#RedSox Reportedly Seeking Rotation Depth in Catcher Trade Talks as Spring Training Begins.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam reported that the Boston Red Sox are in search of some starting rotation depth. In order to do this, McAdam reports, the club is making any three of their big league catchers available via trade.

Now, this should not come as that large of a surprise, especially since president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi said in January that Boston would like to carry only two catchers on their Opening Day roster this season.

What may be surprising here is that Dombrowksi may be looking to shore up the back-end of the Red Sox starting rotation while the bullpen remains the biggest question mark for this club.

As things stand currently, the Red Sox’ starting five will more than likely consist of Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez in 2019. That’s already one of the better rotations in the American League if everyone stays healthy.

Even without the addition of a trade piece, hurlers such as Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, and Steven Wright, when healthy, are more than capable of both pitching out of the bullpen and filling in for a spot start when needed.

So, these rumors are certainly not coming out of nowhere, but when the time comes and one of Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, or Sandy Leon is dealt, I, for one, would be surprised if the Red Sox receive a back-end starting pitcher instead of a reliever in return for one of their backstops.

One Burning Question for Each #RedSox Position Group Headed into Spring Training.

The Red Sox are set to kick off their spring workouts this coming week beginning with pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Fenway South in Fort Myers on Tuesday.

The blueprint for attempting to repeat as World Series champions will be created over the next month and a half before the club hits the road for an 11-game west coast road trip to kick off their 2019 campaign.

There are obviously many components involved in this process, so I went ahead and composed a handful of questions pertaining to each Red Sox position group.

Starting pitchers – Will Chris Sale be able to stay healthy for a full season?

Chris Sale dealt with numerous throwing shoulder issues in 2018, limiting him to 27 starts in the regular season and just 15.1 innings pitched in the postseason. Still, the left-hander posted a 2.11 ERA, averaged 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings, and finished top five in American League Cy Young voting for the sixth consecutive year. Not to mention he recorded the final out of the World Series as well.

So, heading into the final year of his contract before hitting free agency, the spotlight will be on Sale to see if he can sustain his typical success over the course of a full season’s workload. Without a doubt, it’s going to be an important season for the Florida native. How he holds up may just dictate who comes out on top in a competitive American League East.

Relief pitchers – Who will serve as the Red Sox’ closer in 2019?

Speaking of pitching, it seems as though Dave Dombrowski is comfortable with the idea of either Matt Barnes or Ryan Brasier serving as the Red Sox’ closer to at least begin the 2019 season.

That in mind, the best relief pitcher on the market who just so happens to have spent the last three seasons in a Red Sox uniform is still available.

Given how this winter’s free agency has panned out, I’ve grown more and more content with the thought of the Red Sox offering Craig Kimbrel a one-year deal for the 2019 season with a value similar to that of the qualifying offer the flame-throwing closer declined in November.

I have a feeling the soon to be 31-year-old Kimbrel would prefer a multi-year deal, but whether it be Barnes, Brasier, or Kimbrel manning the ninth inning for Boston in 2019, the bullpen is surely far from perfect and will more than likely be the club’s weakest link.

Catchers – Which Red Sox catcher, if any, will get traded before Opening Day?

It’s been reported this winter that the Red Sox would prefer not to carry three catchers on their 25-man roster like they did for parts of the 2018 season heading into the 2019 campaign.

Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, and Sandy Leon may all be available via trade as Opening Day looms, but who has the best case to be moved?

Swihart, for starters, is the most appealing option in this scenario.

Turning 27 in April, the former top prospect’s big league career has not exactly panned out the way many envisioned it would when he made his debut with Boston in 2015.

This past season, Swihart was limited to just 207 plate appearances in an extremely limted role with the club, slashing .229/.285/.328 with three home runs and 18 RBI over that span.

Still, the Texas native is viewed by many as Boston’s most appealing backstop. Red Sox manager Alex Cora even said, “I want to see Blake catching more. I’ll give him a chance to,” back at the Baseball Winter Meetings in December.

With Leon and Vazquez in the mix as well, the Red Sox’ catching competition will definitely be something worth paying attention to over the course of the spring.

Infielders – Is Rafael Devers poised for a breakout in 2019?

The second year third baseman blew everyone away with his consistently clutch play this past October as he collected nine RBI in all three postseason series combined, with three of those coming on a game-sealing three-run home run off of Justin Verlander in Game 5 of the ALCS.

