Boston Red Sox – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-01-19T05:52:16Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Red Sox Continue To Signal Lack Of Interest In Kimbrel]]> 2019-01-18T05:35:05Z 2019-01-18T03:38:15Z
  • The Red Sox are continuing to tamp down expectations of a move to add a closer. As Chris Cotillo of writes, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski referred to free agent closer Craig Kimbrel’s Boston tenure in the past tense in comments today. He also suggested the team feels comfortable with its existing options to handle the ninth inning, naming Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Tyler Thornburg, and Steven Wright as possibilities. Needless to say, that’s an interesting foursome for the defending World Series champs to propose as a slate of Kimbrel successor candidates. If there’s still a chance of a reunion with the all-time great reliever, Dombrowski didn’t hint at it. “Sometimes, you have to evaluate where you’re going to spend your dollars,” he said. “We decided to keep back the rest of the core of the club. We like our team a great deal and we think some of the guys internally can do the job. Can we get better? Perhaps. But we’ll see what takes place.”
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[3 Remaining Needs: AL East]]> 2019-01-15T16:39:02Z 2019-01-15T16:39:02Z In the final installment of our 3 Remaining Needs series, let’s take a look at the division that boasted the best and worst teams of the 2018 season. The AL East perfectly reflects the class warfare plaguing the American League, as the gap between the competitive upper class and, well, the Orioles could not be more stark. Even within the upper crust, however, there is plenty of variance, as the low-payroll Rays have done their best to keep pace with payroll behemoths in Boston and New York. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays have taken a step back but are still looking to prepare their roster for an anticipated influx of premium young talent.

    [Previous installments: NL WestNL EastNL CentralAL West, AL Central]

    Baltimore Orioles

    • Trade Mychal Givens. It’s a no-brainer for the Orioles to sell off their veteran pieces for prospects, only they don’t have much to sell off. Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner can be shopped, but they’d be salary dumps if they’re moveable at all and they might be better off providing a veteran base for a rotation that should have younger arms auditioning for at least two turns out of every five. The O’s have invested too much in Dylan Bundy over the years to trade him now for pennies on the dollar; better to hang onto the upside. That leaves Givens (10.3 K/9) as the most attractive piece on an otherwise barren roster. Once the major free agent bullpeners are off the market, teams should come calling for a hard-throwing late-inning arm with three seasons of control remaining.
    • Sign trade bait for July. With a hugely uncertain roster situation, the Orioles should be willing to take some risks and snap up whatever the market leaves. While they’re not likely to snag any major free agents, even on pillow deals, they should be scouring the bargain bin for vets on one-year deals that could potentially bring something back at the trade deadline. Frankly, the particular position doesn’t matter so much as the value opportunity that’s presented. Needless to say, the same reasoning also supports active waiver-wire scanning, such as the team’s recent claims of Rio Ruiz and Hanser Alberto.
    • Boost their international operations. The O’s longstanding aversion to spending on international amateur talent is well-documented. That was beginning to change before the club turned over the reins to new GM Mike Elias, but the org’s initial foray onto the market did not exactly go without a hitch as the club’s top reputed targets (Sandy Gaston and the Mesa brothers) landed elsewhere. That served as a reminder that bringing in top talent — not to mention, unearthing lower-cost gems — involves more than having and spending the available funds.

    Boston Red Sox

    • Replace/re-sign Craig Kimbrel. The Red Sox haven’t done much work to rebuild their bullpen as of yet, but the degree to which they’ll need to is still unknown. With no clear market developing for Kimbrel at this time, a reunion is not at all out of the question. If they don’t bring him back to Boston, they’ll need to do something to bolster a unit currently over-reliant on holdovers Ryan Brasier and Matt Barnes.
    • Explore upgrades at catcher. Boston somehow managed to win a World Series in a season where its catchers batted a combined .194/.246/.288 in 619 plate appearances. Regardless of the defensive Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon can frame and throw with the best of them, and Blake Swihart (if he ever catches) may yet turn into something if given any semblance of an opportunity, but the catcher position in Boston was an utter black hole on offense last season. It wasn’t quite as bad as having a pitcher hit each time through the order, but it was closer than any AL team should be. That the team hasn’t done anything to this point suggests it may not be at the top of the priority list, but it’s hard to deny that there’s an opportunity to improve. Speaking of backstops …
    • Resolve the status of Blake Swihart. The Red Sox need to finally determine if Swihart has any kind of real role with the team. Again, it’s tough to criticize a team that won a World Series in 2018, but even Boston’s most steadfast defenders have to concede that the team didn’t exactly manage its roster all that effectively as pertains to Swihart. Boston wouldn’t put Swihart behind the plate, wouldn’t put him in the field and wouldn’t DH him. Swihart had just 48 plate appearances through May 31 in 2018 despite not spending a single day on the disabled list or in the minors. He had 99 PAs prior to the All-Star break — again, without a DL stint or any time in the minors. He can’t be optioned, and the Sox clearly don’t have a spot for him. It may have worked in 2018, but the Sox were effectively operating with a 24-man roster for a good chunk of 2018. They need more flexibility, and Swihart probably would like a chance to actually play somewhere.

