Boston Red Sox – MLB Trade Rumors Mon, 24 Sep 2018 18:51:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 AL East Notes: Sabathia, Red Sox Bullpen, Second Basemen Sat, 22 Sep 2018 17:04:55 +0000 Per a tweet from Marc Carig of The Athletic, Yankees lefty CC Sabathia has decided to play next year. Though he’d indicated early on in the season that he might retire under certain circumstances, more recent statements from Sabathia had suggested he’d like to play another season. Most notably, he’d said he was taking a start-to-start approach to see how he felt, as his ability to pitch in 2019 would probably be contingent upon the health of his troublesome knee. Sabathia has continued to be a useful pitcher for the Yankees; across the past two seasons he’s taken the mound for 55 starts while posting a serviceable 3.73 ERA. There have been some small signs of decline, such as his dwindling innings per start figures across the past three seasons (Sabathia’s only averaged 5.28 innings across his 28 starts so far in 2018), but it seems reasonable to think that even if the Yankees decided not to bring him back, some team would probably be willing to pay for his services next year. That’s notable, considering Carig’s mention that Sabathia intends to play “even if it means signing with a team other than the Yankees.”

Now for a pair of notes related to the Yankees’ chief AL East rivals…

  • In his latest piece for The Athletic, Eno Sarris takes a deep dive into the statistics in order to answer an interesting question: does Dave Dombrowski have a bullpen problem? Dombrowski, of course, has a track record of success wherever he’s gone throughout the course of his lengthy career (and indeed has helped this year’s Boston team to a stunningly successful campaign). But whether by shortcomings or simply coincidence, the current Red Sox and former Tigers GM has had to answer for poor bullpen production from both of those teams. Notably, Sarris points out that Boston’s bullpen ranks in the bottom 20% of all MLB teams since the club did not acquire a reliever at the August deadline. Of course, it should be noted that one of his first moves as the club’s GM was to acquire Craig Kimbrel, who’s been a fantastic success. And it’s not as though Dombrowski hasn’t made other key moves in the past couple of years to acquire bullpen help; Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg were headline acquisitions but simply haven’t worked out as fans may have hoped. Overall, Sarris’ piece is quite interesting, and comes with the added benefit of a player-by-player breakdown of the club’s relief corps.
  • Also for The Athletic, Chad Jennings writes about how three infielders in the Red Sox organization have helped shape expectations about second basemen. Brandon Phillips, Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia have all enjoyed paramount success throughout their careers. “We’re all different in our own ways,” Phillips said. “We’re all productive, and the way we approach the game, we all went out there, and we swung that bat. That’s what we do. We swung the bat.” The piece provides some entertaining insight into the pasts of these three players, and is well worth a read in its entirety, particularly for Red Sox fans.
Austin Maddox Undergoes Rotator Cuff Surgery Thu, 20 Sep 2018 18:56:43 +0000 Red Sox righty Austin Maddox has undergone surgery to his right rotator cuff, the club announced today. He’s expected to be sidelined for about twelve months, putting his 2019 season in jeopardy.

Maddox, 27, missed most of the 2018 season with a right shoulder strain, so this news strikes a cruel blow to a once-promising future in the Boston bullpen.

After a methodical climb through the Red Sox system, the hard-throwing righty inserted himself into the late-inning mix for the ’17 Red Sox with a 0.52 ERA in 17.1 IP, though his modest peripherals (7.27 K/9, 26% GB) didn’t necessarily portend future dominance.

Two rehab stints this season (the first in May, the latter cut short at the end of August) both ended in disaster for the young hurler, as he allowed 15 hits and 4 homers in 5 2/3 innings for Triple-A Pawtucket and Double-A Portland, doubtless a product of the still-iffy nature of his right shoulder.

