Former Red Sox shortstop José Iglesias agrees to one-year deal with Rockies, per report

Former Red Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias has agreed to a one-year deal with the Colorado Rockies, according to Univision’s Mike Rodriguez.

Iglesias, 32, will earn $5 million with the Rockies in 2022 after spending the 2021 season with both the Angels and Red Sox. He was initially released by Los Angeles on September 3, thus allowing him to latch on with Boston just three days later

A former top prospect who originally signed with the Sox as an international free agent out of Cuba in 2009 and was dealt to the Tigers in July 2013, Iglesias returned to Boston’s lineup for the first time in over eight years last summer.

The Red Sox signed Iglesias as veteran infield depth as they were navigating their way through a COVID-19 outbreak. The right-handed hitter delivered and then some, batting a stout .356/.406/.509 with four doubles, one triple, one home run, seven RBIs, and eight runs over 23 games (64 plate appearances) while providing exceptional defense at second base to close out the regular season.

Because he was added to Boston’s major-league roster after the start of September, though, Iglesias was not eligible to play in the postseason. The Red Sox, in turn, outrighted the 5-foot-11, 195 pounder off their 40-man roster in early October, though he remained with the team as part of the “Uber Squad” during their run to the American League Championship Series.

Despite leaving a solid impression on Alex Cora and his teammates, Iglesias and the Red Sox never got close to a reunion at any point this off-season, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

As a result, Iglesias now joins his fifth organization since making his big-league debut in 2011. With the Rockies, his second National League team, Iglesias will look to reach 10 years of major-league service time.

(Picture of Jose Iglesias: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox add 12 non-roster invitees to spring training roster

The Red Sox have added 12 non-roster invitees to their spring training roster, the club announced earlier Saturday. The list of invitees consists of catcher Kole Cottam, infielders Triston Casas, Ryan Fitzgerald, David Hamilton, and Christian Koss, outfielder Franchy Cordero, and pitchers Chris Murphy, Durbin Feltman, Geoff Hartlieb, Brian Keller, Kaleb Ort, and John Schreiber.

Of these 12 minor-leaguers, four (Cordero, Hartlieb, Ort, and Schreiber) have already played in the majors while two (Hamilton and Keller) were acquired by Boston in some capacity this off-season.

Casas, 22, is undoubtedly the top prospect on this list. The left-handed hitting first baseman enters the 2022 season ranked by Baseball America as the No. 2 prospect in the Sox’ farm system behind only Marcelo Mayer. He is coming off a year in which he played for Double-A Portland, Triple-A Worcester, Team USA in the Summer Olympics, and the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League.

Kottam and Koss played alongside Casas in Arizona last fall. Hamilton, meanwhile, suited up for the Salt River Rafters before he and fellow infielder Alex Binelas were traded from the Brewers to the Red Sox in December.

Among the pitching contingent, Murphy — a left-hander — and Feltman are the only two true prospects listed. That being said, Keller is certainly appealing seeing how he was scooped up from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft earlier this winter.

With the addition of these 12 players, the Red Sox now have 23 non-roster invitees on their spring training roster.

BOSTON RED SOX NON-ROSTER INVITEES (23)

PITCHERS (12): Silvino Bracho, Taylor Cole, Tyler Danish, Michael Feliz, Durbin Feltman, Darin Gillies, Geoff Hartlieb, Brian Keller, Zack Kelly, Chris Murphy, Kaleb Ort, John Schreiber

CATCHERS (2): Roldani Baldwin, Kole Cottam

INFIELDERS (6): Triston Casas, Ryan Fitzgerald, David Hamilton, Christian Koss, Roberto Ramos, Yolmer Sánchez

OUTFIELDERS (3): Franchy Cordero, Rob Refsnyder, Christin Stewart

According to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Boston will officially open big-league camp in Fort Myers on Sunday, though their first official workout is not expected until Monday or Tuesday.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox sign left-hander Thomas Pannone to minor-league deal for 2022 season

The Red Sox have signed free agent left-hander Thomas Pannone to a minor-league contract for the 2022 season, per the team’s transaction log on MLB.com. It seems likely that the deal includes an invite to major-league spring training, though Pannone has already been assigned to Triple-A Worcester.

