Boston Red Sox – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-06-04T20:35:54Z WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Roenicke Discussed BoSox]]> 2020-05-31T01:07:12Z 2020-05-31T01:05:33Z
  • Had the season begun as expected, the Red Soxwould have had some tough decisions to get down to 26” players on the Opening Day roster, manager Ron Roenicke tells Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  Now, since Major League rosters are expected to be expanded by anywhere from two to four extra players, it “will give us a chance to keep some players we like,” Roenicke said.  This is one small silver lining amidst a wholly unique season that will present many difficulties for all teams, as Abraham outlines how Roenicke is trying to keep his team prepared both in the short term and in preparation of whatever shape the 2020 season (if it happens at all) could take.  Providing updates on a few players, Roenicke said starters Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez, and Ryan Weber have been throwing two simulated innings per week in order to stay fresh, with the idea being that the quartet can quickly ramp up to being able to toss five innings by the end of an abbreviated second Spring Training.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Teams’ Plans For Minor League Pay]]> 2020-05-29T20:35:45Z 2020-05-29T20:14:47Z 3:14pm: The Astros will also pay their minor leaguers through August, Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle tweets. The Red Sox will do the same, Julian McWilliams and Alex Speier of the Boston Globe write. The Reds will pay theirs through Sept. 7, the end of the scheduled minor league season, per C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.

    2:16pm: As teams throughout the league make sweeping releases at the minor league level, neither the Twins nor the Royals plan on cutting any players, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links). The Twins and Royals will also commit to paying all of their minor league player the current $400 weekly stipend through Aug. 31 — the would-be end of the minor league season — while providing full benefits. The Twins are also committing to front-office and baseball ops staff through at least the end of June, Do-Hyoung Park of tweets.

    To this point, no other clubs in the league have made such a commitment. The Marlins, Padres and Mariners all agreed to pay their minor leaguers through season’s end, although none of that bunch is known to be entirely avoiding minor league releases. Seattle, in fact, reportedly cut 50 minor league players this week already. The volume of players being released around the league is jarring — the D-backs cut a reported 64 players — although it should be noted that many of the releases would’ve come at the end of Spring Training under normal circumstances anyhow.

    That doesn’t detract from the gesture made by the Twins or Royals, of course. It’s a stark contrast to an organization such as the Athletics, who informed minor league players earlier this week that they’ll no longer be paid after May 31. As’s Jim Callis observes (on Twitter), the decision made by the Twins and Royals could quite likely prove beneficial in recruiting undrafted players who are selecting among teams while capped at a $20K signing bonus this summer.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest Minor League Releases]]> 2020-05-29T17:59:24Z 2020-05-29T17:59:24Z Minor League Baseball has never faced greater uncertainty than it presently does, with contraction widely expected later this year and significant doubt as to whether a 2020 minor league campaign will even be able to take place. Over the past several days, we’ve seen wide swaths of minor league releases due to myriad reasons. It’s common for players to be released late in Spring Training, but those cuts didn’t happen this year. Between that, the likely absence of a minor league season and the typical wave of releases that precede the annual MLB draft, cuts have been abundant.

    The Score’s Robert Murray tweets several clubs who’ve made undetermined numbers of releases: the Brewers, Reds, Nationals, Rays, Cardinals and Blue Jays among them. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Diamondbacks have released a whopping 64 players in recent days. In all likelihood, all 30 teams will make significant cuts. The Orioles, White Sox, Rockies and Mariners are already known to have done so.

    Most of the players who’ve been cut loose have yet to be named — and the majority of them won’t be especially recognizable to any but diehard fans of a particular organization. We’ll track some former big leaguers and other notable names in this post and update as more information comes to light…

