Red Sox free agency rumors: Astros prioritizing signing Jackie Bradley Jr., per report

The Astros are reportedly interested in signing free-agent outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. — so much so that the club is making it a priority — per MLB Network’s Peter Gammons.

Bradley Jr., 30, declared for free agency late last month after spending the first eight years of his major-league career in Boston.

The former first-round draft pick is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to net himself a two-year deal worth somewhere around $16 million this winter, with the ‘Stros being the favorite to acquire his services.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, are reportedly interested in bringing back Bradley Jr. “for the 2021 season and beyond,” according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

In his eighth season with the Sox this year, Bradley Jr. put up quality numbers, slashing .283/.364/.540 to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played.

While producing at the plate at that impressive level, the 2018 Gold Glover also provided superb defense in center field, ranking second among major-league centerfielders in outs above average (7), per Statcast.

That defensive prowess of Bradley Jr.’s, as noted by Gammons in the above tweet, has become quite significant for the Red Sox and Red Sox pitching over the years.

Going back to the start of the 2016 campaign, when Bradley Jr. essentially established himself as Boston’s everyday centerfielder, the Sox have had the sixth-best centerfield defense in baseball in terms of Ultimate Zone Rating (18.1).

Given the possibility that Bradley Jr. could depart for Houston or elsewhere this winter, the Red Sox would be faced with the reality that without Bradley Jr. manning center field on a regular basis, the club’s pitching could struggle as a result. That being the case because the flashy outfielder is capable of turning potential extra-base hits into outs at a moment’s notice.

With this in mind, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom addressed the team’s outlook for its outfield alignment going into 2021 when speaking with reporters earlier this week.

“I think we have guys on this club who are capable of playing center field,” Bloom said Wednesday via Zoom. “But we certainly would like to be in as strong of a defensive position as you can. We know we play in a ballpark where you basically have two center fields here in Fenway Park. So we want to be mindful of that.

“We’d certainly like to have as strong of a defensive outfield as possible,” he added. “And a lot of that is contingent on having multiple guys who can play center field.”

Whether it be Bradley Jr., a free-agency or trade acquisition, or one or several internal candidates, Bloom and Co. have to determine what the Red Sox will do at center field moving forward. They do not have a great deal of time to do that if Bradley Jr.’s market is indeed heating up.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora hoping Xander Bogaerts can become ‘elite defender’ at shortstop

Xander Bogaerts has proven to be one of the best shortstops in all of baseball in recent years, but that’s not stopping Red Sox manager Alex Cora from wanting more out of the 28-year-old moving forward.

Bogaerts just wrapped up a 2020 campaign in which he finished 17th in American League MVP voting thanks to putting up a .300/.364/.502 slash line to go along with 11 home runs and 28 RBI over 56 games played.

Impressive offensive production, per usual. However, the Aruban-born infielder put up rather unimpressive defensive numbers, as has been the trend since he made his first career Opening Day roster back in 2014.

Among 20 qualified major-league shortstops this past season, Bogaerts ranked 19th in Defensive Runs Saved (-5), which essentially means he cost the Red Sox five runs, and 13th in Ultimate Zone Rating (0.3).

Going back to 2014, the two-time All-Star has posted negative DRS totals in each of his last seven seasons with Boston, per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox, with Cora back at the helm, would like to see Bogaerts put it all together and become just as adequate with the glove as he is with the bat in his hands.

“Xander, for instance, when you talk about about the shortstops around the league and now you add [Corey] Seager to that equation, he’s up there with them,” Cora said of Bogaerts when speaking with NESN’s Tom Caron earlier this week. “Maybe the next step for us is to push Xander to be a better defender — and he’s not a bad defender — but to become an elite defender.”

This isn’t the first time Cora has brought up Bogaerts’ need to improve defensively, either. The Sox skipper said something along these same lines at least year’s winter meetings in San Diego.

Now that he is back, perhaps Cora will get on his shortstop in a similar fashion to the way he got on Rafael Devers in 2019. Of course, Devers has his own defensive kinks to work out, and Cora spoke about that process with Caron, too.

“With Raffy, we know what we have to work with,” he said. Expect both Bogaerts and Devers to be a focal point at the start of spring training in February.

Red Sox’ Chaim Bloom values Bobby Dalbec’s versatility, is still confident in Rafael Devers’ defensive abilities at third base

Since making his major-league debut in 2017, Rafael Devers has tried to prove that he is capable of being a competent third baseman defensively, but has struggled thus far in doing so.