    New York Yankees

    • Trade Sonny Gray. Once Brian Cashman began the offseason by declaring Gray would be traded, there seemed little room for negotiation. The market for Gray may not fully materialize until all of the top starting arms are off the market, but there doesn’t seem to be much value in bringing him back to New York. There’s no room in the rotation at present, even if there are questions around the age and durability of their top five. Still, the Yanks are not shy about in-season acquisitions and they have depth in Triple A they can rely on. Specifically, Domingo German (5.57 ERA) and Luis Cessa (5.24 ERA) underperformed last season relative to advanced metrics like FIP and xFIP.
    • Seriously pursue a premium free agent. No, the Yanks do not need Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. The club won 100 games last year and is a threat to do so again (in a highly stratified American League) without making further upgrades. Still, this division — more so than the two other wings of the AL — promises to host a year-long battle. And … well … this is the Yankees we are talking about. What good is it being a financial behemoth if you can’t use your might to elbow out other teams when rare market opportunities come along? We’re not here to say that the Yankees must land one of these two players, or that they simply have to pursue both even if it makes a mess of the team’s roster and financial planning. But it would be odd if the Yanks didn’t at least put in a strong bid for either or both. With the allure of the pinstripes and New York City helping the cause, they just might come away with a bargain.
    • Add another relief arm. Whether or not the club makes any other notable roster moves, this seems like an easy way to improve. The bullpen has been a notable strength in the Bronx of late, and that promises to continue. But the deeper the unit is, the more support it can provide to a highly talented but somewhat risky rotation. Limiting the wear and tear on the starting unit will not only max out its results all year long, but give the Yankees the best chance of having a powerful staff when crunch time comes late in the season.

    Tampa Bay Rays

    • Make another free agent splash. A big name would surely help the club draw some fans to the park, and perhaps help jump start a still-flagging ballpark effort. More importantly, the team can still tap into some funds to improve its chances of sneaking up on the BoSox and Yanks. As things stand, there’s still just under $60MM on the books for 2019. With a number of quality free agents still out there and awaiting a deal, the Rays should be willing to be aggressive in doling out short-term money to get significant pieces. Charlie Morton could deliver great value, and adding Avisail Garcia may be a decent risk, but there’s no reason to stop there.
    • Make a run at J.T. Realmuto. Whether or not the free agent market offers another golden opportunity, the Rays should see if they can pull of an intra-state coup by coaxing the Marlins to send their star backstop up the coast. There’s nothing wrong with a Mike ZuninoMichael Perez pairing behind the dish, but Realmuto is the game’s best. The Tampa Bay front office would have flexibility in resolving the preexisting options, particularly since Perez can still be optioned. He’d be a nice depth piece and could perhaps also remain on the roster as part of a three-catcher mix. Alternatively, the Rays could still deal away Zunino.
    • Add some veteran bullpen pieces. The Rays’ fascinating bullpen usage has shown no small amount of promise. Part of the strategy, of course, is to lean on a high volume of young pitching. But it’s hard to deny the value of veteran leadership and of established, steady performance. The current Tampa Bay bullpen unit features just one player — Chaz Roe — with more than three years of MLB service time. Allocating some remaining funds to one or more quality free agents would seem to make sense. Old friend Sergio Romo is among the many remaining possibilities.

