Red Sox have ‘at least checked in on’ free agent shortstop Trevor Story, per report

The Red Sox are one of several teams with interest in free-agent shortstop Trevor Story, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Per Heyman, the Astros, Mariners, and Red Sox have all been linked to Story, who remains unsigned in the wake of Major League Baseball’s work stoppage beginning last week.

“Story, I have heard three teams,” Heyman said on the latest installment of the Big Time Baseball podcast. “Seattle, Houston, and Boston. So it would be interesting to see with Boston. Obviously he could start out at second base potentially, and we’ll see what goes on from there.”

Heyman added on Twitter that the Red Sox “have at least checked in with Story” while noting that there are at least three “serious players” and one “mystery team” who are interested in the infielder’s services.

Story, 29, has spent the last six seasons with the Rockies and is fresh off a 2021 campaign in which he slashed .251/.329/.471 with 34 doubles, five triples, 24 home runs, 75 RBIs, 88 runs scored, 20 stolen bases, 53 walks, and 139 strikeouts over 142 games spanning 595 plate appearances.

Defensively, Story has proven to be one of the better defensive shortstops in baseball since making his major-league debut in 2016. This past season alone, the two-time All-Star put up positive-nine defensive runs saved and an ultimate zone rating of 3.6 across 1,175 innings at the position.

At present, the Red Sox already have one of the better offensive shortstops in the game in Xander Bogaerts, who could potentially opt out of the final three years of his six-year, $120 million contract at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

Back in October, ESPN’s Joon Lee reported that Bogaerts “currently plans on opting out of the contract after 2022, but hopes to remain in Boston” and is even “open to moving to second or third base down the road.”

Story has only played shortstop at the major-league level, though there seems to be some speculation that the right-handed hitter would be willing to move to second base in the right situation, such as getting the opportunity to play alongside someone like Bogaerts everyday.

“The AL/NL kind of keeps us apart, but man, he’s so underrated it’s unbelievable,” Story said of Bogaerts at this summer’s All-Star Game festivities in Denver. “He’s such a good player on both sides of the ball. I appreciate just the way he goes out there every day and posts every day. It feels like he’s getting an extra-base hit every day. He’s just a really productive player. And he’s good for the game.”

Even if Story were to express a willingness to switch positions, signing the Excel Sports Management client would not come cheaply since he is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a six-year, $126 million contract this winter.

Not only that, but Story was also extended a qualifying offer by the Rockies (which he rejected), meaning any other team that signs him would have to forfeit a draft pick and international bonus pool money in order to sign him.

That being said, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes that “it’s unclear how serious any talks between the Red Sox and Story advanced before the lockout went into effect at midnight Thursday.”

The ongoing lockout, of course, prevents clubs from speaking with major-league free agents or their representatives. Things will remain that way until a new collective bargaining agreement is ratified.

(Picture of Trevor Story: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

How Red Sox’ Zack Kelly went from undrafted out of college to cusp of big leagues

Zack Kelly may be on the verge of the major leagues, but he has never considered himself a highly-touted prospect.

Undrafted out of Division II Newberry College (Newberry, S.C.), Kelly signed with the Oakland Athletics for just $500 in 2017. His first assignment as a pro was in the rookie-level Arizona League.

“The A’s, they provided us with apartments in Arizona for the AZL, and [rent] was $300 a month,” Kelly recently recalled. “And so, the day we got our signing bonuses was also the first day we had to pay rent. So, I got my check and after taxes it was $323. I walk out of the building and I see on the big whiteboard: ‘RENT IS DUE TOMORROW: $300.’ So, I had to go cash my check, put away $300 for rent, then I had $23. And I kid you not, I took it to Applebee’s and I got a 2 for $20 for myself. So, I essentially signed for a plane ticket and an Applebee’s 2 for $20.”

From the beginning, Kelly’s journey through the minors has been riddled with hurdles, and he was still presented with challenges even after graduating from rookie ball.

After reaching the Double-A level with the Angels organization in 2019, Kelly tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his throwing elbow the following spring.

While he was ultimately able to avoid Tommy John surgery, the timing of Kelly’s injury was still far from ideal. Around the same time he was rehabbing, the COVID-19 pandemic was ravaging the United States. Citing financial losses caused by the pandemic, MLB teams began releasing minor-league players en masse.

