Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts Dealing With Sore Left Ankle

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is currently dealing with a sore left ankle, according to interim manager Ron Roenicke. The 27-year-old apparently aggravated it while going through offseason drills in his home country of Aruba last month.

“His ankle is a little bit sore,” Roenicke said of Bogaerts’ ankle. “So these couple, three days we’re probably going to go a little bit easy on him. It’s nothing alarming. But it is a little sore. So we’re going to back off on him a little bit.”

When speaking with reporters for the first time Sunday, Bogaerts echoed the same sort of sentiment, saying, “There’s no reason for us to force it [at spring training]. Just trying to make sure we get it right and when I start, I can finish.”

Entering his seventh full season in the majors, Bogaerts has emerged as an important veteran leader in the Red Sox clubhouse, and he may even be the face of the franchise now that Mookie Betts is a Dodger.

The two-time All-Star slashed .309/.384/.555 with a career-best 33 home runs and 117 RBI over 155 games last season en route to a Silver Slugger award and a top-five finish in American League MVP voting.

While obviously a bit concerning, this sore left ankle for Bogaerts does not seem to be all that worrisome. It will be interesting to see how he is holding up later next week.

Other Red Sox players on the 40-man roster that could play shortstop include Jonathan Arauz, C.J. Chatham, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Jose Peraza.

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo Dealing With Stress Fracture in Lower Back

New Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo has a stress fracture in his lower back and his status for Opening Day is up in the air, according to interim manager Ron Roenicke.

“It takes a lot of time to heal,” Roenicke said of Verdugo’s injury earlier Saturday. “It’s an injury that’s fairly common in baseball because it’s a rotation issue. Our trainers are familiar with it. We’ll take him as the steps come — not only what the images show, but his response to things.”

One of three players acquired in the trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers earlier in the week, Verdugo missed the final two months of the 2019 season due to back and oblique issues and he himself believes it stemmed from playing on Tropicana Field’s artificial surface back in May.

The Red Sox knew of the 23-year-old’s medical history ahead of the trade’s completion, and it appears that a plan to take things slowly may already be in place.

Verdugo mentioned this plan in his first session with reporters at Fenway South on Saturday, saying that, “We have something we can draw out. The exact time frame of it, whether it’s to be ready for the start of the season or slightly after, we’re not really sure. We’re not trying to rush that. We don’t want to give people or give fans a false hope or just even a deadline we miss again.”

Because he is under team control through 2024, the Red Sox do not have any incentive to rush their new outfielder into things this year and potentially risk further injury.

“We’re going to take our time on this,” Verdugo said. “Make sure that I’m right so that way when I am playing and I’m able to be in Boston, it’s the whole year and it’s continuous that we don’t have any setbacks or anything like that.”

When healthy, the Arizona native could prove to be a tremendous asset to a new-look Red Sox outfield that also brought in ex-Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar on a one-year deal on Friday.

With that added bonus of having someone like Pillar available to potentially play all three outfield positions, that proves even further why the Sox should not rush things with Verdugo.

“To be honest, if everything goes right, (Verdugo) still may not be ready for Opening Day,” Roenicke added Saturday. “We need him to be healthy to see what kind of player we have and the kind of player he knows he is.”

Full-squad workouts for the Red Sox begin on Monday, while exhibition games begin on Friday. Verdugo will presumably not see much action as he continues to rehab from his stress fracture.

Looking at Red Sox Players Who Are out of Minor-League Options

With Red Sox spring training underway and full-squad workouts scheduled to begin next week, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the players who need to make Boston’s Opening Day roster this year.

Granted, these following players on the Sox’ 40-man roster don’t HAVE to make the Opening Day roster, but if they do not, they will be exposed to waivers since they are out of minor-league options.

The following players have been excluded from this list despite also not having any minor-league options remaining on their current contracts.

