Boston Red Sox – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-11-21T05:48:28Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Added To The 40-Man Roster]]> 2018-11-21T02:32:37Z 2018-11-21T00:15:47Z Tonight marks the deadline for players to be added to their respective organizations’ 40-man rosters. Over the nine hours, there’ll be a flurry of moves, ranging from minor trades (like the one the Indians and Rays made yesterday), waiver claims and players being designated for assignment or outrighted. Each will be made to clear room for players who need protection from this year’s Rule 5 Draft. As a reminder, players who signed at 18 years of age or younger and have five professional seasons are eligible, as are players who signed at 19 or older and have four professional seasons under their belts.

Here’s a rundown of players who’ve been added to their respective 40-man rosters (which will be updated throughout the day)…

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Red Sox Acquire Colten Brewer]]> 2018-11-20T21:47:25Z 2018-11-20T21:28:24Z 3:46pm: Boston has announced the deal.

3:27pm: The agreement is now in place, Rosenthal adds on Twitter.

12:55pm: Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston reports (via Twitter) that the Red Sox will send minor league infielder Esteban Quiroz to San Diego in exchange for Brewer.

Quiroz, 27 in February, has spent the bulk of his career playing for los Tigres de Quintana Roo in the Mexican League but signed with the Red Sox in 2017 for his first season of affiliated ball. He hit .299/.413/.598 with seven homers in 104 plate appearances against younger competition in Double-A last year. He also made a strong impression in the Arizona Fall League, hitting .267/.452/.511 with a pair of homers, three doubles and a triple in 62 PAs. He’s played second base, shortstop and third base extensively in his career in Mexico, but the Red Sox deployed him solely as a second baseman.

12:29pm: The Red Sox are nearing an agreement to acquire right-hander Colten Brewer from the Padres, tweets Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. A minor leaguer who doesn’t need to be added to the Padres’ 40-man roster to be protected before today’s Rule 5 deadline will go back in return.

It’s a minor swap designed to give the Padres some roster flexibility before 8pm ET tonight — the deadline for teams to protect players from selection in next month’s Rule 5 Draft. Brewer, a fourth-round pick of the Pirates in 2011, has just 9 2/3 innings of big league experience, all of which came with the Padres in 2018. He was tagged for six earned runs on 15 hits and seven walks with 10 strikeouts in that time, but he was much better in Triple-A El Paso. Despite the hitter-friendly nature of his home environment in Triple-A, Brewer posted a 3.75 ERA with more impressive marks of 11.8 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 with a 55.8 percent grounder rate in 48 innings of relief.

Brewer only recently turned 26 and has two minor league option years remaining, so he’ll give the Red Sox some bullpen depth that can be shuttled back and forth between Boston and Pawtucket next season. For the Padres, the swap will open a spot on what’s currently a full 40-man roster. It’s one of multiple trades they could make today, as Rosenthal also noted that right-hander Rowan Wick could be on the move soon (in a separate deal).

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Red Sox Notes: Sale, Swihart]]> 2018-11-19T03:05:06Z 2018-11-19T03:05:06Z
  • Chris Sale is only under contract through the 2019 season, and his potential future in Boston “could be the key to the entire offseason” for the Red Sox, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald writes.  The Sox are sure to discuss an extension with Sale this winter, though if they don’t feel the southpaw will be staying beyond the coming season (or the team is wary of spending big money on Sale over the long term), then Mastrodonato believes landing another frontline pitcher will become an immediate priority.  If the Red Sox are able to extend Sale or believe they’ll be able to re-sign him next offseason, starting pitching likely won’t be a pressing priority this winter.  In my opinion, I’d guess the Red Sox would pursue some type of controllable starter regardless of what happens with Sale, given that Rick Porcello will also be a free agent next winter and Eduardo Rodriguez’s injury history makes him a bit of a question mark for 2019.
  • Also from Mastrodonato’s piece, he notes that the Red Sox will be bringing Blake Swihart to Spring Training as a catcher.  With Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon ahead of Swihart on the catching depth chart, the team experimented with Swihart as a utility player last season in an attempt to get him into the lineup, with unremarkable results.  While Swihart will continue to get some work at multiple positions, his trade value would be maximized if he could stick behind the plate.  Swihart has been the focus of trade rumors for well over a year, and the Red Sox were known to have a very high asking price in talks with other teams as of last May.  Those demands seemed high at the time, given Swihart’s struggles to break through as a Major League player, and he did little to raise his stock over the rest of the season.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nathan Eovaldi Drawing Widespread Interest]]> 2018-11-18T22:39:41Z 2018-11-18T22:38:45Z 4:36pm: Eovaldi has received interest from “everybody and their mother,” a source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI. However, “truly serious suitors” won’t begin to stand out until after Thanksgiving, Bradford hears. The Yankees are among those who will at least consider Eovaldi, per Bradford.

