Boston Red Sox – MLB Trade Rumors Wed, 19 Dec 2018 05:25:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Troy Tulowitzki Hosts Workout For MLB Clubs Wed, 19 Dec 2018 04:43:51 +0000 At least 11 teams were on hand to watch Troy Tulowitzki work out earlier today, reports Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. The Giants, Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Padres, White Sox, Orioles, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers and Pirates were all represented at the showcase, Brown reports (as were other, unnamed teams), with some clubs even sending their top executives to get a first-hand look at the former Rockies star. Angels GM Billy Eppler was in attendance, per Brown, as were new Giants president of baseball ops Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy.

Since being released by the Blue Jays last week — with two years and $38MM remaining on his contract — Tulowitzki has been separately connected to a handful of teams including the Pirates, the Yankees, the Cubs and the Giants. His agent, Paul Cohen, recently told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that Tulowitzki is open to playing second base or third base with a new team. Brown, notably, writes that the biggest appeal for Tulowitzki will be the promise of regular at-bats at one positions (as opposed to moving between those three spots in a utility role).

It doesn’t seem as though there’s any early favorite to add Tulowitzki, who’ll cost his new team only the Major League minimum of $555K next season. (Toronto is on the hook for the remainder of his salary.) At that price, it’s justifiable for virtually any team to take a look at Tulowitzki and see if he can rediscover some of the form that once made him one of the game’s premier players. While few would expect him to return to his 2013-14 levels of output, that type of performance is hardly necessary from someone whose new team will pay him the league minimum. Tulowitzki’s bat was at least league-average in both 2015 and 2016, so if he’s healthy there’s plenty of reason to believe he can at least be fairly productive at the dish. How he adjusts defensively after undergoing surgery on both heels last year could be a more pressing question — particularly if he’s also adjusting to a new position after spending his entire pro career at shortstop.

Red Sox, Zach Putnam Agree To Minor League Deal Wed, 19 Dec 2018 00:28:33 +0000 The Red Sox have agreed to a minor league contract with reliever Zach Putnam, tweets’s Chris Cotillo. The right-hander missed the 2018 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Putnam, 31, was a regular in the White Sox’ bullpen from 2014-17 before going down with an arm injury that ultimately led to Tommy John surgery. Prior to that procedure, though, Putnam turned in 139 1/3 innings with a 2.71 ERA, 9.6 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate. Putnam never lit up the radar gun, sitting at 90.4 mph with his fastball over that four-year stretch on the South Side, but he nonetheless posted a gaudy 16.1 percent swinging-strike rate in that time as well. Beyond that, Putnam excelled in terms of limiting hard contact, as evidenced by a 27.2 percent opponents’ hard-hit rate that ranked well below the league average.

Putnam joins the Red Sox organization with four-plus years of service time and will surpass the five-year mark if he logs any meaningful big league time in 2019. That means that if he’s able to return to the Majors and find success, the Red Sox will be able to control him through the 2020 season via the arbitration process.

Olney On Kimbrel's Free Agency Mon, 17 Dec 2018 21:55:23 +0000
  • Craig Kimbrel’s lofty asking price — a reported six years and $100MM — and the lack of big-market clubs currently willing to spend on a late-inning reliever could present the right-hander with a difficult market this winter, Buster Olney of writes. Olney likens the situation to last year’s tepid market for J.D. Martinez — a similarly elite player for his position (designated hitter) who lingered on the open market until landing in Boston in late February — a match that long seemed inevitable. The Red Sox may be the best bet for Kimbrel, too, Olney opines, especially given the plethora of more affordable options for smaller and mid-market clubs to pursue even if they do want to bolster the back end of their bullpens.
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    Red Sox, Nationals Only Two Teams To Exceed 2018 Luxury Tax Threshold Mon, 17 Dec 2018 01:31:32 +0000 TODAY: The final totals are in, as The Associated Press reports that the Red Sox will owe $11,951,091 in luxury tax payments, while the Nationals owe $2,386,097.  Boston will also lose ten spots in draft position, dropping from its original 33rd overall spot in the first round.

    NOVEMBER 4: As was widely expected, the Red Sox and Nationals were the only two clubs who exceeded the $197MM luxury tax threshold this season, as’s Jon Morosi confirmed (Twitter link) earlier this week.  The exact figures aren’t known, though as per the luxury tax calculations on Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Boston surpassed the threshold by slightly beyond $40.85MM, while Washington was just under $6.3MM beyond the tax line.  As a reminder, a team’s normal payroll is just pure dollars spent on player salaries in a season, whereas the payroll as calculated for Competitive Balance Tax purposes consists of the average annual value of player contracts, bonuses, and other expenses.

