado that year, Kendrick was rocked for a 6.32 ERA. Unsurprisingly, he struggled more at home in Coors Field (7.62 ERA) than on the road (5.24).
Kendrick signed a minor league deal with the Braves last offseason but was cut loose late in camp and ultimately latched on with the Angels in late April. He went on to spend most of the season with the Halos’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake, tossing 93 1/3 innings with a 4.72 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. While Kendrick is a long shot to crack the Opening Day roster, he could head to the minors and serve as a depth option that can surface and make spot starts and long relief appearances as needed. (Boston deployed fellow right-hander Sean O’Sullivan in that role last season.)
- Red Sox signed righty Erik Cordier and lefty Cesar Cabral, per Matt Eddy of Baseball America. The hard-throwing Cordier, 30, will return stateside after a brief and unsuccessful stint with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball in 2016 (10 runs in 12 1/3 innings). Cordier has long battled control issues but has shown a consistent ability to hit triple digits with his fastball in the past. His last Major League stint came in 2015. As for Cabral, the 27-year-old former Rule 5 pick has averaged about a strikeout per inning throughout his minor league career but has yet to find success at the Triple-A level. He pitched just 8 1/3 innings last season, all with the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate, and allowed nine earned runs on 13 hits and four walks. He’s logged 5 2/3 innings in the Majors in his career but has never been able to stick on a 25-man roster.
Veteran infielder Jhonny Peralta and young catcher Christian Vazquez have each changed their representation, moving to Melvin Roman’s MDR Sports, according to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal (subscription link).
Peralta, 34, is entering the final year of his free-agent contract with the Cardinals. He has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate, though his focus figures to remain on securing playing time and engineering a bounceback after an injury-plagued 2016 season.
Though he had been a steady contributor to the Cards in the first two years of his deal, Peralta fell off last year. After returning from wrist surgery, he managed only a .260/.307/.408 batting line with eight home runs over 313 plate appearances. He also showed some erosion in his glovework, and did not draw strong ratings upon shifting to third from his native shortstop position.
One of Peralta’s most notable teammates, veteran receiver Yadier Molina, is perhaps MDR’s best-known current player. The agency has a long list of catchers on its rolls, including not only Molina but also players such as Robinson Chirinos, Dioner Navarro, Brayan Pena, and Rene Rivera.
Vazquez will join that group as he enters a key season. The 26-year-old will qualify for arbitration after the year, so long as he accrues enough service time in 2017 with the Red Sox. As things stand, he has logged two years and 31 days at the MLB level.
Certainly, Vazquez will need to boost his offensive productivity to set himself up as hoped. After missing all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery, he did manage to make a full return and is regarded as a highly talented defender. But he struggled last year to a .227/.277/.308 batting line over 184 plate appearances and will need to earn playing time this spring in a camp battle with Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart.
As always, you can keep up on the latest agency information with MLBTR’s Agency Database.
- Also from Gammons, he reports that the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox will be among the 12-20 teams watching Craig Breslow’s showcase on January 23. Breslow has adopted new pitch-tracking technology in order to reinvent his throwing habits, with input from training partner Rich Hill (who revived his career in spectacular fashion).
David Price wasn’t satisfied with his first season in a Red Sox uniform, telling Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe that “last year was the first time in my career I didn’t have fun when I was on the field.” Price’s 2016 season (3.99 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 4.56 K/BB rate over a league-best 230 innings) counts as a down year only by his high standards, though the southpaw did post a career-high 1.17 HR/9 and he struggled in his only postseason start. Price signed a seven-year, $217MM contract with the Sox last winter, and while that deal contains an opt-out clause after the 2018 campaign, Price said he will remain in Boston throughout the life of the contract. Even if Price delivers better numbers in 2017-18, he’ll be entering his age-33 season when he’s officially faced with the decision to opt out, which could make it hard for him to top the $127MM he’s already slated to earn from the Sox from 2019-2022.