Nunez Exits With Recurrence Of Knee Pain Thu, 20 Sep 2018 03:18:16 +0000
  • Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez exited tonight’s game due to soreness in his right knee, tweets Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. It’s the latest in a long series of knee injuries that have hampered the versatile infielder dating back to last season. Nunez recently acknowledged that he’s played through discomfort for much of the season, posting a woeful .264/.288/.378 slash through 494 plate appearances along the way. Manager Alex Cora doesn’t believe Nunez’s injury to be serious, but he’ll be out of the lineup tomorrow at the very least. Nunez’s 400th plate appearance boosted the value of his 2019 player option from $4MM to $5MM (per WEEI’s Rob Bradford), and his ongoing knee issues create a possibility that he’ll simply opt to return at that rate for the 2019 season.
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    AL Notes: Tucker, Abreu, Betts, Blue Jays Sun, 16 Sep 2018 20:39:49 +0000 The Astros called up top outfield prospect Kyle Tucker from Triple-A today, and that could very well mark the team’s final September promotion, manager A.J. Hinch tells reporters (Twitter links via Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle). Hinch added that Tucker probably won’t play much in the season’s final weeks, though with Tucker having already debuted earlier this summer and his season in Triple-A Fresno over, there’s little reason not to bring Tucker back up. The 21-year-old former No. 5 overall pick hit just .154/.254/.212 in 59 plate appearances with the ’Stros earlier this year, but he decimated Triple-A pitching at a .332/.400/.590 pace, swatting 24 homers and swiping 20 steals along the way.

    More from the American League…

    • In an interesting look back at what could have been, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald examines the Red Sox’ initial pursuit of Jose Abreu when he was an international free agent. The BoSox maxed out at six years and $60MM in their pursuit of the vaunted Cuban slugger according to Silverman, but they ultimately lost out when the White Sox offered a total of $68MM guaranteed over that same term. Silverman runs through a series of trickle-down effects, as Boston instead pivoted to re-sign Mike Napoli. That was one of many lackluster offseason moves that set the stage for the ill-fated 2014-15 offseason that saw the Sox sign Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. There’s little sense in fretting too much over hindsight, but it’s nonetheless an intriguing reminder of the domino effect that so many offseason moves (and non-moves) carry.
    • Mookie Betts exited today’s game with soreness in his left side, the Red Sox announced today. That’s the same issue that caused him to land on the disabled list earlier this summer, but manager Alex Cora tells reporters that this instance was precautionary and not considered serious (Twitter link via Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic). Betts is expected to see some time at DH in the Red Sox’ upcoming series against the Yankees, with J.D. Martinez lining up in right field in his place.
    • The Blue Jays are making some changes in their scouting department, as first reported by Robert Murray of The Athletic (Twitter link). Specifically, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports that pro scouts Jon Bunnell, Dan Evans, Bryan Lambe and Kimball Crossley are being let go. A pair of veteran Jays scouts, Jim Beattie and and Brad Matthews are retiring as well. While some organizations have begun to pare back on their pro scouting staffs, Davidi notes that the Blue Jays are planning on replacing all six of them.
    Christian Vazquez, Trade Candidate? Sat, 15 Sep 2018 22:22:29 +0000
  • “There could be a big market for” Christian Vazquez should the Red Sox make him available in trade talks, rival executives tell the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo.  This scenario would’ve been seemed unthinkable last March, when the Sox signed Vazquez to a three-year, $13.55MM extension that seemingly made him Boston’s long-term answer behind the plate. 2018 has been essentially a lost season for Vazquez, however, as he has hit only .213/.256/.298 over 239 PA and missed just under eight weeks with a fractured pinky finger on his throwing hand.  Offense has never been a big plus for the defensively-stellar Vazquez, though with Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart behind the plate, Cafardo wonders if the Sox could move Vazquez to address other needs.
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    Dombrowski On Bullpen Search Sat, 15 Sep 2018 16:35:12 +0000
  • The Red Sox didn’t put much focus on relief pitching at the trade deadline, with president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski noting that “If we addressed the bullpen, then there’d be other needs we’d have.  It wasn’t that we weren’t open to some moves. But we addressed some of our other priorities.”  Boston was linked to multiple relievers in trade rumors but didn’t find a fit anywhere.  In regards to one name in particular, Dombrowski said that “we couldn’t touchRoberto Osuna, who the Astros acquired from the Blue Jays in a deal that generated quite a bit of controversy, given the domestic assault charges still pending against him.  The bullpen has been seen as a possible Achilles’ heel for an otherwise dominant Red Sox team, though as Dombrowski observed, Boston’s relief corps still ranks within the top ten in most major categories.

