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)

Red Sox to take on Orioles in 2022 MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport

The Red Sox will take on the Orioles in the 2022 MLB Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa. next summer, Major League Baseball announced on Sunday evening.

The 2022 Little League Classic, which will take place at Bowman Field (the home of the MLB Draft League’s Williamsport Crosscutters) and be centered around the Little League World Series, will serve as the finale of a three-game weekend series between the Sox and O’s that will begin at Camden Yards on Friday, August 19 before moving over to Williamsport on the night of Sunday, August 21.

Boston and Baltimore were originally slated to become the first two American League clubs to face off in the Little League Classic last summer, but that wound up getting cancelled along with the 2020 Little League World Series on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of that cancellation, the Angels and Indians will become the first American League teams to play one another in the fourth installment of the Little League Classic on Sunday night, though the Red Sox and Orioles will get their chance next year.

Originally beginning in 2017 with the Pittsburgh Pirates hosting the St. Louis Cardinals, the Little League Classic has become a hallmark event on the league’s calendar that “reinforces MLB’s commitment to youth baseball and its young fans throughout the world” while also being “part of a larger initiative that launched five years ago with the introduction of MLB’s signature Play Ball initiative,” per MLB.com.

While the 2022 Little League Classic is still nearly a full year away, it should be interesting to see how the Red Sox and Orioles make alterations to their uniforms for that particular contest. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Bowman Field: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Martín Pérez re-signing official, designate right-hander Chris Mazza for assignment

Nearly a full month after reaching an agreement with him, the Red Sox announced on Friday that they have brought back left-hander Martin Perez on a one-year contract for the 2021 season that includes a club option for 2022.

In order to make room for Perez on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox also designated right-hander Chris Mazza for assignment on Friday.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported back in January that Perez, 30 in April, will earn a base salary of $4.5 million this season and will have the opportunity to earn $6 million in 2022 if his club option is picked up.

If not, Perez will net himself $500,000 in the form of a buyout, so he is guaranteed to make $5 million regardless of what happens next winter. His deal also includes incentives based on number of innings pitched in 2021 and 2022.

The 29-year-old hurler is a few months removed from a solid 2020 campaign with the Red Sox in which he posted a 4.50 ERA and 4.88 FIP over 12 starts and 62 innings pitched in his first go-around in Boston.

Don’t let those numbers fool you, though, because outside of two poor outings against the Orioles on July 25 and September 24, Perez proved to be one of the Sox’ most consistent starters last year by putting up a 3.57 ERA and .686 OPS against in 10 starts (53 innings) from July 30 through September 18.

The Red Sox originally inked the Venezuelan international to a one-year pact that also included a $6.25 million team option back in December 2019, but went on to decline that option this past November.

At the time, Perez was rather dismayed by that decision, but he did not give up hope that he might be able to re-sign with the club this winter.

“I was disappointed at one point,” he said when speaking with reporters via Zoom earlier Friday evening. “But at the same time, I told my agent, ‘I want to wait because I know they’re trying to make a lot of moves.’ And I want to wait because all offseason, my mind was in Boston — my heart too. I felt good last year. I enjoyed the short season that we played, and I especially enjoyed the fans and how they texted me after games. You guys, too, do a great job for me. That’s why I always told my agent, ‘I want to be back. I just want to wait and let’s see what they got for me.’ And finally, we made the deal and now I’m back.”

Given his return to Boston’s pitching staff, Perez figures to open the 2021 season as the Sox’ No. 2 or No. 3 starter depending on how things play out at spring training. He joins a mix of arms vying for rotation spots that consists of Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathen Eovaldi, Garrett Richards, Nick Pivetta, Tanner Houck, Matt Andriese, and Garrett Whitlock.

Moving on to Mazza now, the 31-year-old was designated for assignment by the Sox a little under 14 months after originally being claimed off waivers from the Mets in late December 2019.

Starting the 2020 season at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, Mazza made his Red Sox debut on August 1 and went on to produce a 4.80 ERA and 4.26 FIP over nine appearances, six of which were starts, and 30 innings of work in three separate stints with the team.

