Former Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers joining Rangers in same capacity, per report

Former Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers has joined the Rangers organization in the same capacity, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Hyers, 50, departed from the Red Sox last week even after the team made an offer for him to return in 2022. The reasoning behind his departure mainly revolved around the idea of pursuing other opportunities, as he explained to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Less than a full week after leaving the Sox, it turns out Hyers has indeed found a new opportunity for himself. And while he reportedly drew interest from the Yankees, he ultimately lands with the Rangers.

Hyers was originally named to Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s coaching staff in November 2017 after previously serving as the club’s minor-league hitting coordinator from 2013-2015.

Over the four seasons Hyers was put in charge of their offensive approach, the Sox led all of Major League Baseball in  runs per game (5.31), batting average (.266), slugging percentage (.455), and OPS (.790). They additionally ranked third in on-base percentage (.335) and fourth in wRC+ (108) over that stretch, per FanGraphs.

In between stints as Boston’s minor-league hitting coordinator and major-league hitting coach, Hyers served as an assistant hitting coach for the Dodgers from 2016-2017. At that same time, current Rangers manager Chris Woodward served as Los Angeles’ third base coach under Dave Roberts from 2016-2018.

Any sort of relationship Hyers and Woodward established with the Dodgers presumably played a role in the former joining the latter’s coaching staff with the Rangers.

While Boston’s offense enjoyed plenty of success under Hyers in 2021, the same cannot be said for Texas, who finished the season with a record of 60-102 while regularly fielding unproductive lineups.

In the process of finishing with one of the worst records in baseball, the Rangers ranked 28th in the league in runs per game (3.86), 29th in batting average (.232), 30th in on-base percentage (.294), 28th in slugging percentage (.375) and dead last in OPS (.670). They ultimately dismissed their former hitting coach Luis Ortiz last month.

By hiring Hyers, the Rangers will obviously be hoping to have a revamped offense in 2022. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are expected to promote Peter Fatse, who served as assistant hitting coach under Hyers each of the last two seasons, to become the team’s new hitting coach.

Fatse, 34, is a native of Hampden, Mass. and played his college baseball at the University of Connecticut before being selected by the Brewers in the 24th round of the 2009 amateur draft.

(Picture of Tim Hyers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez opts in to final year of contract with Red Sox, per report

J.D. Martinez will remain a member of the Red Sox, as the veteran slugger has opted in to the final year of his contract with Boston, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Martinez had until 5 p.m. eastern time on Sunday to decide if he would stay with the Sox or exercise the opt out in his contract in order to become a free agent. In a somewhat surprising turn of events, he went with the former.

The 34-year-old designated hitter/outfielder originally inked a five-year, $110 million deal with Boston in February 2018 that afforded him the ability to opt out after the 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons.

After electing to not opt out in 2019 or 2020, Martinez has ultimately decided to see his contract through to its completion. The expiring collective bargaining agreement and the uncertainties created by upcoming negotiations likely played a role in his decision, as hinted at by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

This past season, the Scott Boras client enjoyed a nice bounce-back after a rather dismal and pandemic-shortened campaign in 2020. In 148 games, he slashed .286/.349/.518 to go along with 42 doubles, three triples, 28 home runs, 99 RBI, 92 runs scored, 55 walks, and 150 strikeouts over 634 total plate appearances.

During Boston’s postseason run, Martinez battled a sprained left ankle that came as a result of him tripping over the second-base bag in the team’s regular season finale against the Nationals on October 3. He was left off the Sox’ Wild Card Game roster, but returned to action in time for Game 2 of the American League Division Series.

Across nine games between the American League Division Series against the Rays and the American League Championship Series against the Rays, the right-handed hitter batted an astounding .344/.447/.688 with two doubles, three homers, 10 runs driven in, four runs scored, five walks, and 10 strikeouts in 38 total trips to the plate.

By opting in to the final year of his deal, Martinez is slated to net himself $19.375 million in 2022. The Red Sox could of course trade him, but the possibility of that happening remains to be seen as of now.

A four-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger Award winner who helped the Red Sox win a World Series title in 2018, Martinez does not turn 35 until next August.

(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox decline Garrett Richards’ club option for 2022, per report

The Red Sox have declined Garrett Richards’ club option for the 2022 season, thus making the right-hander a free agent, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Richards, 33, originally signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with Boston back in February that included a $10 million team option for a potential second year in 2022.

