- The Diamondbacks have sent outfielder Ramon Flores to the Red Sox, Cotillo also tweets. It is not apparent what Arizona is getting back in return, or whether Flores might even be the PTBNL in the recent swap between the teams. Either way, it’s a minor transactions. Flores signed a minors deal with Arizona and has struggled this spring. He carries only a .204/.281/.256 slash line in 331 plate appearances, but has generally hit well at Triple-A. Last year, Flores hit .312/.409/.460 with ten home runs and 68 walks against 70 strikeouts in his 493 trips to the plate at the highest level of the minors.
Red Sox Rumors
MARCH 26: Wright is headed to the 10-day disabled list after receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection in his surgically repaired left knee, Drellich tweets. As mentioned below, he won’t be able to serve his suspension until he comes off the DL.
MARCH 23: Red Sox righty Steven Wright has been suspended for 15 games under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy, as Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston first reported. It is believed that Wright will decline to appeal the suspension, Drellich adds.
The suspension relates to a mid-December incident in Tennessee in which Wright was arrested and charged with domestic assault and prevention of a 911 call. So far as is known publicly, Wright has not been accused of any physical harm to his wife or any other household members; rather, in a statement at the time, the family called it a “verbal argument” in a “situation” that “was purely emotional.”
Not long after, the case against Wright was “retired,” meaning the criminal case is on track to be dismissed so long as Wright does not commit any infractions in the next year. He has told reporters that he and his wife are participating in joint counseling.
Of course, those facts do not necessarily mean that Wright did not commit an act that is subject to discipline under the policy. Clearly, commissioner Rob Manfred found that he did, as he is entitled to do without respect to whether charges are ever filed or pursued in court.
Here’s the full definition from the policy itself:
“Domestic violence includes, but is not limited to, physical or sexual violence, emotional and/or psychological intimidation, verbal violence, stalking, economic control, harassment, physical intimidation, or injury. Notwithstanding this definition, a single incident of abusive behavior in any intimate relationship, or a single incident of abusive behavior involving a female member of a Player’s family who is domiciled with him, may subject a Player to discipline under this Policy.”
Manfred is vested with broad authority to issue punishments upon finding a violation. As Drellich notes, this 15-game term coincides with the shortest prior suspension issued to this point, that of Mets reliever Jeurys Familia. Wright, who may open the year on the DL owing to a knee injury, will serve the suspension once he is at full health.
The Red Sox made an attempt to extend franchise cornerstone Mookie Betts during the offseason, but the right fielder isn’t interested in signing a long-term deal at this point, Rob Bradford of WEEI reports. Betts revealed to Bradford that he discussed the extension process with teammates who have signed them, saying: “I talked to some people about it, how the process went. But I didn’t really ask details about what they got or what was offered. It was more just about how the process went. It can be a tough process. You’re dealing with a lot of money.” Betts will make a lot of money in 2018 even without a new deal – $10.5MM after a resounding victory over Boston in arbitration – and will be under team control through at least 2020. The 25-year-old’s current salary is the second-highest award ever given to a first-time arb-eligible player, and Betts should rack up a couple more significant paydays via that route if he continues without an extension.
- The Pirates have placed outfielder Bryce Brentz on outright waivers, Liz Bloom of the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette reports. Pittsburgh acquired the 29-year-old Brentz from Boston back in February, but the out-of-options slugger was then unable to earn a spot with his new organization during the spring. Brentz raked in the minors last year, where he tortured Triple-A pitchers with a .271/.334/.529 line (138 wRC+) and 31 home runs in 494 PAs. However, Brentz hasn’t been nearly that successful in the majors since the BoSox used a first-round pick on him in 2010, having hit .287/.311/.379 with just one HR in 90 trips to the plate.
- The Red Sox have acquired catcher Mike Ohlman from the Rangers for cash considerations, TR Sullivan of MLB.com tweets. A 2009 draft pick of the Orioles (11th round), Ohlman made his major league debut with the Blue Jays last year, though he only collected 13 plate appearances, before signing a minors pact with the Rangers in the offseason. The 27-year-old has done most of his recent work at the Triple-A level, where he has batted .240/.334/.424 in 518 PAs. It seems unlikely he’ll be a factor in Boston, whose catcher contingent features just-extended starter Christian Vazquez and backups Sandy Leon and Blake Swihart.
Red Sox starter Chris Sale left today’s start after being struck by a comebacker off the bat of J.D. Davis. Chad Jennings of the Boston Herald was first to tweet that the club called it a hip contusion. Thankfully for fans in Boston, the X-rays on his hip came back negative (according to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe). For his part, Sale himself has said that he feels fine and that it “looked a lot worse than it actually is.” The lack of serious injury to their prized left-hander brings a sigh of relief to the Red Sox, as they need him now more than ever; Alex Cora announced today that both Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz will begin the season on the DL (h/t Sean McAdams of the Boston Sports Journal). With Steven Wright set to face a 15-game suspension, that leaves Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez at the back end of the club’s rotation. With David Price no sure bet to stay healthy, any questions surrounding Sale would have been wildly unsettling for a club hoping to compete with a tough Yankees ballclub for the AL East crown.
Other injury-related news from around the league…
- Luke Gregerson, who was projected to be the Cardinals’ closer on opening day, will instead begin the season on the DL. Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch outlines the news, which comes as a result of a hamstring strain. The usually-durable Gregerson had also dealt with an oblique injury earlier in the spring, and it’s unclear when he’ll be able to return to major-league action. According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the club has said that Dominic Leone or Tyler Lyons will receive closing opportunities. They do not appear close to any sort of deal with free agent closer Greg Holland at this time, Morosi adds.