    Toronto Blue Jays

    • Prepare for potential spring trades. Entering the winter, it seemed that veteran first baseman Justin Smoak would pop up in the rumor mill with some frequency. We broke down his potential suitors in anticipation of just that, but nothing of note has materialized to this point. There has been more chatter surrounding righty Marcus Stroman, but no indication to date that there’s any momentum toward a deal. Things may be quiet now, but more and more of the offseason business is stretching up to and into Spring Training, when teams will see their rosters in the flesh and injuries will begin to pop up. The Jays should anticipate some late-breaking interest in these players and be ready to pounce on any good opportunities that come up.
    • Put the payroll space to work. Neither Smoak nor Stroman need to be moved for purely financial reasons. Indeed, the Jays should also be willing at least to poke around for bargains on the market. The Jays are only projected to have a payroll of roughly $110MM next season right now, well below recent levels of spending. The team has a variety of players who have a decent amount of MLB experience but who have yet to establish themselves fully. It’s fine to give opportunities to players of that kind, but that shouldn’t be allowed to clog things up if there’s a chance to add better talent — even if it costs a bit of money. The Toronto organization could find some opportunities to acquire talent as teams make final payroll decisions, whether that takes the form of snagging unwanted arbitration-year players or taking on an under-water contract that’s packaged with prospects.
    • Add to the bullpen. The Jays have little in the way of established arms at the back of the ’pen, and even if they don’t realistically expect to contend, there’s value in having a few stabilizing pieces to prevent a constant churn of DFAs and other various 40-man machinations throughout the course of the season. Scooping up some useful arms on one- or even two-year deals can also always yield a viable summer trade chip. Last year, the club enjoyed some opportunities at the trade deadline due to its arsenal of veteran relievers, and there’s good reason to pursue a similar course again.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/14/19]]> 2019-01-15T05:02:29Z 2019-01-15T05:02:29Z It was a quiet day on the minor moves front, but there is one to catch up on …

    • Lefty Daniel Schlereth has landed with the Red Sox on a minors deal, per Chris Cotillo of (via Twitter). He’ll have to earn his way into MLB camp, as the deal doesn’t include an invite. The 32-year-old Schlereth hasn’t seen the majors since 2012, but has kept at it over the intervening years. Mot recently, he appeared briefly last year with the Mariners organization. In parts of nine seasons at Triple-A, the former first-round pick carries a 3.50 ERA with 9.7 K/9 against 6.9 BB/9.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: American League]]> 2019-01-12T20:28:12Z 2019-01-12T20:19:32Z The deadline for players and teams to exchange arbitration figures passed at 1pm ET yesterday, meaning over the next few hours, there will be a landslide of settlements on one-year deals to avoid an arbitration hearing. We’ll track today’s minor settlements from the American League in this post. Once all of the day’s settlements have filtered in, I’ll organize them by division to make them a bit easier to parse.

    It’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of teams have adopted a “file and trial” approach to arbitration, meaning that once arbitration figures are exchanged with a player, negotiations on a one-year deal will cease. The two parties may still discuss a multi-year deal after that point, but the majority of players who exchange figures with their team today will head to an arbitration hearing.

    As always, all salary projections referenced within this post are courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and we’ll also be updating our 2019 Arbitration Tracker throughout the day…

    Today’s Updates

    • Yankees 1B Greg Bird will make $1.2 MM next season, per Bob Nightengale on Twitter.
    • The controversial Roberto Osuna will make $6.5MM next season, per Feinsand. Teammate Jake Marisnick, who again scuffled in ’18 after a promising 2017, will make $2.2125MM.
    • Per Mark Feinsand on Twitter, A’s lefty Sean Manaea $3.15MM in what’s sure to be an injury-marred 2019.
    • Hard-throwing reliever Mychal Givens will make $2.15MM, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter), with additional incentives for making the All-Star team or placing in the Top-3 for the Rivera/Hoffman Reliever of the Year Awards, added’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
    • The Mariners agreed on a $1.95MM deal with outfielder Domingo Santana, per’s Greg Johns (via Twitter). Santana is the second and last of the Mariners’ arbitration-eligible players.
    • The Angels agreed to contracts with a pair of players yesterday, per Maria Torres of the LA Times (via Twitter). Reliever Hansel Robles signed for $1.4MM. Robles threw 36 1/3 innings of 2.97 ERA baseball after the Angels claimed him off waivers from the Mets in June. Luis Garcia, acquired via trade from the Phillies this winter, signed for $1.675MM.
    • The Tigers and reliever Shane Greene settled on $4MM, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • The Yankees reached an agreement with Sonny Gray for $7.5MM, per Nightengale. Gray, of course, has been involved trade rumors most of the winter, but for the time being, he stands to play a role in the Yankee pen while providing insurance for the rotation.
    • Didi Gregorius has also come to an agreement with the Yankees on a one-year, $11.75MM deal in his final season before free agency, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links).
    • New Yankee James Paxton signed for $8.575, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Paxton is under contract for the 2020 season as well.
    • The Houston Astros came to an agreement with Collin McHugh for $5.8MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). McHugh could be moving back into the rotation after a stellar season in the pen, either way this will be his final season of arb eligibility before hitting the open market.
    • Jonathan Villar comes away with $4.825MM for what will be his first full season in Baltimore, per Nightengale (via Twitter).

