Red Sox Release Tyler Thornburg After Reliever Refused Minor League Assignment

The Red Sox have released right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg, per the club’s official Twitter account.

Thornburg, 30, was returned from his month-long rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday without being activated from the 10-day injured list with a right hip impingement, meaning the Sox had two days to decide whether to add the righty back to the active roster, designate him for assignment, or outright him.

On Tuesday, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that Thornburg would not accept a minor league assignment, so this outcome seemed the most likely before it even occurred.

Acquired by Boston from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for infielder Travis Shaw and minor leaguers, Yeison Coca, Maurico Dubon, and Josh Pennington in December of 2016, Thornburg’s tenure with the Red Sox did not go according to plan.

Given his reputation as one of the better setup men in the National League in his time with Milwaukee, Thornburg was seen as part of the bridge out of the Sox bullpen that would make way for Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning.

Instead, the Texas native missed all the 2017 season due to thoracic outlet syndrome in his throwing shoulder and did not make his Red Sox debut until July 6th of the following season.

There, Thornburg appeared in 25 games for Boston, posting a dismal 5.63 ERA and .901 OPS against over 24 innings pitched before being shut down for the remainder of the year on September 26th.

This year, the former third round pick made his first Opening Day roster as a member of the Red Sox, and allowed 16 earned runs on 21 hits and 10 walks to go along with 22 strikeouts over 16 appearances and 18 2/3 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 7.71 and OPS against of .972. Not great.

Thornburg yielded two runs on two hits and two walks in the sixth inning of a 10-3 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays on may 21st, two days before he was placed on the IL.

While rehabbing with the PawSox, Thornburg posted a 12.66 ERA and 2.44 WHIP over 11 outings (one start) and just 10 2/3 frames pitched.

As mentioned before, his reputation while with the Brewers should give Thornburg another shot with another club, but it was clear that the marriage between him and the Red Sox was never going to work out. Perhaps a change of scenery will do him better.

Out of all the trades Dave Dombrowski has made since taking over as the Red Sox’ president of baseball operations in 2015, this particular one he made with David Stearns should go down as one of the worst.

The Red Sox virtually got nothing of value out of Thornburg while he was with the club, nor could they flip him for any sort of asset(s) either.

Instead, Travis Shaw, despite being demoted to Triple-A San Antonio last month, has gone on to have two 30-plus home run seasons with the Brewers.

Mauricio Dubon, meanwhile, worked his way to becoming Milwaukee’s fifth-ranked prospect before getting the call up the majors on July 7th, where he will look to provide infield depth to a team competing for a National League Central crown.

All this transpiring while the Red Sox continue to deal with struggles in their bullpen and may even trade for a reliever of Thornburg’s perceived caliber before he arrived in Boston.

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American League Tops National League 4-3 in 90th Midsummer Classic as Red Sox’ Alex Cora Picks up Win in All-Star Managerial Debut

The American League All-Stars defeated the National League All-Stars by a final score of 4-3 on Tuesday night, taking home their seventh consecutive All-Star Game victory in the 90th installment of the Midsummer Classic in Cleveland.

The defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox were represented by three All-Stars in reigning AL MVP Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez, as well as manager Alex Cora and the rest of Boston’s coaching staff.

Starting at designated hitter and batting out of the five-hole in place of the Texas Rangers’ Hunter Pence, Martinez, now a three-time All-Star, went 0-for-2 with a strikeout before being pinch-hit for by Seattle’s Daniel Vogelbach in the sixth inning.

Bogaerts, meanwhile, came on as a pinch-hitter himself, replacing Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows in the bottom of the seventh.

There, with no outs and runners on the corners, the now-two-time All-Star failed to pick up an RBI, but did push across an important insurance run at the time, scoring Oakland’s Matt Chapman from third while grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. That put the AL up 3-1 moments before Texas’ Joey Gallo added on to that lead with a solo homer off San Francisco Giants left-hander Will Smith.

