Red Sox bring back Hansel Robles on minor-league deal

The Red Sox are bringing back reliever Hansel Robles on a minor-league deal for the 2022 season that includes an invite to major-league spring training, as was first reported by Univision’s Mike Rodriguez. According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Robles will earn $2.5 million if he is added to the major-league roster.

Robles, 31, was first acquired by the Sox from the Twins last July in a deal that sent pitching prospect Alex Scherff to Minnesota. The veteran right-hander made his team debut on August 1 and, after a shaky start, proved to be one of Alex Cora’s most reliable bullpen arms.

In 27 relief appearances for Boston, Robles posted a 3.60 ERA and 3.37 FIP to go along with 33 strikeouts to 13 walks over 25 innings of work. In the postseason, four of his six outings were scoreless.

A native of the Dominican Republic, Robles remains on his home island as he is currently dealing with visa issued. The Red Sox are hopeful he can join the team in Fort Myers within the next few days.

“We’ve got the agreement. He’s still in the Dominican,” Cora said Saturday. “They’re going through that whole process. Hopefully, we can speed it up and he can be here sooner rather than later.”

Update: The deal is now official, per the team’s transaction log.

Robles, who turns 32 in August becomes the latest reliever the Red Sox have added in some capacity in the past week. Boston signed left-handed relievers Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm to major-league deals last weekend and have since signed fellow southpaw Derek Holland to a minors pact.

All told, the addition of Robles means the Red Sox currently have 26 non-roster invitees on their spring training roster. It seems as though the 6-foot, 220 pounder has a good shot at making Boston’s Opening Day roster, though he will have to earn his spot on it.

(Picture of Hansel Robles: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Ryan Fitzgerald lifts Red Sox to 1-0 win over Twins as Boston remains perfect in Grapefruit League play

The Red Sox continued their winning ways on Saturday afternoon by improving to 3-0 in Grapefruit League play. They defeated the Twins by a final score of 1-0 at Hammond Stadium.

Nick Pivetta made his first start of the spring for Boston. The right-hander did not allow a single hit, walk, or run while striking out five in his three perfect innings of work. Of the 38 pitches he threw, 28 went for strikes. He also induced four total swings-and-misses and averaged 93.5 mph with his four-seam fastball.

In relief of Pivetta, Austin Davis got the first call out of the Sox bullpen beginning in the middle of the fourth inning. The left-hander gave up back-to-back singles to begin the frame but escaped the jam before making way for Phillips Valdez, who stranded one runner in an otherwise clean bottom of the fifth.

From there, Zack Kelly found himself in immediate trouble when he yielded a leadoff single to Derek Fisher. Connor Wong, however, negated that almost instantly by gunning Fisher at second down on a failed stolen base attempt, ultimately allowing Kelly to get through the bottom of the sixth unscathed.

To that point in the contest, the Red Sox lineup had been held in check by three different Twins pitchers. With one out in the top of the seventh, Ryan Fitzgerald changed that by crushing a one-out solo shot off Minnesota reliever Cody Stashak.

Fitzgerald’s first home run of the spring provided Boston with their first lead of the day at 1-0. Darin Gillies kept it that way in the latter half of the seventh, while Thomas Pannone did so in the eighth.

Pannone came back out for the ninth looking to preserve the shutout, but instead loaded the bases with two outs. The former Blue Jays lefty did manage to get old friend Cole Sturgeon to pop out to center field for the final out of the ninth, though, thus preserving a 1-0 victory for the Red Sox.

All told, Boston pitchers (Pivetta, Davis, Valdez, Kelly, Gillies, and Pannone) combined to allow just six hits and two walks while punching out 13 in the combined shutout bid.

On the injury front, Jonathan Arauz originally started Saturday’s contest at second base. The 23-year-old was forced to leave in the bottom of the fifth inning after colliding with Twins shortstop Nick Gordon and was replaced by Christian Koss.