    Earlier Updates

    Read more

    George Miller <![CDATA[Red Sox Avoid Arbitration With Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley]]> 2019-01-11T22:08:35Z 2019-01-11T22:05:03Z 4:05pm: The Boston org has wrapped up deals with all of its dozen arb-eligible players, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). We’ve covered several other players elsewhere. Notably, shortstop Xander Bogaerts ($12MM) and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. ($8.55MM) have agreed to big salaries.

    11:20am: The Red Sox and American League MVP Mookie Betts have settled on a one-year deal worth $20MM, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. The salary figure is a record for a player in his second year of arbitration eligibility. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, Betts could earn an additional $400K via awards (Twitter link). Betts, who will remain under team control through 2020, had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $18.7MM.

    Fresh off a historic 2018 campaign in which he slashed an otherworldly .346/.438/.640 en route to a World Series title, Betts earned himself a $9.5MM raise from his previous salary. His record-setting deal will establish the new standard for players with four-plus years of MLB service time. In fact, notes Jeff Passan of ESPN, Betts’s new contract has been exceeded only by players in their fourth year of arbitration by virtue of the Super Two rule.

    Furthermore, this development could be notable for the Red Sox in that the team failed to reach an agreement with their superstar outfielder last winter, leading to an arbitration hearing to determine his salary. It is possible that this settlement could signify an increased willingness to discuss a potential contract extension, for which it appears talks have yet to substantially progress, in the future. However, should the two sides fail to agree to a multi-year extension next offseason–Betts’s last arbitration-eligible season before reaching free agency–the three-time All-Star could command an astronomical salary in his final year of team control; at the very least, Betts appears poised to eclipse–if not shatter–the $23MM record set by Josh Donaldson one year ago, which currently marks the highest one-year arbitration salary ever.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Red Sox Sign Bryce Brentz To Minor League Deal]]> 2019-01-11T15:32:05Z 2019-01-11T15:32:05Z
  • The Red Sox have brought outfielder Bryce Brentz back to the organization on a minor league contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, the team revealed in announcing a series of non-roster invitations. Now 30 years old, Brentz was drafted by the Red Sox in 2010 and stuck with the organization through 2017 before landing with the Mets. He batted .264/.332/.580 with 15 homers and 16 doubles for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League last season. Brentz saw brief MLB action with Boston in 2014 and 2016, hitting a combined .287/.311/.379 in 90 trips to the plate.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday]]> 2019-01-11T02:52:05Z 2019-01-11T02:51:58Z The deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration figures is tomorrow afternoon at 1pm ET. With the vast majority of teams now adopting a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration — that is, halting negotiations on one-year contracts once figures have been exchanged and simply going to a hearing at that point — there will be a deluge of arbitration agreements in the next 24 hours. It’s a minor deadline day in terms of newsworthiness — outside of the largest cases, at least — as few arbitration cases will have a significant impact on their team’s overall payroll picture. From a broader perspective, though, the exchange of arb figures is perhaps more notable. With most or all of their arbitration cases out of the way, teams can focus more heavily on the trade and free-agent markets.

    As always, it’s interesting to refer back to MLBTR’s annual arbitration projections. Here are the day’s deals:

    • The Tigers will pay Shane Greene $4MM for the coming campaign, Murray tweets. Entering his second year of eligibility, the 30-year-old had projected at $4.8MM, owing largely to his strong tally of 32 saves. Despite appealing K/BB numbers, though, Greene finished the season with an unsightly 5.12 ERA.
    • Righty Nick Tropeano settled with the Angels at $1.075MM. (That’s also via Murray, on Twitter.) That falls well shy of his $1.6MM projection. The first-year arb-eligible hurler was not terribly effective in his 14 starts last year and has just over two hundred career frames in the big leagues, due in no small part to a long rehab owing to Tommy John surgery.