    • The Mets cut 39 players loose this week, with first baseman Joey Terdoslavich and right-handers Nick Rumbelow and Rob Whalen among those let go, according to Roster Roundup. Newsday’s Tim Healey had previously reported an unspecified number of players were being cut loose. Each of Terdoslavich, Rumbelow and Whalen has big league experience. Terdoslavich, 31, was at one point a fairly well-regarded farmhand with the Braves, for whom he appeared in 2013-15. Rumbelow pitched with the Mariners in 2018-19 but hasn’t replicated the high-end performance he showed in Triple-A when working back from Tommy John surgery. Whalen, 26, had announced his retirement at one point but opted for a comeback this past winter. He logged 36 innings between the Braves and Mariners from 2016-18.
    • The Red Sox announced Friday the release of 22 minor league players. While none of the bunch has appeared in the Majors, there are some notable names in there all the same. Infielder Nick Lovullo, 26, is the son of former Sox bench coach and current D-backs skipper Torey Lovullo. He’d been with the organization since being selected in the 20th round of the 2016 draft. Boston also cut ties with infielder Juremi Profar — the younger brother of Padres second baseman Jurickson Profar. Boston inked the younger Profar brother to a minor league pact back in November after he’d spent seven years in the Rangers organization. The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham tweeted the whole list for those interested.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[From Released To Elite]]> 2020-05-20T01:33:01Z 2020-05-20T01:33:01Z J.D. Martinez did not start his major league career in auspicious fashion, but as a 20th-round pick in 2009, it’s remarkable that the outfielder even made his way to the bigs. Houston took Martinez in the draft, and though he was highly productive in the organization’s system through 2011, he was unable to transfer that success to the bigs from the get-go. Martinez amassed 975 plate appearances as an Astro from 2011-13, but he hit a subpar .251/.300/.387 with 24 home runs during that time. Houston gave up on Martinez after that.

    On March 22, 2014, the Astros said goodbye to Martinez, releasing him a half-decade after drafting him. However, Martinez has been on a rampage since then. Thanks to the help of hitting coaches Craig Wallenbrock and Robert Van Scoyoc, Martinez has turned into one of the best offensive players in baseball over the past several years.

    The Tigers signed Martinez to a minor league contract in March 2014, and it proved to be a brilliant move for the club. Martinez became a star that year, in which he posted a line of .300/.361/.551 (145 wRC+) in 1,886 plate appearances. But Detroit, not expecting to be able to sign the soon-to-be free agent before 2018, traded him to Arizona in July 2017 in a deal that netted them infield prospects Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King.

    Unfortunately for Detroit, no one from the Lugo-Alcantara-King trio has given the team any value at the major league level thus far, and nobody from the that group is among’s top 30 prospects for the Tigers right now. The D-backs probably don’t have any regrets, then, even though Martinez didn’t last long in their uniform. Over 257 PA in the desert, Martinez batted an incredible .302/.366/.741 (170 wRC+) with 29 homers, helping lead Arizona to a wild-card berth. The Diamondbacks got past that round against the Rockies, but they couldn’t overcome the Dodgers in the NLDS. That proved to be the end of the line for Martinez as part of the club.

    After a drawn-out trip to free agency in the ensuing winter, the Red Sox signed Martinez to a five-year, $110MM guarantee in late February of 2018. There’s a narrative that players decline once they get a large payday, but that’s not the case for Martinez. Since he signed with Boston, Martinez has gone to a pair of All-Star Games, helped the Red Sox to a World Series championship (2018) and batted .317/.392/.593 (154 wRC+) with 79 homers in 1,306 PA. It’s obvious at this point that Martinez, now 32 years old, is among the premier hitters in baseball. Not bad for someone whom a team once gave up on in exchange for nothing.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Latest On The Impact Of Coronavirus Around The Game]]> 2020-05-16T15:25:02Z 2020-05-16T15:25:02Z As players and owners work on negotiating a financial accord to allow for the start of play, opinions have trickled in from all reaches of the baseball-sphere with personal stances about how best to reboot gameplay. After Blake Snell set off a bit of a firestorm with his concerns about returning to the field, many players have chimed in to support the lefty hurler. Obviously, many players are justifiably concerned about what gameplay would mean for their safety and the safety of their families. No one understands this as much as Yoan Moncada, whose 1-year-old daughter was recently hospitalized. She’s doing better now, and Moncada, despite the scare, is ready to return to play should that become a possibility, per Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. Van Schouwen provides a quote from Moncada, who said, “[My family is] concerned, as everybody is. But if the conditions are safe, they’re going to be good with it. But it is a concern no matter what.” Obviously, everyone has been affected in some form or fashion by this pandemic, and players face difficult personal decisions ahead before returning to play. Of course, COVID-19 has hurt not just the players and owners…