This past season alone, the 24-year-old logged 475 innings at the hot corner and was worth -6 defensive runs saved (DRS), the worst mark among qualified American League third baseman, according to FanGraphs.

Devers’ defensive difficulties have led to speculation that the Dominican-born slugger could eventually move over to first base, especially now with the emergence of Bobby Dalbec.

Dalbec, who was called up for the first time in late August and saw the majority of his playing time come at first, is capable of playing both corner infield positions adequately, and the Red Sox certainly value his versatility moving forward.

That being said, don’t expect Devers and Dalbec to swap primary positions anytime soon, as Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom still has faith in the former’s abilities with the glove.

“We know Raffy is capable of a lot more than he showed in 2020,” Bloom said when speaking to reporters via Zoom Wednesday. “I think he knows that. Everybody who has seen him knows that. You guys know the bond Alex [Cora] has with him, and that is already something we’ve discussed in making sure that we’re doing everything we can to help him be in position to play a really good third base, as he has done in the past.

“I think the early indications, from the offseason, are that Raffy is preparing himself to do that,” added Bloom. “It was obviously a tough summer. The way the season started back up, he never really got going — he was never really in-sync defensively. He knows that, and now with an offseason ahead of us, we’re really optimistic that he’s going to come into the spring looking very different.”

Despite the hardships Devers endured at third base this past season, he still enjoyed moderate success at the plate as highlighted by his .845 OPS for the month of September.

With Cora back in the fold as Red Sox manager, Devers could in theory return to his 2019 form in which he led the American League in doubles (54) and total bases (359) while finishing 12th in MVP voting.

As for Dalbec, here’s what Bloom had to say about the 25-year-old former top prospect who looks primed to make his first career Opening Day roster next spring:

“With Bobby, we want to be able to maintain his ability to play both [corner infield] positions. I think the versatility is going to be great for him. That could be important on day one or it could be important in a year or two years. The fact that he is capable [of playing third] is huge. You never want somebody who has the ability to play other positions to be pigeonholed at first base.”

Per FanGraphs, Dalbec accrued 175 2/3 innings at first base and 15 innings at third base over the course of his rookie season. The former fourth-round draft pick made three errors, all of which came at first. He also hit eight home runs in 23 games, which equates to 56 homers over 162 contests.

Despite Alex Cora connection, Red Sox not prioritizing Francisco Lindor trade this offseason

The Cleveland Indians find themselves in a similar position as last year’s Boston Red Sox. That being, they are open to trading an extremely talented player who his entering his third and final year of arbitration eligibility.

That soon-to-be free agent would be none other than superstar shortstop Francisco Lindor, who turns 27 on Saturday and is in the running to be the most sought after free agent next winter.

Does the Indians’ situation sound familiar yet? It should. The Red Sox, faced with the dilemma last offseason of either trading Mookie Betts, who like Lindor was on the verge of free agency, or risk losing their homegrown star for nothing if they held on to him going into the following season.

Boston, much to the disdain of its fanbase and the general public, wound up dealing Betts and his one year of team control as well as left-hander David Price to the Dodgers in February in exchange for outfielder Alex Verdugo and prospects Jeter Downs and Connor Wong.

Now, roughly nine months after that blockbuster went down, the cash-strapped Indians could very well trade away their franchise cornerstone this winter so they don’t lose him for nothing outside of a compensatory draft pick in 2021.

With that being said, a number of suitors have likely begun contacting Cleveland about trading for Lindor. The Red Sox, having just re-hired Alex Cora, who like Lindor hails from Puerto Rico and served as Team Puerto Rico’s general manager during the 2017 World Baseball Classic, were, at least on the outside, seen as a club who could be interested in acquiring the shortstop’s services.

However, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Sox will not prioritize a trade for Lindor this winter despite the Cora connection and will instead focus on pitching.

Lindor, a four-time All-Star, is coming off a 2020 campaign in which he slashed .258/.335/.415 to go along with eight home runs and 27 RBI over 60 games played.

From 2016 through 2019, the former first-round draft pick was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove or Silver Slugger Award, and finished in the top-15 in American League MVP voting all four years, again proving he is one of, if not the best shortstop in baseball.