Finally, Betts, now a four-time All-Star, did not record an at-bar in this one, but he did come on as a defensive replacement for Bogaerts in the top of the eighth, moved over to play right field in place of Meadows, and was on the field for the final out of the night when New York Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman secured the 4-3 victory for the American League with a five-pitch punchout of Milwaukee’s Yasmani Grandal.

Cleveland Indians right-hander Shane Bieber was named the game’s Most Valuable Player thanks to a 1-2-3 fifth inning in which he struck out the side on 19 pitches, marking the first time since 1999 a player from the host city’s team received the honors (Pedro Martinez, Red Sox).

All in all, it was a solid All-Star Week, the first for Red Sox manager Alex Cora, as a player or coach.

It’s not the first time Cora has come out on top against Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, either.

The Red Sox have two days off on Wednesday and Thursday before opening up a three-game weekend series against those aforementioned Dodgers on Friday night at Fenway Park. It will be their first game in Boston since June 26th.

As Betts put it when speaking with reporters postgame Tuesday night, “Can’t wait to get home.”

Red Sox and Mets Engaged in ‘Early Trade Talks’ Regarding Right-Hander Zack Wheeler

On the same day rumors broke out that the Red Sox were looking to add to their starting rotation, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported on Tuesday that the Sox and New York Mets have had trade talks regarding right-hander Zack Wheeler.

Sherman cites that, “the [trade] talks were described as in the early stages and that Boston is not the only club with whom the Mets are discussing Wheeler.”

Wheeler, 29, is set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2019 season, a season in which the righty has posted a not-so-nice 4.69 ERA and 3.81 xFIP through 19 starts and 119 total innings pitched.

As things stand right now at the All-Star break, the Mets have the second-worst record in the National League at 40-50. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games, and are using their first three contests out of the break against the Miami Marlins to determine whether they should be sellers ahead of the July 31st trade deadline, per a club official.

During the 2018/19 offseason, the Mets added two Red Sox execs to their own executive staff, with former Sox senior vice president of player personnel Allard Baird coming on as vice president and assistant GM of scouting and player development, and former vice president of player personnel Jared Banner coming on as executive director of player development under general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

With that, the Mets probably have a solid idea of what prospects Boston has to offer in any potential trade for Wheeler.

Sherman also notes that Wheeler was made availabe at last year’s deadline as well, and you have to figure that the clubs that miss out on names such as Madison Bumgarner or Marcus Stroman this year will be in on the Mets hurler.

Since these trade talks are only in the early stages, it seems likely that more information will become available if/when these rumors heat up, so stay tuned for that.

Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez to Hit Fifth for American League in 2019 All-Star Game

After being named to his third All-Star team on June 30th, Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez will start at designated hitter and bat out of the five-hole for the American League in the 90th Midsummer Classic Tuesday night. Sox manager Alex Cora, also serving as the manager for the AL Side this week, made the announcement earlier Monday.

Martinez was originally slated to be a reserve behind the Texas Rangers’ Hunter Pence, but since the Rangers DH suffered a setback with his groin injury while on rehab this past Tuesday, Martinez got the starting nod.

Through 79 games this season, the 31-year-old is slashing .304/.376/.541 to go along with 18 home runs and 48 RBI in his second year with Boston.

In his career hitting out of the five-hole, Martinez has posted a .880 OPS while mashing 68 homers and driving in 213 runs over 1,415 total plate appearances.

Here is how the rest of the American League will be lining up on Tuesday, with two of Martinez’s teammates in Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts available off the bench.

1. George Springer, RF, Astros
2. D.J. LeMahieu, 2B, Yankees
3. Mike Trout, CF, Angels
4. Carlos Santana, 1B, Indians
5. J.D. Martinez, DH, Red Sox
6. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros
7. Gary Sanchez, C, Yankees
8. Michael Brantley, LF, Astros
9. Jorge Polanco, SS, Twins

Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander will get the start.

First pitch of the 2019 MLB All-Star Game is scheduled for 8:00 PM EDT on FOX.