Pannone, who turns 28 next month, is a native of Rhode Island who spent the entire 2021 season with the Triple-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels after inking a minors pact with the Halos in November 2020.

In 24 appearances (21 starts) for the Salt Lake Bees last year, Pannone posted a 7.07 ERA and 6.25 FIP to go along with 82 strikeouts and 40 walks over 118 1/3 total innings of work.

A former ninth-round selection of the Guardians out of the College of Southern Nevada in 2013, Pannone was traded to the Blue Jays four year later. The lefty made his big-league debut for Toronto the following August and made a total of 49 appearances for the club.

Across those 49 outings — 13 of which were starts — with the Jays from 2018-2019, Pannone yielded an unsightly 5.43 ERA and 5.14 FIP with 98 strikeouts to 46 walks over 116 innings pitched.

After beginning the pandemic-shortened 2020 season at Toronto’s alternate training site, Pannone was outrighted off the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster that August. He then became a free agent less than three months later, allowing him to spent the 2021 campaign with the Angels in the first place.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds, Pannone — as of 2019 — operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, curveball, changeup, and cutter, per Baseball Savant. The 27-year-old southpaw is also out of minor-league options, according to FanGraphs.

Assuming he does indeed have an invite to big-league camp, Pannone becomes the 12th non-roster invitee the Red Sox have added to their spring training roster. He joins the likes of fellow pitchers Silvino Bracho, Taylor Cole, Tyler Danish, Darin Gillies, Michael Feliz and Zack Kelly, catcher Roldani Baldwin, infielders Roberto Ramos and Yolmer Sanchez, and outfielders Rob Refsnyder and Christin Stewart.

(Picture of Thomas Pannone: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

The Red Sox are back in business as MLB lockout ends

After 99 frustrating days, Major League Baseball is back. The owner-imposed lockout came to an end on Thursday when the league’s owners and players finally came to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement, as first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

The deal, per Passan, still needs to be ratified by both the owners and players later Thursday evening, but that is expected to be a formality. In other words, once the new agreement is ratified, baseball will officially be back.

It has been a tenuous three-plus months since the owners first locked out the players when the previous collective bargaining agreement on December 2. Since that time, the league and players’ association have met a number of times to negotiate a new deal, though it took until Thursday for the MLB to accept MLB’s proposal on a CBA by a 26-12 vote, per The Score’s Travis Sawchik.

With an agreement now tentatively in place, the baseball wheels are about to start rolling. Despite what commissioner Rob Manfred has previously said, the 2022 season will begin on April 7 and consist of the usual 162 games. Games that were previously cancelled from March 31-April 6 will be made up on off days and via nine-inning doubleheaders.

For the Red Sox, this means that Opening Day will now take place against the Yankees in the Bronx on Thursday, April 7. Boston’s home opener at Fenway Park will come against the Twins eight days later in the first of four on both Jackie Robinson Day and Patriots’ Day weekend.

As far as spring training is concerned, players are expected to report to their respective facilities in Arizona and Florida by the end of the week with camps officially opening on Sunday. Spring training games, in turn, should start shortly thereafter.

Off the field, free agency is expected to re-open when the owners and players ratify the new CBA. This means that roster moves and signings could be made as soon as Thursday night as clubs look to finalize their rosters in the coming weeks.

All told, this has the makings to be a hectic spring, with arbitration hearings set to take place as well. Opening Day, as a reminder, is only four weeks away. With that, let there be baseball.

(Picture of Rob Manfred: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

6 additional Red Sox games cancelled due to MLB lockout

The start of the 2022 Major League Baseball season has once again been delayed due to the ongoing owner-imposed lockout.

