- In the event the Red Sox upgrade their offense this summer, it will probably come at center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.’s expense, Chad Jennings of The Athletic writes (subscription required). For the most part, Boston’s offense is well positioned, Jennings observes, but Bradley hasn’t helped matters with a .184/.280/.301 line in 236 plate appearances. Barring a turnaround, then, he may be head to the bench or even another team via trade. Speculatively, the Red Sox could seek a solid-hitting corner outfielder on the market and have left fielder Andrew Benintendi take over for JBJ in center.
Red Sox Rumors
JUNE 15: The teams have announced that Filia will be returned to Seattle after failing his physical. Instead, Boston will receive cash considerations to complete the swap.
JUNE 12: The Red Sox announced that they’ve acquired minor league outfielder Eric Filia from the Mariners as the player to be named later in April’s Roenis Elias trade. FanRag’s Robert Murray was the first to reports that Filia was going to the Red Sox (Twitter link).
Filia, 25, was Seattle’s 20th-round pick back in 2016 and ranked as the No. 11 prospect in a thin Mariners farm system, per MLB.com, though he missed the early portion of the season while serving a 50-game suspension due to a second positive test for a drug of abuse. He was recently activated and has batted .426/.508/.537 with a home run, three doubles and more walks (nine) than strikeouts (four) in 63 Double-A plate appearances.
Of course, Filia is older than the average competition he’s facing in Double-A, as was the case in 2017 when he batted .326/.407/.434 with five homers in 564 plate appearances as a 24-year-old in Class-A Advanced. Filia has punched out in just 7.3 percent of his professional plate appearances, and while that’s in part a testament to the younger competition he’s faced, it’s also an undeniable testament to his above-average bat-to-ball skills. He’s also walked at a 12.3 percent clip in the minors.
Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com laud those on-base and bat-to-ball skills, though their report also indicates that he’s limited to the outfield corners on the defensive spectrum and has “average-at-best tools” in other facets of the game. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen called him a potential bench bat in running through the Mariners’ system this offseason, noting past injury issues and recreational drug usage have slowed his path to the Majors.
- Drew Pomeranz has been on the shelf for nearly two weeks, but the Red Sox lefty doesn’t sound especially close to returning. WEEI’s Rob Bradford tweets that Pomeranz says the pain in his arm has mostly dissipated, but he has limited mobility in his neck, which is still preventing him from even throwing. Pomeranz, 29, originally hit the DL due to tendinitis in his left biceps, though it would appear that he’s experiencing additional discomfort at this point. Knuckleballer Steven Wright has stepped into Pomeranz’s spot in the rotation and tossed 13 2/3 shutout innings in two starts.
Red Sox reliever Carson Smith is set to undergo shoulder surgery tomorrow, the team announced to reporters (Twitter link via Rob Bradford of WEEI.com). The operation will likely put an end to the 28-year-old’s season.
It’s the latest setback in what is becoming an increasingly injury-plagued career for Smith, who missed the majority of the 2016 and 2017 seasons while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Tomorrow’s surgery will repair a subluxation in his throwing shoulder, which the right-hander reportedly incurred after angrily tossing his glove out of frustration following a poor outing last month. However, there’s additional damage in his shoulder, it seems, as head athletic trainer Brad Pearson tells reporters that Smith also has some tearing in the labrum (Twitter link via the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier).
Originally acquired by the Red Sox in the Dec. 2015 trade that sent Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to the Mariners, Smith has spent three seasons in the organization but pitched just 20 innings at the Major League level. Obviously, the Sox had higher hopes when trading for him, as he was coming off a dominant rookie campaign in Seattle that saw him pitch 70 innings of 2.31 ERA ball with 11.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a hefty 64.8 percent ground-ball rate.
Smith drew some ire from Boston skipper Alex Cora last month after suggesting that heavy usage may have contributed to the wear and tear on his shoulder. Cora bluntly said that he “doesn’t agree” with Smith’s comments and spoke at length about the frequency with which the Red Sox staff checks in on its relievers to see who is and isn’t available to take the hill on a given night.
Given Smith’s ongoing injury woes and the fact that he’s arbitration-eligible for a second time this offseason, it’s possible that the Sox could move on from Smith via non-tender this offseason. But, he won’t be in line for much of a raise on this season’s $850K salary after pitching just 14 1/3 innings, so they may also opt to hang onto the affordable depth even with the health concerns.
The Red Sox are set to sign first-round corner infielder Triston Casas to a $2,552,800 bonus, which is full slot value for his pick (26th overall), Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. The deal is pending a physical.
The 18-year-old Casas, a high school star from Florida, was anywhere from the 20th- to 48th-best prospect in the draft, according to MLB.com, Baseball America, ESPN’s Keith Law and FanGraphs. MLB.com, the outlet with the highest opinion of Casas, noted entering the draft that the lefty-swinger’s “all about his bat and the power he can produce with it.” Casas packs a wallop when he puts the bat on the ball, though there are some questions about his ability to make contact. Defensively, while Casas currently plays third base and has an impressive arm, he’s likely headed for first, per MLB.com.
The fact that Casas will sign with the Red Sox means he won’t attend the University of Miami, where he had committed. Boston left quite an impression on him during a pre-draft visit, Drellich relays.
“It was a great experience going to Boston,” Casas said. “It was my first time in Boston and in Massachusetts, so I really enjoyed my time there, I really loved the city and I love the build of it and I love the way that Fenway fit right in the middle of it, just like another building. I’m really excited and I can’t be more happy with the way [the draft] turned out. I feel like the park suits my swing well, and hopefully I get up to the big-league club soon and make an impact.”
The Red Sox announced Friday that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Justin Haley from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned lefty Jalen Beeks back to Pawtucket in his place. Boston’s 40-man roster is now up to 39 players.