Kelly was one of those casualties, as he was officially released by the Angels on May 29 — shortly after he told the team he was going to require some form of surgery in order to pitch pain-free moving forward.

“Getting surgery at my age was not something I thought was beneficial to me,” Kelly said. “Towards the end of May, when I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to get back to 100% without pain, I told them. And I was talking about bad timing, because I got released right after that. But I understood. Everybody had to make cuts for the most part. At that time, I thought I was going to have to get full-blown Tommy John surgery, … which wouldn’t have benefited them.

“So, I don’t blame them,” he added. “But, luckily for me, I didn’t have to get the full-blown elbow reconstruction and I was able to play this year. I was able to sign with Boston and be in a really good organization that I like and think has a bright future. It paid off.”

Kelly signed his first minor-league contract with the Red Sox last December. The right-handed reliever began the 2021 minor-league season at Double-A Portland, but earned his first promotion to Triple-A Worcester in late July. Between the two levels, he posted an impressive 2.18 ERA over 36 appearances spanning 45 1/3 innings of work.

Shortly before the conclusion of the Triple-A season, Kelly expressed interest in remaining with the Red Sox on another minor-league pact for the 2022 campaign. It did not take long for the two sides to reach an agreement.

“Probably two or three days after the season ended, we were already in talks, which is a little bit sooner than I thought it was going to be,” recalled Kelly. “A lot of it was done through my agent. Eventually, we came to an agreement. It was a no-brainer. So, I’m happy to be back.”

One thing in particular that Kelly enjoyed about his first year in the Red Sox organization was the way the team’s coaches communicate with one another — even at different minor-league levels. Take Sea Dogs pitching coach Lance Carter and WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott, for instance.

“I like this organization because the coaches talk,” Kelly explained. “From the stuff me and Lance were working on in Portland, the day I got to Worcester with [Abbott], he brought that up and we were able to keep the same thing going. The other places I’ve been at, going from level to level, that hasn’t happened. It seems to be like that from the top down. Just talking to different people, kind of picking other guys’ brains, that was something that I was really happy to see. It makes the promotion that much easier.”

While still under contract for the 2022 season, Kelly’s status with the Red Sox is technically up in the air. Last month, Boston had the opportunity to add the 26-year-old to their 40-man roster but elected not to.

That decision has left Kelly eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, which usually takes place during the last day of the Winter Meetings but has since been postponed indefinitely due to Major League Baseball’s work stoppage.

“I thought I might have a chance to get added, but ultimately I didn’t, which I’m fine with,” said Kelly. “I trust Chaim [Bloom]. He’s proven himself over and over throughout the years and he knows what his plan is for this off-season.”

Assuming the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft takes place sometime between now and the start of the 2022 season, Kelly says he is not sure what to expect, but is eager to contribute at the big-league level if that’s a possibility.

“I think regardless of what happens, the preparation doesn’t change as far as what I’m doing,” he said. “But, obviously, the goal is to be in the big-leagues. And to come up and help a big-league club, I would be all over that opportunity. But, I think whatever happens is a win-win situation for me. If I were to get selected, I would hopefully stay in the big-leagues all year. If not, I’m in a really good place with Boston where I’m completely happy being.”

In the interim, Kelly — who turns 27 in March — does have a major-league invite to Red Sox spring training to look forward to next year. If he remains with Boston through the winter, it will mark his first time attending a big-league camp.

“My goals are the same as they have been,” said Kelly. “It’s to make quality pitches, continue to pitch to my philosophies, ultimately make it to the big leagues, help the team win, and hopefully win a World Series.”

(Picture of Zack Kelly: Katie Morrison/MassLive)

Red Sox among group of teams who ‘have been most aggressive in pursuit’ of Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki, per report

The Red Sox are one of three American League teams with with interest in Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki, according Sean McAdam of Boston Sports Journal.

Per McAdam, “one major-league source reports the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox have been the most aggressive in pursuit of Suzuki.”

Suzuki had been one of the more coveted free agents in this winter’s market prior to the anticipated work stoppage putting a freeze on transactions beginning December 2.