Juan Centeno
Jett Bandy
Cesar Puello
Brian Johnson
Mike Kickham

That is the case because they are not on the 40-man roster. On to the main event…

Kevin Plawecki

Signed to a one-year, $900,000 major-league deal last month, the soon-to-be-29-year-old backstop will primarily serve as Christian Vazquez’s backup this season.

Thanks to a lack of significant catching depth, Plawecki should be a lock to make the Sox’ Opening Day roster regardless of how he performs this spring.

The ex-Met and Indian slashed .222/.287/.342 with three home runs and 17 RBI over 59 games for Cleveland last season.

Heath Hembree

The 31-year-old right-hander has been a consistent mainstay in the Sox’ bullpen for the past three seasons, yet injury concerns last year seemed to peg Hembree as a potential non-tender candidate back in December.

The Red Sox decided not to go that route though, and instead paid him $1.61 million in his penultimate season of arbitration eligibility.

With plenty of other names vying for a spot in Boston’s bullpen out of spring training, Hembree could see himself competing for a spot depending on how he fares in the coming weeks.

Austin Brice

Acquired from the Marlins for infield prospect Angeudis Santos last month, Brice is not yet arbitration eligible.

The 27-year-old right-hander posted an ERA of 3.43 and FIP of 4.87 over 36 relief appearances and 44 2/3 innings pitched last season before being designated for assignment by Miami in January.

With a pitch mix that heavily relies on a curveball and four-seam fastball, Brice could offer the Sox with a unique look out of the bullpen at a relative bargain.

Tzu-Wei Lin

Perhaps the most fascinating name on this list, Lin went from a surprise call-up during the middle stages of the 2017 season to someone who is now on the outskirts of the Sox’ 40-man roster.

Lin, who turns 26 on Saturday, dealt with a left knee sprain and a concussion last season, leading to the Taiwan product playing in just 13 games at the big-league level in 2019.

The former international signee offers versatility as both an infielder and outfielder, but with plenty of depth in both areas abound, Lin may struggle to find a spot on Boston’s Opening Day roster this year.

Bonus: Jonathan Arauz

Arauz may not be out of minor-league options like the names listed above, but as a Rule 5 Draft pick out of the Astros organization back in December, the 21-year-old has to stick on the Sox’ 26-man roster throughout the entirety of the 2020 season.

If he does not, he will be offered back to the Astros. So, not exactly the same circumstances as the others, but still someone who would probably like to break camp on the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster.

Thanks to RosterResource for providing the information used in this piece.

Red Sox Reportedly in Agreement With Kevin Pillar on One-Year Deal

The Red Sox are reportedly in agreement with free-agent outfielder Kevin Pillar on a one-year deal in the $4 million range, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The completion of the deal is still pending a physical.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman had reported that the two sides were close to a major-league deal on Tuesday.

After officially dealing Mookie Betts to the Dodgers earlier this week, the Red Sox found themselves in need of a right-handed hitting outfeilder, as the club’s projected everyday outfield — Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Alex Verdugo — are all left-handed hitters.

Pillar fills that need in addition to providing exceptional defense in center field.

In 161 total games between the Blue Jays and Giants last year, the 31-year-old slashed .259/.287/.432 with a career-best 21 home runs and 88 RBI to go along with 14 stolen bases. He was non-tendered by San Francisco in early December.

One thing Pillar did exceptionally well last year was produce against left-handed pitching, as he posted an .823 OPS in 174 plate appearances against southpaws.

Compare that to Jackie Bradley Jr.’s struggles against left-handed pitching in 2019 (.640 OPS in 188 PAs), and the two could create quite the platoon for Boston in center field.

A native of California, Pillar was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn approximately $9.7 million in his final year of salary arbitration heading into the 2020 season.

The former Blue Jay owns a lifetime slash line of .307/.339/.380 with one career home run and 22 RBI at Fenway Park.