    • While most of the focus has remained on the league’s attempts to return to the playing field, the consequences of the shutdown are hitting home for many professionals in the field. The Reds, Rays, and Marlins have announced furloughs that are to begin in June, and the latest from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter) has the Angels among the teams considering the same. Officially, the Angels are still on the fence. It is nonetheless an unfortunate and troubling development for those involved. Hopefully, some of the larger market franchises will be better equipped to weather the storm for their employees.
    • Beyond the question of will-they-or-won’t-they play a 2020 season, there are ancillary questions that need answering in the event of a shortened 2020 season. Joel Sherman of the New York Post runs through a whole host of those issues that will require answers at some point. Among Sherman’s inquiries are topics ranging from a potential trade deadline to drug testing to the practical concerns of the games themselves. Baseball is in a better position than heavy-contact sports like basketball and football, but the game still cannot be played with players keeping a 6-foot distance from one another. It helps that the primary action takes place between a batter and pitcher standing 60 feet and 6 inches apart, but there is plenty of potential for in-game contact, as well as the mere fact of shuffling 26-man rosters from stadium to stadium together.
    • The Red Sox will be able to resume play at Fenway Park this season according to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. There are, of course, a number of conditions to meet before play resumes at Fenway. For instance, fans will not be allowed in attendance, per Michael Silverman of the Boston Globe. There will also be safety measures that the city of Boston must sign off on before play resumes. Still, it may give players a welcome sense of familiarity to be able to play in their home ballparks, even without fans in the seats. The number of teams that will be able to resume play in their home parks remains up in the air for now, though that does seem to be the goal for most teams.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[How Boston Landed One Of Its Most Valuable Pitchers]]> 2020-05-14T09:10:02Z 2020-05-14T06:07:49Z Andrew Miller was the sixth overall pick of the Tigers in the 2006 draft and continued as an elite prospect for a little while after that, but it took the left-hander several years to truly make his mark as a major leaguer. Miller began as a starter in Detroit, but after struggling over parts of two seasons, the team dealt him and others to the Marlins in December 2007 for Miguel Cabrera in one of the most impactful trades in the two clubs’ histories. Miller didn’t pan out in Miami from 2008-10, though, and he went to Boston after the last of those seasons in exchange for lefty Dustin Richardson.

    Richardson never even threw a pitch as a Marlin, whereas the Red Sox are still profiting from the trade to this day. While Miller continued to flounder in his first year with the Red Sox, the 6-foot-7, 205-pounder moved to the bullpen on a full-time basis the next season. That represented a eureka moment for Miller, who began a years-long run as one of the most imposing late-game options in baseball.

    Miller held his own in Boston into the 2014 season, but with the team well out of contention at that year’s deadline, it traded the then-pending free agent to the AL East rival Orioles. Miller went on to provide 20 dominant regular-season innings in Baltimore, which coasted to a division title, as well as 7 1/3 scoreless, one-hit frames in the playoffs. The Orioles lost the ALCS in four games to the Royals, however, and then saw Miller head to a different division rival – the Yankees – during the ensuing period of free agency. In light of those results, and considering what they gave up for Miller, perhaps the O’s now regret the trade. Boston definitely doesn’t, having received one of its top pitchers in Eduardo Rodriguez for Miller.

    Dating back to the deal, the Red Sox have seen Rodriguez turn into an above-average major league starter. Rodriguez, who debuted with Boston in 2015, is the owner of a lifetime 4.03 ERA/3.94 FIP across 699 innings. Although Rodriguez didn’t prove to be a workhorse in his first four years in the league, that changed last season. The 27-year-old Rodriguez was one of 15 pitchers who accumulated 200-plus frames (203 1/3, to be exact), and he posted a 3.81 ERA/3.86 FIP with 9.43 K/9 and 3.32 BB/9 to rank 24th among starters in fWAR (3.7). Ace-like numbers? No, though Boston was surely pleased with that production from a hurler who was on an eminently affordable $4.3MM salary. And the team could get at least two more seasons from Rodriguez, who won’t be eligible to become a free agent until after 2021.