The 27-year-old was initially posted by the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball on November 22, which — under normal circumstances — would have given him and his representatives up to 30 days to negotiate a contract with major-league clubs.

Because of the lockout, however, Suzuki’s posting window has been paused for the time being. Once the work stoppage eventually comes to a close, he would then have roughly 20 or so days to continue negotiating with MLB teams or otherwise return to Japan.

This past season marked Suzuki’s ninth with Hiroshima, and it was one in which the right-handed hitter batted .317/.433/.639 with 26 doubles, 38 home runs, 88 RBIs, 77 runs scored, nine stolen bases, 88 walks, and 89 strikeouts over 134 games (538 plate appearances) for the Carp.

In the wake of trading Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for Jackie Bradley Jr. and a pair of prospects, the Red Sox very well find themselves in need of some outfield help, particularly from the right side of the plate.

As noted by McAdam, “Suzuki could play right field for the Sox, replacing Renfroe both defensively and as a productive right-handed bat.”

Not only has Suzuki enjoyed a great deal of offensive success over the course of his nine-year NPB career, but the 5-foot-11, 182 pounder is also a five-time recipient of the Mitsui Golden Glove Award.

By dealing away Renfroe and acquiring Bradley Jr. from Milwaukee, Boston has added another left-handed bat to an outfield mix that already consists of Alex Verdugo and Jarren Duran.

Suzuki, in turn, would provide the Sox with a talented right-handed hitter while simultaneously allowing the club to keep Verdugo in left field and Enrique Hernandez in center field if they so choose.

When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) last week, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom addressed this very topic when discussing what Boston still needs to do when this transaction freeze ends.

“I do feel we still have room to add position players to this crew,” Bloom said. “Obviously swapping Hunter for Jackie does change the handedness of our group a little bit. So maybe the dial moves a little more toward a right-handed bat where before it might have been towards a left-handed bat. But there’s different ways it can come together with the versatility and flexibility that we have. So we’re going to keep looking to supplement.”

Regarded by many — including an evaluator McAdam spoke to — as “a difference-maker,” Suzuki is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a five-year deal worth $55 million in free agency.

While signing Suzuki would not cost the Red Sox (or any other team) a draft pick, they would owe Hiroshima compensation in the form of a posting fee. Under the current agreement between Major League Baseball and NPB, this posting fee is equal to 20% of the first $25 million in guaranteed contract value, plus 17.5% of the next $25 million, plus 15% of any amount beyond $50 million.

(Picture of Seiya Suzuki: Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘thought they had a deal’ in place for Jacob Stallings before Pirates traded veteran catcher to Marlins, per report

Before trading him to the Marlins earlier this week, the Pirates nearly traded catcher Jacob Stallings to the Red Sox, according to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson and Craig Mish.

Per Jackson and Mish, the Red Sox made an offer to the Pirates for Stallings “and and at one point thought they had a deal. But the Marlins landed him by including pitching prospect Kyle Nicolas in their bid, along with pitcher Zach Thompson and outfield prospect Connor Scott.”

Stallings, who turns 32 later this month, was among the top defensive backstops in baseball this year en route to taking home his first career Gold Glove Award. He threw out 12 of the 57 base runners who attempted to steal against him while leading all big-league catchers in defensive runs saved with 21.

In addition to what he did behind the plate, the right-handed hitter slashed .246/.335/.369 (95 wRC+) with 20 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 53 RBIs, 38 runs scored, 49 walks, and 85 strikeouts over 112 games (427 plate appearances) with Pittsburgh in 2021.

At the onset of the off-season, Stallings became an attractive option for clubs looking for quality catching since he is under club control through 2024, was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $2.6 million in arbitration, and was arguably better than any free agent catcher on the open market.

The Marlins ultimately pounced on Stallings by swinging a trade with the Pirates on Monday — after they had previously failed to pry him away from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline.

When speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Pirates general manager Ben Cherington indicated that the decision to move Stallings came about quickly.

“There certainly was never a timeline up until probably 24 hours before it happened,” Cherington said. “Our full expectation was that [Stallings] would be a Pirate going forward, but, you know, these things sometimes come together quickly. In this case, it did.”