    8:59am: Free-agent starter Nathan Eovaldi has drawn considerable interest on the open market, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, who writes that the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, Angels, White Sox, Blue Jays and Giants join the previously reported Red Sox and Padres as early suitors for the right-hander. More teams may join the fray, Cafardo adds.

    Although Eovaldi is a two-time Tommy John surgery recipient who only threw 111 regular-season innings in 2018, the soon-to-be 29-year-old still managed to significantly boost his stock. Across 22 appearances (21 starts) divided between Tampa Bay and Boston, Eovaldi pitched to a solid 3.81 ERA/3.60 FIP with 8.19 K/9, 1.62 BB/9 and a 45.6 percent groundball rate. Among pitchers who threw at least 100 innings, Eovaldi finished third in both average fastball velocity (97.4 mph) and infield fly percentage (15.7), tied for sixth in BB/9, and 12th in K/BB ratio (5.05). He also yielded a paltry .284 expected weighted on-base average, an even more impressive figure than the .293 real wOBA hitters registered against him.

    After posting those strong numbers during the regular season, Eovaldi proved capable of shining on the game’s biggest stage for the Red Sox, who couldn’t have asked for more when they acquired him in July. Eovaldi surrendered just four earned runs in 22 1/3 postseason innings, helping the Red Sox vanquish the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers en route to a World Series title. The success Eovaldi enjoyed in October surely helped his stock heading toward the open market, where MLBTR predicts he’ll land a four-year, $60MM guarantee.

    A lucrative payday for Eovaldi this offseason may have been unthinkable at this time last year, when he was still recovering from the 2016 Tommy John surgery he underwent as a Yankee. However, Eovaldi now has a clean bill of health. Dr. Christopher Ahmad, who performed Eovaldi’s most recent surgery, gave his right arm a ringing endorsement Friday, telling Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston: “To me, he’s over Tommy John surgery and he’s over revision Tommy John surgery. And I would consider him in the same category of somebody who has a healthy arm, and whatever worry I have about that player, I have the same or less for Nate.”

    Adding to Eovaldi’s appeal, he doesn’t come with a qualifying offer attached, which isn’t the case with either Patrick Corbin or Dallas Keuchel – the only starters MLBTR projects to sign bigger contracts. Of course, Eovaldi’s resume isn’t on the level of theirs. While Corbin and Keuchel have offered superstar-caliber production at times, Eovaldi has generally performed like a mid- to back-end starter. Also a former Dodger and Marlin, Eovaldi owns a 4.16 ERA/3.82 FIP with 6.78 K/9, 2.74 BB/9 and a 46.8 percent grounder rate over 850 innings, and he hasn’t exceeded 125 frames in a season since 2015. There are certainly some red flags with Eovaldi, then, yet it’s still unsurprising that teams are lining up for his services.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Boston Could Be A Fit For David Robertson]]> 2018-11-18T21:44:51Z 2018-11-18T21:44:51Z
  • Free-agent reliever David Robertson prefers to sign with a team in the Northeast, where he has pitched the majority of his career as a member of the Yankees. The 33-year-old may simply end up re-signing with the Yanks, but Rob Bradford of WEEI observes that Robertson would be a logical fit for the archrival Red Sox. The world champions’ bullpen could suffer a couple blows in the coming weeks if free agents Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly cash in elsewhere, which would leave room for a Robertson addition. Moreover, as a Rhode Island resident whose wife is from Medfield, Mass., Robertson has New England ties, as Bradford notes.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Red Sox Rumors: Kimbrel, Eovaldi]]> 2018-11-18T14:40:28Z 2018-11-18T00:58:05Z
  • The reigning World Series champion Red Sox may soon lose free-agent right-handers Joe Kelly and Craig Kimbrel, who finished first and second among their relievers in innings last season. With the futures of Kelly and Kimbrel in question, the bullpen is Boston’s primary focus this offseason, according to Heyman. Given that the 30-year-old Kimbrel is in line to sign one of the richest contracts in the history of relievers this winter, he’ll be harder than Kelly to retain. While the Red Sox do have interest in re-signing Kimbrel, per Heyman, he adds that the team “seems adamant about not wanting to go five years” for the highly accomplished closer. Meanwhile, to no one’s surprise, the Sox also hope to re-up free-agent starter Nathan Eovaldi. The 28-year-old righty had a terrific run in Boston last season after it acquired him from Tampa Bay in July, and he’s now one of the most appealing starters on the open market.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Red Sox Re-Sign Steve Pearce]]> 2018-11-17T01:18:51Z 2018-11-16T22:20:27Z The Red Sox have announced a deal to keep sluggeer Steve Pearce in Boston, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported (via Twitter). It’s said to be a one-year, $6.25MM pact for the Excel Sports Management client.