    While he hasn’t shown himself to be a true No. 1 starter, the Red Sox can’t be displeased with acquiring Rodriguez for someone on an expiring contract. Meanwhile, the Rockies may be kicking themselves for passing on Rodriguez. Peter Gammons reported in 2014 that the O’s agreed to send Rodriguez to Colorado for fellow southpaw Jorge De La Rosa, but Rockies owner Dick Monfort vetoed the deal. De La Rosa stayed in Colorado through 2016, though the team didn’t contend then or in his last couple years on its roster.

    You never know how Rodriguez would have turned out as a Rockie – everyone knows it’s a bear to pitch in their home park – but he has certainly held up well in the AL East. Rodriguez is now one of the most valuable players Boston has.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Is Big Papi A Hall Of Famer?]]> 2020-05-14T06:40:04Z 2020-05-14T04:22:10Z Baseball fans love to debate which players should make it to the Hall of Fame, and with the designated hitter position so prominent in the news at the moment, it got me to thinking about David Ortiz’s Cooperstown case. The Boston legend will be eligible to make it there in 2022, and there’s a strong argument he should wind up with a plaque in the museum.

    Ortiz is one of the most feared hitters in recent memory, but his career began inauspiciously in Minnesota. As a Twin from 1997-2002, Ortiz amassed 1,693 plate appearances and batted .266/.348/.461 (106 wRC+) with 58 home runs. The Twins then cut ties with Ortiz, but at the behest of Pedro Martinez, the Red Sox signed Big Papi to a non-guaranteed contract in January 2003. Now, in terms of franchise-altering steals, that could rank in Boston sports lore with the Patriots getting Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

    Ortiz was a smash success with the Red Sox from the jump, as he slashed .288/.369/.592 (145 wRC+) and put up 31 homers in 509 trips to the plate during his first season with the team. The Red Sox lost to the hated Yankees in the ALCS that year, but they and Ortiz frequently ruled the sport after that. During the rest of Ortiz’a career from 2004-16, all of which was spent in Boston, the Red Sox won three World Series. He was a 10-time All-Star and a .290/.386/.570 hitter (146 wRC+) who piled up 483 homers with the team during that span. Along with his regular-season accomplishments, Ortiz was a monster in the playoffs. When the chips were down in the fall, Ortiz was known to thrive. He was a World Series MVP (2013) and an ALCS MVP (2004 – the year the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees) who appeared in 85 postseason games between his two clubs and hit .289/.404/.543 with 17 HRs.

    As for the regular season, Ortiz ranks 65th all-time in wRC+ (140) and 182nd among position players in fWAR (51.0). He ended his career a .286/.380/.552 hitter who racked up the 17th-most homers ever, 541, and remained an elite hitter even in his last season. Ortiz’s amazing run didn’t come without issues, though. Back in 2009, the New York Times reported Ortiz tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in his breakout 2003 campaign. Ortiz vehemently denied those claims, as you’d expect, and commissioner Rob Manfred came to the slugger’s defense in 2016. Manfred said (via the Boston Globe) it was “entirely possible” Ortiz didn’t take PEDs, adding that he’s never been a positive at any point under our (testing) program” that began in 2004.

    Even if you’re OK with brushing off the PED questions when it comes to Ortiz’s Hall of Fame candidacy, are you willing to be as forgiving when it comes to a lack of defensive impact? For the most part, Ortiz was a full-time DH during his career, which some purists frown upon. For example, former Mariners superstar Edgar Martinez is one of the greatest DHs ever, but it took him until his final year on the ballot (2019) to get to Cooperstown. He’d have been a first-ballot pick for me if I had a vote, though, and the same applies to Ortiz. However, as Hall of Fame expert and FanGraphs writer Jay Jaffe explained in a piece for in 2016, “a spot in Cooperstown is no certainty” for Ortiz. Do you think it should be?