That the Red Sox may have been among the teams other than the Marlins who inquired on Stallings is certainly interesting. Within the last month, Boston has picked up Christian Vazquez’s $7 million club option and signed Kevin Plawecki to a one-year, $2.25 million deal for the 2022 season.

With veteran backstops such as Vazquez and Plawecki already locked up for 2022 and prospects such as Connor Wong and Ronaldo Hernandez waiting in the wings on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox likely would have been looking at moving one of the four aforementioned names were they to have acquired Stallings.

That being said — after the Pirates sweetened their offer by adding Nicolas — it presumably would have taken additional prospects for Boston to land Stallings, which may have led chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to take the Sox’ offer off the table altogether.

(Picture of Jacob Stallings: Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

Red Sox add intriguing infield prospects Alex Binelas, David Hamilton in trade with Brewers: ‘We’re excited about the minor-league players that we got,’ Chaim Bloom says

The Red Sox may have traded Hunter Renfroe for Jackie Bradley Jr. on Wednesday night, but they did so while also acquiring two intriguing prospects from the Brewers.

As highlighted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox basically dealt Renfroe and took on Bradley Jr.’s $9.5 million salary for 2022 (plus an $8 million buyout in 2023) in order to add infield prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton.

“Having two premium defensive center fielders is a huge boost to our roster,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Wednesday. “And we’re also excited about the minor-league players that we got. So we felt like this was something that made sense for us right now and also had a chance to pay dividends down the road.”

Binelas was recently selected by the Brewers in the third round of the 2021 amateur draft out of the University of Louisville, where he belted 19 home runs and posted a .968 OPS in his final season with the Cardinals.

Going into this summer’s draft, Binelas was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 76 draft-eligible prospect and was assigned to Milwaukee’s Arizona Complex League affiliate upon signing with the organization for $700,000.

After just seven games in the rookie-level complex league, Binelas was promoted to Low-A Carolina on August 16. In 29 games with the Mudcats to close out the year, the left-handed hitter slashed .314/.379/.636 (163 wRC+) with 11 doubles, nine home runs, 27 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 12 walks, and 33 strikeouts over 132 plate appearances.

Among hitters who accrued at least 130 plate appearances in the Low-A East this season, Binelas ranked fifth in OPS (1.014), third in isolated power (.322), and fifth in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, the 21-year-old is capable of playing both corner infield positions. At the midway point of the 2021 season, he was regarded by Baseball America as the 20th-ranked prospect in Milwaukee’s farm system.

“A left-handed hitter with power,” Bloom said of Binelas. “He plays both infield corners. But the bat is really his calling card. A good hitter with really special power. Obviously it’s just early in his professional journey but he had a tremendous debut and really showed a lot in his acclimation to pro ball. A really nice power left-handed bat to bring into the system.”

Hamilton, on the other hand, was selected by the Brewers in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin despite suffering a ruptured Achilles in a scooter accident that resulted in him missing the entirety of the 2019 season at both the college and pro levels.

With the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton did not make his professional debut as a member of the Brewers organization until this spring.

The 24-year-old, who is also a left-handed hitter split the 2021 season between High-A Carolina and Double-A Biloxi. He batted .258/.341/.419 (110 wRC+) with 19 doubles, 11 triples, eight homers, 43 RBIs, 66 runs, 52 stolen bases, 50 walks, and 90 strikeouts in 101 games spanning 459 total plate appearances.

Formerly regarded by Baseball America as the No. 15 prospect in Milwaukee’s farm system, Hamilton just wrapped up a solid campaign in the Arizona Fall League by slashing .293/.453/.463 with three doubles, two triples, five RBIs, five runs scored, four stolen bases, 12 walks, and six strikeouts over 14 games (53 plate appearances) for Salt River.

Listed at 5-f00t-10 and 175 pounds, Hamilton is obviously well-regarded for his speed and athleticism, which were his carrying tools coming out of college. The middle infielder’s 52 stolen bases were the sixth-most in the minor-leagues this season.

“David Hamilton has premium speed and he’s a really good middle infielder,” Bloom said. “Plays a good shortstop. Interesting trajectory. Highly-touted high school player who went to the University of Texas. Had a tough injury and recovered from it, and kept his speed. He has great speed and athleticism and is a very exciting player to add to our system.”