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    Nunez Again Bothered By Knee Issues Fri, 14 Sep 2018 14:41:42 +0000
  • Red Sox infielder Eduardo Nunez exited Thursday’s game due to soreness in his right knee, per’s Chris Cotillo — the same knee that plagued him late in the 2017 season and into the American League Division Series, where he had to be helped off the field. Nunez recently told’s Rob Bradford that the knee has been an ongoing issue for him in 2018 but was getting “close” to 100 percent. That doesn’t seem to be the case now, though Cotillo notes that skipper Alex Cora said the team doesn’t believe Nunez’s current injury to be serious. Nunez will be held out of tonight’s game and re-assessed this weekend. He’s struggled to a .262/.287/.387 batting line through 486 plate appearances this season and has a player option for the 2019 season that increased from $4MM to $5MM when he took his 400th plate appearance (as first reported by Bradford).
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    David Price Implies That He Won't Exercise Opt-Out Clause Thu, 13 Sep 2018 02:20:37 +0000
  • David Price has an opt-out clause in his seven-year, $217MM contract following the season, but the left-hander’s recent comments to Christopher Smith of strongly suggest he’ll remain with the Red Sox. Asked if he would consider opting out because of his recent stretch of dominance, Price bluntly replied: “Why would I leave here to go to a team that’s not as good as this team? I came here to win.” Of course, it’s never seemed likely that the 33-year-old Price would opt out of the remaining $127MM on his deal (as explored here last week), but those comments make that outcome seem all the more certain. Over his past 128 2/3 innings (including tonight’s start), Price has a 2.94 ERA with a 137-to-27 K/BB ratio. Nearly 20 percent of the 42 runs he’s allowed in that 21-start stretch came in one outing; excluding that hiccup, he’s been a brilliant complement to Chris Sale atop the Boston rotation, creating a formidable one-two punch for rookie manager Alex Cora.
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    Sox Didn't Consider Promotions For Feltman, Lakins Tue, 11 Sep 2018 22:13:34 +0000
  • Despite some questions in the Red Sox bullpen, the organization didn’t give much thought to calling up either Durbin Feltman or Travis Lakins in September, writes Rob Bradford of President of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski tells Bradford that despite a strong minor league showing for each right-hander, neither can be considered a clear upgrade over the relievers currently in the Boston ’pen. A promotion of Feltman would’ve been extraordinarily aggressive, as he was selected in the third round of this year’s draft, though he was labeled a potential fast-track candidate and did pitch brilliantly across multiple Class-A levels. Bradford adds that Lakins’ injury history likely kept the 24-year-old down this year, as the team was wary about subjecting his arm to another two months of innings after he had a stress fracture in his elbow in 2017.
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    Red Sox Activate Chris Sale Tue, 11 Sep 2018 17:12:35 +0000 The Red Sox have activated ace lefty Chris Sale, as Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston was among those to report on Twitter. He is expected to pitch tonight, but only in a limited capacity, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald recently explained.

    Sale hit the DL in mid-August after experiencing ongoing shoulder inflammation. With a healthy lead in the division, the focus has long been on ensuring the star southpaw’s postseason availability.

    The expectation is that Sale will build back arm strength while pitching at the MLB level. With the end of the minor-league season, it’s the only way to get him game action. Skipper Alex Cora and his staff will be keeping a close eye to ensure Sale doesn’t push too hard, too fast.