Next up: Houck vs. Reyes

Tanner Houck is next in line to make his 2022 debut for the Red Sox as he gets the start against the Orioles on Sunday. The right-hander will be opposed by fellow righty Denyi Reyes, who spent the first seven years of his professional career with Boston before signing a minor-league deal with Baltimore last November.

First pitch from JetBlue Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcasted on NESN.

(Picture of Ryan Fitzgerald: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign left-hander Derek Holland to minor-league deal for 2022 season

The Red Sox have signed left-hander Derek Holland to a minor-league contract for the 2022 season, according to MLB Trade Rumors’ Steve Adams. It’s likely the deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Holland, 35, was originally selected by the Rangers in the 25th round of the 2006 amateur draft out of Wallace State Community College. The Ohio native debuted for Texas in 2009 and remained there through the end of the 2016 season.

Since then, Holland has bounced around a bit, spending the 2017 season with the White Sox, the 2018 season with the Giants, the 2019 season between the Giants and Cubs, and the 2020 season with the Pirates.

Most recently, Holland made 39 appearances (one start) for the Tigers in 2021. The veteran lefty posted a 5.07 ERA — but more respectable 3.96 FIP — to go along with 51 strikeouts to 20 walks over over 49 2/3 innings pitched with Detroit before becoming a free agent in November.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 223 pounds, Holland operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a sinker, curveball, four-seam fastball, and changeup. He induced a 37.2% whiff rate with his curveball last year, per Baseball Savant.

With 1,466 big-league innings under his belt, Holland becomes the latest southpaw the Red Sox have added to their bullpen mix, albeit on a minors pact. Boston made their signings of Jake Diekman and Matt Strahm official earlier this week.

(Picture of Derek Holland: Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Red Sox bring back Travis Shaw on minor-league deal for 2022 season

The Red Sox have brought back corner infielder Travis Shaw on a minor-league deal for the 2022 season, the club announced on Friday morning. If Shaw is added to the big-league roster, he will earn $1.5 million, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Shaw, who turns 32 next month, spent the latter half of the 2021 season with the Red Sox after being claimed off waivers from the Brewers in August. In the process of reuniting with the team he began his big-league career with, the left-handed hitter slashed .238/.319/.524 with three doubles, three home runs, 11 RBIs, six runs scored, five walks, and 17 strikeouts over 28 games spanning 48 plate appearances. He was used strictly as a pinch-hitter in the postseason.

“Obviously, he did a good job for us,” Sox manager Alex Cora said of Shaw when speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) on Friday. “You never know what can happen from here to the start of the season. It’s somebody that, the way he went about it last year with limited at-bats, the quality of the at-bats and we know he can play good defense. He looks in good shape. He made some adjustments in the off-season. We’ll give him at-bats and see where it takes us.”

A former ninth-round selection of the Red Sox out of Kent State University in 2012, Shaw debuted for Boston in 2015 and crushed 29 home runs over the next two seasons before being traded to Milwaukee for reliever Tyler Thornburg in December 2016.

While Thornburg disappointed in his time with the Sox, Shaw got off to a hot start with the Brewers. He crushed a total of 63 home runs from 2017-2018, but struggled in 2019 and was ultimately released by Milwaukee that December. The Ohio native spent the 2020 campaign with the Blue Jays and returned to the Brewers in 2021 before re-joining the Red Sox last summer.

With Shaw back in the picture, Boston has added a left-handed hitting infielder who could complement the right-handed hitting Bobby Dalbec at first base this year, though he must earn a spot on the major-league roster first.

In addition to Shaw, the Red Sox also announced on Friday that catcher Deivy Grullon has been added to the spring training roster as a non-roster invitee. Boston now has 25 non-roster invitees on their spring training roster.

(Picture of Travis Shaw: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox hire Charlie Madden as bullpen catcher

The Red Sox have hired Charlie Madden as a bullpen catcher, per The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham. The move comes after Madden was officially released by the club on Wednesday.