As currently constructed, the Red Sox have a quality shortstop themselves in the form of Xander Bogaerts, but there is a caveat in the 28-year-old’s contract and that is he can opt out and become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

That might not mean much at the moment since Lindor is only under team control for one more year, but as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal notes, “the team that gets [Lindor] would gain the inside track on signing him, the way the Dodgers did with Betts.”

Lindor has the edge over Bogaerts in that he is both younger and a better defender, but the latter has proven to be the better offensive player. That much is made evident when comparing Bogaerts’ 136 wRC+ to Lindor’s 119 wRC+ since 2018.

Even with a slight difference in their skillsets, Bogaerts has emerged as the Red Sox’ clubhouse leader in the wake of the Betts trade, and bringing in someone of Lindor’s caliber, who plays the same position, could send the wrong message.

Of course, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom could always opt to purse Lindor in free agency next winter if he does indeed hit the open market.

If another team, whether it be the Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Dodgers, or Giants, does acquire Lindor, though, one would have to assume that club would prefer to lock up their new star to a long-term extension right away.

As previously mentioned, the Dodgers did that with Betts in July, and the Cardinals did it upon acquiring Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks in December 2018.

For now, Bloom and Co. seem more interested in acquiring pitching help as opposed to offensive help, which is understandable when you consider how dismal Red Sox pitching was in 2020 (5.58 ERA, second-worst in the American League).

Red Sox manager Alex Cora says Alex Verdugo was team’s MVP in 2020

Even while serving his one-year suspension this past season, Red Sox manager Alex Cora still took the time to watch baseball, and the Red Sox, as a fan.

Though Cora acknowledged that watching the 24-36 Sox struggle from afar was tough, he also pointed out that he liked what he saw from some players in particular.

Tanner Houck, Nick Pivetta, and Alex Verdugo, all of whom made their Red Sox debuts in 2020, drew praise from the Sox skipper, with Verdugo getting the nod as the team’s most valuable player.

“Alex is a good player,” Cora said of the young outfielder when speaking with MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo Tuesday. “I saw him with the Dodgers, the previous year, a guy that brings a lot of energy to the equation on a daily basis. He can hit lefties, he can hit righties. I think he settled in the lineup. Defensively, he did an outstanding job for the team. For everything that is going on as far as like no fans and the protocols and how quote-on-quote uncomfortable it was for a team that didn’t play well, I do believe he was the best player on the team, the MVP.”

After coming over from Los Angeles as the centerpiece of the Mookie Betts trade back in February, Verdugo enjoyed great success at the plate with his new club. In 53 games, the 24-year-old posted a robust .308/.367/.478 slash line to go along with six home runs and 15 RBI.

On top of providing quality production at the top of the Boston lineup, Verdugo also dazzled defensively from both corner outfield positions. That much was evident by how he finished the year with seven outfield assists, tied for the most in baseball.

As Cora mentioned in the above quote, Verdugo got his first taste of playing at Fenway Park last July, when the Dodgers visited the Sox for a three-game series right after the All-Star break. In said series, the former second-round pick impressed with a pair of multi-hit games in the two games he started.

Those performances drew the attention of the likes of Cora, and although the Sox manager had already left the team by the time Boston acquired Verdugo from Los Angeles in February, he is very much looking forward to getting to know the exuberant 24-year-old better now that he is back.

“I actually spoke to him a few days ago,” Cora said. “What I saw is what I heard on the phone. Looking forward to working with him and making him a better player.”

How Cora develops relationships with Verdugo and other young players who were not on the team prior to his suspension should be something worth monitoring once spring training begins.

Chaim Bloom felt Alex Cora was ‘right choice’ for manager in order to move Red Sox forward

Upon his hiring last October, Red Sox chief baseball officer got the chance to become familiar with Alex Cora, who he likely presumed would be his manager for the foreseeable future.

Instead, as a result of his involvement in the 2017 Astros’ illegal stealing of signs, Cora and the Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways in January.

That left Bloom with a rather sizable hole to fill at the managerial position in a relatively short period of time.

Ron Roenicke, Cora’s bench coach the previous two seasons, eventually landed the job in February, but he served as more of a stopgap as anything upon his dismissal from the club in September.

Again, Bloom was tasked with finding the Red Sox’ next manager, this time with a little more time do so and a greater number of candidates to consider.

One of those candidates, Cora, could not be interviewed until after this year’s World Series ended, so that left Bloom with about a month to contemplate who else may be qualified for the job.