Like Martin Perez, who also had his club option declined on Sunday, Richards opened the 2021 campaign in the Sox’ starting rotation. The veteran righty posted a 5.22 ERA and 5.15 FIP to go along with 87 strikeouts and 48 walks over 22 starts spanning 110 1/3 innings of work before being demoted to the bullpen on August 11.

As a reliever, Richards improved while working in shorter bursts, putting up a more impressive 3.42 ERA and 2.90 FIP with 28 punchouts to 12 walks in 18 appearances (26 1/3 innings pitched) out of the Boston bullpen.

In the postseason, Richards was named to the Sox’ Wild Card Game roster and American League Division Series rosters. He tossed one-third of an inning in Game 1 against the Rays on October 7 before suffering a left hamstring strain that forced him to come off the club’s ALDS roster and be replaced by Matt Barnes.

With the Red Sox declining his option, Richards — who turns 34 in May — will once again be hitting the open market. He will, however, be receiving $1.5 million in the form of a buyout.

By electing to not pick up the options on either of Perez’s or Richards’ contracts, the Sox now have one more option-related decision to make before 5 p.m. eastern time on Sunday with catcher Christian Vazquez and his $7 million team option for 2022 hanging in the balance.

On top of that, Boston must also decide if they will be extending an $18.4 million qualifying offer to any player who is eligible for one, such as free agent left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez or veteran slugger J.D. Martinez if he opts out of the final year of his contract.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski involved in benches-clearing brawl in Arizona Fall League action

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski was involved in a benches-clearing brawl in the ninth inning of an Arizona Fall League game between the Scottsdale Scorpions and Peoria Javelinas on Saturday afternoon.

Winckowski, making his sixth relief appearance of the Arizona Fall League season, recorded the final two outs of the eighth inning before being deployed back out for the ninth in hopes of securing an 11-7 win for the Scorpions in front of 705 spectators at Scottsdale Stadium.

As he came back out for the ninth, the right-hander immediately plunked the pinch-hitting Pirates prospect Canaan Smith-Njigba near the head and on the shoulder on a first-pitch fastball that was too far up and in.

Smith-Njigba took exception to this, promptly charging the mound and throwing a punch at Winckowski before taking the 6-foot-4, 202 pound hurler down to the ground and throwing another punch. This resulted in both the Javelinas and Scorpions’ benches clearing as players and coaches dashed on to the field.

According to Baseball America’s Josh Norris, who was on-hand for the debacle, it took umpires several minutes to separate the teams and break up the scuffle between Smith-Njigba and Winckowski. The umpires then convened with Arizona Fall League officials before making the decision to eject both players from the contest.

In Peoria’s dugout, Smith-Njigba could apparently be heard yelling about how something like this has happened two days in a row. That being the case because on Friday, Smith-Njigba’s teammate and fellow Pirates prospect Nick Gonzales was beaned by Scorpions reliever Matthew Peguero.

Additionally, as noted by Norris, the only other instance of a Scottsdale pitcher hitting a Peoria batter arose this past Thursday at Peoria Stadium when left-hander Seth Corry struck Phillies prospect Bryson Stott.

That said, what occurred on Saturday was rather unprecedented for the AFL. Smith-Njigba wound up getting replaced at first base by pinch-runner Jose Caballero, while former Red Sox prospect and current Giants right-hander Gregory Santos took over for Winckowski and put the finishing touches on an 11-7 victory for the Scorpions.

The older brother of standout Ohio State wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Canaan Smith-Njigba is currently regarded by Baseball America as the 29th-ranked prospect in the Pittsburgh farm system. The 22-year-old was acquired by the Pirates in the trade that sent right-hander Jameson Taillon to the Yankees back in January.

Winckowski, meanwhile, is at the moment regarded by Baseball America as the No. 16 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking ninth among pitchers in the organization.

In February, the Red Sox acquired Winckowski from the Mets in the three-team, seven-player trade that jettisoned outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals ahead of the start of spring training.

After a solid 2021 campaign spent between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Worcester, Winckowski has posted a 6.55 ERA and 1.73 WHIP to go along with three strikeouts and four walks over six outings spanning 11 innings of work for the Scorpions in his first taste of Arizona Fall League action.

Per SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall, Winckowski was hovering around 98-99 mph with his heater on Saturday, which might explain why Smith-Njigba was not pleased with the location of the pitch that hit him.