Madden, 26, was originally selected by Boston in the 24th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Mercer University. The Georgia native was a lifetime .220/.291/.344 hitter in the minors before the 2020 season was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following spring, Madden was in minor-league camp with the Red Sox and was expected to begin the 2021 season with Triple-A Worcester. Although he was assigned to the WooSox’ roster, the right-handed hitting backstop actually joined the big-league club in May.

At that time, Madden was told by director of player development Brian Abraham that he would be used as a taxi squad catcher. It was initially unclear how long Madden’s stint as a catcher on the taxi squad would last, but he remained with the team for the remainder of the regular season and throughout the postseason.

“The reason Charlie is here is because our staff knew he had all those qualities,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) back in October. “And when you’re looking for someone to do this job, you want someone wired like Charlie; with a head on his shoulders like Charlie has. He’s been great as a part of this group. All the credit … to our people who knew him and identified him as a good candidate for this.”

Becoming Boston’s taxi squad catcher allowed Madden to work closely with the team’s coaching staff and pitchers, including fellow 2017 draftee Tanner Houck, who credits Madden for his ability to ‘break down analytics and present it in a simple, understandable way.’

“He understands all of the analytical side but then he can sit there and talk about it in a baseball format and not just say, ‘Oh, well, the numbers are saying this,’” Houck explained to Smith last fall. “He can say, ‘From a hitter’s perspective I would probably see this.’ Or ‘In this situation, I’d probably be sitting (on this pitch) if I was facing you.’”

With Madden joining Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s coaching staff for the 2022 season as a bullpen catcher, he will be sharing those responsibilities with Mani Martinez.

An opening for a second bullpen catcher came about when Mike Brenly, who served in the role from 2016 through 2021, was promoted to major-league staff assistant in December.

(Picture of Charlie Madden: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox bring back catcher Deivy Grullón on minor-league deal for 2022 season

The Red Sox have brought back catcher Deivy Grullon on a minor-league contract for the 2022 season, per the team’s transactions log. The deal includes an invite to major-league spring training, though Grullon has already been assigned to Triple-A Worcester.

A former international signee of the Phillies out of the Dominican Republic, Grullon first joined the Red Sox organization when he was claimed off waivers from Philadelphia in September 2020. He appeared in four games for Philly in 2019 and just one game for Boston (against his former team oddly enough) two years ago before being optioned back to the alternate training site.

That December, the Sox designated Grullon for assignment to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Matt Andriese. He was quickly scooped up by the Reds and spent the 2021 season with three other organizations (Rays, Mets, White Sox) before being released by Chicago late August.

Between three different Triple-A affiliates, the right-handed hitting backstop slashed .196/.270/.441 (85 wRC+) with five doubles, 10 home runs, 25 RBIs, 21 runs scored, 14 walks, and 59 strikeouts over 43 games spanning 159 plate appearances. He also threw out 5 of a possible 36 base stealers from behind the plate.

This off-season, Grullon returned to his home island to suit up for Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League. The Bonao native appeared in seven games with Aguilas and posted a .535 OPS.

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 240 pounds, Grullon is still relatively young as he only just turned 26 years old in February. He should provide the Red Sox with some experienced catching depth in Worcester behind the likes of Connor Wong and Ronaldo Hernandez.

(Picture of Deivy Grullon: Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

What to expect from Red Sox outfield prospect Armando Sierra heading into 2022 season

It was exactly 14 months ago Tuesday when the Red Sox signed outfielder Armando Sierra for $150,000 as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic.

Although he was not the headliner of Boston’s 2021 international signing class (hello, Miguel Bleis), Sierra still received some attention from evaluators within the industry.

Last April, Baseball America’s Ben Badler identified Sierra as a potential sleeper prospect within the Sox’ international ranks, noting that the then-17-year-old had “an advanced approach to hitting for his age” as well as the ability to hit for power.

As a follow-up to that, Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero all but confirmed Badler’s observations in an email exchange with BloggingtheRedSox.com.

“Armando was a player we scouted later on in his signing year. After scouting him a few times, he stood out for his strong frame and his power,” Romero said at the time. “As we continued to see him, it became apparent that not only did he have above average power for his signing class, but he also was developing a stronger approach.”