    Earlier Updates

    • Newly acquired outfielder Domingo Santana will earn $1.95MM in his first season with the Mariners, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. That’s just a touch below the $2.0MM that MLBTR & Matt Swartz had projected. The 26-year-old Santana swatted thirty long balls and had a productive overall 2017 season, but only received 235 plate appearances in the ensuing campaign — over which he hit five home runs and carried a .265/.328/.412 slash — before being dealt to Seattle.
    • The Angels are on the hook for $1,901,000 to rehabbing righty J.C. Ramirez, Robert Murray of The Athletic tweets. Ramirez will receive a nominal raise on his 2018 salary after requiring Tommy John surgery after just two starts.
    • Phillies righty Hector Neris has settled at $1.8MM, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia (Twitter links). He had projected at $2.0MM but will settle for a bit less in his first season of arb eligibility. Right-handed starter Jerad Eickhoff, meanwhile, is slated to receive $975K. His projected first-year salary was much higher, at $1.7MM, but Eickhoff presented a tough case since he missed virtually all of his platform season with arm troubles.
    • Southpaw Ryan Buchter has agreed with the Athletics on a $1.4MM deal, Nightengale of reports on Twitter. That lands just a smidge over his $1.3MM projection. Soon to turn 32, Buchter worked to a sub-3.00 for the third-straight season in 2018, but only threw 39 1/3 innings while working as a lefty specialist.
    • Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree will receive a $1,312,500 salary next year, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports (Twitter link). Starter Steven Wright checks in just a shade higher, at $1.375MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Both players had projected in this range, with Swartz pegging $1.2MM for the former and $1.4MM for the latter. It’s Hembree’s first time through the process and Wright’s second.
    • First-time arb-eligible righty Scott Oberg settled with the Rockies for $1.3MM, according to Nightengale (via Twitter). It’s $100K over the projected rate for the 28-year-old hurler, who turned in far and away his most productive MLB season in 2018.
    • The Yankees have a $1.2MM deal in place with first baseman Greg Bird, Nightengale was first to tweet. Though he had projected a bit higher, at $1.5MM, Bird’s relatively robust number of home runs (31 total in 659 career plate appearances) were threatened to be overshadowed in a hypothetical hearing by his rough overall stats over the past two seasons. He’ll need to earn his way back into a larger share of playing time in 2019.
    • Infielder Travis Jankowski will earn $1.165MM with the Padres, per Murray (via Twitter). He projected at a heftier $1.4MM, but the Super Two qualifier will still earn a nice raise after his best season in the big leagues. Jankowski will be looking to crack 400 plate appearances for the first time in the season to come.
    • The Nationals have agreed to a $1MM contract with righty Joe Ross, Murray also tweets. Though Ross projected at $1.5MM for his first season of eligibility, that was based largely upon the innings he accumulated over the prior three seasons. Ross made it back from Tommy John surgery in time for only three outings in 2018.
    • A pair of backstops have also put pen to paper on new salaries. Curt Casali will earn $950K with the Reds, per Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). John Ryan Murphy has a $900K agreement with the Diamondbacks, the elder Nightengale tweets. Casali, a Super Two, had projected for a $1.3MM salary, while Murphy projected at $1.1MM in his first arb year.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dombrowski: Red Sox “Have Not Anticipated Large Expenditure For A Closer”]]> 2019-01-09T14:38:43Z 2019-01-09T14:08:40Z The Red Sox have already lost Joe Kelly to the Dodgers via free agency and stand to lose Craig Kimbrel in free agency as well if they don’t make a push to re-sign him in the coming weeks. However, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski downplayed the possibility of retaining Kimbrel in an interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today“Craig did a great job for us,” said Dombrowski. “He’s a Hall of Fame reliever, but we have not anticipated having a large expenditure for a closer.”

    Those words have to be cringe-worthy for Kimbrel and his representatives, as the seven-time All-Star reportedly entered free agency hoping to secure a six-year pact. As of late December, Kimbrel’s camp had dropped the price tag a bit but was still seeking a deal along the lines of the five-year pacts scored by Aroldis Chapman ($86MM) and Kenley Jansen ($80MM) two offseasons ago. As I noted at the time of that report, though, Kimbrel is only three months younger than Chapman and eight months younger than Jansen — meaning he’s over a year older now than were the other two hurlers at the time they signed.

    Looking beyond the impact of Dombrowski’s comments on Kimbrel, however, it’s perhaps alarming for Sox fans to hear the team’s top decision-maker suggest that there may not be a bullpen splash of note. Ryan Brasier, Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree are currently in line for work at the back of the Boston ’pen, and that trio can’t exactly fill fans or the team with confidence.