Eight days after cancelling each clubs’ first two series of the year, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Wednesday that two additional series have been removed from the league schedule. This means that Opening Day will be postponed until April 14 at the earliest.

“We worked hard to reach an agreement and offered a fair deal with significant improvements for the players and our fans,” Manfred said in a statement released by the league. “I am saddened by this situation’s continued impact on our game and all those who are a part of it, especially our loyal fans. We have the utmost respect for our players and hope they will ultimately choose to accept the fair agreement they have been offered.”

After negotiations fell through in Jupiter, Fla. last week, MLB and the players association re-convened in New York City this week in hopes of reaching agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Due to a number of on- and off-the-field issues, though, it does not appear as if a new deal will be reached anytime soon, hence the move by MLB to cancel more games.

The ongoing work stoppage began on December 2 when the previous collective bargaining agreement expired and the owners locked out the players as a result. It is now in its 97th day.

For the Red Sox, this means that the first 12 games of the 2022 campaign have been axed from their schedule. Boston previously lost out on a six-game homestand against the Rays and Orioles to open the season and now lose out on a six-game road trip that included stops in Detroit and the Bronx.

So, in other words, the soonest the Sox’ regular season can begin is April 15 (Jackie Robinson Day)in the first of four against the Twins at Fenway Park on Patriots’ Day weekend. They have a scheduled off day on April 14.

With that being said, there is no guarantee that those games or the ones that come immediately after will take place. That all depends on how ongoing negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA go.

On that note, here is how the MLBPA responded to Wednesday’s series of events:

(Picture of Fenway Park: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Red Sox infield prospect Nick Sogard joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox infield prospect Nick Sogard.

Sogard, 24, was traded from the Rays to the Red Sox last February alongside catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez. The switch-hitting infielder spent the 2021 season between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland and batted .276/.346/.461 with 13 home runs, 42 RBIs, and eight stolen bases over 80 games.

Among the topics Nick and I discussed are how he found about the trade and his initial reaction to it, his relationship with his older cousin Eric Sogard, what he thought of his 2021 season, his defensive versatility, the key differences in the level of competition between High-A and Double-A, going back-and-forth between the two levels, how he spent part of his off-season in Nashville, what he has made of spring training in Fort Myers so far, getting to work with Alex Cora a little bit, his expectations for the 2022 season, and much more!

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

My thanks to Nick for taking some time out of his spring schedule to have a conversation with yours truly. You can follow Nick on Twitter (@NickSogard22) by clicking here and on Instagram (@Nick_Sogard) 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 Nick Sogard: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

What to expect from power-hitting Red Sox prospect Tyreque Reed in 2022

Red Sox first base/outfield prospect Tyreque Reed was recently identified by Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes as a minor-league hitter who displayed power and on-base skills in 2021 and should be worth monitoring in 2022.

Reed, 24, was selected by the Sox in the minor-league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft after spending the first four years of his professional career in the Rangers organization.

A former eighth-round draft pick of the Rangers out of Itawamba Community College in 2017, Reed had made it as far as the High-A level in his time with Texas before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor-league season.

Upon joining the Red Sox organization that December, Reed returned to the High-A level for the start of the 2021 campaign as he broke minor-league camp with the Greenville Drive.

In his first 48 games for Greenville, the hulking right-handed hitter batted an impressive .296/.405/.587 (160 wRC+) to go along with eight doubles, one triple, 14 home runs, 50 RBIs, 40 runs scored, four stolen bases, 30 walks, and 55 strikeouts across 215 plate appearances.

Following a 3-for-3 showing against the Asheville Tourists on July 15, Reed was promoted to Double-A Portland on the very same day fellow first baseman Triston Casas left the Sea Dogs to play for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics.

With an uptick in competition level, Reed saw his strikeout rate rise (25.6% to 33.5%) and his walk rate fall (14.0% to 11.2%) with Portland while slashing .239/.335/.370 (95 wRC+) with nine doubles, three homers, 21 RBIs, 20 runs scored, 18 walks, and 54 strikeouts over 44 games spanning 161 trips to the plate.

