Red Sox Reportedly Planning on Offering Rafael Devers Contract Extension This Offseason

The Red Sox are reportedly planning on offering third baseman Rafael Devers a contract extension this offseason, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford. An offer has yet to be extended to Devers at this point in time.

Devers, who turns 23 in October, is wrapping up what looks to be a top-seven finish in American League Most Valuable Player voting kind of season, as he entered Saturday slashing .309/.360/.556 to go along with a career-best 32 home runs and career-best 115 RBI over 154 games played.

The budding star infielder earned approximately $614,500 in his second full major league season in 2019, and is projected to earn somewhere around $800,000 in his final year of team control in 2020, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

With all the recent rumblings about the Red Sox wanting to get under the $208 million threshold for the 2020 campaign, it may seem confusing as to why the club would want to commit a large sum of money to one player.

However, as Bradford points out, any extension attached to Devers more than likely would not come into effect until after 2020, meaning the 22-year-old would still earn that $800,000 in salary or so next season.

The same sort of thing happened with the Houston Astros and third baseman Alex Bregman this past March, when the two sides agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract extension.

Bregman, who will more than likely finish as the runner-up in AL MVP voting this year, is still earning a base and luxury tax salary of $640,500 in 2019 while his extension does not kick in until 2020.

With shortstop Xander Bogaerts already locked up through at least the 2022 season, the Red Sox have a real chance to secure the left side of their infield for years to come.

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Nathan Eovaldi Walks Four, Allows Three Runs in Final Start of Season as Red Sox Fall to Orioles

After falling to the Texas Rangers 7-5 in their final road contest of the season on Thursday, the Red Sox opened up the final weekend of the 2019 campaign with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.

Making his 12th and final start of the season for Boston was Nathan Eovaldi, who came into the weekend fresh off his first quality outing of 2019 in his last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Working five full innings this time around, the right-hander surrendered another three runs, all of which were earned, on three hits and four walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Orioles tallies came on one swing of the bat in the top half of the third, when with two outs and two runners on following a one-out double from Austin Hays and a one-out walk drawn by Trey Mancini in consecutive order, Eovaldi was just one pitch away from escaping a tight spot, but instead served up a hanging, 0-2, 81 MPH curveball to Renato Nunez, who crushed said pitch well over the Green Monster to get his side on the board first at 3-0.

Other than that one costly mistake though, Eovaldi settled in nicely enough, retiring six of the final eight Orioles he faced with the help of a 6-3 double play turned in the fifth, which would wind up being the Texas native’s last inning of work.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (50 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 41% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 99.6 MPH with the pitch while Juan Centeno was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with his first losing decision of the year despite lowering his ERA down to 5.99, Eovaldi’s first full season in Boston is in the books.

The flame throwing righty finishes with a 2-1 record, a 5.99 ERA, a 1.58 WHIP, and a .276 batting average against over 23 total appearances (12 starts) and 67 2/3 innings pitched.

In relief of Eovaldi, Hector Velazquez entered the sixth with a three-run deficit to maintain, and he filled the bases with two outs before getting Jonathan Villar to pop out to Brock Holt in shallow center to get out of the jam.

From there, Colten Brewer walked one and fanned two in a scoreless seventh, Andrew Cashner walked two in an otherwise clean eighth, and Marcus Walden allowed the O’s to score their fourth run of the night on a leadoff walk of Hays and two-out RBI single off the bat of Nunez in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Orioles right-hander Adrian Wojciechowski, someone they had only gotten two total runs off of over two seperate starts and 11 2/3 innings of work leading into Friday.

Unable to get anything going against Wojciechowski once again in this one, it was not until the last half of the ninth when the Boston bats finally got going.

There, with left-handed reliever Richard Bleier on the mound for Baltimore, Rafael Devers led things off with a scorching leadoff double, his 53rd of the year.

That set up Xander Bogaerts in a prime run-scoring spot, and he delivered with an RBI single right back up the middle to plate Devers from second and finally get his team on the board.