Here are the highlights from this week’s notes piece by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
- One Dodgers official says Carl Crawford’s career is likely over. At last check, the 35-year-old seemed likely to try to make a comeback next season. There’s been no official word from Crawford about any retirement plans, however. The Dodgers designated Crawford for assignment last June, then released him, even though he still had $35MM remaining on his $142MM contract at the time. At the time of his release, he was batting .185/.230/.235 in 87 plate appearances, and he had missed time due to a back injury.
- Another veteran outfielder, 36-year-old Shane Victorino, has an offer on the table, but his agent is waiting to hear back from his client about whether to take it. The deal would almost certainly be of the minor-league variety. As of last month, Victorino was working out in Las Vegas in preparation for next season. The Cubs released him in May after just nine minor-league games. He last played in the big leagues in 2015 with the Red Sox and Angels, batting a modest .230/.308/.292 in 204 plate appearances.
- 44-year-old Manny Ramirez recently signed with the independent Kochi Fighting Dogs in Japan, and MLB execs express guarded optimism about the possibility that his comeback attempt could lead him back to bigger things, even though he hasn’t played in the Majors since 2011. “We’ll have to see how his body holds up,” says Braves president of baseball operations John Hart. “If it does, he’s best suited for the American League as a DH at this point, but would I be surprised if he could still hit? Absolutely not.”
- Red Sox righty Steven Wright is rehabbing his shoulder (which he injured while pinch-running late last season), but he should be ready for Spring Training, Cafardo writes. The knuckleballer last pitched last August 31, finishing his year with a 3.33 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 over 156 2/3 strong innings.
- Adding to their previously reported deals, the Red Sox have announced agreement with all but two of their arb-eligible players. Salaries were reported by MLB.com’s Ian Browne for the players avoiding arb: shortstop Xander Bogaerts gets $4.5MM ($5.7MM projection), utilityman Brock Holt receives $1.95MM ($1.7MM projection), righty Joe Kelly will earn $2.8MM ($2.6MM projection), catcher Sandy Leon takes home $1.3MM (the same as his projection), lefty Robbie Ross gets $1.825MM (just $25K over his projection), and new righty Tyler Thornburg will earn $2.05MM (just under his $2.2MM projection).
- The Red Sox and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3.6MM, tweets Crasnick. Bradley, 27 in April, enjoyed far and away his best big league season in 2016, hitting .267/.349/.486 with 26 home runs, nine steals and brilliant defense. He topped his $3.3MM projection by $300K and will be arbitration-eligible three more times as a Super Two player before hitting free agency upon completion of the 2020 season.
MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is the place to go to see the arbitration contracts agreed upon thus far, as well as the figures exchanged between teams and players that were not able to reach agreement before today’s deadline to swap salary positions. Matt Swartz’s arbitration projections are available here.
After a busy day of dealmaking, 152 players (at last check) have reached agreement on arbitration salaries for the coming season. But 36 other tendered players have yet to reach reported agreements with their clubs. Of course, those players can still settle before their hearings (which will take place in early to mid-February). If the case goes to a hearing, the arbitrator must choose one side’s figures, rather than settling on a midpoint.
We’ve gathered the highest-stakes arbitration situations remaining — those where the player files for at least $4.5MM — in this post, but you can find them all in the tracker. We’ll update this list as the figures are reported:
- Danny Duffy, Royals: $8MM versus $7.25MM (Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, via Twitter)
- Tony Watson, Pirates: $6MM versus $5.6MM (Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, via Twitter)
- Pedro Strop, Cubs: $6MM versus $4.6MM (Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, via Twitter)
- Drew Pomeranz, Red Sox: $5.7MM versus $3.6MM (Heyman, via Twitter)
- Kelvin Herrera, Royals: $5.6MM versus $5.05MM (Heyman, via Twitter)
- Shelby Miller, Diamondbacks: $5.1MM versus $4.7MM (Heyman, via Twitter)
- Khris Davis, Athletics: $5MM versus $4.65MM (Heyman, via Twitter)
- Dellin Betances, Yankees: $5MM versus $3MM (Heyman, via Twitter)
- The Red Sox have signed outfielder Brian Bogusevic to a minor league deal. The 32-year-old had a tough season with Orix in Japan in 2016, batting just .187/.320/.322 over 193 plate appearances. He last appeared in the big leagues with the Phillies in 2015.