“When we started the process after the season, we spent a lot of time coming up with a really good list of candidates,” Bloom said at Cora’s re-introductory press conference Tuesday. “We vetted them very thoroughly, we talked to a number of people.”

Still, even when interviewing external candidates such as Sam Fuld or James Rowson, Bloom knew he wanted to talk to Cora before arriving at any final decision.

“I knew at that time that I wanted to have some kind of conversation with Alex when it was okay to do so, which wouldn’t be until after the World Series,” he continued. “I really didn’t know then if he was, in my mind, in real consideration for the job. I just thought it would be good for me, good for him, good for the organization since we really hadn’t spoken since everything happened in January.”

So, Bloom, general manager Brian O’Halloran, and Cora talked. That dialogue, by all accounts, was initiated by Bloom, and it led to a group of Red Sox officials flying down to Puerto Rico to speak with Cora in-person at his home.

“When the time came time to speak with him, we had a lot of different things to work through,” said Bloom. “We were able to have some really intense conversations. Obviously, everything was happening quickly within the week-plus after the World Series, but we got to work through a lot of things. It was really just a question of trying to get as much information as I could to see Alex in full; everything that he had done, good and bad, and everything that he might do.”

Of course, Cora was viewed as one of, if not the favorite to return to Boston even before his suspension had ended. That was mainly due to how highly Red Sox ownership thinks of Cora, which led to speculation that the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy would overrule Bloom on this matter if the latter was not in on Cora.

Speculation aside, Bloom assured the masses on Tuesday that he had full backing from ownership regardless of the decision he made on this matter.

“First and foremost, it was important that they play a role,” Bloom said of Henry and Co. “They’re responsible for the entire organization. I respect that there’s a lot of different opinions out there on Alex on what he did and what that should mean for any organization that might think about employing him. And it’s obviously important, since [ownership] is responsible for the organization, for me to know how they felt. To understand that if it was something baseball operations saw fit to do, that it was something they would support.

“Obviously, if that weren’t the case, it would have obviously been a different process,” he added. “So, not only do I think that that was appropriate, I actually think it was necessary to know how they felt. They also made sure I knew that if I or baseball ops. felt differently, then that was okay, too… They were emphatic that it’s very important that this be a baseball operations decision and they would fully back whatever decision we came to.”

At the end of the day, or last Thursday to be more specific, Bloom and his team ultimately decided that Cora’s strengths, such as his ability to effectively communicate information to players, outweigh any red flags that come with the hire, such as history with the Astros.

“I felt he was the right choice to move us forward,” Bloom said of Cora. “The goal in this process for me was to find the right person to lead the Boston Red Sox.”

Cora has already shown that he can move the Red Sox in the right direction before, as evidenced by leading the club to a World Series title in 2018. The 45-year-old will now get another shot to lead a team that looks quite different from the one he initially left nine months ago.

How Cora and Bloom’s relationship continues to develop over the course of the offseason and into spring training should be interesting to monitor as well.

Red Sox Officially Re-Introduce Alex Cora as Manager

The Red Sox officially re-hired Alex Cora as their next manager, the club announced earlier Friday evening.

Cora, who turned 45 last month, signed a two-year contract with the Sox that includes club options for the 2023 and 2024 seasons.

The native of Puerto Rico was originally named the 47th manager in Boston’s franchise history back in October 2017. His first stint with the Red Sox, highlighted by a World Series-winning campaign in 2018, came to an end in January when the two sides agreed to mutually part ways in the midst of Major League Baseball’s investigation regarding Cora’s role in the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal.

Now, nearly 10 months after he left the club, Cora is back and excited to manage once again.

“I  am grateful for the opportunity to manage once again and return to the game I have loved my entire life,” said Cora in a statement released by the Red Sox. “This past year, I have had time to reflect and evaluate many things, and I recognize how fortunate I am to lead this team once again. Not being a part of the game of baseball, and the pain of bringing negative attention to my family and this organization was extremely difficult. I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organization and its fans proud. I owe John Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon, Sam Kennedy, Chaim Bloom and Brian O’Halloran my gratitude for giving me another chance. I am eager to get back to work with our front office, coaches, and especially our players. Boston is where I have always wanted to be and I could not be more excited to help the Red Sox achieve our ultimate goal of winning in October.”