    While Brasier looked sensational as an out-of-the-blue reclamation project in 2018 and Barnes has emerged as a quality setup piece over the past two seasons, the overall bullpen is lacking in experience. Brandon Workman has been solid over the past two seasons but in a smallish sample of 81 innings. Tyler Thornburg was tendered a contract after a pair of injury-ruined campaigns, while lefty Brian Johnson has been steady but unspectacular.

    It should be noted, of course, that Dombrowski’s comments certainly don’t indicate that the Sox won’t be making bullpen additions of any kind. But a splash for Kimbrel seems unlikely in the wake of such a public declaration, and second-tier names like Adam Ottavino could also prove steep depending on Dombrowski’s definition of “large expenditure.” It’s worth noting that over at Roster Resource, Jason Martinez projects Boston’s current luxury tax payroll to be at a hefty $239.7MM. Even accounting for a bit of wiggle room, that doesn’t leave Boston with much room if the team hopes to remain south of the top luxury tax penalization bracket.

    Of course, there’s also no real reason that the Red Sox should need to remain below that threshold unless ownership makes the curious decision to mandate doing so. The Sox are entering their final season of control over Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts, and they could see J.D. Martinez opt out of his contract next winter as well. There’s every reason for Boston to put the pedal to the proverbial metal in this instance, even if doing so means taking a hit in the draft for a second consecutive season. (The collective bargaining agreement stipulates that exceeding the luxury threshold by more than $40MM will drop a team’s top pick in the following year’s draft by 10 spots in addition to a 45 percent luxury tax on any dollars over $246MM.)

    Perhaps the Sox will find an intriguing option on the trade market or make a shrewd investment or two in the lower tiers of the free-agent market for relievers once the market dries up a bit, but it’s nevertheless puzzling that a team that is so heavily invested in every other area of the roster isn’t taking a more aggressive approach when striving to replace its two most prominent relievers. Of course, it’s also possible that Dombrowski’s comments not only reflect some real hesitation, but also represent an effort to shore up his leverage in negotiations with potential signees.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Red Sox Exploring Extension Possibilities]]> 2019-01-07T16:53:58Z 2019-01-07T16:53:58Z We’re all familiar with the “mystery team” as a Hot Stove idiosyncrasy, but how about a “mystery player?” Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston writes that the Red Sox have been discussing a contract extension with a core player, though he adds that it’s “unclear” which player has been the focus of those talks. Drellich notes that there doesn’t appear to be anything currently in the works with Mookie Betts, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts or J.D. Martinez and speculatively suggests Andrew Benintendi could be the player in question. The 24-year-old Benintendi has batted .282/.359/.447 with 38 homers and 42 steals through his first 333 games at the MLB level in just over two seasons. He’s logged two years and 62 days of MLB service time, meaning he won’t be eligible for arbitration until next offseason and can be controlled through 2022.

    As shown in MLBTR’s Extension Tracker, Mike Trout’s $144MM contract is the record for an outfielder with between two and three years of service, although while Benintendi’s two-plus years with the Red Sox have been strong, he obviously doesn’t have nearly as strong a case as Trout did in 2014. More relevant comparisons likely include Kevin Kiermaier’s six-year, $53.5MM deal with the Rays and the respective five-year contracts inked by Ender Inciarte ($30.525MM) and Odubel Herrera ($30.5MM) with the Braves and Phillies. It’s worth noting, though, that both Kiermaier and Inciarte were Super Two players, and Benintendi will fall shy of that distinction.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Red Sox "Pushed" Jackie Bradley Jr. Harder Than Other Vets In Trade Talks]]> 2019-01-06T04:09:41Z 2019-01-06T01:37:50Z Of the pricey veterans the Red Sox reportedly considered trading last month, they “pushed” center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. harder than anyone else, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic hears (subscription required). However, the Red Sox couldn’t find a deal to their liking for JBJ, Rosenthal notes. The Diamondbacks were the only team publicly connected to Bradley around that time, though there were conflicting reports about whether they were truly interested in him. As of now, it seems the soon-to-be 29-year-old Bradley will once again man center in Boston in 2019, his second-last second of arbitration eligibility. Bradley will make a projected $7.9MM during the upcoming season.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Inside Boston's Pitching Development System]]> 2019-01-06T22:41:27Z 2019-01-05T04:59:05Z
  • Pitching has gone from a weakness to a strength for the Red Sox over the last five seasons, and Alex Speier of the Boston Globe details how the club upgraded its scouting and development system to better identify talent and then further build on that talent once on the Sox roster.  Speier delves into the team’s acquisition of Nathan Eovaldi at the trade deadline, and how Eovaldi took on some tips from pitching coach Dana LeVangie and assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister to make his fastball more of a weapon.  These tweaks and an increased usage of his curveball took Eovaldi’s performance up another notch (after he already pitching well for the Rays) after joining the Red Sox, and he then was one of the stars of Boston’s World Series run.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Red Sox Sign Josh Smith, Oscar Hernandez To Minors Deals]]> 2019-01-05T01:48:44Z 2019-01-05T01:47:35Z
  • The Red Sox have signed right-hander Josh Smith and catcher Oscar Hernandez to minor league deals. the team announced.  Both players are among the list of names receiving invitations to Boston’s Major League Spring Training camp.  Smith tossed 127 1/3 innings for the Reds and Athletics from 2015-17 but didn’t appear in the majors last season, spending the year at the Triple-A affiliates of the Red Sox and Mariners.  Hernandez also spent 2018 with Boston’s Triple-A club in Pawtucket, though his season was marred by a 50-game suspension due to a second positive test for a drug of abuse.  Hernandez has a career .251/.329/.424 slash line over 1947 minor league plate appearances, and he appeared in 22 MLB games with the Diamondbacks in 2015-16.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/3/19]]> 2019-01-04T04:45:01Z 2019-01-04T04:42:11Z Here are Thursday’s minor moves from around the game…

