Red Sox Trade Travis Lakins to Cubs, Outright Bobby Poyner to Triple-A Pawtucket

In a series of roster moves made Tuesday, the Red Sox have essentially moved on from two bullpen pieces, as right-handed reliever Travis Lakins was traded to the Chicago Cubs for a player to be named later or cash considerations and left-handed reliever Bobby Poyner was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

The move to deal Lakins comes four days after the 25-year-old hurler was somewhat surprisingly designated for assignment last Friday in order to make room on the Sox’ 40-man roster for the newly-acquired Matt Hall.

In 16 appearances (three starts) in 2019, Lakins posted an ERA of 3.86 and FIP of 3.64 over 23 1/3 innings of work during his rookie year.

The Ohio State product, taken in the sixth round of the 2015 amateur draft, opened some eyes while serving as the opener on three separate occasions for Boston in September, which made the decision to take him off the 40-man roster on Friday all the more puzzling.

Now, Lakins will have the chance to start fresh with a new organization, all while having two minor-league options remaining on his current contract.

As for Poyner, the 27-year-old was designated for assignment by the Red Sox last Wednesday after the club had acquired fellow southpaw Jeffrey Springs from the Texas Rangers in exchange for first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis.

In his second year in the majors, Poyner surrendered nine earned runs on 10 hits and five walks over 13 outings (one start) and 11 2/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 6.94 and WHIP of 1.29. He’ll look to provide left-handed depth for Boston while with Pawtucket, where he fared much better in 2019 (3.77 ERA, 1.29 WHIP).

Red Sox Acquire Reliever Matt Hall From Tigers

For the second time in the last three days, the Red Sox have traded for a left-handed pitcher, as the club acquired reliever Matt Hall from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for minor-league catcher Jhon Nunez.

As the above tweet notes, a corresponding move will have to be made by the Red Sox in order to get Hall on the 40-man roster.

In Hall, Boston acquires a 26-year-old southpaw who posted a 7.71 ERA and 5.00 xFIP over 16 relief appearances and 23 1/3 innings of work last season in limited action for the Detroit Tigers.

Already coming off a rough rookie campaign in which he surrendered 16 runs, 13 of which were earned, over five outings and eight innings pitched in 2018, Hall was designated for assignment by Detroit on Monday. He still has two minor-league options remaining and is not yet eligible for salary arbitration.

A former 2015 sixth-round draft pick out of Missouri State University, Hall, a Missouri native himself, was college teammates with Red Sox outfield prospect Tate Matheny.

Per Statcast, Hall relies on five pitches: a four-seam fastball, a curveball, a slider, a changeup, and cutter. He averaged 90.5 MPH with his heater in 2019.

Hall now joins an interesting group of left-handed major-league relievers that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has gone out and acquired this winter. Chris Mazza, Josh Osich, and Jeffrey Springs are among the others.

As for the catcher Boston parted ways with in this trade, Jhon Nunez was viewed as a solid depth piece and one of the better hitting catching prospects in the Sox’ system.

In 64 games with Double-A Portland last year, the recently-turned 25-year-old slashed .280/.333/.412 with five home runs and 21 RBI.

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for $32,000 back in December 2012, Nunez was listed as the No. 4 catcher on SoxProspects.com’s catcher depth chart, trailing only Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, and Jett Bandy. He’ll look to make a name for himself with a new organization this spring.

As soon as that forthcoming roster move is made public, this will be updated.

Red Sox Designate Sam Travis for Assignment to Make Room on 40-Man Roster for Kevin Plawecki

In a corresponding move to signing catcher Kevin Plawecki to a one-year, major-league deal on Thursday, the Red Sox also announced that first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis had been designated for assignment.

As the above tweet indicates, the addition of Plawecki on a majors deal meant that someone else would need to be removed from the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, and now we know that it is indeed Travis.

Originally drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, the 26-year-old was out of options headed into the spring, meaning he would have had to make the Sox’ Opening Day roster.

In a career-high 59 games this past season, Travis slashed .215/.274/.382 to go along with six home runs and 16 RBI while playing first base and both corner outfield positions.

There was a stretch during the summer where it looked like the former top prospect was beginning to put it all together (he had an OPS of 1.007 from July 26th to August 20th), but he ultimately fizzled out over the final few weeks of the season.

With this move made, it now appears that Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec are the top two choices to take over first baseman duties for Boston in 2020. A reunion with free agent Mitch Moreland or even bringing in someone like Eric Thames could be in the mix as well.