Red Sox Reportedly ‘Casting Wide Net’ in Search of Adding Starting Pitcher Before Trade Deadline

The Red Sox are reportedly ‘pushing’ to add a starting pitcher, and they are looking to do it ‘sooner rather than later,’ according to the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

This report comes less than a week after Sox manager Alex Cora announced that right-hander Nathan Eovaldi would be moving to the bullpen once he is activated off the injured list in the coming weeks.

With that impending move to the ‘pen, Eovaldi’s spot in the rotation, which had been occupied by the likes of Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, Ryan Weber, and so on, became more of a pressing area of improvement for Boston.

Per ESPN.com, the Red Sox’ rotation owns an ERA of 4.70 and batting average against of .257, the seventh and eighth best in the American League, respectively.

Last Friday, when speaking with The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said, “We built our ballclub for (the starting rotation) to be our strong suit. I don’t think it’s been what we expected or hoped.”

Dombrowski also added that, “They’re a very talented group of pitchers…They’re the guys who are supposed to carry us, really. That’s why I think they’ve been fine. They’ve been okay. But I can’t say they’ve really carried us at any point.”

Names the Red Sox could pursue in trade talks include San Francisco Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner and Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman, although they are more of the premium targets.

Detroit Tigers southpaw Matthew Boyd and Texas Rangers left-hander Mike Minor, two hurlers Boston was scouting late last month, could be made available as well, but it has been reported that Boyd has a high asking price, while the Rangers remain in contention for a wild card spot.

The situation the Red Sox are in reminds me of what happened last season right before the club acquired Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays. All the speculation pointed to the Sox pursuing a reliever like Zach Britton to bolster their bullpen, but they went out and traded for a starter instead.

We’ll just have to wait and see what Dombrowski has in mind leading into the July 31st trade deadline, and how said plans could affect any luxury tax implications.

Red Sox’ Ninth-Ranked Prospect Jarren Duran Goes 1-For-2 with Seventh Inning Single in 2019 All-Star Futures Game

In his first ever MLB All-Star Futures Game on Sunday, Red Sox prospect Jarren Duran went 1-for-2 with a single after entering as a pinch-hitter in the bottom half of the sixth inning.

Selected to the showcase on June 28th, Duran bounced out to second in his first at-bat against Padres prospect Adrian Morejon to lead off the sixth.

An inning later, after the AL side had tied things up at two on a one-out, two-run home run from Sam Huff, Duran came to the plate with the potential winning run at second following an Isaac Parades double and the chance to walk it off.

Facing off against Rockies prospect Ben Bowden this time around, Duran nearly came through with a line-drive, opposite field hit to left on a 2-0 four-seamer, but the ball tailed off to foul territory.

Instead, the 22-year-old settled for a bloop single to left on a 3-2, 93 MPH heater from Bowden, one that left fielder Alek Thomas kept in front of him to hold Parades at third.

Another Padres prospect in the form of right-hander Luis Patino came in for Bowden after that Duran base hit, and this contest finished in a 2-2 after eight competitive frames.

Ranked as the ninth-best prospect in Boston’s system, Duran has slashed .240/.298/.298 with five doubles, one triple, six stolen bases, and six RBI in 30 games since being promoted from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland on June 3rd.

2019 is Duran’s first full season in professional baseball after being selected by the Red Sox in the seventh round of the 2018 amatuer draft, so to make the Futures Game this quickly is surely a promising step for the young outfielder.

On another note, Miami Marlins sixth-ranked prospect Isan Diaz, a 23-year-old shortstop out of Puerto Rico who moved to Springfield at the age of four and attended Central High School, went 0-for-3 with a walk for the National League squad.

Christian Vazquez Blasts 14th Homer, David Price Goes Five Strong as Red Sox Finish off Sweep of Tigers and Head into All-Star Break Winners of Four Straight

After another rain-filled 10-6 win over the Tigers on Saturday, the Red Sox completed the three-game sweep and wrapped up the first half of their season with a 6-1 victory in Detroit on Sunday to improve to 49-41 on the year.