    Latest Updates

    • Per a team release, the Mets have signed OF Rymer Liriano and reliever Arquimedes Caminero to minor league deals and invited both to Spring Training. Liriano, 27, was a former highly-rated prospect in the Padres system, but slumped badly upon his promotion to Double-A in 2012. In 167 career plate appearances with the Pads and White Sox, the Dominican-born outfielder has put together a .220/.293/.287 (66 wRC+) line, with just two home runs and a 31.7% strikeout rate. He appeared in 65 games for Triple-A Salt Lake last season, slashing .268/.343/.523 in the hitter-friendly PCL. Caminero, 31, was a big part of the 2015 Pirates bullpen, posting a 3.62 ERA/3.80 FIP in a robust 74 2/3 IP for the club. He also has big-league time with the Marlins (’13’-14) and Mariners (2016), and all told has a 3.83 ERA, 8.3 K/9, and 4.01 BB/9 in 155 career IP. Caminero spent the last two seasons with Japan’s Yomiuri Giants, where he scuffled last season following a strong debut showing in 2017. The Dominican-born righty returned to the U.S. last August to undergo what seemed to be a minor elbow procedure, per the Yomiuri club.
    • Per Robert Murray of The Athletic, the Mets have also agreed to a minors pact with right-hander Casey Coleman. Coleman, 31, has appeared in parts of four MLB seasons with the Cubs and Royals, most recently in 2014. He’s spent much of the last four seasons in AAA with a number of clubs, working primarily as a reliever. The 6-foot righty has been blistered in his last two trips through the PCL, working to a 6.75 ERA/5.19 FIP with the Astros in ’17, and a 6.91 ERA/5.11 FIP with the Cubs last season. In 177 2/3 career MLB innings, Coleman has posted a 6.23 K/9 against 4.51 BB/9, but has been able to induce grounders at an above-average rate. Per Murray, the deal includes an opt- and buyout clause for Korean and Japanese teams.
    • Per a team release, the Red Sox have invited righty Domingo Tapia to Spring Training. Tapia, 27, was a once-promising Mets farmhand who was eventually moved to the bullpen after serious command issues as a starter from 2012-14. Most recently of the Reds organization, the Dominican-born hurler worked to a respectable 3.47 ERA/4.06 FIP for Triple-A Louisville last season, though his peripherals (6.43 K/9, 3.71 BB/9) were hardly encouraging.