Like MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo points out, Chaim Bloom and Co. now have seven days to either find a trade partner for Travis, waive him, or release him if nothing comes to fruition. If Travis goes unclaimed, he will be outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket and off the Sox’ 40-man roster.

Red Sox Claim Chris Mazza off Waivers From Mets

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox claimed right-handed reliever Chris Mazza off waivers from the New York Mets.

Mazza, who was designated by New York last week, posted an ERA of 5.51 and xFIP of 5.47 over nine relief appearances and 16 1/3 innings of work this past season, his first in the majors.

The 30-year-old hurler was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 27th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Walnut Creek, Ca. and had to work his way through independent league ball in 2018 in order to make it back as a Rule 5 pick of the Mets that year.

While with the Mets’ Double- A and Triple-A clubs this season, Mazza allowed a total of 43 runs (40 earned) on 91 hits and 26 walks over 18 appearances, 17 of which were starts. That’s good for an ERA of 3.61 and batting average against of .247.

Per Statcast, Mazza relies on five pitches: a changeup, a cutter, a four-seam fastball, a sinker, and a slider. He averaged 90.6 MPH with his four-seamer in 2019.

Mazza joins left-hander Josh Osich as additions chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have made through waivers so far this offseason. As the above tweet mentions, the righty is the 40th player on the Red Sox’ current 40-man roster, which is subject to change.

Red Sox Bring Back Marco Hernandez and Josh Osich on Split Contracts

Less than two full days after non-tendering them, the Red Sox have brought back infielder Marco Hernandez and left-handed reliever Josh Osich on cheaper, one-year contracts for the 2020 season. The club made the transactions official earlier Wednesday.

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Hernandez’s new deal is a split contract, or one that pays him $650,000 in the majors and also allows him to spend time in the minors if needed.

The 27-year-old out of the Dominican Republic slashed .250/.279/.338 with two home runs and 18 RBI over 61 games in his return to Boston this past season.

Hernandez was projected to earn $7 million in salary arbitration for the 2020 campaign, hence the incentive to work out a new deal that saves the Sox a little bit of money.

As for Osich, the 31-year-old reliever is back with Boston on a one-year split contract worth approximately $850,000, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Claimed off waivers by the Red Sox back in late October, the former White Sox southpaw posted an ERA of 4.66 and FIP of 4.96 over 57 relief appearances and 67 2/3 innings of work in 2019. He was projected to earn about $1 million in arbitration next year, so once more Boston is saving themselves some change.

With these moves, the Sox’ 40-man roster is back up to 36 players as the winter meetings in San Diego quickly approach.

Red Sox Free Agency Targets: Taijuan Walker

Following the fallout of the non-tender deadline Monday night, one of the many notable players released by his club was right-hander Taijuan Walker being let go by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The 27-year-old was a key piece along with Ketel Marte for Arizona in the trade that sent Zac Curtis, Mitch Haniger, and Jean Segura to the Seattle Mariners back in November 2016.

Old friend Mike Hazen, who at the time was just over a month into his new role as Diamondbacks’ general manager, more than likely thought he was getting a key member of his club’s starting rotation in the then-24-year-old Walker. Instead, injuries ravaged the hurler’s time in the desert, and he is now a free agent.

A former first-round pick of the Mariners back in 2010, Walker made just one start for Arizona in 2019, when he pitched one scoreless inning in the team’s final game of the season, after working his way back from Tommy John Surgery, which he underwent in April 2018.

Coming into this winter, the Louisiana native was projected to earn a little more than $5 million in salary arbitration for 2020, but the Diamondbacks must have felt that was too steep a price to pay given the recent health concerns.

When asked about the reason for non-tendering Walker, Hazen emphasized the starting pitching depth his team already has, as in Robbie Ray, Luke Weaver, Mike Leake, Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly.

“I think if (Walker) comes into camp and he ends up in the pen, through competition, I don’t know that that was an outcome for us that was an ideal solution – probably for either side,” Hazen said Monday. “We think he’s a starting pitcher.”

You know which team could use some major league-ready starting pitching for next season? The Red Sox.

With a projected rotation of Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi, a fifth spot will be needed. Not to mention that the statuses of Sale, Price, and Eovaldi, both in terms of health and trade rumors, are up in the air at the moment.