    (Poll link for app users)

    Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Which 15 Players Should The Red Sox Protect In An Expansion Draft?]]> 2020-05-14T05:26:18Z 2020-05-13T18:30:18Z The last MLB expansion draft took place on November 18th, 1997.  Each of the 28 existing teams was able to initially protect 15 players, with the Devil Rays and Diamondbacks mostly alternating picks to fill their new rosters.

    The first round consisted of one player being taken from each of the 28 teams, giving the Devil Rays and D’Backs 14 players each.  At that point, each of the 28 teams was able to protect an additional three players.  After the completion of the second round, each team added another three players to their protected list.  In the third round, the Rays and D’Backs would each take an additional seven players, with each new club ending up with 35 in total.

    Detailed rules can be found here, but basically each team’s best prospects were not eligible for the draft.  Still, about a quarter of the players chosen were minor leaguers.  Also, players with no-trade clauses or ten-and-five rights had to be put on protected lists unless they waived those rights.  And there would be no reason to protect players eligible for free agency.

    We thought it would be fun to determine each team’s current 15-player protected list, as if a new two-team expansion draft is scheduled for November.  For simplicity’s sake, only players with MLB experience will be eligible for our mock expansion draft.

    So far, we’ve done the Yankees.

    Next up, we’ll shape a 15-player protected list for the Red Sox.

    Free agents Mitch Moreland, Martin Perez, Collin McHugh, Jackie Bradley Jr., Kevin Pillar, and Brandon Workman will be excluded.  The Red Sox have club options on Moreland and Perez, but I don’t think they would burn protected spots on them regardless.

    Dustin Pedroia, Chris Sale, J.D. Martinez, and Xander Bogaerts automatically take up four of the 15 spots due to their no-trade rights.  That leaves 11 more players to protect.  I’ve decided to lock in six more spots for the following players:

    Rafael Devers
    Eduardo Rodriguez
    Christian Vazquez
    Andrew Benintendi
    Alex Verdugo
    Michael Chavis

    That leaves five spots for these 19 players:

    Matt Barnes
    Ryan Brasier
    Colten Brewer
    Austin Brice
    Nathan Eovaldi
    Matt Hall
    Heath Hembree
    Darwinzon Hernandez
    Tzu-Wei Lin
    Chris Mazza
    Josh Osich
    Jose Peraza
    Kevin Plawecki
    Mike Shawaryn
    Jeffrey Springs
    Josh Taylor
    Phillips Valdez
    Marcus Walden
    Ryan Weber

    With that, we turn it over to the MLBTR readership! In the poll below, please select exactly five players that you think the Red Sox should protect in our upcoming mock expansion draft. Click here to view the results.

    Create your own user feedback survey

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Red Sox’ Future Payroll Features Highly Paid Stars]]> 2020-05-16T02:02:45Z 2020-05-13T16:08:50Z 2020 salary terms are set to be hammered out in the coming days. But what about what’s owed to players beyond that point? The near-term economic picture remains questionable at best. That’ll make teams all the more cautious with guaranteed future salaries.

    Every organization has some amount of future cash committed to players, all of it done before the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe. There are several different ways to look at salaries; for instance, for purposes of calculating the luxury tax, the average annual value is the touchstone, with up-front bonuses spread over the life of the deal. For this exercise, we’ll focus on actual cash outlays that still have yet to be paid.

    We’ll run through every team, with a big assist from the Cot’s Baseball Contracts database. First up is the Red Sox:

    Red Sox Total Future Cash Obligation: $355.85MM

    *includes Chris Sale contract deferrals

    *includes remaining obligations to David Price (traded to Dodgers)

    *J.D. Martinez can opt out of contract after 2020

    (click to expand/view detail list)

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Examining The Red Sox’ Potential Trade Chips]]> 2020-05-12T18:00:36Z 2020-05-12T18:00:36Z As we noted earlier today, the potential 2020 season will bring a host of new rules governing player transactions. We haven’t heard anything yet regarding how that’ll take place. But supposing there’s an opportunity at some point to strike trades, it’s quite likely that non-contending teams will be as anxious as ever to make deals.