Unlike Binelas, Hamilton can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career in 2022. The Red Sox will need to add the speedster to their 40-man roster by next November if they want to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of Alex Binelas: Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

Red Sox trade Hunter Renfroe to Brewers for package including Jackie Bradley Jr.; Boston also acquires prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton in deal

In a stunning turn of events, the Red Sox have traded outfielder Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for infield prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton and a familiar face in Jackie Bradley Jr, the club announced late Wednesday night.

Renfroe, who turns 29 next month, originally signed a one-year deal with the Sox shortly after being let go by the Rays last December.

In his debut season with Boston, the right-handed hitter slashed .259/.315/.501 with 33 doubles, 31 home runs, 96 RBIs, 89 runs scored, 44 walks, and 130 strikeouts over 144 games spanning 572 relief appearances.

While seeing the majority of his playing time come in right field, Renfroe finished the year tied with Rangers rookie Adolis Garcia for the most outfield assists in the American League (16), but also led all big-league outfielders in errors committed with 12.

Upon signing with the Sox last winter, Renfroe earned $3.1 million in what was his first season of arbitration eligibility. MLB Trade Rumors projected that the 28-year-old would receive $7.6 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility in 2022, which obviously represents a significant raise from the amount he earned in 2021.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom must have felt that this price was too steep to pay, leading the club to deal Renfroe to the Brewers for a pair of prospects and an established veteran such as Bradley Jr.

Regarding the two prospects Boston acquired from Milwaukee, Binelas and Hamilton were regarded by Baseball America as the No. 20 and No. 15 prospects in the Brewers’ farm system, respectively.

Binelas, 21, was selected by the Brewers in the third round of this summer’s amateur draft out of the University of Louisville.

A Wisconsin native, Binelas appeared in just seven Arizona Complex League games before earning a promotion to Low-A Carolina on August 16. He batted a stout .314/.379/.636 (136 wRC+) to go along with 11 doubles, nine home runs, 27 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 12 walks, and 33 strikeouts across 29 games (132 plate appearances) with the Mudcats.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, the left-handed hitter can play both corner infield positions and well regarded for his power, as evidenced by his .322 ISO at Low-A this year.

Hamilton, 24, was also selected by Milwaukee in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin.

After not playing any affiliated baseball in 2019 and missing out on the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton made his professional debut for High-A Wisconsin this spring and ultimately made his way to Double-A Biloxi by early August.

In 33 games with the Shuckers, the left-handed hitting infielder produced a .248/.322/.414 slash line (104 wRC+) with five doubles, four triples, three homers, 12 RBIs, 16 runs, 11 stolen bases, 15 walks, and 32 strikeouts over 150 plate appearances while seeing playing time at second base and shortstop.

Unlike Binelas, Hamilton is not known for his power, but for his speed, as the 5-foot-10, 175 pounder has already stolen 52 bases through his first 101 games in the minor-leagues.

Neither Binelas nor Hamilton were immediately added to Boston’s 40-man roster, though the latter can become eligible for the 2022 Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to the 40-man by next November.

Finally, we arrive at what is the most fascinating aspect of this deal in Bradley Jr., who the Red Sox, of course, took with the 40th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of the University of South Carolina.

After spending the first eight years of his big-league career with the Sox, Bradley Jr. became a free agent last winter and effectively signed a two-year, $24 million contract with the Brewers in March.

Bradley Jr.’s first season with a new team did not go as swimmingly as it did for Renfroe. Despite remaining an elite defender in center field, the 31-year-old struggled at the plate to the tune of a .163/.236/.261 slash line with 14 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 29 RBIs, 39 runs, seven stolen bases, 28 walks, and 132 strikeouts in 134 games (428 plate appearances) with the Brewers.

By swapping Renfroe’s projected 2022 salary of $7.6 million for Bradley’s 2022 salary of of $9.5 million (plus an $8 million buyout in 2023), Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. — per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — took on about $10 million in additional salary to add Bradley Jr. and two promising prospects in Binelas and Hamilton.

In addition to acquiring Bradley Jr., the Red Sox also announced the signings of left-handers James Paxton and Rich Hill to one-year deals for the 2022 season, meaning their 40-man roster is now up to 39 players.