    Pearce, 35, was picked up in a relatively unheralded late-June swap with the Blue Jays. He more or less took the role that had been played by Hanley Ramirez to open the year, and ended up delivering more value than the Sox probably anticipated.

    By the end of the 2018 regular season, Pearce had compiled an excellent .284/.378/.512 batting line and 11 home runs over 251 total plate appearances. He bettered that in the postseason, turning in a 1.083 OPS in 47 plate appearances and ultimately taking home World Series MVP honors owing to some timely long balls.

    Pearce did not fully establish himself in the big leagues until he had passed his thirtieth birthday. Since then, though, he has mostly been an excellent offensive producer — at least, when healthy. Rather surprisingly, Pearce has still yet to take even 400 plate appearances in a given season.

    It seems clear that the Red Sox will continue to seek to get Pearce’s bat whenever possible against left-handed pitching. While he has historically been a solid hitter even without the platoon advantage, Pearce has bombed opposing southpaws.

    Odds are, Pearce will see most of his time by sharing the action at first base with Mitch Moreland. He could also pick up some time in the DH slot when J.D. Martinez steps into the outfield or gets a rest. And it’s certainly possible that Pearce could see some time at other spots around the diamond as well. He has experience in the corner outfield as well as second and third base, though surely he won’t be seen as the best-defending option at those spots.

    This move likely forecloses some other conceivable avenues to boosting the Red Sox offense — not that it needs it, or that Pearce won’t suffice. That said, the club still has some potential uncertainty at second and perhaps even third base, though it certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see the organization decide to rely upon existing options there. Otherwise, Dave Dombrowski and co. will presumably dedicate most of their offseason energy to pursuing improvements behind the plate and on the mound — and, perhaps, trying to gain traction on contract talks with a few current stars.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Christian Yelich, Mookie Betts Win MVP Awards]]> 2018-11-15T23:58:19Z 2018-11-15T23:50:03Z The Baseball Writers’ Association of America announced tonight that Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich was voted the Most Valuable Player of the National League. Meanwhile, fellow outfielder Mookie Betts took the prize in the American League.

    Yelich nearly pulled off a unanimous win after helping lead the Brew Crew to a stirring NL Central title. Only one first-place vote went to another player, as Mets hurler Jacob deGrom was not-unjustly rewarded for an exceptional season that already netted him a Cy Young Award.

    Clearly, though, Yelich stood above the rest of the position-player field. It surely helped his case that he led a resurgent Brewers club, but the 26-year-old turned in a stellar first year in Milwaukee quite apart from what his teammates did around him. In 651 plate appearances, he turned in a .326/.402/.598 batting line with 36 home runs and 22 steals.

