- The Red Sox don’t have many important players slated to hit free agency next year, but veterans Eduardo Nunez and Mitch Moreland are among those on the cusp of the open market. Both say they’d like to return to Boston, however. For Nunez, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes, settling in with the Sox has been easy. It’s not clear, though, whether there’ll be enough playing time to warrant pursuit of a player who’ll be in some demand. Chris Mason of CNHI Sports Boston writes about Moreland’s case. The first bagger says he has “loved it” with the Red Sox, though he’s focused on the season at the moment. Unsurprisingly, the sides haven’t discussed a new contract.
- While bullpens have long plagued teams constructed by president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, it seems he has built a compelling unit this year with the Red Sox, as Evan Drellich of CSNNE.com writes. While everything hasn’t worked out as hoped, at least not initially, the Sox have kept moving forward and have now compiled a strong group as the club nears an AL East crown.
- One possible piece of the Red Sox relief core, long-time starter David Price, figures to be one of the most closely watched players of the postseason. As Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes, while there have been some issues during Price’s tenure, he still has the support of the clubhouse. The veteran hurler could play a fascinating role in Boston’s hopeful march through the postseason.
Mookie Betts left today’s game in the fifth inning due to a bruised right thumb, suffered when his own helmet was knocked off by a Lucas Duda tag attempt and landed on the thumb. X-rays were negative and Betts told reporters (including MLB.com’s Connor Mount) that he hopes to play as soon as tomorrow. Betts also added that he has been dealing with nagging thumb problems “for a couple months” but it hasn’t been serious enough to keep him off the field. While this doesn’t look like a major injury, Betts is such a major part of the Red Sox lineup that his condition bears mention as the team heads towards a likely postseason appearance. Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- The Drew Pomeranz trade is looking like a win for Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox, WEEI.com’s John Tomase writes. After the controversial deal with the Padres last year that saw top prospect Anderson Espinosa go to San Diego, Pomeranz was plagued by injury problems that continued into the offseason. This year, however, Pomeranz has delivered a 3.28 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 2.59 K/BB rate over 159 1/3 innings, emerging as a much-needed stabilizer to a rotation that has been without David Price for much of the season.
The Red Sox plan to explore a new deal for utilityman Eduardo Nunez after the season, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. Nunez is currently out with a knee injury, but when healthy, the impending free agent has been a valuable addition since the Red Sox acquired him from the Giants in July. The 30-year-old has slashed an excellent .319/.351/.534 with eight home runs and six steals across 171 plate appearances as a member of the Red Sox, with whom he has lined up at second base, shortstop and third base. Nunez’s future may affect fellow utilityman Brock Holt’s, as Mastrodonato relays that he could be a non-tender candidate in the offseason. Holt was a key piece for the Red Sox from 2014-15, but injuries have slowed his career since then. The 2015 All-Star has taken 140 trips to the plate this season and batted a meek .175/.286/.208. Holt, 29, is on a $1.95MM salary this year and is scheduled to go through arbitration for the second time in the offseason. He’s controllable through 2019.
- Red Sox righty Doug Fister, a free agent to be, is being scouted by teams considering adding him over the winter, Cafardo writes. Fister did not sign until May of this season, but Cafardo notes that he’s unlikely to have to wait that long to find a big-league deal in the coming winter. Fister’s 4.40 ERA in 77 2/3 innings this year is similar to those of his last two seasons, but he’s bumped his K/9 from 5.7 in 2016 to 8.0 this season. He’s also fared well in the season’s second half. Those factors could make him a more attractive free agent this time around.
Two Red Sox position players, Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers, feature prominently on Jim Callis of MLB.com’s list of the MLB rookies with the most potential. Benintendi, Callis writes, “combines pure hitting ability, power, speed and defense in a manner reminiscent of former Boston star Fred Lynn.” In fact, three of the top four players on the list are Red Sox products, with Chicago’s Yoan Moncada squeezing in between Cody Bellinger and Devers. Here’s more from the American League.