Bogaert’s 500th career run driven in did make it seem as though a late rally was about to get off the ground.

Any momentum that was built up quickly dissipated though, as Bogaerts was picked off at first for the first out of the ninth, Mitch Moreland whiffed on four pitches for the second, and Christian Vazquez grounded out to third for the last out, ending Friday’s contest with a final score of 4-1.

Some notes from this loss:

With their 77th loss of the season and 40th at Fenway Park, the Red Sox guarantee that they will finish with a losing record at Fenway.

Rafael Devers is three hits away from 200 on the season.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Friday was certainly an eventful day for the Red Sox. They capped it off with an uneventful loss to one of the worst teams in all of baseball.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the final Saturday game of the season, with right-hander Jhoulys Chacin getting the ball for Boston and rookie left-hander John Means doing the same for Baltimore.

Chacin has posted a 6.00 ERA and .831 OPS against in five total outings (four starts) and 12 total innings of work since joining the Sox at the beginning of the month.

His first start against the O’s should serve as one last final 2020 audition for the 31-year-old.

Means, meanwhile, looks to wrap up a solid rookie campaign on a positive note.

In terms of Game Score, the 2019 All-Star’s best start of 2019 came against the Red Sox back on May 6th, when Means tossed seven innings of one-run ball in an eventual winning effort at Camden Yards.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Two games left on the year. Time to cherish what is left.

Red Sox’ Darwinzon Hernandez Will Remain a Reliever in 2020, per Alex Cora

Red Sox left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez will retain his role a reliever next season, his manager Alex Cora announced earlier Friday.

Hernandez, who turns 23 in December, entered 2019 as Boston’s top left-handed pitching prospect and was viewed as a potential rotation option after making his his big league debut as the 26th man in a day-night doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers back on April 23rd.

In his first and only major league start, which came against the Texas Rangers on June 11th, the Venezuela native surrendered four runs on three hits, five walks, and seven strikeouts over three innings pitched.

He was optioned back down to Double-A Portland following that start before being promoted to Triple-A Pawtucket on June 15th.

Eventually working out of the bullpen while with the PawSox, Hernandez earned another call up to Boston on July 16th and really has not looked back since, posting a 4.32 ERA, 3.34 xFIP, .215 batting average against, and 39.3 K% over his last 27 appearances and 25 innings pitched.

Come next February, Hernandez figures to compete for a high-leverage, late-inning role in the Red Sox bullpen.

 

When It Comes to Contract Talks, Mookie Betts Is All Business

At the conclusion of the 2020 season, Red Sox star outfielder Mookie Betts is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career.

There has been plenty of speculation surrounding what the Red Sox should do with Betts at the end of the 2019 season, whether that be to offer him a lucrative extension, hold on to him for one more year, or possibly trade him in order to replenish the club’s farm system.

When speaking with WEEI’s Rob Bradford in Texas on Wednesday, the 26-year-old broke down the approach he is utilizing for this whole process.

“As a whole, when it comes to business in general, whether it’s buying a building or contract negotiations or whatever it is, you have to take emotions out of it, “said Betts. “That’s what people forget. Fans and media get caught up in emotions and that’s just not how I was raised and that’s just not what my point of view with my agents is. We take emotions out of it and we focus on the business part.”

Betts explained how this approach was adopted, saying that he wanted to quit his youth football team the first day he put pads on, but his Mom talked him out of it.

“She told me there was no need to quit, “Betts quipped Wednesday. “Just because you had a bad day or just because things didn’t go your way doesn’t mean you quit. You see it through, you started it and you finish it. It was an emotional decision and that was to quit. That was my first thought.”

Since that time, the Tennessee native has taken emotions out of his decisions and been all business. He had the chance to play college baseball at the University of Tennessee, but instead opted to take the $750,000 signing bonus offered to him by the Sox as a fifth round draft pick in 2011.

Less than six years after making that decision, Betts told Bradford that another difficult time for him came when Boston took a shot at offering their young outfielder a contract extension at the conclusion of the 2016 season, the year he burst onto the scene and finished as the runner-up in American League MVP voting behind only Mike Trout.