The Red Sox now have a week to either trade, release, or sneak Mazza through waivers, though it doesn’t seem too crazy for another team to put in a waiver claim for the California native considering the fact he still has one minor-league option remaining for 2021.

With this transaction completed, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is at full capacity, which means two spots still need to be cleared so that Hirokazu Sawamura and Marwin Gonzalez can be added sooner rather than later.

That will be something to monitor as the start of major-league camp draws closer (February 18).

(Picture of Martin Perez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

After missing out on Tommy Kahnle, could Red Sox pursue former Blue Jays closer Ken Giles in free agency?

Before signing a two-year deal with the Dodgers late last month, right-handed reliever Tommy Kahnle nearly agreed to a contract with the Red Sox. So much so that “the Red Sox were considered the runner-up” for the 31-year-old’s services, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Kahnle, who officially signed a two-year, $4.75 million pact with Los Angeles on December 29, will likely miss the entirety of the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. So, the Dodgers will essentially be paying the veteran hurler to rehab his elbow in his first year with the club in hopes that he will be a quality contributor out of the their bullpen in 2022.

That being said, the Red Sox presumably had this same plan in mind in their pursuit of Kahnle as well. And as noted by Cotillo, their pursuit of the righty “suggests that the club is looking at a wide variety of options to improve its pitching depth, including arms that won’t help in 2021.”

One of those arms available that won’t be immediately ready to help in 2021 would be former Phillies, Astros, and Blue Jays closer Ken Giles.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Giles “figures to sign the type of two-year deal that teams frequently award pitchers recovering from an elbow reconstruction.” And he “might appeal to clubs that plan to be more competitive and/or financially flexible in ’22, as well as those that might lose their closer to free agency.” 

The 30-year-old right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery on September 30 after making just four appearances out of the Toronto bullpen in 2020.

The year before, his first full season with the Jays, Giles put together a solid 2019 campaign, posting a 1.87 ERA and .574 OPS against over 53 appearances and 53 innings of work while converting 23 of a possible 24 save opportunities.

Right elbow inflammation did cost Giles a decent chunk of time in July, which ultimately prevented the Blue Jays from trading the former seventh-round pick ahead of the 2019 trade deadline.

Around that same time, the Red Sox were reportedly one of several teams in the mix for potentially acquiring Giles.

Nothing may have happened then, and Boston’s baseball operations department may be under new leadership now, but there certainly is a potential match to be made here.

For starters, fellow righty Matt Barnes, who at the moment is slated to be the Sox’ closer this coming season, is set to become a free agent for the first time next winter.

Though Barnes has publicly stated that he is interested in signing an extension with Boston, bringing in Giles on a two-year deal could prove to be an effective contingency plan for 2022.

On top of that, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said in an interview with WEEI last week that “there’s a lot of players” on his list of potential offseason additions.

“Part of that is a function of where we are, where there’s a lot of ways we can improve. Part of that is how we’re looking to improve,” explained Bloom. “In the short-term, we have touched base with so many different players who we think could help us and fit us. Pitching, obviously, but also on the position player side. I think there’s different ways we can improve and different players we can bring in to help us. We also don’t want to take our eye off of the ball that, at the end of the day, we’re not just looking to put a little plaster in here and patch some holes. We’re looking to take this organization back to where we can compete for championships consistently year in and year out. That means we have to be open to different moves, different acquisitions that might not be just about 2021. I think we have enough talent here that we should be able to compete and win along the way there. But there are some things we’ve explored and some things we’ve kicked around that might be able to impact us even more in future years than they might be in 2021.”

Bringing in Giles would appear to fit the description of a move “that might not just be about 2021” for the Red Sox since, as mentioned before, he will miss all of this year while recovering and rehabbing from Tommy John.

Again, this is just a mere suggestion. I am not implying that the Red Sox will sign or even have any serious interest in signing Giles at some point this winter. We will have to wait and see what happens on that front.

Also, for what it’s worth, the Padres have reportedly traded speedy outfielder Greg Allen to the Yankees, so he will remain on another club’s 40-man roster for the time being.

(Photo of Ken Giles: Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)