Red Sox Win Arbitration Case With Eduardo Rodriguez

The Red Sox have won their arbitration case with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The club will pay Rodriguez $8.3 million this season, not the $8.975 million he filed for last month.

Rodriguez, who turns 27 in April, is coming off a breakout campaign last year after posting a 3.81 ERA and 3.86 FIP over a career-best 34 starts and career-best 203 1/3 innings pitched. That was solid enough to earn him a sixth-place finish in American League Cy Young voting.

The Venezuela native was one of only two Sox players who remained unsigned going back to the deadline to exchange arbitration figures last month.

The other player, Andrew Benintendi, agreed to a two-year, $10 million contract extension with Boston last week that essentially buys out his first two seasons of arbitration eligibility.

By earning $8.3 million in 2020, Rodriguez will become the third-highest paid pitcher on the club’s active roster. He is eligible to become a free agent for the first time following the 2021 season.

Red Sox Nearly Traded Mookie Betts to Dodgers Before Last Year’s Trade Deadline

The Red Sox may have just traded Mookie Betts to the Dodgers last week, but according to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, the two sides had discussions regarding the starting outfielder going back to last July before the trading deadline.

At that point, under then-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, the Sox found themselves at 54-46 entering the week of July 22rd having just dropped two out of three to the lowly Orioles on the road.

Falling back to 11 games off the pace for the American League East and 3 1/2 games back of the second wild card spot, it seemed as though Dombrowski at least entertained the idea of selling off some assets.

With 1 1/2 years of team control remaining, Betts, in the midst of a solid followup season to his American League MVP campaign in 2018, could have fetched a serious return on the trade market.

The Dodgers already owned the National League’s top record at that point, butting a bona fide star such as the 26-year-old Betts certainly would not have hurt their chances of going back to the World Series for a third consecutive year.

However in-depth conversations between Dombrowski and Friedman got during that penultimate week of July, the Red Sox began to rattle off some wins.

Yes, the club proceeded to win five of its next seven games against the Rays and Yankees to storm back to 1 1/2 games out of a wild card spot. That seemed to put a halt on all talks revolving around the idea of dealing Betts.

Alas, the trade deadline came and went, the Sox did not make any significant additions or subtractions, and they proceeded to drop their next seven contests in a row to all but fall out of contention for a wild card spot.

Knowing what we know, trading Betts to the Dodgers back in July might not have been the worst thing to do. But since it did not happen, at least we got this moment out of it later on during the final game of the 2019 season and perhaps Betts’ last in a Red Sox uniform.

 

 

Red Sox’ Chris Sale Has Pneumonia

Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale has pneumonia, according to interim manager Ron Roenicke.

“He’s got the flu as you guys know,” Roenicke told reporters after the team’s first workout at JetBlue Park on Wednesday. “But it’s gone into a mild case of pneumonia. He is actually feeling really good. He’s had this for about a week and a half.”

Sale, who was absent from Wednesday’s workout, will be reevaluated on Friday, per Roenicke.

“it sounds probably worse than what it is,” the interim skipper added. “But he said last night he had a great night sleep. So he was really happy about it.”

Obviously, this is not the news you want to hear just as spring training begins. But, it does seem as if Sale will be good to go come the end of the week, which is promising.

The soon-to-be 31-year-old hurler is coming off his worst season in the majors last year after posting a 4.40 ERA over 25 starts and just 147 1/3 innings of work. He did not make a start after August 13th due to left elbow inflammation.

That inflammation was treated with a PRP injection from Dr. James Andrews that same month, and Sale was cleared to throw again in December. According to Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran, the lefty’s arm is “fully healthy.”

“We expected Chris to be ready to go,” O’Halloran said Tuesday. “He’s ill. He’s sick, so that’s going to slow him down. But other than that, he’s fine.”

The Red Sox will presumably ease Sale into things once he is healthy enough to fully report to camp.

The Florida native is entering the first year of the five-year, $145 million extension he signed with Boston last spring.