“That was a really emotional time,” Betts said. “Because I was like, ‘Mom, we’ve never seen this amount of money.’ She was like, ‘OK, cool. It’s a lot of money. I think we know it’s a lot of money. So let’s focus on the facts. Let’s focus on what is real and we took the emotions out of it.’ The first one was definitely the hardest.”

No contract extension was agreed upon then, but Betts has earned approximately $31.5 million since and has one year of arbitration left.

At the end of the day though, Betts is going to what is right for his family without taking the outside noise into consideration.

“I don’t care about (the public’s perception.) It is what it is. I am who I am and my family is who we are and we’re going to make the right decision.”

It’s long been believed that if Betts were to reach free agency, he would more than likely go to the highest bidder. What the Red Sox have in front of them is a 26-year-old MVP who appears to be on pace for a Hall of Fame career.

If they were to allow this kind of special player to walk away simply because they did not want to exhaust their financial resources to retain his services, then I do not believe that would be the best of looks for the organization.

I understand that there is also a chance that Betts would be unwilling to consider any sort of contract extension in order to test the open market, so it would be in the Sox’ best interests to trade him in order to build their farm system back up.

However, I find two issues with that argument. The first being that the Red Sox have yet to appoint a head of their baseball operations department. The second is that if Boston intends to compete again in 2020, trading off Betts would significantly decrease the chances of that happening.

All in all, if it’s just going to come down to money with Betts, the Red Sox cannot afford to be outbid by any other club.

Checking in on the Six Red Sox Prospects Playing in the Arizona Fall League

The Arizona Fall League opened up 2019 play on Wednesday, September 18th, meaning we are now officially one full week into the new season.

Through seven games played, the Peoria Javelinas, the club that all six Red Sox prospects participating in the AFL were assigned to last month, are only 3-4, but have gotten plenty of contribution from those aforementioned Boston prospects.

For starters, outfielder Marcus Wilson leads Peoria in hitting with a .500 batting average (7-for-14) and OPS (1.3297) to go along with one home run and eight RBI through four games of action.

Ranked as the Sox’ 17th-best prospect on MLB.com, the 23-year-old was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks back on April 19th and saw time with both High-A Salem and Double-A Portland this year.

Next up, outfielder Jarren Duran is barely trailing Wilson for the team lead in hitting, slashing .400/.438/.400 with one RBI and one stolen base in four games played as well.

Wilson’s teammate in Portland for the latter part of this season, Duran was Boston’s lone representative in the 2019 Futures Game back in July. The recently-turned 23-year-old is ranked as the Red Sox’ top outfield prospect and fourth overall prospect on MLB.com. This is his first full season in professional baseball, as he was a seventh round pick out of Long Beach State in last year’s draft.

Coming in at third, infielder C.J. Chatham trails Duran by just .025 points in Peoria’s batting race, as he owns a slash line of .375/.474/.563 to go along with two doubles, two runs driven in, and two stolen bases over his first four games.

Selected in the second round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Florida Atlantic University, the 24-year-old will need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster before November 20th of this year in order to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. He is ranked as Boson’s ninth-best prospect on MLB.com

Transitioning from position players to pitchers now, Yoan Aybar and Bryan Mata are two of 10 Javelinas hurlers who have yet to surrender an earned run in AFL play.

Aybar, 22, has appeared in two games for Peoria, working a total of three innings of relief while walking three and striking out two in that span.

The Dominican Republic native put together a fascinating 2019 campaign, posting an ERA of 4.61 but a batting average against of .176 over 44 outings and 56 2/3 innings of work between Class-A Greenville and High-A Salem.

Originally signed as an outfielder six years ago, Aybar was converted into a left-handed reliever in 2018 and has a pitch arsenal that consists of a 93-97 MPH fastball, an 86-87 MPH slider, and an 83 MPH changeup, per SoxProspects.com.

Like Chatham, Aybar, the Sox’ 29th-ranked prospect, is eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this December if he is not added to the club;s 40-man roster before then.