Red Sox skipper John Farrell says that DH/first baseman Hanley Ramirez underwent an MRI on his left biceps, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets. A diagnosis and anticipated course of treatment aren’t yet available, but Abraham suggests the team is anticipating some absence from the veteran. The 33-year-old Ramirez has fallen off at the plate this year, slashing just .238/.320/.423 over his 522 plate appearances, with a shoulder problem seemingly bothering him throughout. The club surely hoped for a turnaround for the long-time slugger, but now there’s increasing uncertainty with this new injury.
Major League Baseball has announced punishment arising out of its investigation of mutual accusations of improper gamesmanship between the Red Sox and Yankees. Both clubs will receive undisclosed fines, with the latter said to be tagged with a lesser amount.
Those interested in reading more about the allegations can read about it in full right here. In essence, the Yanks claimed that their long-time rivals were improperly stealing signs with the aid of an Apple Watch and other technology. In turn, Boston accused the Bronx Bombers of taking advantage of YES Network cameras to the same end.
Commissioner Rob Manfred found that the Red Sox did wrongfully use technology in the dugout, leading to the discipline. He did also note that certain factors were present that warranted some leniency, including that the misstep took place without any involvement of ownership or the front office and that the club cooperated in ceasing the activity and aiding the ensuing investigation. While the league could not substantiate the allegations against the Yankees, they were fined due to a finding that the club had wrongly utilized a dugout phone in a prior season.
Some may charge that Manfred gave the Red Sox only a slap on the wrist after taking away the watch. But he did put Boston and the rest of the league on notice not to expect such treatment going forward. “[A]ll 30 Clubs have been notified that future violations of this type will be subject to more serious sanctions, including the possible loss of draft picks,” Mandred stated in the announcement.
The Red Sox have activated lefty David Price from the 10-day DL, per a club announcement. He last pitched on July 22nd but will return to help the organization down the stretch.
Price will function as a multi-inning reliever for the rest of the season, manager John Farrell tells reporters including Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. Its likely that he’ll first appear in game action this weekend.
The veteran has long been a starter, of course, but says he “just want[s] to pitch, whatever it is.” Price has been troubled all year long by elbow issues and may not quite be prepared to handle a full starter’s workload. Plus, with the emergence of Doug Fister, Boston already has a solid five-man unit in place.
Price ought to represent a notable addition as the club looks to hold onto the AL East lead down the stretch. Though he hasn’t been as effective as expected when Boston inked him for $217MM over seven years, the 32-year-old has still been a quality MLB pitcher when healthy.
This year, through 66 frames, Price has posted a 3.82 ERA with 63 strikeouts against 22 walks. He has also continued to work in the 94 mph range with his average fastball and generate swings and misses on about 11% of his pitches — much as he did for the three seasons prior.
All said, it’s possible to imagine Price turning into an intriguing weapon out of the pen, where he could bail out an inefficient starter or enter in an early, high-leverage spot and go on to provide innings. In the long run, though, Boston will surely hope that he can regain both his health and his form and contribute once again from the rotation.
With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:
It isn’t official yet, but these
- Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
- Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
- Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
- Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
- Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.
Still In Limbo
- Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
- Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
- Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
- Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.
Kept By Other Means
- Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.
- Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
- Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
- Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
- Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
- Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
- Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
- Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
- Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
Time is running out for David Price to return to the Red Sox, and manager John Farrell conceded today that it would be “aggressive” to bring Price back as a starting pitcher in 2017, Evan Drellich of CSN New England writes. Farrell suggested that Price would require at least one more simulated game before being ready to start. The skipper alluded to the possibility of giving Price a fairly short start and allowing the expanded bullpen to cover whatever innings are needed beyond that point, though he noted that no decision has been made. “[T]hese are things we have to sit down and discuss and determine what’s best for him.” As for Price himself, he told reporters that, more than anything else, he just wants to get back onto a Major League mound regardless of his role: “I just want to pitch. Whatever it is, that’s fine.”