In the months following his signing, Sierra continued to work out at the Sox’ Dominican academy in El Toro before making his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League last July.

Across 53 games for the club’s DSL Blue affiliate, the young right-handed hitter batted a respectable .284/.373/.379 (117 wRC+) to go along with 10 doubles, two home runs, 35 RBIs, 24 runs scored, 21 walks, and 41 strikeouts over 193 plate appearances.

Against left-handed pitching, Sierra slashed .296/.424/.370. Against right-handed pitching, he slashed .284/.365/.383 with both of his home runs and 33 of his 35 runs driven in.

Among all Dominican Summer League hitters who made at least 190 trips to the plate last year, Sierra ranked 27th in batting average, 48th in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, 51st in OPS (.752), and 54th in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Sierra was labeled as a corner infielder even before signing with Boston. In his introductory course to pro ball, the 6-foot-2, 189 pounder logged 95 innings in left field and 115 innings in right while recording a total of two outfield assists. He also appeared in eight games (seven starts) as a first baseman.

Shortly before the 2021 DSL summer came to a close last fall, SoxProspects.com’s director of scouting Ian Cundall wrote in September that Sierra’s “power potential is impressive. He is a below-average athlete and does not project to add much defensive value, but he has big-time raw power. He gets his whole body into his swing, but there are significant questions with his hit tool that could limit his power utility against more advanced pitching.” 

Sierra, who turned 18 in January, is not regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system. Given his age, the Sabana Grande de Palenque presumably still has room to grow physically and as a baseball player.

SoxProspects.com projects that Sierra will return to the Dominican Summer League for the start of the 2022 minor-league season. That being said, a promotion to the Florida Complex League later in the year certainly seems plausible.

(Picture of Red Sox cap: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Red Sox make signing of Jake Diekman official, place James Paxton on 60-day injured list

The Red Sox have officially signed left-hander Jake Diekman to a two-year deal that also includes a team option for 2024, the club announced on Wednesday. In a corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster, fellow southpaw James Paxton was unsurprisingly placed on the 60-day injured list as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery

Diekman, 35, first agreed to a multi-year contract with the Sox over the weekend and was spotted at the Fenway South Complex with Matt Strahm on Monday. He then passed his physical on Wednesday, leading to his signing becoming official.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Diekman’s deal includes $8 million in guaranteed money. He will earn a base salary of $3.5 million over the next two seasons with the chance to earn an additional $4 million in 2023. If the Red Sox decline his club option, Diekman will net $1 million in the form of a buyout.

A former 30th-round draft choice of the Phillies out of Cloud County Community College in 2007, Diekman has pitched for five different teams over the course of his 10-year big-league career. The Nebraska native became a free agent this winter after spending the last 2 1/2 seasons with the Athletics.

In 67 appearances (third-highest on the team) out of Oakland’s bullpen in 2021, Diekman posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.46 FIP to go along with 83 strikeouts to 34 walks over 60 2/3 innings of work. His splits against left-handed hitters were similar to his splits against right-handed hitters, as he yielded a .716 OPS against the former and a .711 OPS against the latter.

There were 14 left-handed relievers across Major League Baseball who tossed at least 60 innings last year. Among them, Diekman ranked first in strikeouts per nine innings (12.3), first in strikeout rate (31.7%), 11th in walks per nine innings (5.0), 11th in walk rate (13%), ninth in batting average against (.211), 13th in WHIP (1.34), and ninth in xFIP (4.09), per FanGraphs.

Throughout his career, Diekman has primarily been a four-pitch pitcher who operates with a four-seam fastball (averaged 95.3 mph in 2021), a slider, a sinker, and a changeup. Based off the data available on Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 195 pound hurler had one of the top whiff rates (35.1%) in all of baseball last season.

Diekman, who will wear the No. 35 with the Sox, brings plenty of experience to his new team and should prove to be a versatile, high-leverage relief option for manager Alex Cora. He recorded seven of his 14 career saves last year and has otherwise made 479 lifetime appearances between innings seven through nine.