Making his 16th start of the season for Boston to cap off the weekend was David Price, who entered the day with a 2.65 ERA over his last three outings dating back to June 18th.

Tossing five full innings this time around, the left-hander yielded just one earned run on four hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts on the afternoon.

That one Detroit run came right away in the bottom half of the first, when after walking the leadoff man in Victor Reyes, the one-time Tiger gave up an RBI double to former teammate Nicholas Castellanos on a 1-0, 83 MPH changeup.

Other than that one blip and despite putting his team in an early hole, Price recovered nicely, retiring 15 of the next 19 hitters he faced leading to the end of the sixth, which is the point where his outing came to a close due to a high pitch count.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 99 (66 strikes), the 33-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball more than 35% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing a pair of swings and misses and topping out at 93.8 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Able to pick up his seventh winning decision to reach 150 wins for his career while also lowering his ERA on the season down to 3.24, Price’s first half numbers look like this: 7-2, 3.24 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 83 1/3 innings pitched, 95 punchouts.

In relief of Price, left-hander Josh Taylor came on with a four-run lead to protect, and he racked up four strikeouts over two perfect frames of work, making way for Ryan Brasier in the eighth.

There, Brasier could not get through the inning, as he served up a two-out, two-run home run to Brandon Dixon, cutting Boston’s advantage down to three before walking his second man and getting the hook in favor of Brandon Workman.

Workman escaped the potential jam, leaving the tying run on deck and retiring the side by getting Niko Goodrum to ground out to Michael Chavis at first.

Finally, in the ninth, Heath Hembree maneuvered his way around a one-out John Hicks single and notched his second save of the season with an eight-pitch strikeout of Reyes.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against left-hander Gregory Soto, who was last used as a reliever for Detroit in the first game of this series on Friday.

Serving as the opener in this one, the Boston bats got to Soto beginning in the top half of the second inning, when after falling behind one early, Christian Vazquez erased that deficit and gave his team a one-run lead by blasting a one-out, two-run homer 376 feet over the right field wall for his 14th of the season.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, with lefty Nick Ramirez on the mound, and Xander Bogaerts came through with two outs and runners at first and second, as he plated both Marco Hernandez and Mookie Betts on a two-run double to left for his 64th and 65th RBI of the year.

Two batters later, after J.D. Martinez reached on an intentional walk and Bogaerts advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch from Ramirez, Andrew Benintendi picked up where he left off Saturday by sneaking an RBI single through the left side of the infield, driving in Bogaerts and giving his team the 5-1 edge.

And in the eighth, Martinez led things off against new Tigers reliever Eduardo Jiminez with a line-drive double to center, moved up to third on a Benintendi flyout, and came in to score from third thanks to a wild pitch with two outs and Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate.

That put the Red Sox ahead 6-1, and after the Tigers rallied with two runs of their own in their half of the eighth, 6-3 would go on to be Sunday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Rafael Devers’ 10-game hitting streak has come to an end.

J.D. Martinez extended his hitting streak to nine games on Sunday. Over that span, he is hitting .347 to go along with two home runs and six RBI.

Christian Vazquez’s last seven games: .387/.394/.871 with four homers and 10 runs driven in.

The Red Sox are eight games over .500 for the first time this season.

So, that’s it for the first half of the season. The Red Sox head into the All-Star break winners of four straight and five of their last six. They are currently nine games off the pace for first place in the American League East and two games behind the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card spot.

Coming out of the four-day break, the Sox will begin a seven-game homestand against the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

For now, it’s on to Cleveland, where we have Jarren Duran and the Futures Game Sunday night, the Home Run Derby on Monday, and the 90th Midsummer Classic on Tuesday.

The Red Sox will be represented by Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and J.D. Martinez, while Alex Cora will be managing the American League squad.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 7:30 PM EDT on FOX.