    That eye-popping offensive output, combined with solid glovework and excellent overall baserunning, left Yelich with a hefty tally of 7.6 WAR (by measure of both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference). Cubs infielder Javier Baez placed second, with Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado finishing in bronze-medal position.

    As for Betts, his season was even more compelling, allowing him to stand out even against a field of excellent contenders in the American League. He finished the season with a ridiculous .346/.438/.640 slash while qualifying for the 30/30 club. Plus, he’s widely considered one of the best defenders and baserunners in the game.

    It’s a credit to Betts that he was able to top yet another MVP-worthy performance from the incomparable Mike Trout, whose perennial excellence is not diminished by the fact that a rotating cast of others has occasionally matched or bettered him. Indians infielder Jose Ramirez turned in a second consecutive third-place finish.

    Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Examining Draft Pick Compensation For The 5 Teams That Could Lose Qualified Free Agents]]> 2018-11-15T19:22:15Z 2018-11-15T19:22:15Z Five different teams made qualifying offers to free agents this winter. Six of the seven players turned down the one-year, $17.9MM offer.  Here’s what each of those teams stands to gain in draft pick compensation.


    The Astros made a qualifying offer to Dallas Keuchel.  The Astros were neither a revenue sharing recipient nor a competitive balance tax payor. Therefore, regardless of the size of the contract Keuchel signs, the Astros will receive draft pick compensation after Competitive Balance Round B, which takes place after the second round.


    The Diamondbacks made qualifying offers to Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock.  The D’Backs were a revenue sharing recipient. If Corbin or Pollock signs for a guarantee of $50MM or more, the D’Backs get draft pick compensation after the first round. If one of the players signs for less than $50MM, the Diamondbacks get draft pick compensation after Comp Round B. Corbin is a near-lock to sign for more than $50MM, while Pollock is a borderline case.  Of the six qualified free agents, the $50MM contract size threshold only matters in the cases of Corbin and Pollock.


    The Dodgers made a qualifying offer to catcher Yasmani Grandal (Hyun-Jin Ryu already accepted his). Like the Astros, they were neither a revenue sharing recipient nor a competitive balance tax payor. Regardless of the amount Grandal signs for, the Dodgers will receive draft pick compensation after Competitive Balance Round B.


    The Nationals made a qualifying offer to Bryce Harper, and the Nats were a competitive balance tax payor.  Therefore, the Nationals will receive draft pick compensation after the fourth round regardless of the size of contract Harper signs.

    Red Sox

    The Red Sox made a qualifying offer to Craig Kimbrel, and the Sox were a competitive balance tax payor.  Therefore, the Red Sox will receive draft pick compensation after the fourth round regardless of the size of contract Kimbrel signs.

    The Nationals and Red Sox stand to gain fairly unimpressive draft picks, likely somewhere in the 140s.  The Astros and Dodgers should get picks in the 80s.  The D’Backs should get a pick in the 30s for Corbin.  Pollock could land them a pick in the 30s or the 80s depending on whether he gets $50MM.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Red Sox Announce Extension With Alex Cora]]> 2018-11-14T23:13:00Z 2018-11-14T23:12:45Z 5:12pm: WEEI’s Rob Bradford tweets that Cora is indeed receiving a raise on the deal as well.

    4:57pm: The Red Sox announced Wednesday that they’re agreed to a new contract with manager Alex Cora on the heels of 2018’s World Series title. Cora’s original contract with the Sox spanned the 2018-20 seasons and included a 2021 option. That 2021 season is now guaranteed, and the Red Sox have tacked on a club option for the 2022 season as well. It’s not yet clear if the new contract comes with a boost in annual salary, though presumably he’ll be getting some form of raise.

    Alex Cora | Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

    “We have consistently been impressed by Alex at every turn,” said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner in a press release announcing the move. “His knowledge of the game, ability to connect with our players, and his incredible instincts and decisiveness led us to an historic championship season. We know we are in good hands, and could not be more pleased to know he will be with us for the foreseeable future.”

    “Alex did a tremendous job for our club all year long and we wanted to reward him for his efforts after an amazing season,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski added. “We are extremely happy that he will be with us and leading our club on the field.”