With the additions of Diekman and Strahm, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has bolstered the left side of Boston’s bullpen to complement the likes of Austin Davis, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.

(Picture of Jake Diekman: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Nathan Eovaldi named Red Sox’ Opening Day starter

For the third consecutive year, Nathan Eovaldi has been named the Red Sox’ Opening Day starter, manager Alex Cora announced on Wednesday.

The news comes after Cora revealed earlier this week that Eovaldi would make his first spring training start against the Rays on Friday, lining the right-hander up to get the Opening Day nod on regular rest against the Yankees in the Bronx on April 7.

Eovaldi, who turned 32 last month, is entering the final season of the four-year, $68 million contract he signed with the Red Sox in December 2018. He is coming off a career-best 2021 campaign in which he posted a 3.75 ERA and 2.79 FIP to go along with 195 strikeouts to 35 walks over 32 starts spanning 182 1/3 innings of work while also being named an All-Star for the first time and finishing fourth in American League Cy Young Award voting.

This off-season, Eovaldi spent his winter at home in Houston, throwing bullpens at least once a week to catcher Connor Wong. He did not face hitters during that time, but did so as part of a two-inning live batting practice session at Fenway South on Tuesday.

With that, Eovaldi is expected to go another two innings in his upcoming Grapefruit League start against Tampa Bay at JetBlue Park. The veteran hurler told reporters on Tuesday that he believes he can be stretched out to 100 pitches by the time his name is called on Opening Day.

Since Eovaldi is slated to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2022 season, he was also asked about his future in Boston. The ACES client responded by saying he has spoken with his agents about exploring a new deal before the year is over.

“I’m very open to staying here with the Red Sox,” Eovaldi said. “I haven’t been in this situation. I usually try not to focus on it.”

As for how the rest of the Sox’ starting rotation will shake out to begin the year, Cora said Wednesday that it is still a work in progress. Chris Sale, of course, is out of the equation since the left-hander will miss the start of the 2022 season due to a stress fracture in his right rib cage.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox slugger Kyle Schwarber to sign with Phillies, per report

Kyle Schwarber will not be returning to the Red Sox in 2022. The free-agent slugger has instead reached an agreement with the Phillies, as first reported by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury.

According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, Schwarber and the Phillies have agreed to a four-year deal, pending a physical, with an average annual value of just under $20 million. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman relays that the total value of the contract is $79 million.

Schwarber came to the Red Sox from the Nationals last July in a trade that sent pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez back to Washington. At that time, the then-28-year-old was on the injured list due to a right hamstring strain he suffered earlier that month.

It took until August 13 for Schwarber to make his Red Sox debut, but he certainly made his impact felt and endeared himself to the fanbase quickly. Over 41 regular season games with Boston, the left-handed hitter slashed .291/.435/.522 with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 18 RBIs, 34 runs scored, 33 walks, and 39 strikeouts across 168 plate appearances.

Traditionally an outfielder throughout his big-league career, Schwarber made 15 appearances in left field for the Sox and 10 appearances at first base, marking the first time he had played the infield position since 2017.

All told, Schwarber was a member of the Red Sox for just over three months before hitting free agency by declining his mutual option in November. It was reported several times throughout the off-season that Boston was interested in a reunion with the 29-year-old, though nothing came to fruition on that front.

Earlier Wednesday morning, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom spoke with reporters from JetBlue Park just after Salisbury reported the details of Schwarber’s agreement with Philadelphia.

“I don’t need to tell you guys what he did here, what he meant here, how he fit here. We stayed in touch with him the whole way,” Bloom said of Schwarber. “Just ultimately, like I said, you want to make sure it actually aligns in terms of term, in terms of price with other things you might be able to do — not just now but over the whole time you might have him.

“Ultimately, we just thought it was to a level that didn’t make sense. As much as we love him, and we do,” he added. “In such a short time, he became an incredible part of this team. Very beloved in the region. And he’s a great fit for Philly.”

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