Red Sox Release R.J. Alvarez, Outright Stephen Gonsalves and Mike Shawaryn in Slew of Roster Moves

Before taking on the Blue Jays on Wednesday, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves, releasing right-hander R.J. Alvarez, outrighting left-hander Stephen Gonsalves to the alternate training site in Pawtucket, and outrighting right-hander Mike Shawaryn and removing him from the 60-man player pool.

There is a lot to digest there, so let’s start with Alvarez.

The 29-year-old initially signed a minor-league contract with the Red Sox last December and was eventually added to the club’s player pool as a non-roster invitee last month. Because of that, Alvarez was assigned to the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket, where he was limited to just working live batting practice sessions or simulated games and was likely viewed as emergency depth out of the bullpen prior to his release.

As for Gonsalves, the 26-year-old cleared waivers after getting designated for assignment last Wednesday.

A former fourth-round draft pick of the Twins in 2013, Gonsalves was claimed off waivers by Boston from the Mets on July 25 and was subsequently added to the player pool that same day.

Although he is no longer on the Sox’ 40-man roster, the San Diego native is still part of Boston’s player pool, so he will remain in Pawtucket and continue to get work in at McCoy Stadium.

Finally, we arrive at the only homegrown player here in Shawaryn.

The New Jersey native, who turns 26 next month, was drafted by Boston in the fifth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Maryland and made his major-league debut with the Sox last June.

In 14 appearances out of the bullpen in 2019, Shawaryn posted a 9.74 ERA and .987 OPS against over 20 1/3 innings of work.

Coming off that rather disappointing rookie campaign, the righty was added to the Red Sox’ player pool in June and assigned to the alternate training site in July prior to getting designated in August. That move was made by Boston in order to make on the 40-man roster for infielder Christian Arryou, who has since been DFA’d and outrighted as well.

Unlike Arroyo and Gonsalves, though, Shawaryn’s 2020 season, if you want to call it that, has essentially come to a close as he has been removed from the Sox’ player pool altogether and will presumably head back home.

With these transactions made, the Red Sox’ player pool is at full capacity at 60, but they do have one open 40-man roster spot.

Red Sox Infielder Christian Arroyo Clears Waivers, Gets Outrighted To Pawtucket

Three days after getting designated for assignment, Red Sox infielder Christian Arroyo has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Pawtucket.

With this move made, Arroyo remains in the Sox’ 60-man player pool and will likely report to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket within the coming days.

The 25-year-old was originally claimed off waivers by Boston from the Indians on August 13 and was subsequently placed on the 10-day COVID-19 related injured list three days later. The reason behind that was not because of a positive test, but rather due to the actual intake process.

Despite being activated from the IL on August 19, though, Arroyo was designated for assignment on August 20 in order for the Sox to make room on their 40-man roster for left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who had been on the COVID-19 related injured list himself.

Upon designating Arroyo, a former first-round pick of the Giants in 2013, it appeared that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co.’s intentions were to sneak the Florida native through waivers, which they were of course able to accomplish on Sunday.

Prior to joining the Red Sox, Arroyo had appeared in 71 games with the Giants, Raysn and Indians since making his big-league debut with San Francisco in April 2017.

In those 71 games, the former top prospect slashed .215/.280/.342 with six home runs and 27 RBI over 251 plate appearances.

While in Pawtucket, Arroyo will presumably see time all around the infield seeing how he has major-league experience at second base, third base, and shortstop.

As for when we could see Arroyo in Boston, he would have to be added back to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in order for that to happen.

Red Sox Grant Left-Hander Brian Johnson His Release

Following up on this story from earlier Monday, the Red Sox have granted left-hander Brian Johnson his unconditional release, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and Christopher Smith.

As previously mentioned, Johnson had departed from the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket to return to his home in Florida.

Although it appeared as though he could have been opting out of the 2020 season at the time that news was originally reported, it now looks like Johnson is unhappy with his role within the Red Sox organization more than anything.

That being the case because, despite having one of the more unstable starting rotations in the American League, the Sox have yet to give Johnson another shot at the major-league level this season.

The 29-year-old southpaw was outrighted off the 40-man roster and demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket last November following a shaky 2019 campaign, but after putting together a decent spring training and Summer Camp as a non-roster invitee, it seemed like Johnson had a legitimate shot to make Boston’s Opening Day roster last month.

Instead, the Florida native was assigned to the alternate training site at McCoy Stadium, was limited to simulated games and live BPs, and must have had enough of that once he realized he was listed relatively low on the Sox’ internal starting pitching depth chart.

Now, with his release being made official, Johnson will be free to pursue a new opportunity with another club if he so chooses.