Mata, meanwhile, has also appeared in two games for the Javelinas, plunking two and walking another to go along with three punchouts over three total innings pitched.

Climbing up the ranks to become Boston’s top pitching prospect this season, the 20-year-old right-hander earned a promotion from High-A Salem to Double-A Portland back on July 1st and posted an ERA 5.03 over his final 11 starts of 2019.

And finally, right-hander Tanner Houck has struggled since returning to the starting pitching role, yielding six runs, four of which were earned, on seven hits, three walks, and two HBPs to go along with three strikeouts over two starts and 5 1/3 total innings of work. That is good for an ERA of 6.75 and WHIP of 1.88.

Houck made the transition from starter to reliever shortly after making the jump to Triple-A Pawtucket in July, and it seemed as though that plan revolved around the possibility of the 23-year-old being called up the majors at some point in September.

That is not how things turned out however, as Houck is still not a member of Boston’s 40-man roster. He still has another year left before becoming Rule 5 eligible in 2020, so there’s no reason to rush on that decision either. Houck is listed as the Sox’ second-best pitching prospect on MLB.com.

The 2019 installment of the Arizona Fall League runs through October 25th, with the Fall Stars Game being played on the 12th and the championship game being played on the 26th, so stay tuned for updates regarding how these six Red Sox prospects are holding up in the desert.

Christian Vazquez Crushes Red Sox’ 239th Home Run of 2019 to Set New Single-Season Franchise Record

Christian Vazquez made quite a bit of history on Wednesday night, setting the Red Sox’ record for home runs in a single season with his 23rd big fly of the year.

That 427-foot, two-run shot coming off of Rangers left-hander Kolby Allard on Wednesday marked the 239th homer hit by the Red Sox in 2019, surpassing the club’s previous record of 238 total home runs, which was set back in 2003.

Subsequently, Vazquez was removed from this contest in the fourth due to tightness in his left hamstring, which is believed to have popped up when the backstop went from first to third on a Mitch Moreland single in the top half of the second.

Per The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham, taking Vazquez out for Sandy Leon was more precautionary than anything, and he was not going to catch on Thursday regardless.

As it also turns out, Chris Owings added on to the Red Sox history as well on Wednesday, as his fourth inning strikeout at the hands of Rangers right-hander Luke Farrell marked Boston’s 1,338th punchout of the year to surpass the 2014 record of 1,337 K’s.

Luke is the son of former Sox manager John Farrell.

Theo Epstein Shoots Down Red Sox Rumors Amid Speculation Surrounding Potential Reunion

In the last few weeks following the firing of now ex-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, rumors had been swirling that the Red Sox were interested in a potential reunion with former general manager and current Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein.

Epstein himself shut down those reports on Wednesday, telling reporters before the Cubs took on the Pittsburgh Pirates that, “I’m here. We have a lot we need to work on to get back to the level we’re accustomed to. I’m invested in that. That’s what I’m focused on.”

The Brookline, Ma. native’s current contract with Chicago runs through the end of the 2021 season. He initially joined the Cubs back on October 21st, 2011, the same day he resigned from the post as GM of the Red Sox for a second time.

At just 45-years of age, Epstein has already established himself as one of the more accomplished baseball executives of the 21st century, snapping an 86-year World Series drought with the Sox in 2004, winning another in 2007, and snapping a 106-year drought with the Cubs in 2016.

As you may have already guessed, the Red Sox are going to need someone to lead their baseball operations department ahead of what looks to be a crucial winter for the club with plenty of important decisions to be made.

And with that bit of knowledge, Epstein also confirmed Wednesday that, “neither he, GM Jed Hoyer or executive Jason McLeod were linked to the Red Sox position,” per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer.

“I have really good relationships with a lot of people there,” Epstein said. “And I certainly wish them the best, but there’s nothing to that story.”

So, unless something dramatic happens relatively soon, it seems as though the Red Sox will have to look elsewhere for a new head of baseball operations. Perhaps Eddie Romero, an internal option, is a viable choice?