Dodgers’ Mookie Betts Says He Has No Regrets About Turning Down $300 Million Contract Extension From Red Sox

Former Red Sox star and current Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts says he has no regrets about turning down a 10-year, $300 million contract extension from Boston during the 2019 offseason.

According to WEEI’s Lou Merloni, the Sox had made that offer to Betts in their third attempt to keep the 2018 American League MVP in Boston long-term.

Betts countered that offer with $420 million over 12 years, and things only fell apart from there as the four-time All-Star was dealt to Los Angeles in February.

At the time he was traded, Betts was gearing up to become one of this winter’s most coveted free agents and seemed locked in on signing a record-setting deal with whichever team would be willing to pay up.

Flash forward a little less than five months later, and the 27-year-old may have to settle for less of a payday than he was originally expecting due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that has placed financial constraints on a many major-league ballclub.

Despite facing that potentially harsh reality, Betts still has no remorse about turning down that aforementioned extension from the Red Sox. He said as much at press conference at Dodger Stadium earlier Monday.

“I don’t regret turning down that [offer],” the Tennessee native told reporters. “Once I make a decision, I make a decision. I’m not going back and questioning myself. I don’t worry about that. The market will be what it is. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”

Added Betts: “Free agency is really on the back-burner. That’ll come. That’s nothing that I’m really thinking about right now. Right now, the main concern is (health and safety). There’s a lot going on, we haven’t gotten tests back and we don’t know who’s sick and not sick. There’s just a lot going on that needs to be addressed and free agency is not one of those things right now. That will come when it comes.”

It’s also worth mentioning that Betts is one of a number of players who don’t seem entirely confident that this truncated 2020 season will reach its conclusion even though Opening Day is less than three weeks away. He even said that he still has doubts about playing for the Dodgers in a real game.

How things continue in terms of adequate COVID-19 testing and protocols for teams will certainly be something to monitor moving forward.

Red Sox Pushed Back Start Time of Night Games at Fenway Park to ‘Have Greater Prime-Time Window for NESN’

Note: This is more of a rant than anything. 

The Red Sox have moved the start of home night games this season from 7:10 p.m to 7:30 p.m. eastern time. The reason for that?

Well, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, the Red Sox pushed back the start time of their night games at Fenway Park by 20 minutes to “have a greater prime-time window for NESN.”

Even worse, as Abraham notes, the Sox “have three 7:30 p.m. [home] games on getaway days with a road game the next day.”

In addition to that, as previously mentioned in my last post, 23 of the 30 home games the Red Sox are supposed to play at Fenway Park this year will start at 7:30 p.m.

It’s only a twenty-minute difference from what we’re used to for night games, sure, but when you see clubs like the Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays move up the start time of their weeknight home games to 6:40 p.m, the move by the Red Sox to push back the start time becomes even more questionable.

I mean, what is the point of doing this when you are not even going to have fans at the ballpark? What good is it to make fans wait even longer to watch the Red Sox on a weeknight when many will have to wake up early the following morning for work or school?

It’s definitely confusing, that’s for sure. Over The Monster’s Matt Collins aptly sums it all up in this tweet:

As for what’s next, maybe backlash from people on the internet can get the Red Sox to move up the start time of their night games at Fenway Park? Probably won’t happen, but a man can hope.

End rant.

UPDATE:

Red Sox’ 2020 Schedule Revealed

If Major League Baseball is to be played in 2020, the Red Sox will play 60 games in 65 days against American and National League East opponents beginning on July 24th.

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The league released this year’s schedules for all 30 clubs on Monday evening via an MLB Network TV special. Here’s how the Red Sox’ season will go over the next two-plus months:

First off, the Sox will open the truncated season with a three-game series against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. In other words, Boston’s home opener will be on July 24th with first pitch at 7:30 PM eastern time.

From there, the homestand continues with a two-game interleague series against Rick Porcello and the Mets before the club embarks on a five-game New York road trip that includes stops in both Queens and the Bronx.