The process of re-hiring Cora did not last all that long for the Sox, as they were free to interview him for the opening as soon as this year’s World Series camt to a close late last month.

Still, in a separate statement released by the team, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom acknowledged that conversations with Cora about a potential reunion were “lengthy, intense, and emotional.”

“Alex Cora is an outstanding manager, and the right person to lead our club into 2021 and beyond,” said Bloom. “The way he leads, inspires, and connects with everyone around him is almost unmatched, and he has incredible baseball acumen and feel for the game. We considered a very impressive slate of candidates – the brightest managerial prospects in the game today. Because of all that had happened, I knew that I wanted to speak with Alex once his suspension ended, but I didn’t yet know if it made sense to consider him for the job as well. Our conversations were lengthy, intense, and emotional. Alex knows that what he did was wrong, and he regrets it. My belief is that every candidate should be considered in full: strengths and weaknesses, accomplishments and failures. That is what I did with Alex in making this choice. He loves the Red Sox and the game of baseball, and because of that we believe he will make good on this second chance. I join our whole organization in welcoming Alex back to Boston and Fenway Park.”

Cora and Bloom were able to get acquainted a little bit prior to the former’s departure from the Sox in January, but they will now have the opportunity to get to know one another even better.

As for when Cora will be re-introduced to the media via a press/Zoom conference, it looks like that will not take place until next week.

It should be interesting to see what kind of questions Cora and whoever else is on the dais with him will have to field from reporters once that presser does take place.

Red Sox make bold decision in bringing back Alex Cora as manager

Regardless of who the Red Sox tabbed as their next manager, it was going to be a bold decision.

On one hand, there’s Alex Cora, who managed the Sox for two years before he and the team mutually agreed to part ways in January due to the role he played in the Houston Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing fiasco. Cora was ultimately handed down a one-year suspension by Major League Baseball in April. That season-long ban came to an end late last month, which allowed the 45-year-old to interview for any managerial opening.

On the other hand, there’s Sam Fuld, who has no experience managing in the majors, let alone the minor-leagues. The 38-year-old, like Cora, is a former major-league veteran. Rather than follow the same kind of path Cora embarked upon in his post-playing days, though, Fuld began the second leg of his baseball career in the Phillies’ front office.

Philadelphia initially hired the New Hampshire native in November 2017 to serve as player information coordinator before promoting him to director integrative baseball performance back in January.

In his time with the Phillies, Fuld has served as a conduit who worked to foster communication between players, coaches, and front office staff while also “[integrating] advanced metrics into game planning.”

As intriguing as his resume may appear, Fuld did not have the same luxury as Cora in that he was already familiar with most of the Red Sox’ higher-ups. Yes, he may have a “tight” relationship with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom on account of the time they spent together with the Rays, but that likely does not amount to much when comparing it to Cora’s relationship with the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy.

So, in the end, the Red Sox went with what they were already familiar with: a known commodity in the form of Cora, who led the club to a historic World Series title in 2018 and is well regarded by players, ownership, and fans alike. The red flags with Cora were certainly there due to what he may have done during his time Houston’s bench coach, but the Sox do not seem all too concerned with that. They made it abundantly clear Cora was at the top of their list when team officials flew out to Puerto Rico to meet with him last week while other candidates traveled to Boston to interview for the opening.

It’s unclear at this point if Bloom would have preferred to bring in his own guy in Fuld and was overruled by club ownership on this particular decision. However, it is worth noting that before Cora initially left the Sox earlier this year, he and Bloom seemed to get along swimmingly during the latter’s first few months on the job as chief baseball officer.

Whoever may have made the final, bold decision on this matter, one thing is for certain: Cora is back managing the Red Sox, and he is likely here to stay.

Stay tuned for more in the days ahead.

Red Sox managerial search: Alex Cora, Sam Fuld viewed as finalists to land job

The Red Sox are entering the final stages of their weeks-long search for a new manager, and according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, former Red Sox manager Alex Cora and Phillies director of integrative baseball performan Sam Fuld are currently viewed as the favorites to land the job.

In addition to Heyman’s report, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote earlier Thursday that the Red Sox have begun narrowing the field of potential candidates to five — Cora, Fuld, Marlins bench coach/offensive coordinator James Rowson, Yankes bench coach Carlos Mendoza, and Pirates bench coach Don Kelly — to three, “and by Thursday evening, the search process was believed to be down to no more than two finalists.”