    This is the second straight year that the Nats passed the luxury tax threshold, so their tax bill will consist of 30 percent of every dollar spent in overage (so around $1.89MM).  After exceeding the threshold in 2015 and 2016, the Red Sox ducked under the CBT line in the 2017-18 offseason to “reset their clock,” so they’ll be taxed at the first-timer rate of 20 percent of every dollar spent in overage.  By Cot’s numbers, however, the Red Sox surpassed the threshold by more than $40MM, so they’ll face a 62.5 percent surcharge on the overage.

    This would work out to roughly $25.53MM in luxury tax payments and, perhaps more importantly, Boston’s top pick in next year’s amateur draft (currently the 33rd overall selection) would drop by 10 spots.  Since the Sox are so close to that $40MM figure, it’s possible there could be some other calculation or unknown payroll factor that got the club under the $237MM mark — we won’t know for certain about the draft pick or the final Competitive Balance Tax bill until the league makes an official announcement.  Had Boston stayed within the $20MM-$40MM range for payroll overage, they would have faced only a 12 percent extra in tax on top of their 20 percent first-timer percentage, putting them on the hook for approximately $12.672MM in luxury tax payments.

    The Giants were right up against the $197MM line seemingly all season long, though by Cot’s calculations, they squeaked under the threshold by less than $1.6MM, thus avoiding their fourth straight year of tax payments.  San Francisco was very careful in trying to stay under the $197MM payroll line after a busy offseason, as the team made a pure salary dump of a trade with the Rangers in July to unload Austin Jackson and Cory Gearrin’s contracts, and also traded Andrew McCutchen to the Yankees on August 31 once they were fully out of contention.

    The Competitive Balance Tax was a major subplot of the 2017-18 offseason, as one of the reasons behind the unprecedented lack of free agent activity was the fact that big spenders like the Giants, Yankees, and Dodgers all kept their spending in check (at least by their standards) in an effort to stay under the threshold.  For New York, this marks the first time since the luxury tax system was instituted in 2003 that the team will avoid making payments — the Yankees paid a whopping $319.6MM in total luxury tax payments from 2003-17.  The Dodgers have exceeded the threshold every season since 2013, as the Guggenheim Baseball Management ownership group made an initial big spending splash to bring the club back into relevance, though the Dodgers always stressed that they would eventually take a more measured approach to payroll.

    The expectation was that, once these teams reset their spending clocks, it would open the floodgates for increased spending in a 2018-19 free agent market that has two players (Bryce Harper, Manny Machado) in line for record-setting contracts.  Those two superstars plus many other available big names like Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel, Yasmani Grandal, Craig Kimbrel, Josh Donaldson, Nathan Eovaldi, and many others makes this winter a particularly important time to have as much salary flexibility as possible.

    Any team who exceeds the luxury tax threshold in three or more consecutive years must pay a 50 percent tax on the overage, so getting under the line carries some noteworthy savings.  Plus, as per the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that came into play for the 2017 season, a team that surpasses the $40MM overage figure (as it appears Boston has done) faces as much as a 90 percent tax on the overage, plus that 10-slot drop for their top pick in the amateur draft.

    Those stiffer penalties surely also contributed to the Yankees, Dodgers, and Giants’ decisions, though it should be noted that the actual dollars paid in tax penalties aren’t overly pricey for such wealthy franchises.  While big spending is certainly no guarantee of success on the field, it usually does provide some level of competitive advantage — for instance, nobody in Boston’s organization is sweating that tax payment in the wake of a World Series championship, no matter if the final bill ends up at $12.672MM or $25.53MM.  (Even dropping from the 33rd to the 43rd overall pick is a pretty light penalty.)  As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes has written in the past, some “large market teams are treating the CBT thresholds as lines they absolutely cannot cross,” perhaps as an overall excuse to curb spending.  Only eight teams total have ever made tax payments, with two of those clubs — the 2004 Angels and 2016 Cubs — doing so only once.  Teams will have even more room to spend in 2019, as the luxury tax threshold is jumping up to $206MM.

    In paying the tax in 2018, the Red Sox and Nationals will each face added penalties for pursuing free agents who were issued qualifying offers, and will receive limited compensation if their own QO free agent (Kimbrel for the Sox, Harper for the Nats) leaves.  If Boston or Washington signs a player who rejected the QO from his former team, the Sox/Nats would have to give up $1MM in international signing bonus pool money as well as their second-highest and fifth-highest picks in next year’s draft.  Should Kimbrel and Harper reject their qualifying offers and sign elsewhere, the Sox and Nationals would only receive a compensatory pick after the fourth round of the draft.