The 23-year-old can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the second time in his professional career this winter if the Red Sox do not add him to their 40-man roster by the November 19 deadline to do so. He was left unprotected and went unselected in the Rule 5 Draft as a member of the Blue Jays organization last year.

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Norm Hall/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Martín Pérez switches agencies with Red Sox expected to decline left-hander’s club option for 2022

Red Sox left-hander Martin Perez has switched agencies at a time where he could be headed towards free agency, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Perez, previously represented by Miami-based OL Baseball Group, recently made the switch to Octagon. The agency actually announced the move last month on Instagram.

The Red Sox have until this coming Sunday at 5 p.m. eastern time to decide whether they will accept or decline the $6 million club option attached to the one-year, $4.5 million deal they signed Perez to back in February.

This past season, his second with Boston, proved to be a turbulent one for Perez. After opening the year as the team’s fifth starter, the 30-year-old southpaw posted a 4.77 ERA and 4.91 FIP to go along with 85 strikeouts to 33 walks over 22 starts spanning 100 innings of work.

Since he was averaging fewer than five innings per start while proving to be ineffective throughout the months of June and July, Perez was moved to the Red Sox bullpen full-time beginning on August 6.

As a reliever, Perez was primarily used by manager Alex Cora in low-leverage situations. Still, the Venezuelan hurler put up a 4.50 ERA and 4.17 FIP with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 14 innings pitched out of the bullpen to close out the season. He also missed time from Aug. 30 until September 14 on account of testing positive for COVID-19.

In the postseason, Perez was left off Boston’s roster for the Wild Card Game against the Yankees, but made both the American League Division Series and Championship Series rosters.

While Perez did not appear in the Sox’ four-game triumph of the Rays, he was used on four separate occasions against the Astros, allowing a total of five runs — four of which were earned — on six hits, four walks, and zero strikeouts over three total innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 12.00.

All told, it seems unlikely that the Red Sox will pick up Perez’s team option for next season, which is exactly what they did around this same time last year as well.

Instead, if they do indeed allow the lefty to hit the open marker for the fourth consecutive off-season, Boston will then owe Perez $500,000 in the form of a buyout.

Again, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have until Sunday to make up their mind on this. The same can be said for right-hander Garrett Richards ($10 million) and catcher Christian Vazquez ($7 million), who also have club options that need to be decided on by the end of the weekend.

(Picture of Martin Perez: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox slugger Kyle Schwarber becomes free agent after declining $11.5 million mutual option for 2022 season

Kyle Schwarber has officially become a free agent after declining his $11.5 million mutual option for 2022, the Associated Press reported earlier Friday morning.

Schwarber, 28, had until Sunday to decide on accepting his end of the mutual option that was part of the one-year, $10 million deal he signed with the Nationals back in January.

It was expected that Schwarber would decline it and instead test the free agency waters based off the strong 2021 season he put together between the Nationals and Red Sox.

After getting traded from Washington to Boston in exchange for pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez in late July, Schwarber later made his Red Sox debut on August 13, as he had previously been on the injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

Upon being inserted into manager Alex Cora’s lineup, Schwarber made his impact felt right away and quickly became a fan favorite in Boston as a result of doing so. In 41 games for the Sox, the left-handed hitter slashed an impressive .291/.435/.522 with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 18 RBI, 34 runs scored, 33 walks, and 39 strikeouts across 168 plate appearances.

Defensively, Schwarber appeared in 15 games in left field and an additional 10 at first base, a position he was learning on the fly so that the Red Sox could get his bat into the lineup regularly without altering their regular outfield picture too much.

In the postseason, the 6-foot, 299 pound slugger batted .205/.286/.432 to go along with one double, three homers, six RBI, eight runs scored, one stolen base, five walks, and 11 strikeouts over 11 games (49 plate appearances) spanning the American League Wild Card Game against the Yankees, the American League Division Series against the Rays, and the American League Championship Series against the Astros.

Because the Red Sox acquired Schwarber, who does not turn 29 until March, midseason, they cannot extend him an $18.4 million qualifying offer. They can, however, make an attempt to bring him back for the 2022 season and beyond.

When the Red Sox were eliminated by the Astros in Game 6 of the ALCS last month, Schwarber did indicate that he would be open to remaining in Boston if the opportunity presented itself.