    Under Cora’s watch, the Red Sox won a franchise-record 108 games, fending off a 100-win Yankees club and a 90-win Rays team en route to a division championship. That regular-season performance landed Cora second in American League Manager of the Year voting, but the World Series Championship and a new contract extension figure to eliminate any sting from finishing as the runner up in that regard.

    “Since day one, John and Linda Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon, Sam Kennedy, and Dave Dombrowski have been incredibly supportive of me and my family, and for that I am extremely grateful,” said Cora in his own statement. “For me, 2018 was not only historic, but it was special as well, both on and off the field. We have a great appreciation for our accomplishments this past year, but now our focus moves forward to the season ahead and defending our World Series title.”

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tim Dierkes, Rob Bradford Discuss Red Sox' Offseason]]> 2018-11-14T05:49:15Z 2018-11-14T04:59:32Z As the Red Sox gear up to defend their 2018 World Series championship, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford on this week’s episode of the Bradfo Sho. Tim and Rob discuss the recent Top 50 free agent list published here at MLBTR, with a specific focus on a number of Red Sox free agents (Craig Kimbrel, Drew Pomeranz, Joe Kelly) and a quick look ahead to the 2019-20 offseason as well. Once you’re finished listening to that, here are a few notes from around the American League…

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Red Sox, Juan Centeno Agree To Minor League Contract]]> 2018-11-14T04:02:44Z 2018-11-14T04:02:44Z The Red Sox are in agreement with catcher Juan Centeno on a minor league contract, tweets’s Chris Cotillo. The Magnus Sports client figures to receive an invite to Major League Spring Training.

    Centeno, 28, appeared in 10 games for the Rangers this past season and joins the Boston organization with 111 games of MLB experience under his belt. He’s a career .227/.278/.331 hitter in 353 trips to the plate between the Mets, Brewers, Twins, Astros and Rangers. Centeno has shown a knack in terms of hitting for average at the Triple-A level, where he’s a .286/.330/.352 hitter in 1147 PAs, and he’s only struck out in 12.3 percent of his plate appearances at that level.

    From a defensive standpoint, Centeno has thrown out 39 percent of would-be base thieves throughout his minor league career, but he’s at just 13 percent in that regard in the Majors. Baseball Prospectus gives him poor marks for his pitch-framing and blocking skills.

    Christian Vazquez, Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart top Boston’s depth chart at catcher right now, though Swihart was rarely utilized at the position in 2018 while Leon’s anemic offense at least raises the question of whether the Sox will tender him a contract. Nonetheless, the addition of Centeno figures to be merely a means of adding some upper-minors depth for Boston in the early stages of the offseason, as there’s no clear path to the big league roster for him at this point.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Boston Red Sox]]> 2018-11-13T03:50:42Z 2018-11-13T03:50:42Z MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams.  Click here to read the other entries in this series.

    After celebrating their fourth World Series in 15 years, the Red Sox now have some significant holes to fill in the starting rotation and bullpen. They’ll also need to think about whether and how to keep their championship core together for the long term.

    Guaranteed Contracts

    Obligations To Former Players

    • Pablo Sandoval, 3B: $23MM through 2019 (includes $5MM buyout of 2020 club option), minus prorated MLB minimum salary earned by Sandoval next season

    Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in brackets; projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

    Free Agents

    [Boston Red Sox offseason page][Boston Red Sox payroll information]

    The Red Sox won 108 regular season games and then lost just three postseason contests en route to the Commissioner’s Trophy. The good news doesn’t end there for Boston fans, as the window is still wide open for another title.  Potential AL MVP Mookie Betts and Hank Aaron Award-winning slugger J.D. Martinez are the cornerstones of a dynamic lineup that will also have Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi, and Jackie Bradley Jr. as Opening Day locks.  Chris Sale, David Price, and Rick Porcello sit atop the rotation, with bullpen workhorses Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, Ryan Brasier, and Hector Velazquez all returning.

    That’s an awfully strong nucleus to start from, particularly for a team that can still account for less-stable positions with players already on the roster, and isn’t shy about making big trades or signings if external help is required.  The Red Sox soared over the luxury tax threshold last season and are projected to be well over the line again in 2019, though they’ll get some help in that area by the fact that the luxury tax limit will rise from $197MM to $206MM.  Hanley Ramirez’s salary is also now completely off the books; the $22MM he had earned annually will be needed to cover projected arbitration raises.