    Details On Boston's Offer To Joe Kelly Fri, 14 Dec 2018 03:52:59 +0000
  • Reliever Joe Kelly agreed to a three-year, $25MM deal with the Dodgers on Thursday, but his previous employer in Boston didn’t make a particularly competitive offer to retain him, Rob Bradford of WEEI suggests. Not only did the Red Sox only propose a two-year contract, but the average annual value likely didn’t match what the Dodgers will give Kelly, according to Bradford. That jibes with a previous report suggesting the Red Sox are waiting for relievers’ prices to drop before committing to anyone.
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    Red Sox Waiting Out Relief Market Fri, 14 Dec 2018 02:20:37 +0000
  • The Red Sox lost Joe Kelly to the Dodgers in free agency and are also in danger of bidding adieu to Craig Kimbrel, but it doesn’t seem they’re urgently searching for relief help. Instead, the reigning World Series champions are planning to “wait out” the market until a reliever falls to them for a palatable cost, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports. That makes it seem even less likely they’ll re-sign Kimbrel, whose reported asking price is exorbitant, though Drellich hasn’t closed the door on the two sides continuing their union.
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    Craig Breslow Considering Retirement, Non-Playing Positions Thu, 13 Dec 2018 12:44:14 +0000
  • Veteran southpaw Craig Breslow is considering retirement, and has been talking with the Red Sox and other teams about non-playing jobs, NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich writes.  The 38-year-old Breslow pitched in the Blue Jays’ minor league system in 2018, and wasn’t able to crack the big league roster in order to add a 13th Major League season to his resume.  Breslow has long been seen as a candidate to move into a front office, managerial, or coaching role once he decided to hang up his spikes, and he is exploring all options as he considers whether or not to move onto this next stage or to continue pitching.
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    Red Sox Re-Sign Tony Renda To Minors Deal Thu, 13 Dec 2018 10:48:14 +0000
  • The Red Sox re-signed infielder Tony Renda to a new minor league deal, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports.  After playing in 32 games for the Reds as a rookie in 2016, Renda didn’t make it back to the majors until this season, when he appeared in a single game for Boston.  The lone appearance was a notable one, as Renda entered the game as a pinch-runner in the 10th inning and scored the winning run in a 5-4 win over the Yankees on August 5.  (Renda even received a World Series ring for his modest contribution to Boston’s championship season.)  After hitting a combined .318/.373/.453 over 292 PA at the Double-A and Triple-A levels in 2018, Renda will return to the organization after being outrighted after the season.
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    Red Sox Notes: Kimbrel, Catchers, Outfield Thu, 13 Dec 2018 06:57:14 +0000 Agents representing some of the top available relievers have been told by the Red Sox that the team is waiting on Craig Kimbrel before deciding on other bullpen options, NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich reports.  This would seemingly run counter to other recent reports, as Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski recently stated that the team wasn’t planning to spend big on a closer, while Kimbrel is reportedly looking for the priciest contract ever landed by a relief pitcher.  Obviously some gamesmanship could be at work here, as Drellich notes, and he suggests that a shorter-term and potentially backloaded contract with a high average annual value could be a fit for both sides.  This would give Kimbrel a big payday while also reloading the Boston bullpen while the club is in a win-now window, as several notable stars are set for free agency in the next year or two.

    • In another chat with media today, Dombrowski told Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (Twitter links) and other reporters that was happy with his starting outfielders and his catching mix, and wasn’t looking to make any changes.  In regards to the latter position, the Red Sox have received at least some interest in their catchers from the Mets (as per’s Anthony DiComo) as New York continues to explore secondary plans if the club can’t land J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins.
    Brock Holt Getting Trade Interest Wed, 12 Dec 2018 18:33:53 +0000
  • There have been a number of names on the Red Sox roster (some surprising) mentioned as trade candidates within the last 24 hours, and the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo mentions that Brock Holt is another name that has received interest.  A deal seems unlikely, however, as the super-utilityman is slated to handle second base if Dustin Pedroia isn’t ready for the start of the season.  Holt rebounded from a poor 2017 campaign to hit .277/.362/.411 over 367 PA for the World Series champs last season, spending most of his time as a second baseman but also making starts at shortstop, third base, first base, and both corner outfield slots.
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    Red Sox Notes: Bogaerts, Payroll, Sale, Catchers Wed, 12 Dec 2018 08:23:55 +0000 Following a startling afternoon report that the Red Sox would “listen” to offers on franchise cornerstones Xander Bogaerts, Rick Porcello, and Jackie Bradley Jr., presumably in order to clear payroll space for upgrades elsewhere on the diamond, the BoSox brass spent much of the evening in equivocation.  Indeed, NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich reports that the defending champs would need to be “blown away” to deal their star shortstop, and the notion that they’re “actively shopping” these players is “overblown.”  Replacing the 26-year-old Bogaerts, who’s posted an exceptional 17.4 fWAR over the last four seasons, would be nearly impossible, and the rental market, at least in recent times, leaves little to be desired.  Boston, though, will face a number of tough decisions with core players in the upcoming seasons: after all, nearly half of the team’s projected 25-man roster is set to hit free agency by the conclusion of 2020 season.

