Red Sox Outright Brian Johnson off 40-Man Roster

The Red Sox have reportedly outrighted left-hander Brian Johnson, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Johnson, who turns 29 in December, can now be claimed by any other club, meaning the Sox now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.

As noted in the above tweet from Rosenthal, teams have until next Monday, December 2nd, to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players who would free agents otherwise.

Johnson still has one year of team control remaining before becoming eligible for salary arbitration, but these kinds of decisions are going to be made all across baseball in the next week.

Appearing in 21 games (seven starts) for Boston in an injury-riddled 2019, the University of Florida product posted an ERA of 6.02 and FIP of 5.32 over 40 1/3 innings of work. This coming the year after Johnson proved to be a valuable member of the Sox’ pitching staff as both a starter and reliever in 2018.

With new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom at the helm, the Red Sox are clearly in need of some help at the back end of the starting rotation, and maybe even more so depending on the statuses of Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Chris Sale, headed into next spring.

That said, the first move to address this potential issue came last week, when 27-year-old left-hander Kyle Hart was added to Boston’s 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 deadline this past Wednesday.

Johnson being outrighted does not necessarily mean his Red Sox career is over, but his time on the club’s major-league roster is, or at least for the time being.

Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez Says He Wants to Stay in Boston

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez wants to stay in Boston. He said that much to MLB.com’s Nathalie Alonso at the 12th annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic in Miami on Sunday.

“I would love to stay with Boston,” said Rodríguez, in Spanish. “If they offer me an extension, and we come to an agreement, I would love that.”

Rodriguez, who turns 27 in April, still has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining, hence the talks of a possible extension. He is projected to earn $9.5 million in 2020.

Coming off a 2019 campaign in which he finished sixth in American League Cy Young Award Voting thanks to posting a career-best 3.81 ERA and 213 strikeouts over 34 starts and 203 1/3 innings of work, Rodriguez has found himself in an intriguing spot this winter.

“It was a very important step for me, because for the first time I was able to pitch an entire season,” the Venezuela native said of his 2019 season Sunday. “That was my goal when the season started, 30 starts and throw more than 200 innings, and I was able to do it. That’s what I’m most proud of.”

The Red Sox originally acquired Rodriguez, then a 21-year-old prospect, from the Baltimore Orioles in July 2014 in exchange for left-handed reliever Andrew Miller, who went on to sign a four-year, $36 million deal with the New York Yankees that offseason.

Because of the fact he started his professional career in the Orioles organization, I was quite surprised when I read that Rodriguez said that Boston is where he began his career and that he, “would love to finish it there.”

Perhaps Rodriguez is speaking in regard to just his major-league career, but an interesting, and perhaps heartfelt, comment nonetheless.

As we all know, the Red Sox want to cut payroll while still remaining competitive in 2020, so it might be in new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s best interest to try and buy out Rodriguez’s last two years of arbitration while also locking down the lefty for a number of years at a decent rate after that.

A similar situation took place in Chicago last March, when the Cubs and right-hander Kyle Hendricks agreed to terms on a four-year, $55 million extension that does not take effect until 2020 and has a team option for 2023 attached to it.

Granted, Hendricks had one, not two years of arbitration remaining, but an extension for Rodriguez with an average annual value in the range of $13-$15 million does not seem too far-fetched.

With the Winter Meetings set to take place in San Diego next month, that may be a good time to see whether talks between the Red Sox and Rodriguez’s camp ramp up at all. If not then, perhaps spring training in February or March.

Red Sox Want to Host All-Star Game in Near Future, per Team President Sam Kennedy

The Red Sox want to host another All-Star Game, according to team president and CEO Sam Kennedy, who revealed Friday that he has, “talked to some of the folks at MLB last week about the possibility.”

If the Sox were to host baseball’s Midsummer Classic within the next three to five years, it would be their fourth time doing it at Fenway Park, with the first occasion coming back in 1946, the second coming in 1971, and the third, more notable occasion coming in 1999, when Pedro Martinez was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

The American League is 2-0-1 when the game is played at Fenway Park.