The Sox’ first set of road games will be followed by a seven-game homestand against the Blue Jays and Rays before again facing off against the Yankees in a four-game set in New York.

Boston’s final trip to Yankee Stadium will be succeeded by a quick two-game series against the Phillies at Fenway and a lengthy trip to Baltimore and then Toronto for seven games against the O’s and Jays.

After getting back home to Boston from Toronto, the Sox will get to enjoy their longest homestand of the season, a 10-gamer in which the club will host the defending World Series champion Nationals, the Braves, and Blue Jays in three separate series.

As it turns out, that homestand comes immediately before the longest roadie of the 2020 campaign, a nine-game venture that features match-ups against the Phillies, Rays, and Marlins in that order. In other words, a trip to southeastern Pennsylvania will be followed by a week-long stay in Florida.

Upon arriving back to Boston from Miami, the Sox will wrap up the home portion of their schedule by welcoming the Yankees and Orioles into town for two separate three-game series. For the Yankees, it’s their lone trip to Fenway on the year.

Finally, the Red Sox will travel to Atlanta and finish their season series as well as the 2020 regular season as a whole against the Braves at Truist Park. That is, if all goes according to plan, of course.

60 games total, 40 of which will come against divisional opponents.

Based off the schedule above, it would appear that 23 of the 30 home games the Red will be playing in start at 7:30 PM eastern time. That doesn’t sound like the best of ideas in my opinion, but hey, the season might not even happen because of this whole global pandemic thing going on, right?

Red Sox’ Bobby Dalbec Not Yet Working Out With Team at Summer Camp

Power-hitting prospect Bobby Dalbec has yet to participate in Red Sox Summer Camp, according to manager Ron Roenicke.

Per Roenicke, “There is still some intake things [the Red Sox] need to do with him.”

Although Roenicke could not further specify on this, it seems that there are at least two possibilities as to why Dalbec has been absent from Summer Camp thus far. The first of those being that the Sox are still waiting for the 25-year-old’s COVID-19 test results to come back from Salt Lake City; the second being that he tested positive for COVID-19 and did not give the team permission to reveal his name.

I don’t want to speculate on this, but if Dalbec is placed on the 10-day injured list anytime soon, it would seem as though the slugging first/third baseman did indeed test positive for coronavirus.

So far, the Red Sox have revealed that at least two players have tested positive for COVID-19 in left-handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor. Hernandez got it while at home in Venezuela, while Taylor is currently self-isolating at a Boston hotel.

In addition to that, Roenicke did tell reporters Monday that the Sox “still have a couple potential COVID cases that are pending.”

Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez All for Universal Designated Hitter Moving Forward

When J.D. Martinez inked a five-year, $110 million contract with the Red Sox back in February 2018, he did so knowing that he would have the chance to opt out of that deal on three separate occasions.

The first of those occasions arose at the end of this past season. Martinez decided to opt in.

The second of those occasions will come at the conclusion of the 2020 season. This time around, Martinez may decide to test the free agency waters.

Why would Martinez, who turns 33 next month, do that, you ask? Well, the answer is simple. The National League is adopting the designated hitter for the 2020 campaign and will likely keep it that way moving forward.

With the addition of the DH in the senior circuit, several more jobs in baseball just opened up, as Martinez put it.

When asked by reporters via Zoom on Sunday about the new rule change, Martinez said, ““I’m all for it, obviously. I’m a DH. I think you could speak to a lot of pitchers who are for it, too. A lot of pitchers like it and a lot of pitchers in the AL like it because they feel like the pitchers in the NL have an advantage. That’s one less hitter they have to face and one less elite hitter they have to face. I like it. I like to even the playing field across the board. I understand the history of it, so I see the other side of it too, but I’m in favor of it.”

Added the three-time Silver Slugger Award winner: “It’s 15 more jobs around the league. I think it’ll make things really interesting. There wouldn’t be that whole AL (versus) NL argument. It would be what team is the best and how does every team measure up against each other now. Not how every team measures up in each league.”