On the 2021 season as a whole, Reed interestingly fared far better against right-handed pitching (.933 OPS in 291 PAs) than he did against lefties (.634 OPS in 85 PAs).

Defensively, the 6-foot-1, 250 pounder saw the majority of his playing time between Greenville and Portland come at first base. He committed a total of three errors while logging 499 innings at that position and also logged 148 innings as a left fielder in Portland.

Reed, who turns 25 in June, is not regarded by any major publication as one of the top prospects in Boston’s farm system. As noted by Pontes, the Mississippi native’s “carrying tool has long been his power, but his struggles with contact have led to struggles against spin and more advanced pitching.”

With all that being said, Reed is projected by SoxProspects.com to return to Portland for the start of the 2022 season, which begins in one month. Perhaps he can use what he learned last year and make the necessary adjustments to get off to a fast start this spring.

(Picture of Tyreque Reed: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Nathanael Cruz identified by Baseball America as Red Sox prospect ‘who could make a leap forward’ in 2022

Red Sox pitching prospect Nathanael Cruz was recently identified by Baseball America as a sleeper “who could make a leap forward” heading into the 2022 season.

Cruz, who turned 19 last month, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 34 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The right-hander originally signed with the Sox for $200,000 as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2019.

While he missed out on his first full pro season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cruz was one of the youngest arms at the Red Sox’ fall instructional league in 2020.

The following spring, Cruz remained in Fort Myers and spent the entirety of the 2021 minor-league season with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox. In four appearances (three starts) for Boston’s FCL affiliate, the righty posted a 3.18 ERA and 4.89 xFIP to go along with eight strikeouts to three walks over just 5 2/3 innings of work. He threw just four pitches in his final outing of the year on August 6 and did not appear in another game.

Although Cruz was listed on the club’s 2021 fall instructional league roster, it is unclear how much he participated in the program.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Cruz operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a 93-95 mph, an 85-87 mph changeup, and an 80-82 mph curveball, per his SoxProspects.com scouting report. Back in September, SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall noted that Cruz “still has a long way to go with his command and control, and his low-80s breaking ball is a work in progress, but he intrigued scouts and there is upside given his age.”

On that note, Cruz is projected to return to the Florida Complex League for the start of the 2022 minor-league season. If healthy, there is certainly a lot to like about the 19-year-old hurler given his youth, potential, and remaining projection.

(Picture of Nathanael Cruz: Bryan Green/Flickr)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora on pitching prospect Chris Murphy: ‘He is a guy I’ve been looking at. He has a good fastball’

Chris Murphy has drawn the attention of Red Sox manager Alex Cora so far at minor-league spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.

Cora, who under normal circumstances would have likely been preparing for a Grapefruit League game against the Yankees on Monday, was instead seen roaming the backfields of the Fenway South complex and watching the action unfold in front of him.

In a brief conversation with the few reporters on-hand, Cora noted that Murphy “is a guy I’ve been looking at. He has a good fastball.”

Murphy, 23, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 12 prospect in the Sox’ farm system, ranking sixth among pitchers in the organization. Boston originally selected the left-hander in the sixth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of San Diego.

After impressing in his pro debut with the Lowell Spinners that summer, Murphy missed the entirety of the 2020 minor-league season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The California native did, however, participate in fall instructs and carried the momentum he gained there into the following spring.

Upon breaking minor-league camp with High-A Greenville in May, Murphy posted a 4.21 ERA and 5.81 FIP to go along with 81 strikeouts and 23 walks through his first 14 starts (68 1/3 innings pitched) of the year before earning a promotion to Double-A Portland in late July.

In seven outings (six starts) with the Sea Dogs, Murphy pitched to the tune of a 5.45 ERA — but much more respectable 3.52 FIP — with 47 punchouts to just 13 walks over 33 innings of work to close out the year. The southpaw was named Double-A Northeast pitcher of the week on two separate occasions during that stretch (August 22 and September 12) thanks to two superb performances against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.