“This is definitely a clubhouse that I could see myself wanting to stay in,” Schwarber told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith. “These guys are amazing. I said this, it’s two World Series teams going at it. This is a World Series clubhouse, and I would love to hopefully see if that opportunity comes back.”

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Will the Red Sox extend a qualifying offer to Eduardo Rodriguez?

Will the Red Sox extend a qualifying offer towards Eduardo Rodriguez? They have until Sunday at 5 p.m. eastern time to do so.

Rodriguez is one of 160-plus major-leaguers who have filed for free agency since the World Series ended on Tuesday. The 28-year-old left-hander is a few weeks removed from an up-and-down 2021 season.

After finishing sixth in American League Cy Young Award voting in 2019 and missing all of the shortened 2020 season due to myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) as a result of a bout with COVID-19, Rodriguez opened the 2021 campaign on the injured list. He then made his season debut on April 8.

In 32 appearances (31 starts), Rodriguez posted a 4.74 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 185:47 over 157 2/3 innings of work. The Red Sox went 20-12 in games he appeared in.

On the surface, the numbers Rodriguez put up this season may not look all that encouraging. Digging deeper, however, the Venezuelan southpaw did produce a much more encouraging 3.32 FIP, 3.43 xFIP, 3.55 xERA, and 3.64 SIERA.

Amongst the 18 major-league lefties who accrued at least 150 innings this year, Rodriguez ranked second in strikeouts per nine innings (10.6), 11th in walks per nine innings (2.7), second in strikeout rate (32.1%), 11th in walk rate (7%), third in FIP, and second in xFIP, per FanGraphs.

All told, it was a relatively encouraging season going into a walk year for Rodriguez, who earned $8.3 million and has now put himself in a position to earn even more.

That being the case because this off-season, the value of the qualifying offer — which is the average salary of the highest-paid 125 players in baseball — comes out to $18.4 million.

If extended a qualifying offer between now and Sunday’s deadline, Rodriguez will have up to 10 days, or until November 17 at the latest, to either accept or reject it.

Rodriguez accepting the qualifying offer would result in him returning to the Red Sox on a one-year, $18.4 million deal for the 2022 season with the chance to test the free agency waters again next winter. Boston would then be prohibited from extending him a qualifying offer for a second time.

If Rodriguez were to decline Boston’s qualifying offer and instead sign with another club as a free agent, the Red Sox would then receive compensation in the form of a draft pick from his new club.

For Rodriguez, a client of ISE Baseball, these are certainly interesting times. The 6-foot-2, 231 pound lefty could hit the open market this winter if he so chooses. But he does not turn 29 until next April, so his earning window would still be pretty wide open even if he were to remain with the Red Sox for an additional season.

Last year at this time, a pair of National League pitchers in the Mets’ Marcus Stroman (who opted out of the 2020 season) and the Giants’ Kevin Gausman both accepted qualifying offers from their respective clubs. That decision paid off for both, as the pair of righties are now set to cash in as free agents.

With that being said, though, it is no sure thing that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will even extend a qualifying offer in Rodriguez’s direction by the deadline to do so on Sunday. There seems to be plenty of speculation that the club is leaning in that direction, but that remains to be seen until it actually does or does not happen.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward plays catch for first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery

Red Sox pitching prospect Thaddeus Ward posted a video on social media of himself playing catch on Wednesday, marking the first time he has done so since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Ward, 24, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking seventh among pitchers in the organization.

The right-hander was originally selected by the Sox in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida and had opened the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland.

Just two starts and eight innings into his tenure with the Sea Dogs, however, it was revealed that Ward would require Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow after he suffered a forearm strain in mid-May. The procedure was later performed by Dr. James Andrews in Florida in early June, thus ending the righty’s year prematurely.

Fast forward six months later, though, and it appears that Ward is on the right track towards a full recovery. While it’s likely that he won’t pitch in a game again until late 2022 at the earliest, the Red Sox will still have an interesting decision to make regarding Ward’s status in the coming weeks.

Major-league clubs have until November 19 to add eligible minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft, which is slated to take place during the winter meetings in December.

Along with the likes of Jeter Downs, Brayan Bello, and Gilberto Jimenez, Ward is one of several top Red Sox prospects who could become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they are not added to Boston’s 40-man roster later this month.

A native of Fort Myers, Fla., the 6-foot-3, 192 pound hurler is certainly an interesting candidate to be added. In his first full professional season in 2019, he posted a 2.14 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 157:57 over 25 starts spanning 126 1/3 innings pitched between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem.