In terms of future locations for the All-Star Game, the Los Angeles Dodgers will serve as hosts at Dodgers Stadium in 2020, the Atlanta Braves will do the same at SunTrust Park in 2021, and a little later down the line, the Philadelphia Phillies will host the event at Citizens Life Bank in 2026 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

“We need more space for it to take over the whole city. We’ve told MLB we would like to host,” said Kennedy Friday. “We don’t have any specific plans or a specific year.”

Assuming the Red Sox host their fourth All-Star Game in the 2022-2025 range as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, it’s not crazy to think that either of Xander Bogaerts and/or Rafael Devers could serve as the team’s ambassadors for that special week in July.

Rival Executives Remain ‘Skeptical’ Red Sox Will Receive Acceptable Trade Offer for Mookie Betts, per Ken Rosenthal

In his latest notes column for The Athletic, MLB insider Ken Rosenthal pointed out that rival executives across baseball believe that if the Red Sox were to trade Mookie Betts this offseason, they would fail to get a significant package of prospects or major-league ready players in return due to the fact that the star outfielder only has one year of team control left.

Betts, who turned 27 last month, is projected to earn around $28 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent for the first time in 2020.

This fact has led many to believe that the Sox, under the leadership of new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, will deal Betts if the two sides are unable to agree to a long-term contract extension, which seems next to impossible at this point since Betts seems locked in on testing the open market next winter.

As Rosenthal opines, “teams still should be tempted to give up top prospects for Betts, even if only for one year.” However, if opposing clubs are not willing to part ways with their valuable assets, the Red Sox may be better off waiting until the trade deadline to decide on trading Betts or not.

That way, Betts will still be a part of the Sox’ roster going into next season, which ultimately gives them the best chance to remain competitive. And if it turns out that Boston struggles out of the gate in 2020 and finds themselves in a place where they won’t be competing for a postseason spot come July, they can deal him then, when teams in desperate need of an outfielder and impact bat don’t have the option of turning to free agency to find a viable option.

“Under such a scenario, the Sox could continue their efforts to sign Betts,” says Rosenthal. “Possibly clearing money for 2020 and beyond by trading one of their high-priced starting pitchers.”

In addition to Betts being on the trade block, the likes of Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Chris Sale may be made available as well, as the trio or set to earn a combined $73.5 million in 2020.

At the end of the day, this comes down to what Betts wants, and regardless of whether or not you believe he likes playing in Boston or not, the Tennessee native’s top priority does appear to be testing free agency waters.

“Even if they concluded that Betts simply prefers to become a free agent,” Rosenthal said. “The return at the deadline might not be much less than what it would be this offseason.”

If this were to be the route taken, the Red Sox would be able to keep Best, the best corner outfielder in baseball, to at least begin the 2020 campaign as they look to get back to being competitive.

Red Sox Free Agency Targets: Eric Sogard

With All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal signing a four-year, $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, it appears that baseball’s offseason is truly about to begin.

Unlike years past under Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox will more than likely not be pursuing these kind of big splashes this winter. Instead, new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is tasked with trying to trim Boston’s payroll under the $208 million luxury tax threshold, all while keeping the club relatively competitive heading into the 2020 season.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo composed a list of 46 free agents, three of whom played for the Sox in 2019, that Bloom and co. could go after to fill some holes in their roster.

One player that stuck out to me on that list was utility infielder Eric Sogard. Why? Because as Cotillo indicates, the 33-year-old veteran can play multiple positions, bats left-handed, and spent the last two months of the 2019 season with the Tampa Bay Rays after coming over from the Toronto Blue Jays in late July.

That trade with Toronto took place while Bloom was still serving under general manager Erik Neander with the Rays, so perhaps there is a connection there.

Numbers wise, Sogard slashed .290/.353/.457 with a career-best 13 home runs and 40 RBI over 110 total games between Toronto and Tampa Bay in 2019. He also missed time in September due to a deep bone bruise on his right foot.

The scenario of the Sox signing Sogard probably only takes place if Brock Holt signs elsewhere as a free agent himself this winter, and since Holt put together an impressive 2019 campaign, he more than likely played himself out of the Sox’ price range.