Because of the shortened season, Martinez will earn approximately 37% of the $23.75 million he was supposed to make this year, or about $8.78 million to be more exact.

This winter, the Florida native will have to decide between returning to Boston for $19.35 million in 2021 or opt out of his deal and become a free agent.

For now though, Martinez is more focused on preparing for a truncated 2020 season in a shorter amount of time than he is used to.

“It’s going to be really, really tough to get everything back, get your body underneath you,” Martinez said when asked about the unique Summer Camp experience with under three weeks to go until Opening Day. “It’s a sprint. You don’t have that month, month and a half to get ready for a season.”

The Red Sox will open the 2020 season against an American or National League East opponent on July 24th. If I were to guess, I would say Martinez starts that game at DH and hits out of the cleanup spot.

 

Red Sox’ Nathan Eovaldi to Pitch in Intrasquad Game on Thursday, Could Start on Opening Day Depending on Eduardo Rodriguez’s Status

Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi has impressed thus far at Summer Camp. The 30-year-old tossed a three-inning simulated game at Fenway Park on Saturday where he threw about 45 pitches.

In that sim game, Eovaldi faced Alex Verdugo, Jonathan Lucroy, Connor Wong, and Jett Bandy and utilized his pitch mix effectively, according to Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke.

“The stuff was great,” Roenicke said of Eovaldi on Saturday. “The cutter was good, the slider, the curveball. Threw some really good split-fingers and the velocity was there on his fastball. He got what he needed to do today.”

In terms of velocity, the flame-throwing Eovaldi topped out at about 100 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball. His next outing will likely come in a five-inning intrasquad game at Fenway on Thursday.

Taking that date into account, Eovaldi would be lined up to start for Boston on Openinf Day 2.0 on July 24th. That being said, Roenicke and the Red Sox still expect left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who has been at home in Florida awaiting the results of his COVID-19 test, to get the starting nod on that day.

As mentioned by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Roenicke has been noncommittal on who his Opening Day starter will be to this point. Rodriguez was expected to handle the duty prior to MLB suspending spring training back in March, but his status for the start of the 2020 season is now up in the air due to potential exposure to the coronavirus.

If Eovaldi’s impressive run continues on Thursday while Rodriguez is still absent from camp, Roenicke might not have any choice other than to name the Houston native his Opening Day starter. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

 

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo Progressing ‘Really Well’ From Back Injury

For the first time since last September, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo faced live hitting on Saturday.

Throughout spring training and the COVID-19 pandemic-induced layoff, the 24-year-old was limited to hitting at home and in the batting cages at JetBlue Park while working his way back from a lower back stress fracture.

As excited as he was to get back to seeing live pitching at Fenway Park on Saturday, facing off against flame-throwing right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was no easy task.

“Let’s say I got welcomed real quick to good old 99 MPH,” Verdugo told reporters via Zoom. “The biggest thing for me today was to see the (velocity) out of his hand, see one of the most elite, best pitchers and go from there. I took a full swing, swung and missed and had no pain or discomfort. That was reassuring. That’s what this is about, to get my timing back, to reassure that my body, physically, is handling progression really well.”

The COVID-19 break has physically “done wonders” for Verdugo’s body in terms of endurance and strength. He is now looking forward to making a name for himself in a crowded Red Sox outfield.

“For me, I’m an everyday player,” the left-handed hitter said when asked about the prospect of being part of a platoon. “That’s just that. It’s that simple. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. I want to be out there every single day competing. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lefty out on the mound to a righty on the mound. I feel like my splits are reversed. I hit lefties better than I hit righties. So I’m just someone who wants to be out there every single day. I want to play and I want to be a starter.”

Speaking of splits, since making his major-league debut with Los Angeles in 2017, Verdugo owns a career .273/.335/.448 slash line in 355 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, and a career .306/.333/.452 slash line in 133 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers. So, he’s not entirely wrong about having reverse splits.