    In other news from Beantown . . .

    • Both Alex Speier of the Boston Globe and Chad Jennings of The Athletic offer insight into the potential mass exodus set to hit the club after the 2019 and 2020 seasons.  Each of Bogaerts, Porcello, Chris Sale, and possibly J.D. Martinez (if he elects to exercise his opt-out) are free agents after next season, with Bradley and Mookie Betts set to hit the market the following year.  Though the club’s annual reserves match (and often surpass) that of any other MLB team, keeping all these players in the fold seems altogether unlikely: “I do caution, and the one thing I keep talking about, is that it’s just from a financial perspective and rule perspective, it’s not going to be possible to keep everybody that we have,” GM Dave Dombrowski said. “You have to realize that if anybody is signed long term now, it may have an effect on some other things that you may do later on.”  It seems prudent, then, to cull from at least two of the lower-profile members of the group (which includes a half-dozen or so other contributors), though Porcello, with his $21.1MM salary for next season, and Bradley, with declining performance in the box, may not yield the assets the BoSox desire.
    • Drellich, in a separate report, cites sources claiming that lefty Chris Sale would be “open” to extension talks, and perhaps more so than “most players of his caliber.”  The 29-year-old, of course, just completed one of the most impressive seasons in AL history and is on a surefire hall-of-fame trajectory; the figures, then, are sure to be astronomical, but neither the team nor Dombrowski have shied away from huge starting-pitcher payouts in the past.
    • Christopher Smith of reports that the Sox “prefer to trade” one of their three catchers before Spring Training but “are willing” to hold on to each. Blake Swihart, long the subject of trade rumors across the baseball landscape, continued to disappoint at the plate in 2018, while platoon mates Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon combined for a dreadful -1.7 fWAR. The position seems a clear target of upgrade for the defending champs, though dealing from their current surfeit may be challenging, to say the least.
    Latest On Jackie Bradley Jr. Wed, 12 Dec 2018 04:07:31 +0000 10:07pm: Rob Bradford of WEEI passes along different information, tweeting that the D-backs are not targeting Bradley.

    5:37pm: Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is near the top of the Diamondbacks’ wish list, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on Twitter.

    There’s a clear connection to Bradley in Arizona, whose general manager, Mike Hazen, worked in Boston’s front office before taking the helm of the Diamondbacks in 2016. The 28-year-old Bradley’s also familiar with Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo from his time on the Red Sox’s coaching staff. And the world champion Red Sox are reportedly taking offers on Bradley and other veterans, perhaps making a JBJ trade a realistic possibility. It’s worth noting the Red Sox would still be loaded in the outfield even without Bradley, which could make him expendable in the team’s estimation.

    Arizona’s need for a center fielder is obvious, on the other hand, as previous starter A.J. Pollock is now a free agent and is sure to price himself out of the desert. Bradley, meanwhile, has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining and is projected to make a reasonable $7.9MM next season. Bradley’s coming off his third straight campaign with at least 2.2 fWAR, having totaled 2.8 as he combined passable offense (.234/.314/.403 with 13 home runs and 17 steals in 535 plate appearances) with another year of plus defense.

    Red Sox, Gorkys Hernandez Agree To Minor League Deal Wed, 12 Dec 2018 03:23:02 +0000 The Red Sox have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Gorkys Hernandez, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports. Hernandez would earn $1MM in the majors, Speier adds.

    The 31-year-old Hernandez spent the past three seasons in San Francisco, where he amassed a particularly high number of plate appearances from 2017-18. After going without a home run in 348 trips to the plate two years ago, the right-handed Hernandez exploded for 15 in 451 PAs last season. However, Hernandez still offered below-average overall production, batting .234/.295/.357 (83 wRC+). In all, he’s just a .234/.295/.357 hitter (77 wRC+) in 1,034 major league PAs, though he has stolen 20 bases – including eight in 2018.