    Earlier Moves

    • The Dodgers have signed right-hander Markus Solbach to a minor league contract, as announced by Solbach’s team in the Australian Baseball League, the Adelaide Bite (Twitter link). The German-born Solbach has previously spent time in the minor league ranks with the Twins and D-backs in addition to four seasons pitching on the independent circuit (CanAm and Frontier leagues). This winter, the 27-year-old has turned in a ludicrous 0.43 ERA and a 55-to-7 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings in the ABL. However, he hasn’t pitched in affiliated ball since notching a 3.56 ERA with 7.9 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 through 65 2/3 frames with Arizona’s Class-A Advanced affiliate. Originally signed by Minnesota as a 19-year-old out of Germany, Solbach has pitched professionally in parts of eight seasons and generally demonstrated strong control with less-impressive strikeout numbers. He’s posted a cumulative 3.30 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 733 pro innings, though he’s never pitched above the Class-A Advanced level for an MLB organization.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Bullpen Rumors/Notes: Kimbrel, Red Sox, Phillies, Warren, Wilson, Mets, Angels]]> 2019-01-03T22:26:05Z 2019-01-03T22:22:01Z Some more rumblings on the market for relievers…

    • Prior to this afternoon’s agreement between the Phillies and righty David Robertson, WEEI’s Rob Bradford offered a bit of clarity on the market for Craig Kimbrel. As of this morning, the star closer’s market “seemed to hinge” on whether or not the Phillies would be able to secure the services of either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. Either signing, it seemed, would move Kimbrel off the table for Philadelphia, though today’s inking of Robertson may have done just that. Boston, then, seems a clear favorite for the 30-year-old fireballer, with Atlanta still lurking at the fringes, but the “stupid-money”-wielding Fightins can’t entirely be ruled out.
    • The Mets have some interest in right-hander Adam Warren, reports SNY’s Andy Martino (Twitter links), but a match between the two sides doesn’t appear to be that likely at the moment. Warren, according to Martino, has stronger interest from other clubs, and the Mets are exploring several different bullpen options, including left-hander Justin Wilson. The 31-year-old Warren has a 2.72 ERA in 109 innings across the past two seasons and is accustomed to pitching in multi-inning stints in relief, thus making him an appealing option for many clubs. Wilson, meanwhile, has posted solid ERA marks and huge strikeout totals over the past couple of seasons but has seen his control of the strike zone completely evaporate (5.43 BB/9).
    • Per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Angels “prefer” to assemble bullpen pieces of the low-cost variety. With hardly a household name in the bunch, early-offseason speculation abounded with respect to Los Angeles and top-market pen arms, but signings of the type don’t appear to be in the cards for Billy Eppler and crew this offseason. Top 2018 perfomer Jose Alvarez has already been shipped to Philadelphia, so the Angels will likely rely on some assortment of Taylor Cole, Luis Garcia, Ty Buttrey, Hansel Robles, Cam Bedrosian, and Justin Anderson (all of whom, save for Robles during his stint with the Mets, excelled at limiting the homer last season) to hold down the team’s fort in the late innings.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Red Sox To Sign Carson Smith To Minors Deal]]> 2018-12-31T01:20:30Z 2018-12-31T00:56:52Z The Red Sox have agreed to a minor league contract with right-hander Carson Smith, as per Zone Coverage’s Brandon Warne (Twitter link).  Smith elected free agency after being outrighted off Boston’s 40-man roster following the season, but will now return to the organization in the hopes of finally making a significant impact in the Sox bullpen.

    Originally acquired by the Red Sox as part of a four-player trade with the Mariners in December 2015, Smith was tabbed as a potential closer of the future in Boston following his breakout rookie season.  Smith posted a 2.31 ERA, 4.18 K/BB rate, 64.8% ground ball rate, and an 11.8 K/9 over 70 innings out of Seattle’s bullpen in 2015, looking like a star reliever in the making.

    Unfortunately for Smith and the Red Sox, his tenure in Boston has thus far been marred by injuries.  Smith pitched just 9 1/3 total innings in 2016-17 due to Tommy John surgery, and he then managed just 14 1/3 innings in 2018 before suffering a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery.  The latter injury was caused when Smith tossed his glove in the Boston dugout out of frustration over a rough outing, and it led to some controversy when Smith suggested that overuse might have contributed to his issues (unsurprisingly, manager Alex Cora didn’t agree with this assessment).

    That difference of opinion notwithstanding, Smith will now look to get healthy and get his career back on track in Spring Training.  From Boston’s perspective, there isn’t much risk in bringing Smith back, and he still some intriguing upside given his stuff and the fact that he is under team control (via arbitration) through the 2020 season.  With Joe Kelly now a Dodger and Craig Kimbrel perhaps too expensive for Boston’s liking, the Red Sox have been on the hunt for bullpen help at an affordable price.  Smith can hardly be considered a candidate to replace Kimbrel or Kelly at the end of games, of course, though he does give the Sox yet another depth option to consider as they look at augmenting their current bullpen corps (Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree and company) with a more established ninth-inning arm.