    It’ll certainly be fascinating to see whether Sale can pick up where he left off and enter the playoffs as a dominant force. He has pitched 146 innings of 1.97 ERA ball this year, with a ridiculous 13.5 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9, so his own standard is a lofty one.

    Matt Barnes Out Indefinitely Sat, 08 Sep 2018 23:44:08 +0000
  • Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes is out indefinitely with left hip inflammation, Christopher Smith of reports. With Boston all but locked into the top seed in the American League, Barnes’ loss isn’t much of a blow now. But it could be if the injury continues to linger into the playoffs, as Barnes leads Red Sox relievers in holds (25) and strikeouts per nine (14.19). He has also thrown the second-most innings (58 1/3) of anyone in Boston’s bullpen and logged an impressive 3.39 ERA/2.71 FIP.
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    Dustin Pedroia Will Not Return In 2018 Fri, 07 Sep 2018 20:45:13 +0000 Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced today that second baseman Dustin Pedroia will not return during the 2018 season, as Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston was among those to report (Twitter links). In fact, Pedroia has been recovering from a previously undisclosed knee surgery since July.

    Of course, even without knowing of the surgery, it has long seemed unlikely that Pedroia would make it back to the field this year. The 35-year-old attempted to return from offseason knee surgery but played only three games before again hitting the shelf. While it wasn’t clear at the time that he’d be sidelined this long, there never was much indication of progress over the months that followed.

    For the Boston organization, the absence of Pedroia was already accounted for earlier this summer. The club swung a deal for veteran second bagger Ian Kinsler, who is perhaps as neat a match for Pedroia’s skillset and veteran status as could be imagined.

    Of course, Kinsler is slated to hit the open market at season’s end, while Pedroia remains under contract through 2021. Under the extension signed over the summer of 2013, Pedroia will earn $40MM total over the ensuing three-year span — a theoretically reasonable sum for a player of his quality, even at this advanced stage of his career, but also now a hefty amount to have committed given his increasingly worrisome slate of injuries.

    For now, the Red Sox will surely welcome Pedroia as a non-playing part of the dugout mix as they seek to convert an incredible regular season into postseason glory. But the offseason will present some tough questions. Brock Holt and (likely) Eduardo Nunez will remain on hand as potential options, though clearly the team’s preference would be for those players to function as reserves.

    Pedroia says his most recent procedure was to remove scar tissue, so perhaps it’s not a major concern in and of itself. The hope will have to be that a lengthy respite will allow him to finally get the troublesome knee in shape after requiring significant surgeries in each of the past two months of October. And Pedroia himself says he expects to be ready to go for the 2019 season. Surely, though, further infield moves will at least be contemplated.

    2018-19 Opt-Out & Player Option Decisions Fri, 07 Sep 2018 16:53:25 +0000 With Major League teams increasingly adding opt-out provisions to free-agent contracts as a means of incentivizing players to sign, there are now a handful of those decisions that impact the free-agent market every offseason. With nearly 90 percent of the season already in the books, many of the opt-out decisions/player option decisions look pretty clear cut.

    Things could change over the final month, but here’s a look at where things currently stand…

    Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers (Two years, $65MM remaining): Truthfully, Kershaw is the only player with an opt-out provision in 2018 who could be called likely to exercise the clause at present. While he hasn’t been quite as dominant as usual and has spent time on the DL for a third straight year (back issues, biceps tendinitis), it’s difficult to imagine him having to take less than that $65MM sum in free agency.

    In 131 1/3 innings this season, Kershaw is sporting a 2.40 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 1.4 BB/9, 0.89 HR/9 and a 48.9 percent ground-ball rate. He hasn’t topped 200 innings since 2015, but he’s still a clearly elite starter. If he does formally opt out, the Dodgers can issue a qualifying offer, though perhaps the easiest scenario would be for Los Angeles to simply extend Kershaw’s current contract to prolong his already historic Dodgers career.