    But wait … are the Red Sox a contending team? Obviously they aren’t going all out, having just traded one of the game’s very best players in Mookie Betts along with high-priced veteran David Price. The team may maintain that wasn’t driven exclusively by luxury tax considerations, but there’s no way to sell it as enhancing the team’s 2020 outlook. And the club did manage to dip just under the luxury line — making it all the more important that the season end up being played, so that the anticipated competitive balance tax rate reset isn’t wiped out.

    At the time, we might’ve wondered whether a first half boom could’ve led the Red Sox to turn into a mid-season 2020 buyer. It would’ve been hard to sell away from a winning club, at least. But then came the whole global pandemic thing, which halted any thoughts of a typical season and trade deadline. And in the midst of that the club lost its most talented pitcher when Chris Sale went under the knife for Tommy John surgery.

    The Boston organization still projects as an above-average team. And the odds of a surprise would increase in a short-season format with an expanded postseason. But you have to recognize that the American League is extremely top-heavy. On paper, the Sox are no match at all for the best clubs.

    Meanwhile, new Red Sox baseball ops leader Chaim Bloom has already pulled the band aid off when it comes to trading veterans. He’s looking to 2021 and beyond and the fan base knows it. None of them are deciding whether to show up for games this season anyway. Under the circumstances, the Boston organization should be pretty motivated to trade short-term veterans for whatever long-term value it can get. With every team facing renewed and unexpected future financial concerns, there could be some wild opportunities out there.

    If and when Bloom returns to the trading floor, he won’t have a Betts to work with. It’s quite unlikely he’ll seriously entertain talks for long-term core player such as Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts. It’s not likely the team will be keen to discuss Andrew Benintendi and Christian Vazquez given that each has multiple seasons of affordable control remaining. Even younger players like Alex Verdugo and Michael Chavis surely aren’t going anywhere.

    But Bloom sure has a lot of other guys that would be worth talking about …

    • Brandon Workman, RP: In retrospect, it’s surprising there wasn’t more talk of Workman in the offseason. He ran up over seventy frames of sub-2 ERA ball last year with big strikeout and groundball numbers. And he was approximately the only pitcher in baseball that seemed immune to the long ball, though walks remain a concern. With only a $3.5MM salary, Workman is a really nice target for the many teams that will be looking to compete as hoped without adding financial obligations.
    • Jackie Bradley Jr., OF: The salary considerations go in the opposite direction here, as Bradley’s $11MM walk-year payout isn’t very friendly to the pocketbooks. He’s not likely to be a sought-after player unless he really makes a rebound at the plate. But he has shown that ability before and is a quality up-the-middle defender.
    • Kevin Pillar, OF & Mitch Moreland, 1B: These veterans are both going to have to show what they’ve got on the field before any other teams take a look. But each could be a mid-season rental target.
    • Eduardo Rodriguez, SP: Perhaps the most valuable potential Red Sox trade target that could realistically be shopped, the quality southpaw only just reached his 27th birthday after a productive and healthy 2019 season. He’s due a reasonable $8.3MM (on a full season basis) with one more arb year to go, so the Red Sox will probably intend to hang onto him for 2021 … though their plans could probably be changed with the right offer.
    • Matt Barnes, RP: He keeps producing monster strikeout numbers with good but not great results, due in part to some free pass proclivities. There’d be a ton of interest if the Red Sox make him available, but as with Rodriguez, there’s little reason for the team to sell short. Barnes is earning a full-season $3.1MM salary in 2020 with another pass through arbitration to come thereafter.
    • J.D. Martinez, OF/DH: Might there be added interest with a temporary National League DH? That’d be a risky strategy since the designated hitter could disappear in 2021, particularly given Martinez’s significant post-2020 obligations ($19.375MM apiece in 2021 and 2022). The slugger’s now less likely than ever to opt out of the remainder of his deal.
    • Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Perez & Collin McHugh, SPs: None of these hurlers would be moved at the moment, but perhaps that could change if mid-season trades are possible. The former is owed a lot of coin, but could conceivably be swapped in the right circumstances — if he returns to form. The latter two are buy-low free agent signees who’d be possible deadline flips in a normal year. Perez does come with a 2021 option.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[J.D. Martinez On Boston's Sign-Stealing Punishment]]> 2020-05-07T06:24:45Z 2020-05-07T06:24:45Z
  • Major League Baseball handed down its decision on Boston’s sign-stealing scandal from its World Series-winning season in 2018 a couple weeks ago, stripping the Red Sox of their second-round pick this year and suspending scout/replay coordinator J.T. Watkins for the upcoming campaign. Count designated hitter J.D. Martinez among those who are not pleased with Watkins’ short-term ban. The superstar slugger told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, “They just ruined this guy’s career with no evidence.” In regards to the overall punishment, Martinez said to Abraham: “If they went to court with that, it would get thrown out. There was nothing there. The judge would laugh.” 
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Collin McHugh On Rehab Progress, Red Sox Role]]> 2020-05-06T16:54:40Z 2020-05-06T16:54:40Z In an appearance on the podcast of Chris Cotillo of (audio link), veteran hurler Collin McHugh discussed his opportunity with the Red Sox and the potential return of baseball. It’s an interesting listen from a thoughtful ballplayer.