While this will mark the Red Sox debut for Haley, whom the club selected in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, it won’t be his MLB debut. Haley was selected by the Twins in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft and broke camp in Minnesota last year, but he was ultimately designated for assignment and returned to the Sox after posting a 6.00 ERA over 18 innings as a seldom-used long reliever.
Things have gone much better for the now-26-year-old Haley in Triple-A, where he owns a career 3.28 ERA with 7.3 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 in 203 1/3 innings. That production is right in line with his marks so far in 2018: a 3.18 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 44 percent ground-ball rate in 56 2/3 innings out of the Pawtucket rotation.
The 24-year-old Beeks, meanwhile, will head back to Triple-A for continued development. He was called upon to make a spot start last night against the Tigers and was ambushed for five runs in his first Major League inning, though he settled down and allowed just one run over the next three innings. While it wasn’t a great debut, Beeks should still have ample opportunity to factor into Boston’s long-term plans. The former 12th-rounder owns a 3.38 ERA with 10.5 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 152 Triple-A innings.
Hanley Ramirez is getting interest from “multiple teams” since officially becoming a free agent, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo tweets. It isn’t any surprise that the veteran slugger is drawing some attention, particularly since he’d be available at a prorated minimum salary while the Red Sox cover the approximately $14.5MM remaining on Ramirez’s contract. Considering the low price tag, any number of teams could have interest — consider that the Orioles, who are already loaded with first base/DH candidates, have already been linked to Ramirez. It was only weeks ago that Ramirez was one of the league’s hottest hitters (posting a .330/.400/.474 slash line over 110 plate appearances in March and April) before he fell into a deep slump that led to his release from the Sox.
- Also from Cafardo’s piece, he notes that tomorrow’s amateur draft carries particular import for a Red Sox farm system that has been thinned out by trades in recent years. Between those losses, Jay Groome’s Tommy John surgery and Michael Chavis’ PED suspension, Boston doesn’t seem to have enough young trade chips to make a splash at the deadline. “Let me put it this way, there isn’t anyone in their farm system that a team would say, ’I have to have that guy.’ Not saying they don’t have anything to make a deal, but they don’t have enough to make a major deal,” one AL scout tells Cafardo. Of course, it remains to see if the Sox will necessarily be looking for a blockbuster upgrade given that the roster is already in very good shape and cruising towards a postseason berth.
Some news and notes out of Boston…
- Dustin Pedroia’s return from left knee surgery lasted just three games before the Red Sox second baseman returned to the disabled list with inflammation in that same knee. Speaking with reporters (including the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato) about the latest injury, Pedroia noted that he was feeling discomfort in a different part of the knee than the area that was operated on back in October. He is scheduled to meet with the doctor who performed the original surgery on Tuesday “and see what he has to say. It could be just normal or scar tissue or something, but that’s it.” Pedroia didn’t feel he came back from his first DL stint too quickly, or that he or the team did “anything wrong” during his rehab process to incur this new issue. The current absence is somewhat being viewed as part of the overall recovery from last fall’s surgery and the knee problems that had bothered Pedroia for some time. “It just might take a little time,” Pedroia said. “Last year, if I didn’t have surgery, it wasn’t going to get any better. It’s going to get better. So, just stinks going through it.”
- Blake Swihart’s first start at catcher this season is likely to come this week, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo and other media. Swihart has been behind the plate twice this season as a sub, though he has yet to actually start at catcher since April 2016 due to injuries and trials at different positions, due to concerns about Swihart’s defensive capability as a backstop. Opposing scouts are greatly interested in whether Swihart can handle catching, Cafardo writes, and showcasing Swihart behind the plate would help the Sox in their efforts to trade the former top prospect. There’s even a possibility that Swihart could stick in Boston in regular catching duty, as Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon have provided little offense this season.
- The Red Sox have already been quite public with their reasons for releasing Hanley Ramirez, though in a video report for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal adds that the some with the club felt that Ramirez’s departure would allow for new voices to take a leadership role in the clubhouse. Rosenthal mentioned J.D. Martinez as a potential veteran leader, particularly as he is the most experienced member of the position player roster with Pedroia out of action.
- Boston’s among the teams keeping an eye on Royals closer Kelvin Herrera, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. If acquired, the 28-year-old would return to a setup role with the Red Sox, thanks to the presence of closer Craig Kimbrel, and would further bolster a late-game mix that also includes Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes. Herrera, who’s in his last year of team control and making $7.94MM, has allowed just two earned runs and hasn’t issued a walk in 22 2/3 innings this season.
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has landed back on the disabled list due to what is being described as left knee inflammation, as Evan Drellich of the Boston Globe was among those to tweet (separate links). The move is retroactive to May 30th.
It’s clearly a concerning development for the Red Sox, who waited patiently during the first quarter of the season for Pedroia to return to the field after undergoing offseason surgery to address a cartilage issue in the same knee. Pedroia collected just one hit and two walks in 13 plate appearances in his brief time between DL stints, and no timetable has been given thus far for his return.
Pedroia’s initial activation from the DL resulted in the recent DFA of Hanley Ramirez, whom Boston just released. Clearly, Boston did not expect Pedroia to reaggravate his knee so soon, and thus the removal of Ramirez from the roster now seems like a questionable decision. That’s particularly true considering Swihart is hitting just .163/.250/.186 on the season, and is looking more and more like a strain on the club’s roster.
One has to wonder about the long-term ramifications of Pedroia’s knee issues as well. Long a productive member of the Red Sox infield, Pedroia is now 34 and coming off an injury-shortened 2017 campaign that saw him post his lowest fWAR total since his rookie season. For the time being, it seems likely that Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez will see reps at the keystone. The club has also recalled Sam Travis to boost its depth for the time being.