    David Price, Red Sox (Four years, $127MM remaining): Price is having his best season with the Red Sox, having notched a 3.60 ERA with a strikeout per inning and 2.4 walks per nine innings pitched through 152 1/3 frames. His results have been solid, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine a scenario where he exceeds $127MM in free agency at the age of 33. Price’s Boston tenure has been rocky at times, but it seems likely that he’ll be back in the rotation next season.

    [Related: Club option decisions on starting pitchers, relievers and position players]

    Jason Heyward, Cubs (Five years, $106MM remaining): Declining to opt out is little more than a formality for Heyward at this point, as he hasn’t come close to living up to his $184MM contract in Chicago through the first three seasons. To his credit, though the 29-year-old has had a nice rebound effort, hitting .275/.342/.399 with above-average defense in right field. That might make the Cubs feel better about his contract moving forward, but it won’t be enough to prompt Heyward to test free agency. His contract contains a second opt-out clause following the 2019 season, at which point he’ll have four years and $86MM remaining, but that also seems like a long shot.

    Elvis Andrus, Rangers (Four years, $58MM): Andrus could be considered more of a borderline call than some on this list, but he seems likelier to stay with Texas than to opt out. The 30-year-old hasn’t had a bad season, hitting .270/.322/.396 with quality defense, but his bat hasn’t been as potent as it was in 2016-17 when he hit a combined .299/.348/.457. The downturn in offensive output might not be entirely Andrus’ fault; he did incur a broken elbow when he was hit by a pitch earlier this season — an injury that caused him to miss just over two months of action. It’s easy to imagine that injury having a lingering effect on Andrus’ swing, too.

    Like Heyward, Andrus has a second opt-out clause in his contract after the 2019 season. At that point, he’ll have three years and $43MM remaining on his contract. If his bat returns to its 2016-17 levels, surpassing that $43MM mark in free agency could be plausible. If Andrus opted out, he’d certainly be issued a qualifying offer — there’s no reason for the team to worry about him taking a one-year deal worth about $18MM when he just walked away from $58MM — which would only further hinder his earning power.

    Yasmany Tomas, D-backs (Two years, $32.5MM remaining): Tomas clubbed 31 homers with the 2016 Diamondbacks but did so with a .315 on-base percentage and some of the worst defensive ratings of any player in the Majors — regardless of position. He’s since been outrighted off the 40-man roster and, in 371 Triple-A plate appearances this season, has 101 strikeouts against 11 walks with a .280 OBP. Suffice it to say: he’s not going anywhere.

    Mark Melancon, Giants (Two years, $28MM remaining): Injuries have ruined Melancon’s first two seasons with the Giants, though he’s been excellent since returning in 2018: 2.64 ERA, 7.9K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 53.1 percent ground-ball rate in 30 2/3 innings. That performance is encouraging for the Giants as they look to 2019, but it won’t be enough to make Melancon’s camp think he can top $28MM heading into his age-34 season.

    Brandon Kintzler, Cubs ($5MM player option): Kintzler’s contract technically contains a $10MM club option or a $5MM player option, but it’s clear given his dismal performance since being traded to Chicago that the team won’t be opting for that $10MM sum. Kintzler was very good with the Twins and Nationals from 2016 through this past July, but his typically excellent control has evaporated in Chicago while his hard-contact rate has skyrocketed. It’s only a sample of 11 2/3 innings, but his struggles make the option seem a fairly straightforward decision.

    Eduardo Nunez, Red Sox ($5MM player option): Nunez’s deal comes with a $2MM buyout, making this effectively a $3MM decision for his camp. He’s struggled to the point that he may not even want to take that risk, though, hitting just .258/.282/.384 through 473 trips to the plate.

    Rob Bradford of reported this week that Nunez’s option increased from $4MM to $5MM once he reached 400 plate appearances. Bradford spoke to Nunez, who acknowledged that the knee that gave out on him in the postseason last year has been a problem for him throughout 2018, though he believes he’s finally “close” to 100 percent. Perhaps a strong month and a big postseason could prompt him to again test the open market, but his overall production to this point makes the player option seem a likelier outcome.