    So, what will president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski do for an encore?  His most immediate question is the bullpen, as closer Craig Kimbrel and setup man Joe Kelly are both headed for free agency.  The hard-throwing Kelly has had his ups and downs in Boston, with a 4.33 ERA over 359 1/3 innings for the team and persistent control issues.  When Kelly was on, however, he was hard to touch — over 11 1/3 IP during Boston’s World Series run, the right-hander allowed just one earned run while recording 13 strikeouts and no walks. It’s easy to see how a rival team could take a chance on Kelly as a closer or top setup option, and offer him a contract beyond what the Sox are willing to pay.  Then again, there’s still a fit on paper in Boston, so it’s possible he’ll return.

    Meanwhile, Boston may only have limited interest in bringing Kimbrel back.After Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen raised the bar on contracts for top closers, it could be that the Red Sox simply aren’t keen on spending the big money it will likely take to retain Kimbrel (MLBTR projects him for a four-year, $70MM contract).  The Red Sox also stand to recoup a compensatory draft pick via the qualifying offer if Kimbrel signs elsewhere.  Kimbral had another strong regular season — 2.74 ERA, 3.10 K/BB rate, 13.9 K/9 over 62 1/3 innings — yet didn’t quite hit elite levels, and he struggled mightily throughout the postseason.

    If Kimbrel does leave, the Sox don’t have an obvious in-house saves candidate ready to step up to the unique pressure of Fenway Park in the ninth inning.  Free agents like David Robertson, Zach Britton, or Andrew Miller could all be targets, or Boston could pursue trade options.  This is assuming, of course, that the Red Sox will take a traditional approach to the closer role, as the club could prefer to add a versatile multi-inning arm (like a Miller) or two and then give manager Alex Cora a chance to mix and match his late-game options based on matchups.

    Beyond the top three in the rotation, the combination of Eduardo Rodriguez, Brian Johnson, swingman Velazquez, and (health permitting) Steven Wright should be capable of accounting for at least one of the other rotation spots.  This depth also comes in handy should Sale again run into any health issues, as Boston put a priority on keeping their ace as fit as possible for October.  The Red Sox will likely add to this mix with at least one more starting arm.  The team has the resources to check in on any of the top pitchers available on the free agent or trade markets, with a pursuit of Nathan Eovaldi standing out as a logical option.  Eovaldi will still just be 29 on Opening Day, and looked as good during his two-plus months with the Red Sox as he has at any point in his career, both results-wise and in terms of his 97.2mph average fastball speed.

    If not Eovaldi, Boston could look at other pitchers that could be longer-term answers for the rotation since both Sale and Porcello are entering the last year of their contracts.  As good as the present looks for the Red Sox, Dombrowski will have to turn an eye to the future this offseason as several important players are approaching free agency.  Sale, Porcello, and Bogaerts are all only controlled through 2019; Betts and Bradley will reach the open market after 2020; and Martinez can opt out of his contract after any of the next three seasons.

    There have already been indications that Bogaerts and Martinez will test free agency, though the team will likely at least consider broaching extension talks with all of these parties.  It will be interesting to see which players the Red Sox prioritize in negotiations, as it will provide significant information about their approach for the future.  Bogaerts, Martinez, and Bradley are all represented by Scott Boras, whose clients tend to reach the open market rather than sign extensions.  Sale has been nothing short of outstanding during his nine-year career, though with his lingering injury concerns, are the Red Sox prepared to make an expensive commitment to the southpaw as he enters his 30s?  Could Boston also look to a different type of extension, and lock up a controllable player like Benintendi (scheduled for free agency after 2022) to a even longer-term deal?

    Betts has preferred to take a year-to-year approach rather than sign an extension, a gamble that has thus far handsomely paid off for the superstar outfielder.  Could his stance change if the Red Sox were to approach him with one of the biggest contracts in baseball history?  The argument can certainly be made that Betts is deserving of such a pact based on what he has done through his age-25 season, and the Sox could get some obvious contact comps this winter in whatever record-breaking deals Bryce Harper and Manny Machado (both of whom are 26 themselves) find in the free agent market this winter.