This past spring, he put up a 5.63 ERA and 2.64 FIP to go along with 11 strikeouts to five walks in his two outings for Portland prior to getting injured.

With that being said, there would be some caveats to adding Ward on account of the fact that he is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, which can take anywhere between 12-18 months to heal from.

Put another way, if the Red Sox were to add Ward to their 40-man roster before the Nov. 19 deadline, he would essentially be taking up a spot on their roster going into next season. Boston could place Ward, who turns 25 in January, on the 60-day injured list to temporarily clear a roster spot, but would subsequently be starting his service time clock as a result of doing so.

If Ward were to be left unprotected heading into next month’s Rule 5 Draft, other clubs would have the chance to select him. Any team that picks him up, though, would then ordinarily be tasked with carrying him on their active roster for a minimum of 90 days.

Since that would be unlikely to execute in Ward’s case, his new club would presumably place him on the 60-day injured list for the entirety of the 2022 campaign before being subject to the same set of rules in 2023.

Those rules being that once healthy, Ward will have to remain on his new team’s 26-man roster for the entire 2023 season or otherwise be offered back to the Red Sox.

It’s a fascinating situation, and one that can definitely be classified as unique and maybe even somewhat confusing. That said, all signs seem to point to the Red Sox not adding Ward to their 40-man roster by the Nov. 19 deadline and thus exposing him to this winter’s Rule 5 Draft.

(Picture of Thaddeus Ward: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox pitching prospect Brandon Walter.

Walter, 25, was originally selected by Boston in the 26th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Delaware.

A native of Delaware himself, the left-hander is a few weeks removed from a breakout 2021 season in which he enjoyed much success with Low-A Salem and High-A Greenville.

All told, Walter posted a 2.92 ERA and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 132:20 over 25 appearances (14 starts) spanning 81 1/3 innings pitched between the two levels this season.

Among the topics Brandon and I discussed are what he attributes to his stellar 2021 campaign, what he did during the COVID-19 layoff last year, how he has changed as a pitcher since undergoing Tommy John surgery in college, what his draft experience was like coming out of the University of Delaware in 2019, how he has exceeded expectations as a 26th-round selection, what his plans for the offseason look like, where he would like to begin the 2022 season, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thank you to Brandon for taking some time out of his Monday to have a conversation with yours truly. You can follow Brandon on Twitter (@b_walt_) by clicking here and on Instagram (@b_walt_) by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Brandon Walter courtesy of the Greenville Drive)

Tim Hyers not returning as Red Sox hitting coach next season

Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers will not be returning to manager Alex Cora’s coaching staff for the 2022 season, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Per Speier, Hyers “declined the team’s offer to return” for 2022 and instead “plans to pursue other opportunities – possibly including college openings, but more likely with another team, perhaps including a broader role in another organization.”

Hyers, who turned 50 last month, was initially named Boston’s hitting coach in November 2017 after previously serving as the team’s minor-league hitting coordinator from 2013-2015 and as an assistant hitting coach with the Dodgers from 2016-2017.

In the four seasons Hyers was in command of the club’s offensive approach, the Red Sox — as noted by Speier — led all of Major League Baseball in runs per game (5.31), batting average (.266), slugging percentage (.455), and OPS .790. They also ranked third in on-base percentage (.335) and fourth in wRC+ (108) over that stretch, per FanGraphs.

With Hyers opting not to return to Boston next year, the Red Sox will now have another vacancy to fill on Cora’s 2022 coaching staff after the club parted ways with first base coach and outfield instructor Tom Goodwin last week.

That said, the Sox still expect to retain the rest of their coaching staff going into next season, and that includes assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse.

Fatse, a native of Hampden, Mass., was named Boston’s assistant hitting coach under Hyers at the conclusion of the 2019 season. Together, the two not only oversaw one of the American League’s most potent offenses the last two years, but they also developed a strong working relationship.

On that note, Speier reports that Hyers and the Red Sox had been discussing the idea of elevating Fatse to the role of co-hitting coach, so it should be interesting to see how much consideration the 34-year-old gets from the team to take over for Hyers fully.

UPDATE: The Boston Herald’s Steve Hewitt is reporting that Fatse has indeed been promoted by the Red Sox to become the team’s new hitting coach in place of Hyers.

(Picture of Tim Hyers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)