Among all Double-A Northeast pitchers who compiled at least 30 frames on the mound last season, Murphy ranked 22nd in strikeouts per nine innings (12.82), 20th in strikeout rate (34.1%), 26th in swinging strike rate (15.3%), 35th in FIP, and 27th in xFIP (3.56), per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds, Murphy is a four-pitch pitcher who works with a 90-94 mph fastball that tops out at 96 mph, an 80-82 mph changeup, a 73-75 mph curveball, and an 80-84 mph slider. It should be noted that his arsenal fared far better against left-handed hitters (.401 OPS against) than right-handed hitters (.914 OPS against) between High-A and Double-A in 2021.

Back in January, Murphy was one of 12 Red Sox pitchers who took part in the team’s Winter Warm-Up program. The lefty was also just one of two players (the other being Triston Casas) to speak with the media that week and he emphasized the importance of attacking the strike zone as well as tunneling his pitches.

“Especially right now, I’m all about the analytics like where does my fastball play and what plays off of it and how can I create tunnels,” said Murphy. “Changeup/slider. Something that we’re getting big on this offseason is making two pitches go (releasing them) looking the same and breaking two different ways. So that’s what we call tunneling. And how to make a fastball up look appealing to a hitter when it’s not really in the zone; get swings-and-misses up in the zone.”

Murphy, who turns 24 in June, is projected to return to Portland’s starting rotation for the start of the 2022 minor-league season. He has a chance to emerge as the top left-handed pitching prospect in the organization, which is important considering the fact he can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this December.

The Red Sox, of course, would need to add Murphy to their 40-man roster by the November deadline if they intend on protecting him from the 2022 Rule 5 Draft.

(Picture of Chris Murphy: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Don’t forget about Red Sox outfield prospect Juan Chacon

After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor-league season, the Red Sox did not get their first official look at outfield prospect Juan Chacon until fall instructs began that October.

Boston originally signed Chacon, then a 16-year-old outfielder, out of Venezuela for $900,000 in July 2019 to make him the highest-paid player in their 2019-2020 international signing class.

Though the pandemic forced Chacon to miss what would have been his first taste of pro ball, he clearly did enough while at home to earn an invite to fall instructs and impress the Red Sox in Fort Myers.

With Minor League Baseball returning in full last year, Chacon — now 18 — was assigned to the Dominican Summer League Red Sox Blue affiliate in early June and spent the entirety of the 2021 season there. Across 47 games, the right-handed hitter batted .311/.426/.384 to go along with five doubles, two triples, one home run, eight RBIs, 45 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 26 walks, and 26 strikeouts over 197 plate appearances. He also went 37-for-127 (.291) against right-handed pitchers and 14-for-36 (.389) against lefties.

Among all DSL hitters who made at least 190 trips to the plate in 2021, Chacon ranked fourth in runs scored, 22nd in strikeout rate (13.2%), 14th in batting average, ninth in on-base percentage, 30th in OPS (.811), and 24th in wRC+ (136), per FanGraphs.

Defensively, Chacon saw action in both center and right field while splitting time at each position with fellow Venezuelan Jhostynxon Garcia. All told, the 6-foot-2, 171 pounder logged 216 2/3 innings in center and 119 1/3 in right in the process of registering four outfield assists and turning a pair of double plays.

As far as how evaluators feel about his game, SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall wrote in September that “scout feedback on Chacon has been tepid, with scouts praising the looseness in his swing but worried about a lack of physical projection and power potential.”

On the other side of the ball, Cundall notes that Chacon profiles best as a corner outfielder due to his average speed and arm strength as well as a need to improve in the route-running department.

Chacon, who turned 19 in December, still has plenty of room to grow physically and developmentally. The Valera native is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 60 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He is projected by the site to begin the 2022 season with the rookie-level Florida Complex League Red Sox and is already in Fort Myers for the start of minor-league spring training.

(Picture of Juan Chacon via his Instagram)