    East Notes: Mets Front Office, Frazier, Ball, Prado Thu, 06 Sep 2018 05:24:26 +0000 It seems the Mets have yet to get their much-anticipated front-office search underway in earnest. But there has been a steady steam of information on the process of finding a new top baseball operations. (Of course, there still has been no formal announcement that the club will replace Sandy Alderson, who’s currently on leave for cancer treatment, though it is widely expected to take place.) Joel Sherman of the New York Post lays out the team’s thinking on the hiring process, suggesting that ownership is still gathering names to consider but hopes to wrap things up in advance of the GM Meetings. Interestingly, current exec Omar Minaya is said not only to be involved in the process, but also a clear factor moving forward. Per Sherman: “it is clear that whoever does get the position is going to inherit Minaya as an executive with — at the very least — significant say in player personnel, and someone who has the ear and trust of ownership.” There are quite a few names being tossed around at the moment. As Sherman notes, that’s largely reflective of the still-early stage of proceedings — and, perhaps, some differences in preferred approaches between Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Meanwhile, Andy Martino of hears that the Mets are open to utilizing different front office structures (or, at least, allocations of titles) to help open the door to additional candidates. Generally, though, he writes that there’s no “particular top candidate in mind” at the moment.

    • Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier likely won’t be able to return this season after suffering a setback in his efforts to return from a concussion, manager Aaron Boone told reporters including Marc Carig of The Athletic (Twitter link). The timing is poor for Frazier, who turns 24 today. With Aaron Judge still working his way back to health, this might have been a prime chance for Frazier to receive an extended opportunity. He has only appeared in 15 MLB games this year but seems in line for more after producing an excellent .311/.389/.574 slash with ten home runs in his 216 plate appearances at Triple-A.
    • Red Sox prospect Trey Ball is moving from the mound to the batter’s box, as Greg Levinsky of the Boston Globe notes on Twitter. The Globe’s Alex Speier recently examined the subject, explaining that the 2013 first-rounder was seen as a two-way prospect as a high-school outfielder. With his pitching career fizzling out — he has struggled in consecutive Double-A seasons, despite repeating the level and converting to a relief role — the 24-year-old Ball will now take a second shot at carving out a MLB career.
    • As we touched upon earlier tonight, the Martin Prado contract has been an exceedingly poor investment for the Marlins. That’s due mostly to the veteran’s injury and performance struggles, though the contract has also simply failed to line up with the team’s competitive timeline. Of course, that’s due in large part to the stunning death of former star pitcher Jose Fernandez, which occurred not long before the Prado deal was announced and drastically changed the organization’s outlook. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets, in fact, that the club considered halting negotiations with Prado, which had advanced to the point that terms were “in place” (but the contract un-signed) when Fernandez suddenly and tragically passed away. Instead, writes Spencer, the Marlins decided to go through with the deal that they had negotiated.
    Red Sox To Select Brandon Phillips, Recall Rafael Devers Mon, 03 Sep 2018 15:38:54 +0000 The Red Sox will call up infielder Brandon Phillips and third baseman Rafael Devers from Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe was among those to report. The team will need to add Phillips to its 40-man roster before promoting him. It currently has one open spot.

    Although Phillips has been a quality major leaguer for most of his career, the longtime Red was unable to land a contract in the offseason, thanks in part to his age (37). Phillips finally inked a minor league deal with Boston toward the end of June, and he’s now in line to appear in the majors for the 17th season in a row.

    Phillips was superb as a member of Pawtucket, with which he hit .302/.348/.477 in 161 plate appearances to earn a September call-up. He’ll provide second and third base depth for Boston – which, despite its overall dominance this year, hasn’t gotten great production from either position. Devers is partially to blame for that, having slashed just .242/.298/.422 with under 1.0 fWAR in 423 PAs. The promising 21-year-old has also been on the DL on multiple occasions because of hamstring troubles. Consequently, he hasn’t suited up for the Red Sox since Aug. 15.