    McHugh joined the Boston organization on an incentive-laden, one-year MLB deal in early March. That means he spent only a brief amount of time in camp before the spring activities were halted.

    Still, McHugh says he was glad to get rolling with his new organization at the time. A December elbow procedure “cut a lot of options” that he had been exploring. Once he began to build back up, “a lot more interest started to snowball really quickly” and McHugh was able to join the Boston organization.

    Now, there are signs or progress even as McHugh works out remotely. He says he’s “about a month into my throwing program” — which certainly bodes well for his availability once the season gets underway. McHugh is engaged in daily contact with the team.

    Once the 2020 campaign gets started, McHugh says, he anticipates functioning in a flexible capacity for the team — perhaps moving between the rotation and the bullpen or working in a role that he described as a “hybrid-type thing.” That’ll surely depend upon the precise needs of the roster and McHugh’s progress by the time play resumes.

    As ever, it’s also interesting to hear the different perspectives of players on when and how MLB can return to action. Most of the interview involves McHugh’s well-considered thoughts regarding the timing and nature of a return of the sport.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Jon Lester Discusses His Future]]> 2020-05-05T15:35:08Z 2020-05-05T15:35:08Z As he waits with the rest of us for the return of baseball, Cubs southpaw Jon Lester chatted with Rob Bradford of about his current activities and future plans. It’s well worth a full read, but we’ll cover a few items of particular hot stove relevance.

    Lester certainly doesn’t sound like a player who’s preparing to wrap up his career at the end of his contract. He spoke not only of preparing for the upcoming season but of his future on the mound.

    Lester’s free agent deal includes a 2021 vesting/mutual option that would be guaranteed at $25MM if he throws 200 frames in 2020. (With a hefty $10MM buyout, the actual cost difference is $15MM.) The innings target will be prorated to account for a shortened season. Regardless, it’s difficult to imagine the Cubs letting him reach it.

    “We’ll figure that out one way or the other,” says Lester. “I will either be here or be a free agent. … I’m open-minded to anything.”

    Anything? Anything at all? It may not mean much, but Lester went on to drop an eyebrow-raising line that’s sure to pique the interest of Red Sox fans: “Absolutely it would be cool to go back and finish my career where it all started.”

    As Lester noted, there’s still quite a lot of uncertainty to be dealt with before considering where he’ll throw in 2021. “Hopefully, I’m still a good enough caliber pitcher that the want of my services will still be out there for people,” he says. Lester went on to note: “I’m not getting any younger and coming off a year like I had last year, this [season delay] isn’t going to help me.”

    It’s hard to imagine there won’t be a market for Lester’s services, even if he’s not the same guy he once was. He allowed more than four earned runs per nine for the second time in three seasons last year. ERA estimators didn’t expect better based upon his peripherals (4.26 FIP; 4.35 xFIP; 4.49 SIERA). Then again, Lester also made 31 starts again … as he has for a remarkable dozen-straight seasons. (Actually, he typically takes the ball 32 or 33 times.)