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox re-sign right-handed reliever Michael Feliz to minor-league deal for 2022 season, per report

The Red Sox have re-signed right-handed reliever Michael Feliz to a minor-league contract for the 2022 season, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Feliz, 28, spent the 2021 season with four different organizations. He began the year with the Pirates, was designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the Reds in May, was released by Cincinnati in late August, and signed a minors pact with Boston shortly thereafter.

After initially being assigned to Triple-A Worcester out of the gate, Feliz had his contract selected by the Red Sox on September 6 while the club was navigating its way through a COVID-19 outbreak.

In four relief appearances for Boston, the Dominican-born righty posted a 3.38 ERA and 6.73 FIP to go along with five strikeouts to one walk over 5 1/3 innings of work before being designated for assignment on Sept. 17.

Three days later, Feliz was claimed off waivers by the Athletics, but Oakland let him go after he made just one appearance with the club.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 250 pound hurler operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball that averaged 93.8 mph this year, a slider that opponents only hit .182 off of this year, and a changeup.

Feliz, who does not turn 29 until next June, is represented by Rep 1 Baseball, the same agency that represents Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers.

The hard-throwing right-hander becomes the third minor-league signing the Red Sox have made in the last two days, joining the likes of outfielders Christin Stewart and Rob Refsnyder. Boston has brought back right-handers Caleb Simpson, Zack Kelly and Michael Gettys on minor-league deals for the 2022 campaign as well.

(Picture of Michael Feliz: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox agree to one-year deal with veteran left-hander Rich Hill, per report

The Red Sox have agreed to a one-year contract with free agent left-hander Rich Hill, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The deal is still pending a physical, but figures to increase the size of Boston’s 40-man roster to 39.

Hill, who turns 42 in March, has been linked to the Red Sox for quite some time as this will mark the seventh instance in which he has signed with Boston as a free agent.

The Milton, Mass. native was originally drafted by the Cubs in the fourth round of the 2002 amateur draft out of the University of Michigan, but has spent parts of four major-league seasons (2010-2012, 2015) with the Sox.

After garnering interest from the Red Sox last winter, Hill ultimately inked a one-year, $2.5 million pact with the Rays in February and was later traded to the Mets in July.

Over 32 appearances (31 starts) between both clubs, the veteran southpaw posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.34 FIP to go along with 150 strikeouts to 55 walks across 158 2/3 innings of work in 2021.

The 158 2/3 frames Hill threw this year marked the most he has accrued in a single season since 2007 (195 innings pitched), when he was an up-and-coming 27-year-old with the Cubs.

Per Baseball Savant, the 41-year-old lefty operates with a six-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, curveball, sinker, cutter, changeup, and slider. He held opponents to a .111 batting average against with his sinker, a .167 batting average against with his changeup, and a .176 batting average against with his cutter this year.

Listed at 6-foot-5 and 221 pounds, Hill — who is represented by ACES — will be embarking upon his 18th big-league season come Opening Day 2022.

By reportedly agreeing to a deal with Hill just hours before Major League Baseball’s impending work stoppage, the Red Sox have shown that adding starting rotation depth has been a priority so far this off-season.

In the wake of losing Eduardo Rodriguez to the Tigers via free agency, Boston has gone out and signed right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year, $7 million deal and veteran left-hander James Paxton to a one-year, $10 million deal that is pending a physical and includes a two-year club option within the last four days.

Like Wacha and Paxton, Hill is somewhat of a lottery ticket given his age and injury history. Still, Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. must have felt that the potential rewards outweighed the risks, as Hill is once again slated so suit up for his hometown team.

A product of Milton High School, Hill was used as a reliever in his first stint with the Red Sox from 2010-2012, pitching to the tune of a 1.14 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 36:15 over 40 total relief appearances spanning 31 2/3 innings pitched.

In his second stint with the club, Hill came aboard by signing a one-year deal out of Indy Ball in August 2015. He then proceeded to put up a 1.55 ERA and 2.27 FIP in four starts (29 innings pitched) and leveraged that impressive stretch into a major-league deal with the Athletics. Since then, he has pitched for the A’s, Dodgers, Twins, Rays, and Mets.

