The Red Sox have traded right-hander Chris Mazza and left-hander Jeffrey Springs as well as cash considerations to the Rays in exchange for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard, the team announced Wednesday morning.
Both Mazza and Springs were recently designated for assignment by Boston so that the club could make room on its 40-man roster and accommodate the additions of Martin Perez and Hirokazu Sawamura.
Mazza, 31, posted a 4.80 ERA and 4.26 FIP over nine outings (six starts) and 30 innings pitched in his debut season with the Sox after being claimed off waivers from the Mets in December 2019.
Springs, meanwhile, put up worse numbers than Mazza (7.08 ERA, 4.81 FIP) in 2020, but there is plenty of appeal in what he does on the mound. That much was highlighted by the fact that over a nine-game stretch from August 31 through September 23 last season, the 28-year-old produced a 2.53 ERA and 2.39 xFIP over 10 2/3 innings of relief.
Considering that Mazza and Springs both have at least one minor-league option remaining, it’s not too surprising to see a team — especially a team like the Rays — take a chance on the hurlers via trade.
As for who the Red Sox are acquiring, let’s start with Hernandez.
The 23-year-old backstop entered the 2020 season as Tampa Bay’s No. 13 prospect according to Baseball America.
Although he did not see any big-league playing time in 2020, Hernandez did spend the entirety of the year at the Rays’ alternate training site on account of his being added to the team’s 40-man roster the previous November in order to be protected from the 2019 Rule 5 Draft.
Leading up to that protection, the Colombian posted a .265/.299/.297 slash (104 wRC+) to go along with nine home runs, 60 RBI, and seven stolen bases across 103 games for High-A Charlotte. He also threw out more than 39% of the base runners that attempted to steal against him.
Following the 2019 minor-league season, Hernandez played for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League and posted an OPS of .894 over 11 games played and 42 plate appearances.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 lbs., the right-handed hitting Hernandez will join a catching mix at Red Sox camp that includes the likes of Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, Connor Wong, Jhonny Pereda, and Roldani Baldwin. More on Plawecki in a minute.
Turning to Sogard now, the 23-year-old was the Rays’ 12th-round selection in the 2019 amateur draft out of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
The Southern California native was not included in Tampa Bay’s 60-man player pool this past season, but he did enjoy moderate success in 2019 by slashing .290/.405/.313 with five doubles, 21 RBI, and 20 swiped bags across 63 games for short-season Hudson Valley.
A switch-hitting infielder listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 lbs., Sogard has garnered experience at every infield position besides first base as a professional thus far. He will presumably start the 2021 minor-league season at one of the Red Sox’ Class-A affiliates (Salem or Greenville).
Circling back to Plawecki, the Sox placed the 29-year-old backstop on the COVID-19 related injured list on Wednesday, which cleared up a 40-man roster spot for Hernandez.
As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Plawecki can spend as much time on the COVID-19 injured list as he needs and will not count against Boston’s 40-man roster during that time.
(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Eric Espada/Getty Images)