In Walker, Boston would get someone who owns a career 3.95 ERA and 4.21 FIP over 97 appearances (94 starts) and 528 1/3 innings pitched. Neither of those first two numbers are particularly elite, but an elite pitcher is not what the Red Sox are looking for.

Sure, there are health concerns, but across baseball, it seems like Walker was viewed as a bounce back candidate for 2020. That is someone that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and co. should be willing to take a risk on.

 

Red Sox Non-Tender Marco Hernandez and Josh Osich

The Red Sox have non-tendered infielder Marco Hernandez and left-handed reliever Josh Osich, making them free agents. The club made the transactions official earlier Monday night.

For many, the move to non-tender Hernandez comes as quite the surprise, as the 27-year-old was projected to earn $700,000 in his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2020.

After making his way back from multiple shoulder surgeries in 2019, Hernandez slashed .250/.279/.338 with two home runs and 11 RBI over 61 games with Boston this past season. He also played second base and shortstop.

With Hernandez seemingly out of the picture at this point, options at second base for the Red Sox who are currently on the 40-man roster include C.J Chatham, Michael Chavis, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Dustin Pedroia.

As for Osich, the move to non-tender the 31-year-old comes just over a month after Boston claimed him off waivers from the Chicago White Sox back in late October.

Per MLB Trade Rumors, Osich was set to make $1 million in arbitration in 2020 after spending the first five years of his career between the San Francisco Giants and Chicago White Sox.

Going back to the 40-man roster, left-handed options out of the bullpen the Red Sox now have include Yoan Aybar, Kyle Hart, Darwinzon Hernandez, Bobby Poyner, and Josh Taylor.

Following Monday’s moves, the Sox’ 40-man roster now stands at 34 players.

Red Sox’ Trevor Kelley Claimed off Waivers by Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies claimed right-handed reliever Trevor Kelley off waivers from the Red Sox on Monday. Both clubs made the transaction official.

Kelley, 26, made his big league debut for Boston this past season on July 2nd, and went on to post a 8.64 ERA and 6.69 FIP over 10 appearances out of the bullpen spanning 8 1/3 innings of work.

A former 36th-round pick out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015, the Rhode Island native owns a lifetime 2.37 ERA in the minors over 171 relief outings and 247 innings pitched.

Since Kelley was on Boston’s 40-man roster, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster now stands at 36 players with the non-tender deadline just a few hours away as this is being written.

Red Sox Will Reportedly Tender Contract to Jackie Bradley Jr.

The Red Sox WILL tender a contract to outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Bradley Jr., who turns 30 in April, is projected to earn $11 million in his final year of salary arbitration in 2020 before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter.

As Speier indicates in the tweet above, there had been a fair amount of speculation surrounding just what the Red Sox would do with Bradley Jr. as they look to cut down on their payroll.

In 147 games this past season, the University of South Carolina product slashed .225/.317/.421 with 21 home runs and 62 RBI while also providing solid defense in center field.

Is that production worth $11 million next season? Well, it’s hard to say. But for now, it appears that Boston will hold on to Bradley Jr. in the hopes that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and co. can potentially work out a trade and continue to slash payroll.

The non-tender deadline is at 8 PM ET Monday.

Red Sox Trade Sandy Leon to Cleveland Indians

The Red Sox have made their first of what will most likely be many trades under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, as the club announced on Monday that catcher Sandy Leon had been dealt to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor-league right-hander Adenys Bautista.

Leon, who turns 31 in March, was projected to earn $2.8 million in his final season of arbitration in 2020, hence the move to trade him away on Monday, hours ahead of the deadline to tender arbitration-eligible players for the coming year.

After being outrighted off the Sox’ 40-man roster in March and brought back in April, Leon slashed .192/.251/.297 to go along with five homers and 19 RBI over 65 games for Boston in 2019.

Originally acquired from the Washington Nationals in exchange for cash considerations in March 2015, the Venezuela native’s best year in the majors came in 2016, when upon being called up on June 5th, Leon went on to post an .845 OPS over 78 games that year.

On the other side of this move, the Red Sox acquired 21-year-old right-handed pitching prospect Adenys Bautista, who signed with Cleveland out of the Dominican Republic in June 2018 and posted an ERA of 7.79 over 14 relief appearances and 17 1/3 innings of work between the Dominican Summer League and Arizona League this past season.

By trading Leon, the Sox have created an additional spot on their 40-man roster, which now stands at 37 players.