Red Sox Make Pay Cuts for Employees Making Upwards of $50K; Said One Staffer: ‘People Are Livid’

The Red Sox have begun implementing pay cuts to their non-playing staff, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich.

Per Drellich, these pay cuts are for those employees making $50,000 or more per year and are tiered in the following fashion.

“Salary of $50K-99K is 20%

$100 to $499K is 25%

$500K-plus is 30%”

As Drellich notes, the employees who make $100,000 are being treated in just about the same way those making upwards of $500,000 are, which has led to the following statement from a Red Sox staffer:

“People are livid.”

This news was apparently broken at a company meeting held by the Red Sox on Friday night, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. In this particular meeting, the club announced that there would be no furloughs or layoffs, just salary cuts for those employees making upwards of $50,000 as previously mentioned.

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox announced that 22 minor-league players had been released on Thursday, so it definitely appears that John Henry, Tom Werner, and Co. are trying to cut down on costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the 2020 baseball season on hold for the time being.

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: University of Oklahoma Right-Hander Cade Cavalli

In his latest mock draft for FanGraphs, Eric Longenhagen has the Red Sox taking Independence High School (TN) outfielder Robert Hassell with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

You can read more about Hassell here, but what I found most interesting in Longenhagen’s piece is what he wrote about who the Cubs might take with the 16th pick in University of Oklahoma right-hander Cade Cavalli.

16. Chicago Cubs- Cade Cavalli, RHP, Oklahoma

I think some of the teams picking in the middle of round one (Reds, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, D-backs) might be more motivated than usual to take a pitcher who they can plug and play in their bullpen sometime this summer…Bullpenning them for the rest of this year doesn’t preclude you from developing them as starters next spring.

It’s certainly an interesting point; the notion that a team like the Red Sox could take a college pitcher with their top pick with the goal of having said pitcher be available to pitch out of the major-league bullpen at some point this year if baseball is played in 2020.

Auburn University right-hander Tanner Burns and University of Tennessee left-hander Garrett Crochet are among the college pitchers who have been linked to the Sox in past mock drafts.

Cavalli, meanwhile, is ranked by FanGraphs as the No. 17 overall prospect in this year’s draft class and fifth among right-handed hurlers. He posted a 4.18 ERA and .281 batting average against over four starts and 23 1/2 innings of work for the Sooners in 2020 before the college baseball season was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A former 2017 29th-round selection of the Atlanta Braves out of Bixby High School (OK), the 21-year-old junior’s pitching arsenal includes a 92-96 MPH fastball that can top out at 98 MPH, a low-80s curveball, and an upper-80s slider/cutter.

Listed at 6’4″ and 226 lbs., Cavalli’s Baseball America scouting report goes as follows:

Cavalli is armed a big fastball that is routinely up into the upper-90s and he gets there with ease thanks to one of the better bodies in the draft and a clean delivery.”

Despite his frame and strong mechanics, Cavalli does have a bit of an injury history, as he was sidelined with a stress reaction during his junior season.

Still, the upside is there with Cavalli, although it would not be too surprising to see the Red Sox, under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, go with a high school prospect such as Hassell or right-hander Mick Abel rather than a guy out of college.

The 2020 MLB Draft is exactly two weeks away and will be just five rounds long, making it the shortest in the sport’s history to this point.

 

 

Red Sox’ Chris Sale on Handling Criticism: ‘I’ve Never Paid Attention to What People Say About Me, Because It Doesn’t Matter’

Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale underwent successful Tommy John surgery seven weeks ago.

Before Tuesday, the 31-year-old had only spoken to the media once since undergoing the procedure in Los Angeles, but he spoke with ESPN’s Mary Rivera in an extensive one-on-one, presumably over-phone interview earlier this week.

Topics covered in said interview included Sale’s recovery from Tommy John, criticism from fans over his contract, the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts and David Price, thoughts on a disappointing 2019 season, the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in 2017, and Alex Cora’s departure from Boston.

You can read Rivera’s conversation with Sale in full here, but I wanted to hit on a few highlights, starting with the Florida native being asked if it’s “hard to handle the criticism” from people who believe he has not lived up to expectations under his new contract.

“When I got to Boston, my first year was really good,” Sale said. “My second season was decent but I ran into some shoulder issues. We ended up winning a World Series, so I’d even call that a relatively good season with a little hiccup. Then, 2019 was an absolute disaster. But in the end, I’ve never paid attention to what people say about me, because it doesn’t matter.”

Prior to the start of the 2019 season, Sale inked a five-year, $145 million contract extension with the Red Sox while Dave Dombrowski still served as the club’s president of baseball operations.