Originally drafted by Boston in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft out of the University of Florida, Johnson had spent the previous eight-plus years in the Red Sox organization. He will be missed.

Red Sox Left-Handed Pitching Prospect Kyle Hart Retires 18 Hitters Over Five Scoreless Innings in Pawtucket

Red Sox left-handed pitching prospect Kyle Hart did something at McCoy Stadium on Monday that you will probably never see in a major or minor-league game: He retired 18 batters in five innings.

Yes, the 27-year-old got some work in during an intrasquad scrimmage in Pawtucket to kick off the week, and he was dominant, working five scoreless, perfect frames while getting an extra out in each of his last three innings.

In regards to spectators who were in attendance to watch Hart’s outing, PawSox broadcaster Mike Antonellis tweeted that the Cincinnati native “threw well,” while fellow broadcaster Jim Cain tweeted, as previously mentioned, that “the lefty was so efficient that in his final three innings, he stayed out to face an extra batter, and he retired all three.”

Originally drafted by Boston in the 19th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of The University of Indiana, Hart was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster last November and their 60-man roster pool last month.

The former Hoosier has never been a big-name prospect since becoming a professional four years ago, but seeing how he is already on the club’s 40-man roster, he certainly has a chance to make the jump to the majors this year.

Regarded by SoxProspects as Boston’s 42nd-ranked prospect, Hart posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.32 FIP over 18 appearances (15 starts) and 100 1/3 innings pitched with Triple-A Pawtucket last season.

The 6-foot-5, 200 lb. southpaw works with an 87-90 mph fastball that can max out at 92 mph, an 85-86 mph cutter, a 76-79 mph curveball, and an 81-82 mph changeup, per SoxProspects.

Given the current state of the Red Sox’ pitching staff at the major-league level, it certainly couldn’t hurt to give a guy like Hart a look out of the starting rotation or as a “bulk” reliever.

One thing Hart has over other minor-league pitchers in Boston’s pipeline, like Bryan Mata or Tanner Houck, is that he is already on the club’s 40-man roster, so getting him to the majors wouldn’t be too much of a hassle if that is the route chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. wanted to take.

Red Sox Should Consider Calling up Right-Handed Pitching Prospect Tanner Houck

On Tuesday, the Red Sox saw left-hander David Peterson make his major-league debut for the New York Mets. On Wednesday, if they’re paying attention, they’ll see right-hander Nate Pearson make his long-awaited major-league debut for the Toronto Blue Jays in Washington, D.C.

One thing Peterson and Pearson have in common, other than being two of the more touted pitching prospects in their respective organizations, is that they were both taken in the first round of the 2017 MLB Draft.

With that being said, it may be time to for the Red Sox to give their own 2017 first-round pick a look at the big-league level. Who might that be, you ask? Well, that would be none other than Tanner Houck.

Houck, 24, was taken by Boston with the 24th overall selection in the 2017 amateur draft out of the University of Missouri. Since then, he has emerged as the fourth-ranked right-handed pitching prospect in the Sox’ farm system behind only Bryan Mata, Noah Song, and Thad Ward, according to MLB Pipeline.

A former 12th-round draft pick of Toronto coming out of high school, Houck has yet to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster, but he was added to the club’s 60-man player pool earlier this month and his since been working out at their alternate training site in Pawtucket, where he tossed two innings in an intrasquad game on Tuesday. (Houck pitching starts at around the 40:30 mark)

Per PawSox manager Billy McMillon, this was the first time Houck had faced live hitters since spring training in March.

“He looked like he was under control,” McMillon said of the 6-foot-5, 230 lb. righty. “He was not laboring. He mixed up his pitches. I think the emphasis for him is going to be controlling the strike zone a little bit better, particularly against lefties.”

SoxProspects’ scouting report for Houck says the Illinois native utilizes a 92-95 mph fastball that can top out at 98 mph, a 83-86 mph slider, and an 86-88 mph changeup, all while throwing from a low three-quarters arm slot.

In 16 appearances (two starts) with Triple-A Pawtucket after being promoted from Double-A Portland last July, Houck posted a 3.24 ERA and .209 batting average against over 25 innings of work. He spent parts of the offseason pitching in the Arizona Fall League and for Team USA in the Premier-12 tournament as well.

Given the current state the Red Sox pitching staff is in at the major-league level just five games into the new season, Houck could be a welcome addition as an opener or reliever seeing how he hasn’t exactly been stretched out to this point in time.

Calling up Houck now would also work out in the sense that he needs to be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster by late November in order to avoid being eligible for this year’s Rule 5 draft.

Of course, because Boston’s 40-man roster is currently at full capacity, a corresponding move would need to be made in order to get Houck to the majors this season.

 

 

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.