As currently constructed, the Red Sox have three left-handed hitting outfielders on their active roster in Verdugo, Andrew Benintendi, and Jackie Bradley Jr. Kevin Pillar and J.D. Martinez represent the opposite side of that coin as two right-handed hitting outfielders.

Despite how amped up he may be to get back on the field, it would not be shocking to see the Sox ease Verdugo back into things, especially when considering how serious back injuries can be.

How Roenicke manages the outfield once the 2020 campaign begins will definitely be something to keep an eye on.

 

Dodgers’ David Price Opts Out of 2020 Season Due to Concerns Surrounding Coronavirus

Former Red Sox and current Dodgers left-hander David Price is the latest player who has made the decision to sit out the 2020 Major League Baseball season due to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a tweet, Price, who turns 35 next month, writes in part: “After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family’s health for me not to play this season.”

Along with four-time All-Star Mookie Betts, Price was dealt to the Dodgers back in February from the Red Sox in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo, infield prospect Jeter Downs, and catching prospect Connor Wong.

One reason Price opted to not play in this shortened season could be the fact that he has two young children at home in three-year-old Xavier and 11-month old Isabel. Not to mention his wife, Tiffany.

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To paraphrase a section of the March agreement between MLB and the MLBPA, “High-risk players can opt out of the 2020 because of coronavirus concerns and still get paid. Players who are not deemed to be at a high risk can also opt out while surrendering their 2020 salaries and service time.”

If he is not deemed to be at a high risk, Price would have to surrender the $11.9 million he was set to earn in prorated salary this season. Because of this, as The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham notes, the Red Sox should be off the hook for the $5.95 million they would have owed the lefty in 2020.

Back in late May, Price committed $1,000 to every minor-league player in the Dodgers’ organization to help support them during the coronavirus pandemic. Los Angeles is sure to miss his veteran presence during these unprecedented times.

Red Sox Sign Reliever Caleb Simpson, Add Him to Summer Camp Player Pool as Non-Roster Invitee

The Red Sox have signed right-handed reliever Caleb Simpson to a minor-league deal and have added him to their Summer Camp player pool as a non-roster invitee. The club made the signing official earlier Saturday.

Simpson, 28, was released by the Cubs back in May at that time when teams across baseball were parting ways with dozens of their minor-league players.

The former Giants farmhand was a 21st-round draft selection out of Seminole State Junior Colege (Okla.) by San Francisco back in 2013.

Across four minor-league levels spanning five seasons, Simpson owns a career 3.41 ERA and .180 batting average against over 121 relief appearances and 145 1/3 innings of work.

Most recently, the 6’4″, 231 lb. righty posted a 3.00 ERA over 34 outings and 42 innings pitched between High-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond last season.

Throughout his minor-league career, Simpson has dealt with his fair share of injury troubles. He underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2015, which resulted in him missing the 2015 season and a portion of the 2016 season.

By adding Simpson to their player pool, the Red Sox now have 49 players at Summer Camp, meaning they still have 11 open slots to work with.

Red Sox Left-Handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor Test Positive for COVID-19

Left-handers Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor have tested positive for COVID-19, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke announced earlier Saturday.

Per Roenicke, Taylor tested positive during intake screening at Fenway Park earlier this week and is currently isolated from the team at a hotel in Boston. Hernandez, meanwhile, tested positive while at home in Venezuela and has yet to report to Fenway for the start of Summer Camp.

Also worth noting, Roenicke declined to comment on whether either pitcher was exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, but he did say that Taylor “is a little bit further ahead in terms of when he contracted the virus.

Because of their positive tests, both Hernandez and Taylor may have to miss the start of the 2020 season, which would be a significant blow to Roenicke and the Red Sox bullpen considering how effective the pair of left-handed hurlers were for Boston in their rookie campaigns last year.

There could be even more Red Sox players who have tested positive for COVID-19. As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes, the only reason Roencike was able to name Hernandez and Taylor on Saturday was because both pitchers gave him permission to. The team is also awaiting the results of Eduardo Rodriguez’s test.