Dombrowski has since been removed from that post and was effectively replaced by former Rays executive and current chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, whose first major move at the helm in Boston was dealing Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers in February.

That sort of transaction, which significantly hindered the Red Sox’ chances of winning in 2020, could have upset a veteran like Sale, whose first priority is to win no matter who he plays for, but he did not seem to take too much offense to it.

“Very rarely in this day and age, you get to play with the same team for a long time,” Sale told Rivera. “We have to adapt and go with it. We don’t make decisions; we don’t trade players. We show up to spring training and we do our best to win with the players we have.”

At the time Betts and Price were dealt to Los Angeles, the 2020 MLB season really wasn’t in question. That has obviously changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though, and Sale isn’t too sure there will even be a season at all. Not like that matters much for him anyway since he is still recovering from Tommy John.

It still is a concerning matter for players who can play this year though, and Sale certainly feels for them while the MLBPA remains in active negotiations with the league.

“There’s too many moving parts with all this right now,” he said in regard to getting baseball back this year. “There’s obviously negotiations between the players and the owners, and that’s what I hope we can iron out sooner rather than later. On my end of it, I’m not missing any games that everyone else isn’t missing. Plus, I’m not getting paid, so no one can call me an overpaid asshole right now [laughs].”

For the time being, Sale will continue the process of coming back from Tommy John surgery. He’s been one of the few players to work out at Fenway South in Fort Myers since the complex opened back up earlier in the month.

“I’ve been doing a shoulder program and we’re doing soft-tissue stuff but I’m starting to get into some pushing stuff, some rows,” Sale said of the rehab process. “A lot of this actually is a lot of shoulder work too, which is good.

“We can kind of start, as they say, tearing it down to the studs. I can work from the ground up. I can completely tear my body down and build it back up. Right now, since I’m not really working out to achieve anything, I can really focus on the little fine details that sometimes might be overlooked getting ready for a big, bulky season. I love the guys I’m working with and I know I’m in good hands.”

If all goes according to plan, Sale should be able to return to a big league mound sometime in June or July 2021.

MLB Owners Approve Proposal for 2020 Season, League Will Present Plan to Players’ Union Tuesday

Major League Baseball owners have approved a proposal from the league for the 2020 season to present to the MLB Players’ Union, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The two sides are expected to meet sometime on Tuesday to discuss said plan.

This marks another step towards potentially getting Major League Baseball this year, and as ESPN’s Jeff Passan states, “now is when it starts to get serious.”

Of course, where things go from here depends on how the players’ union feels about all this.

For starters, “Because games, at least initially, will be played without fans, the players’ would be asked to accept a further reduction in pay, most likely by agreeing to a set percentage of revenues for this season only.”

This idea of revenue sharing is apparently a ‘non-starter’ in any proposal the union gets from the league, per The New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Other hurdles include “making players comfortable with protocols/personnel/equipment that play can resume safely,” as well as where teams will play their games.

More specifically, according to Rosenthal, “Teams unable to open in their cities [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] temporarily would relocate, either to their spring training sites or major-league parks in other parts of the country. The same would apply to spring training 2.0 if the league decides to use mostly home parks as opposed to returning to Florida and Arizona.”

The problem with this is that “Not all clubs agree they should train in their home parks, believing spring locales offer a less densely populated, more controlled environment.”

Regionalized schedules consisting of anywhere between 78-82 games and expanded playoffs have also been discussed, while a universal designated hitter and expanded rosters could also be implemented if there is indeed baseball in 2020.

That final part, for now, is still up in the air, though. And although I can’t say for sure, it would appear that the players’ union has final say on the matter. We should hear more about where the MLBPA goes with this on Tuesday.

 

MLB Expected to Propose Universal DH for 2020 Season, per Report

Major League Baseball is expected to propose a universal designated hitter for the 2020 season as part of their talks with owners and the MLB Players Association in the coming days, according to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

Per Bowden, “Most executives believed prior to the coronavirus shutdown that the [universal DH] would be implemented by 2021 or 2022.” But, due to the unique circumstances in this case, the implementation of the designated hitter in both the American and National Leagues could “be a way to cut down on injuries in a worrisome time,” as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman notes.

The ramifications this has for the Red Sox are not all that significant seeing how the club already has one of the best DHs in baseball in J.D. Martinez. However, if what The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports is accurate, and it likely is, the Sox would play around 80 games this season against opponents “only from their own division and the same geographic division in the opposite league.”

In other words, if there is baseball to be played in 2020, the only other clubs the Red Sox would face in the regular season would be the Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Mets, and Marlins.

It’s unclear at this point how many of those games would take place in National League ballparks, but the dread of having to constantly worry about the pitcher’s spot in the lineup in those particular contests would not be an issue if the universal DH is indeed implemented.