Of all the teams Hill has pitched for throughout his lengthy career, though, he credits the Red Sox for being one of the best at doing what they do.

“The Red Sox do things right,” Hill told Speier last month. “I’ve been around 14 organizations. If I tell you that they’re in the upper echelon, they’re doing pretty good.”

(Picture of Rich Hill: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign Kevin Plawecki to one-year deal, thus avoiding arbitration; veteran catcher will earn $2.25 million in 2022

The Red Sox have signed catcher Kevin Plawecki to a one-year deal for the 2022 season, thus avoiding salary arbitration, the club announced Wednesday morning.

Plawecki, who turns 31 in February, will earn $2.25 million in 2022, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. He was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive $2 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility.

Originally signed to a one-year deal last January, Plawecki has emerged as a stable presence behind the plate while backing up Christian Vazquez in his time with the Red Sox.

This past season, the 30-year-old backstop slashed a solid .287/.349/.389 to go along with seven doubles, three home runs, 15 RBIs, 15 runs scored, 12 walks, and 26 strikeouts over 64 games spanning 173 plate appearances.

Plawecki put up those numbers while earning $1.6 million in 2021, so the $2.25 million he will receive this coming season represents a a 40.6% increase from that amount.

The right-handed hitter out of Purdue University figures to once again slot in behind Vazquez as Boston’s No. 2 catcher going into the spring and is slated to become a free agent for the first time in his career at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.

By locking up Plawecki for 2022, the Red Sox have now signed two of their eight arbitration-eligible players after inking right-handed reliever Ryan Brasier to a one-year pact and not tendering a contract to speedy outfielder Tim Locastro on Tuesday.

Besides Plawecki and Brasier, Alex Verdugo, Christian Arroyo, Rafael Devers, Hunter Renfroe, Nick Pivetta, and Josh Taylor are all arbitration-eligible players who remain unsigned, though they have been tendered contracts for the 2022 season.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox agree to one-year, $10 million deal with left-hander James Paxton, per report; contract includes two-year club option

The Red Sox are in agreement with free agent left-hander James Paxton on a one-year, $10 million contract for the 2022 season, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal, which is pending a physical, includes a two-year club option and was first reported by Sportsnet 650’s Chad Dey.

Per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the total value of Paxton’s contract could reach $35 million if the Red Sox were to pick up his two-year option for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

Paxton, 33, underwent Tommy John surgery this past April after making just one start for the Mariners in which he allowed one earned run in 1 1/3 innings against the White Sox at T-Mobile Park.

The Canadian-born southpaw was originally selected by Seattle in the fourth round of the 2010 amateur draft out of the University of Kentucky and later made his major-league debut for the Mariners in September 2013.

After spending the first six years of his big-league career with the M’s, however, Paxton was dealt to the Yankees in exchange for three players at the conclusion of the 2018 campaign.

While donning the pinstripes, Paxton enjoyed a solid inaugural season with the Yankees in 2019, posting a 3.82 ERA and 3.86 FIP to go along with 186 strikeouts to 55 walks over 29 starts spanning 150 2/3 innings of work.

The following year was a different story, though, as Paxton managed to make just six starts for New York before his season prematurely came to a close in late August due to a left flexor strain.

Despite signing a one-year deal to return to Seattle in February, the same discomfort Paxton experienced in his left elbow in 2020 clearly carried over into 2021 since it ultimately required season-ending Tommy John surgery.

Having undergone the elbow reconstruction procedure on April 14, Paxton likely won’t be able to return to in-game action until the later stages of the 2022 season at the earliest

Still, perhaps following a similar timeline they used with Chris Sale this year, the Sox elected to take a chance on Paxton. The veteran lefty operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, cutter, curveball, and changeup.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 227 pounds, Paxton — a native of British Columbia — is represented by the Boras Corporation and does not turn 34 until next November.

He also becomes the second significant starting pitching-related addition Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have made via free agency in the last week. Over the weekend, the club announced that they had signed veteran right-hander Michael Wacha to a one-year, $7 million deal for 2022.

Once he passes his physical and his signing is made official, Paxton will bring the size of Boston’s 40-man roster up to 38 players.

(Picture of James Paxton: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)