    While Hernandez doesn’t pose much of a threat at the plate, he is capable of lining up at all three outfield positions. Most of Hernandez’s work has come in center field, where he has totaled minus-10 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-0.6 Ultimate Zone Rating in 1,389 innings. Despite his versatility, Hernandez is facing an uphill climb to crack his new club’s roster, given the presences of outfielders Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and J.D. Martinez. Bradley’s name has come up in trade rumors, however, and if he’s dealt, it could increase Hernandez’s chances of making the team.

    Report: Red Sox Taking Offers On Rick Porcello, Others Tue, 11 Dec 2018 21:06:18 +0000 The defending World Series champion Red Sox are at least opening the door to some surprising sell-side moves, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter links). Though the club is obviously not going to divert from its attempt to repeat, it seems there’s a movement afoot to pare back some existing payroll.

    The true end goal here isn’t clear. Boston already splurged to re-sign Nathan Eovaldi, giving him a four-year deal at a $17MM rate of pay, and it doesn’t seem as if the club is interested in doing anything that would substantially harm its competitive position. The division, after all, promises to be quite competitive — to say nothing of the top-heavy American League.

    Still, the Sox are said to be “openly listening” to offers for veteran right-hander Rick Porcello, who’ll earn $21MM this year before reaching free agency. Yet more surprisingly, the club is said to be “willing to talk about” star shortstop Xander Bogaerts (projected $11.9MM arbitration salary in final season of eligibility) and quality center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. ($7.9MM, second-to-last season of eligibility).

    Parting with any of these players would clearly harm the team’s 2019 roster — unless, that is, there was a plan in place to add a different piece to fill the opening. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the idea would indeed be to repurpose any payroll savings, perhaps opening the door to some bullpen reinforcements.

    While that’s sensible from one perspective, it still feels like an incomplete picture. After all, it’s not as if the Boston organization has high-quality fill-in pieces knocking down the door.  In Porcello’s case, at least, there’s an argument that the Red Sox have sufficient depth after bringing back Eovaldi, but it obviously wouldn’t be as good as the sturdy 29-year-old. Bogaerts is not remotely replaceable from within; presumably, the club would go onto the market for a different option at short. As for Bradley, it’s easy to imagine Andrew Benintendi taking over in center, but that’d still leave an outfield opening that would need to be addressed in some regard (perhaps in part through reliance upon Steve Pearce and other existing reserves).

    It’s fair to wonder just what the Sox could anticipate recouping in hypothetical trades. Porcello’s hefty salary limits his appeal, making him more of a candidate to be dealt for another spendy veteran or perhaps a limited prospect return. Bogaerts has plenty of rental value, though the Red Sox would be dealing with fellow contenders to find a fit and there’s limited demand at the shortstop position. Bradley is controllable fr two years and could fit in plenty of places, though his offensive numbers have been down and he’s not the type of piece that most teams would go wild to acquire — particularly with some similar players potentially also available via trade.

    Generally speaking, boosting the farm would certainly be of interest, but it’d be quite tricky to do that and save money without significantly damaging the team’s immediate competitiveness. Sussing out how this potential strategy could make sense in the aggregate is frankly difficult to do without contemplating multiple successive transactions. It’s certainly a fascinating development for the Red Sox and the broader market, but it is tough to guess at this point how it might all play out.

    Dombrowski On Paying For Closers, Catcher Trades Tue, 11 Dec 2018 05:22:00 +0000
  • It doesn’t seem as if the Red Sox will be re-signing Craig Kimbrel, as club president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters (including’s Ian Browne and’s Chris Cotillo) today that “we’re not looking to make a big expenditure in” the closer position.  Past reports indicated that Boston had only limited interest in bringing back the star closer, and with Kimbrel seeking a six-year deal, it seems as if his asking price will simply be too high for the team’s liking.  If Kimbrel isn’t returning, the Red Sox are looking around for other relief options, and Dombrowski noted that they would prefer inking a closer to a short-term deal.  It also isn’t out of the question that the Sox use Ryan Brasier or Matt Barnes as a closer next season, though Dombrowski said it’s too early in the offseason for such determinations.
  • Dombrowski also mentioned that the Red Sox had received interest in catchers Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart, and Sandy Leon, and that the club is “open to discussing” any of the three in trade talks.  None of the trio are coming off good reasons, though Leon and Vazquez have a lot of defensive upside and Swihart may yet be able to unlock his prospect potential with a change of scenery.
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