Interleague play would take on a whole new meaning in this scenario, and it would certainly serve as an adjustment period for certain National League clubs and a welcomed change for others.

Before anything concrete is laid out though, there are still several hurdles for MLB to jump through.

First, the league has a conference call scheduled with its owners on Monday where plans for a potential 2020 season will be discussed.

If the owners approve of MLB’s plans, that same proposal will be presented to the MLBPA on Tuesday.

Like I said though, there are still plenty of obstacles ahead, especially those of the financial variety.

 

Latest 2020 Mock Draft Has Red Sox Taking High School Right-Hander Mick Abel With Top Pick

In his latest mock draft for Prospects365.com, Mason McRae has the Red Sox taking high school right-hander Mick Abel with the 17th overall pick in this year’s June draft.

As we now know, the 2020 MLB Draft will be just five rounds, the shortest in the sport’s histroy, making hitting on the early picks that much more important for Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and company. The club will have $3,609,700 to spend on their first selection.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Abel, an 18-year-old out of Jesuit High School in Oregon, “has touched 97 MPH at times with his fastball, but didn’t get to that regularly last summer. He also mixes in one of the better breaking balls of the amateur class, and has good feel for a changeup that could give him three plus offerings.”

Listed at 6’5″ and 190 lbs., the Oregon State University commit started two games for Team USA in last summer’s U-18 Baseball World Cup in South Korea, allowing four earned runs over 4 1/3 total innings of work in those appearances.

A pitching arsenal that includes a 60-grade fastball, a 55-grade slider and changeup, and a 50-grade curveball, Abel is “only going to get stronger and throw harder as he physically matures, something he showed a glimpse of in one outing this spring before things got shut down [due to the coronavirus pandemic],” according to MLB Pipeline.

McLean or “Mick,” is expected to be one of the first prep pitchers taken off the board in this year’s draft, so it will be interesting to see if he is still available when the Red Sox are on the clock with the No. 17 pick.

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo: ‘Whenever the Season Starts I Think I Will Be Ready’

Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo is back working out at the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers, and when the 2020 Major League Baseball season does resume, he feels like he’ll be good to go.

Speaking with reporters via conference call on Monday afternoon for the first time since spring training was suspended in March, Verdugo said he is “physically…100%” after fully recovering from the stress fracture in his lower back.

“I feel very good just moving around with everything,” said the 23-year-old. “My swing, my throwing, running. I feel really good. The complex shut down for three weeks when the whole coronavirus and all that started coming out. So I still stayed active at home. I was hitting, throwing a little bit and working out. But obviously didn’t have the amount of resources I do at the facility.”

Here’s some video of Verdugo working out at home in Fort Myers:

From there, Verdugo was able to get back into the facility last week after the Red Sox opened it back up following a brief shutdown period due to a minor-leaguer testing positive for COVID-19 on March 24th.

“When I got back…we took it slow again,” he said. “We just kind of ramped it back up, just seeing how the three weeks, how my body kind of looked and how it felt to my trainers.”

Here’s some video of Verdugo working out at the JetBlue Park complex:

When the Red Sox acquired Verdugo, as well as prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong, from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade in February, they were already aware of the young outfielder’s ailment. Had the 2020 season began as originally planned on March 26th, he probably would not have been ready for Opening Day.

Now, with the start date of the season still up in the air, Verdugo could be ready to start right away.

“I feel like we’re back on track,” he said. “Whenever the season starts, I think I’ll be ready. Whether that is soon, whether it’s a few months down the road or whatever that may be. I think physically I’m ready.”

While he is training every day like there is going to be a season and working out Fenway South four times a week, Verdugo is regularly checking in with Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke “every one or two weeks.” The training staff he is working with at JetBlue is also sending video to Roenicke and hitting coach Tim Hyers.

“I’m going to keep preparing and training and keeping my mind sharp so I’m already mentally locked in and physically ready to go for it,” said Verdugo.

As he came over from the Dodgers earlier in the year, the Arizona native admitted that being traded was at first difficult for him but he now views the move “as a blessing.”

With his new club, Verdugo expects to be as productive as ever, adding “I think I’m at such a good position mentally and physically. I’m just ready to go and just play. I know if I play and I feel the way I feel right now, my numbers will be what they always have been.”

Once touted as one of the best outfield prospects in baseball, Verdugo slashed .294/.342/.475 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI over 106 games played for Los Angeles in 2019.

The centerpiece in the aforementioned deal that sent soon-to-be free agent Mookie Betts to southern California, Verdugo did say that it would be “pretty crazy” and “pretty nuts” if his counterpart never played a game for the Dodgers if the 2020 season winds up getting cancelled. We’ll have to wait and see on that, though.