Even if Sogard is considered a fit, the Red Sox also have other internal options to fill the hole at second base alongside Dustin Pedroia in 2020, including C.J. Chatham, Michael Chavis, Marco Hernandez, and Tzu-Wei Lin to name a few.

Also, I failed to mention this earlier, but “Nerd Power” is a pretty good nickname, too.

Red Sox Add Five Playes to 40-Man Roster, Including Bobby Dalbec, C.J. Chatham, and Marcus Wilson

The Red Sox added five players to their major league roster on Wednesday night.

Infielders C.J. Chatham and Bobby Dalbec, outfielder Marcus Wilson, and left-handed pitchers Yoan Aybar and Kyle Hart were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster ahead of the 8 PM ET deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft, which takes place during the Winter Meetings in December.

Since they only added five players on Wednesday, the Red Sox’ active roster stands at 39, meaning they still have one available spot to work with for the time being.

Out of the five minor-leaguers added, Hart would have to be the surprise of the bunch, or at least that’s how I view it.

The former 19th-round pick out of Indiana University in 2016 is set to turn 27 on Saturday.

In 27 appearances (24 starts) between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this past season, Hart posted a 3.52 ERA and .233 batting average against over 156 total innings pitched.

Ranked as the Sox’ No. 28 prospect on MLB.com, the left-handed Hart offers a pitch mix that includes an 87-92 MPH fastball, an 85-86 MPH cutter, a 76-79 MPH curveball, and an 81-82 MPH changeup, per SoxProspects.

As for the other four, both Dalbec and Chatham are ranked within Boston’s top 10 prospects, with the former coming in at No. 2 and the latter coming in at No. 9. The pair of infielders were also both part of Team USA’s fourth-place finish in this year’s Premier12 tournament.

Wilson, meanwhile, is ranked as Boston’s No. 18 prospect in his first offseason with the Sox after coming over in the deal that sent Blake Swihart to the Arizona Diamondbacks this past April.

The 23-year-old outfielder out of Los Angeles played in just eight Arizona Fall League games this year, but slashed an impressive .333/.412/.467 with one home run, eight RBI, and two stolen bases while doing so.

With the possibilities of Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and even to an extent Andrew Benintendi, getting dealt this winter, Wilson could be someone to watch during the early stages of spring training in February.

Aybar also played in the Arizona Fall League this year, posting a 6.75 ERA and 1.38 WHIP across seven relief appearances and eight innings of work.

Initially signed as an outfielder out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, the 22-year-old has since converted to a left-handed reliever with a fastball that can top out at 97 MPH. He worked his way up to High-A Salem in 2019, so perhaps Double-A Portland is in the cards for the club’s No. 30 prospect in 2020.

Of course, just because these moves were made now does not mean that the Sox’ 2020 roster is set in stone. Changes will still come, and they will probably start once the Winter Meetings get underway in San Diego next month.

 

Red Sox’ Jackie Bradley Jr. Takes Home MLB Network’s Top Play of 2019

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s jaw-dropping, home run-robbing catch against the Baltimore Orioles was named MLB Network’s play of the 2019 season on Sunday night.

The catch, which came back on May 8th, robbed O’s outfielder Trey Mancini of a potential walk-off solo shot off of right-hander Ryan Brasier in the 11th inning of a 1-1 contest. The Red Sox would go on to win the game by a final score of 2-1 in 12 innings.

Per Statcast, Bradley Jr. only had a 27% chance of making that catch off a fly ball that had an exit velocity of 101.5 MPH off of Mancini’s bat.

The 29-year-old Bradley Jr. was responsible for two other plays on MLB Network’s Top 100, while Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and Chris Sale also made the cut.

After taking home his first career Gold Glove Award for American League center fielders in 2018, Bradley Jr. finished behind Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier for the award this year.

With trade rumors continuing to build, 2019 very well may have been Bradley Jr.’s last season in Boston. In his time with the Sox, the former 2011 first round pick has put together quite the highlight reel of outstanding plays in the outfield.