Those two finalists in this case would be none other than Cora and Fuld; one of whom already has a rapport with Red Sox brass while the other does not.

Cora also has two years of major-league managerial experience with the Sox as compared to Fuld’s zero.

The 45-year-old led Boston to a World Series title in 2018 and a third-place finish in 2019 and was seemingly well-regarded by players and ownership alike.

However, as Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Houston Astros’ illegal stealing of signs unfolded over the winter, it was revealed that Cora, who served as A.J. Hinch’s manager in 2017, may have played an integral role in the Astros’ schemes.

As a result of said investigation, Cora and the Red Sox mutually agreed to part ways in January, approximately three months before he was handed down a one-year suspension for his actions in Houston.

By the time Cora’s season-long ban came to an end at the conclusion of this year’s World Series, he was almost immediately labeled as the favorite to retain his old position with the Red Sox.

Most recently, a party of club officials that included the likes of chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran flew to Puerto Rico last Friday to speak with Cora in-person about the managerial opening.

The fact this meeting took place may lead one to believe it is Cora’s job to lose at this point, but it would appear that Fuld is also being seriously considered, per Heyman.

Fuld, a native of Durham, N.H., has spent the past three seasons in the Phillies’ front office, first serving as major-league player information coordinator before being promoted to the club’s director of integrative baseball performance in January.

A veteran of eight major-league seasons, the soon-to-be 39-year-old’s playing career included a three-year stint with the Rays from 2011 through 2013.

In Tampa Bay, Fuld built a strong and “tight” relationship with Bloom when the latter served as an executive there, one in which could help his case for the Sox’ managerial opening.

While Cora and Fuld share many of the same qualities, such as their abilities to successfully utilize analytics and foster communication between players and front office staff, Cora may have the upper hand due to experience alone.

Cora has already ingrained himself within the Red Sox organization. Players such as J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez gush about him, ownership gushes about him, even Bloom seemed to get along with him in their short time together last offseason.

Fuld, meanwhile, is somewhat of a complete stranger to the organization outside of his connection with Bloom. That would not seem to bode well for him, but if finding Ron Roenicke’s successor is truly Bloom’s ‘call to make,’ Fuld would be an obvious fit if he wants to bring in his own guy.

Whether Bloom has final say in this decision or he will be overruled by the likes of John Henry, Tom Werner, and Sam Kennedy has yet to be determined. One thing is for certain, though, and that is the notion that the Red Sox’ search for their next manager is nearly complete.

As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo alluded to, “Friday [is looking like] a potential decision day.” We will have to wait and see on that. I still say it’s Cora.

Red Sox re-sign Josh Ockimey, 8 others to minor-league contracts

The Red Sox made their first (minor) splash of the offseason on Tuesday, as the club re-signed nine minor-league free agent to minor-league contracts for the 2021 season, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and SoxProspects’ Chris Hatfield.

Those nine minor-leaguers, as indicated in the above tweet from Hatfield, are right-handers Seth Blair, Raynel Espinal, and Caleb Simpson, left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, catchers Jhonny Pereda and Roldani Baldwin, first baseman Josh Ockimey, first baseman/outfielder Joey Meneses, and outfielder Johan Mieses.

Five of these nine players were at one point or another part of the Sox’ 60-man player pool this past season, and therefore spent some time at the alternate training site in Pawtucket.

Ockimey and Baldwin, meanwhile, are the only two listed here who have been with the Red Sox since before the 2019 Rule 5 Draft last December.

Speaking of Ockimey, the recently-turned 25-year-old slugger may just be the most notable name here, at least among Red Sox fans, despite having yet to make his major-league debut.

The former fifth-round draft selection out of Philadelphia has been with Boston since 2014. Most recently, he clubbed 25 home runs and collected 57 RBI over 122 games (468 plate appearances) for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2019.

Power has never been the problem for Ockimey, as he has crushed 14 or more homers in each of the last four seasons, excluding 2020, of course. Despite being such a threat at the plate, the left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing first baseman has yet to get a shot at the next level.

The Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, clearly like Ockimey enough to keep him around as depth at a fairly important position, but do they value him enough to eventually purchase his contract and see what he can do in the majors?

All signs point to no on that front thus far, but it should be somewhat interesting to watch Ockimey next spring considering the light tower power he is capable of providing at any given moment.