    The Sox are set in the outfield, DH, and shortstop, and we can pretty safely pencil Rafael Devers at third base and Mitch Moreland for a timeshare at first base next season.  Despite below-average overall hitting numbers and a shaky glove in 2018, Devers is still only 22, and the former top prospect will certainly be given plenty of opportunity to break out.  Moreland will continue to provide his solid defense and bat from the left side of the plate, though the Sox will need to find another right-handed first base as a platoon partner.

    World Series MVP Steve Pearce filled that role in spectacular fashion after coming to Boston in midseason, and while his price tag may go up, the free agent market has been unfriendly enough to veteran first basemen in recent years that a re-signing is certainly feasible from Boston’s end.  For Pearce, he may also welcome another crack at a ring rather than aim for a few extra dollars in free agency.

    Could the Red Sox make a bigger splash at first base?  That’s what we thought could be in store last winter before the team re-signed Moreland to a two-year contract, so Boston seems content for now to just stick with a platoon situation rather than deal Moreland and then pursue a bigger name in free agency or on the trade market.  There’s also the possibility that the Sox might not want to block the position in the event that Devers needs to be moved to first base, as star prospect Michael Chavis is knocking on the door as a potential third baseman of the future.  (Chavis himself has also seen some time at first base, plus young first baseman Sam Travis is still in the picture, albeit in need of a rebound from a lackluster Triple-A season.) All that said, there are some intriguing potential options and a move can’t be ruled out.

    Catcher is another position where the team could theoretically stand pat with in-house options, as the duo of Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon each posted outstanding framing numbers and were widely praised for their game-calling abilities.  The Sox have enough big bats in the lineup that they could afford to devote one position entirely to defense, yet the near-total lack of offense generated by both Vazquez (42 wRC+) and Leon (33 wRC+) begs to be addressed in some fashion.  Blake Swihart also contributed little at the plate while seeing some action at catcher as part of his super-utility duties.

    The boldest move would be a trade for J.T. Realmuto, who will be targeted by every team in need of catching upgrades this winter.  Vazquez or Swihart could go back to the Marlins as part of a trade package, though obviously Boston would need much more to pry Realmuto out of Miami.  If the Red Sox aren’t willing or able to meet the Marlins’ price, they could aim lower by signing a free agent backstop like Kurt Suzuki or Robinson Chirinos or by taking over part of the contract of a pricey veteran such as Russell Martin.  This would allow Vazquez to stay in the mix. The Sox have committed to him to some extent as their catcher of the future via their three-year contract extension, and Vazquez did post decent hitting numbers just in 2017.  It remains to be seen exactly what the Sox will do with Swihart, who was kept despite a flurry of trade rumors last season, and whose stock has dropped even further after a forgettable 2018 season.

    The experiment with Swihart as a utilityman led him to appear as one of the nine Red Sox players who played at least one game at second base last season, as the position became a revolving door thanks to Dustin Pedroia’s recurring knee problems.  The longtime face of the Boston franchise was limited to just three games last season, leading the Sox to rotate several players through the keystone before Ian Kinsler was acquired at the deadline to solidify the position, though Kinsler didn’t play particularly well.

    It’s an open question as to how much Pedroia will be able to contribute next season, especially since Dombrowski isn’t yet certain if the veteran infielder will be ready for Spring Training.  Given Pedroia’s status within the organization (and the $40MM still owed to him through 2021), the Sox may have to hold off on any moves to address second base until they get more clarity on Pedroia’s health.  If Pedroia isn’t an option, another in-season trade is likely, unless incumbent options Eduardo Nunez, Brock Holt, or maybe even longer-shot candidates like Chavis or even Swihart can all combine to handle the position.