- Speaking of right-handers who’ll begin the season on the DL, Tim Lincecum’s blister issues will put him in that company as well. Lincecum joined the Rangers on a one-year deal with a $1MM base salary just weeks ago and didn’t pitch competitively in 2017; by his own words, he was unlikely to be ready for opening day anyway. Still, the blister issue will delay The Freak’s comeback bid, which will be an interesting story to watch as the season progresses considering how much he impressed scouts in a February showcase. Lincecum’s last MLB stint was with the Angels in 2016, when he posted a 9.16 ERA across 38 1/3 innings (nine starts).
- Twins right-hander Phil Hughes has a mild oblique strain, according to a tweet from Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Berardino adds that a DL stint would give him more time to build up arm strength following surgery, though I’d add that Hughes might simply be utilized in a long relief role anyway. For the time being, the Twins will continue to evaluate Hughes.
The Diamondbacks announced that they’ve acquired infielder Deven Marrero from the Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Marrero was out of minor league options.
A former first-round pick by Boston, Marrero hasn’t been able to live up to his pre-draft billing. The 27-year-old righty hitter owns a career slash line of just .208/.259/.309, earning just 258 plate appearances at the big league level across the past three seasons. He’s struck out well over 30% of the time during that span.
Even in the upper minors, Marrero hasn’t shown a whole lot of promise. He hit .240/.266/.361 at Tripe-A Pawtucket last seasons with a meager 3.1% walk rate and a wRC+ of just 69. Only once in the minors has he managed to exceed a .375 slugging percentage, and though he managed to steal at least 25 bases in each of his first two minor league seasons, that hasn’t translated to the upper minors or at the MLB level.
The Sox have played Marrero at second base, shortstop and third base throughout his major league career, but the club had no real need to hold onto both him and fellow utilityman Brock Holt. The Diamondbacks, however, were in need of an outfielder following a recent pectoral injury to Steven Souza Jr., and with a particular urgency since they’re rumored to be considering optioning outfielder Yasmany Tomas to the minors. While Marrero has no experience in the outfield, his presence on the roster should allow Chris Owings to shift to the outfield for the time being.
The Red Sox have signed catcher Christian Vazquez to a three-year contract extension that’ll run through the 2021 season, as Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe was first to tweet (Vazquez was already set to receive $1.425MM this season after his first trip through the arbitration process). According to Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald, he’s set to receive $2.85MM in 2019, $4.2MM in 2020, and $6.25MM in 2021. The extension also comes with a club option for 2022, valued at $7MM; that option comes with a $250K buyout, and can increase to $8MM if he manages to accrue at least 502 plate appearances in each of 2020 and 2021. Mastrodonato also tweets that Vazquez has offered to make an annual donation to the Red Sox foundation as part of the agreement. He’s represented by MDR Sports Management.
Over the course of his career, Vazquez hadn’t received much attention for anything other than his defensive prowess behind the plate. That changed a bit, however, when the now-27-year-old hit .290/.330/.404 across 345 plate appearances for the Red Sox in 2017. While a .348 BABIP suggests that those numbers could regress significantly, the combination of an offensive breakout and a stellar defensive reputation apparently convinced the team that he’s worth keeping in the fold through his age-30 season (and possibly his age-31 season as well).
Vazquez will receive $13.55MM in new guarantees from the pact, including the buyout of his option. As for the Red Sox, they’ll receive cost certainty across the catcher’s final two arbitration seasons in addition to delaying his free agency by a year, and possibly two. The pact is somewhat similar to the extension given to Indians catcher Roberto Perez just last season, who’s also a client of MDR Sports Management.
While Vazquez spent last season in a nearly-equal time share with fellow backstop Sandy Leon, the terms of the option (and indeed the extension itself) seem to hint that they’d like to give the lion’s share of at-bats and defensive innings to the former. Considering he’s been worth 31 defensive runs saved in just 1,668 innings behind the dish over the course of his career, more playing time for Vazquez would likely end up paying dividends for Boston.
A largely unheralded ninth-round pick by the Red Sox back in 2008, Vazquez has never known another major league organization. It took him six years to crack the MLB club, and even then he didn’t seem to be a core piece of the team right away. Vazquez owned a .309 career slugging percentage prior to last season, and missed all of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. However, the Red Sox will hope that last year’s 1.6 fWAR showing is more indicative of his talent moving forward.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
- The Dodgers seem prepared to go with in-house options to replace Justin Turner while the star third baseman is sidelined with a fractured wrist. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman recently floated the idea of L.A. acquiring either Deven Marrero or Brock Holt from the Red Sox to help fill the third base void, though Heyman writes that the Dodgers haven’t been in touch with the Sox about either player. Holt and the out-of-options Marrero are both reportedly potential trade candidates due to a roster crunch.
- The Yankees and Red Sox are nearing a deal to play a two-game series in London during the 2019 regular season, according to Janet Paskin and Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg. The series would take place at London Stadium, which hosted the 2012 Olympics, in what would be the first-ever Major League Baseball action in Europe.
- While Red Sox southpaw Drew Pomeranz has recently made progress in his recovery from a mild flexor strain, odds are that he’ll start the season on the disabled list, Ian Browne of MLB.com writes. Meanwhile, Browne relays that there’s more hope for Red Sox lefty Eduardo Rodriguez and righty Steven Wright, each of whom underwent knee surgery last year. If they’re both ready to open the season on time, they’ll follow Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello in Boston’s rotation. Otherwise, the Red Sox’s top fallback choices are lefty Brian Johnson and righty Hector Velazquez.