    Lester may not be capable of producing to his own lofty standards, but he was still a quality rotation piece in 2019. He’s also not wrong that, at 36 years of age, his desirability on the open market will depend in large part upon what he’s able to show in 2020 — if indeed there is a season. Lester tells Bradford that he’s staying active but also trying not to “waste bullets down here in the backyard or at some high school,” instead saving them while waiting for “a date to ramp it up.” Here’s hoping he’ll have a chance to do so soon.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Alex Verdugo At Full Health]]> 2020-05-04T21:56:56Z 2020-05-04T21:56:56Z Newly acquired Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo seems to be healing up nicely during the pandemic pause, as Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes. He had been sidelined with a stress fracture in his lower back when Spring Training was halted.

    When last we heard from Verdugo, a key piece of the offseason blockbuster with the Dodgers, he had resumed baseball activities. But his outlook remained largely unclear, particularly given the vagaries of lower-back issues.

    Now, Verdugo says, he’s at full health. Soon to turn 24, the left-handed-hitting outfielder is optimistic that he’ll be ready to roll whenever the second spring for the 2020 season begins.

    “I’m at such a good position mentally and physically that I’m not worried about (my performance),” he told reporters. “I’m just ready to go play.”

    While he’s anxious to get back underway, Verdugo also acknowledged that getting back to action involves rather complicated considerations and says he doesn’t want to do so prematurely. Mastrodonato covers his opinions on the resumption of play in full.

    [RELATED: What Happens To The Mookie Betts Trade If The Season Is Canceled?]

    And what about the possibility of a lost season … such that the Dodgers would lose Mookie Betts to free agency before he suits up for them? Per Verdugo: “We can’t expect these things and for the Dodgers that’s a tough deal. But, hey, everything happens for a reason.”

    George Miller <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Bloom, Draft, Krause, White Sox, Rangers]]> 2020-05-02T20:48:06Z 2020-05-02T20:48:06Z Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom described some of the challenges that will come out of the unique circumstances surrounding this year’s MLB Draft in a discussion with the Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. Bloom’s organization is particularly aware of the value of an additional year of scouting, which allowed the team to select Andrew Benintendi in the first round in 2015—something that probably wouldn’t happen if teams’ exposure was limited to his nondescript freshman season the year before. But that’s precisely the scenario teams find themselves in now: they won’t have the same feel for which draft-eligible players would have taken an additional leap this season and might have to base those judgments on just a few weeks of play. In addition, the shortened format of the draft (no more than 10 rounds) could influence teams’ strategy, especially in the later rounds, where clubs might look to take risks on players who will command more than $20K (the maximum amount for which teams can sign undrafted players). All this means that more high school players might opt to forego pro ball in favor of a collegiate scholarship.

    • Former Chicago Bulls front office executive Jerry Krause has received plenty of scrutiny recently, thanks to ESPN’s Michael Jordan docuseries, “The Last Dance.” But Krause’s tenure as the Bulls’ GM was bookended by a career as a baseball scout, where he worked most prominently with the White Sox. The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales reflects on Krause’s astute eye and resolution as a scout; he was instrumental in swaying White Sox higher-ups to make a play for shortstop Ozzie Guillen (then a Padres minor-leaguer), who would of course go on to play 13 years and rack up 19.5 WAR with the South Siders—not to mention his role in managing the 2005 World Series team.
    • Beginning May 15, the Rangers will institute pay cuts for some of their full-time employees, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Per Grant, employees above a certain salary threshold will have their pay reduced by roughly 10-20%, which will affect approximately half of the team’s full-time staffers. That said, there won’t be any layoffs or furloughs at this time. A number of high-rankings Rangers execs, including GM Jon Daniels, had already begun taking pay cuts in April, but this round will expand the scope of those measures. They’re one of just a few teams that won’t be paying teams in full through May, with a handful of teams implementing similar pay cuts, while the Rays have furloughed some of their employees.