    A reasonably healthy and productive Pedroia, a step forward from Devers, and Vazquez returning to even his 2017 form would go a long way towards firming up three positions that were rather glaringly weak links last season.  Even while receiving sub-replacement level production at second base, third base, and catcher all season, the 2018 Red Sox were still one of the best teams in recent baseball history.  It’s a tribute to Cora’s work in the dugout and Dombrowski’s roster-building that Boston achieved what it did even with some notable flaws, and with another winter to address these areas and others, the possibility exists that next year’s Red Sox could be even better.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Steven Wright Undergoes Knee Surgery]]> 2018-11-13T01:59:58Z 2018-11-13T01:59:58Z The Red Sox announced today that right-hander Steven Wright has undergone surgery on his left knee. Specifically, he received an arthroscopy and debridement on the joint.

    At this point, a timeline isn’t known. The club says that Wright “will continue to rehab and prepare for a return to pitching in the 2019 season.”

    It’s not particularly surprising to hear of the procedure, as Wright has long dealt with issues in that joint. A prior surgery knocked him out for almost all of the 2017 season. After making it back and becoming a productive member of the staff again in 2018, Wright hit the DL late in the season when he began dealing with pain and inflammation.

    At the time that his recent issues arose, Wright indicated that the belief was he was suffering from “loose bodies” in the knee. If that’s all that was at issue, perhaps there’s reason to hope that there’ll be plenty of time for Wright to work back to full health before Spring Training.

    The Boston organization will certainly hope the prognosis is promising. Wright projects to earn only $1.4MM in arbitration in 2019, with one more season of control still to come thereafter, making him an affordable asset. And he’s fresh off of a season in which he showed well in a multi-inning swingman role. Over four starts and 16 relief appearances, Wright worked to a 2.68 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 26 walks over 53 2/3 frames. Though his K/BB numbers fail to impress, the knuckler was seemingly legitimately tough to square up, as Statcast figures suggest (.288 wOBA, .306 xwOBA, 26.8 hard-hit rate).

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Six Players Decline Qualifying Offers]]> 2018-11-12T23:22:20Z 2018-11-12T21:32:07Z The seven free agents who were issued qualifying offers by their former teams must decide by 4pm CT today whether or not to accept.  You can get the full rundown of how the qualifying offer system works here, but in brief — if a player takes the offer, they will return to their team on a one-year, $17.9MM contract for the 2019 season and can never again be issued a QO in any future trips to the free agent market.  If a player rejects the offer, their former team will receive a compensatory draft pick should another club sign the player.  (The signing team will also have to give up at least one draft pick and potentially some funds from their international signing bonus pool.)

    Most free agents reject the QO in search of a richer, more long-term contract, and this is expected to be the case for most (though not all) of this year’s qualifying offer class.  The MLB Player’s Association has now announced all of these decisions, so they’re all official:

    • A.J. Pollock will enter free agency after turning down the Diamondbacks’ qualifying offer, tweets Jon Heyman of Fancred.  He’ll be the top center fielder available and should draw interest from a fair number of teams, though his market demand is not yet clear.
    • Bryce Harper declined the Nationals’ qualifying offer, per Mark Zuckerman of (via Twitter). That’s utterly unsurprising, as the superstar is lining up nine-figure offers as we speak.
    • Craig Kimbrel is heading to the market rather than taking the one-year pact to stay with the Red Sox, Chris Cotillo of was among those to tweet. The veteran closer is expected to command a much larger and lengthier contract in free agency.
    • Patrick Corbin won’t be accepting the Diamondbacks’ qualifying offer, as per Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link).  No surprises with this decision, as Corbin is set to receive the biggest contract of any free agent pitcher this winter.
    • Yasmani Grandal won’t accept the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez (via Twitter).  Even in the wake of another mediocre postseason performance, there was little doubt Grandal would turn down the QO, as he projects to earn a strong contract as the best catcher in the free agent market.
    • Dallas Keuchel has rejected the Astros’ qualifying offer,’s Mark Feinsand reports (Twitter link).  The ground-ball specialist and 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner will hit the open market, and it remains to be seen if a return to Houston could be in the cards.  The Astros could also lose Charlie Morton in free agency, and Lance McCullers Jr. will miss all of 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
    • Hyun-Jin Ryu has accepted the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, as we explored in detail earlier today.  Ryu becomes the sixth player to ever accept a QO, out of the 80 free agents who have been offered the deal over the last seven offseasons.