But in his first full regular season with Boston, the 22-year-old posted a below average 94 OPS+, committed 24 errors manning the hot corner, and even struggled to find playing time at different points throughout the year.

So, heading into the 2019 season, what should be expected of Devers? The pressure will certainly be on with Eduardo Nunez proving to be a capable third baseman when healthy, and the Red Sox have prospects such as Michael Chavis Bobby Dalbec looming in the minor leagues as well.

If this picture is evident of anything…

…then I fully expect the Dominican Republic native to get to somewhere close to 30-35 home runs this year to go along with a slugging percentage north of .490. One of the more interesting breakout candidates to watch for on this club.

Outfielders – Can Jackie Bradley Jr. put together a consistently solid season at the plate?

Finally, Red Sox fans all know Jackie Bradley Jr. is arguably the best defensive center fielder in the American League, that much has proven thanks to his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2018.

What people want to see are consistent at bats from the 28-year-old outfielder.

In the second half of last season, Bradley Jr. slashed .269/.340/.487 with seven home runs and 27 runs driven in. Pretty solid numbers over a span of 58 games.

If the South Carolina native could put those type of numbers together for the length of a full season in 2019, then I think it’s safe to say that the Red Sox will have the best outfield in baseball.

All pictures courtesy of Billie Weiss.

#RedSox React to Patriots Clinching yet Another Super Bowl Berth.

The New England Patriots are heading to their third straight Super Bowl following a 37-31 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2019 AFC Championship Game.

That’s a tremendous accomplishment within itself as the club, led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, will look for their sixth Super Bowl title in franchise history against the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta on February 3rd.

Following an eventful Winter Weekend at Foxwoods Resort Casino, it seemed as though a good number of Red Sox players and coaches had their eyes on this particular contest, and they sent their congratulations with a familiar theme to the Patriots following the exciting Championship Game win.

The Red Sox already know something about beating a team from Los Angeles on the biggest stage in their sport, and now it’s the Patriots’ turn. What a time to be alive as a sports fan in New England.

STILL HERE.

Dustin Pedroia Is Set to Test His Injured Left Knee Next Week.

Earlier Thursday, The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato reported that Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will start running for the first time in months beginning next week to test his surgically repaired left knee.

As Mastrodonato’s tweet reads, Pedroia’s health going into spring training next month is crucial to what the club’s plan at second base will be for the upcoming 2019 season.

Although there is some level of uncertainty surrounding Pedroia, the fact that the Red Sox already have veteran infielders such as Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez on their 25-man roster is reassuring, but those two did not stop president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi from going out and acquiring Ian Kinsler from the Los Angeles Angels last July to seemingly fill in for Pedroia.

On the subject of Kinsler, it’s also worth mentioning that any acquisition Boston makes regarding a second baseman in the coming weeks would more than likely be a lower-level, minor league deal type of signing, as the club simply cannot promise regular playing time until Pedroia’s availability is determined.

Mastrodonato notes that the California native’s rehab will almost certainly take place in his adopted home state of Arizone, rather than at the Red Sox’s facility in Fort Myers, Florida.

When asked about Pedroia’s status at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas last month, Dombrowski said, “We’re hopeful that, again, Pedey will be fine. We are looking to add more minor league, guys on six-year renewal option players in general just because we need more depth. That’s a process we’ve been working on for a while.”

Pedroia, who will turn 36 this August, battled inflammation in his left knee throughout 2018 following cartilage restoration surgery in October of 2017.

The four-time All-Star only appeared in three games with Boston this past season, but still made his presence felt as a vocal leader off the field.

#RedSox Reportedly Sign Carson Smith to Minor League Deal.

The Boston Red Sox have brought back RHP Carson Smith on a minor league contract for the 2019 season, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Smith, 29, originally elected free agency after being outrighted from Boston’s 40-man roster in November, but in a move that may surprise some, the Texas native is back with the organization.

Originally acquired from the Seattle Mariners along with LHP Roenis Elias in exhange for RHP Jonathan Aro and LHP Wade Miley back in December of 2015, Smith’s initial tenure with the Red Sox was riddled with injuries and several stints on the disabled list.

In parts of three different seasons with Boston, the former eighth round pick posted a 2.65 ERA and 10.3 K/9 over just 29 appearances out of the bullpen and 23.2 total innings pitched.

A recipient of Tommy John surgery in 2016, Smith made his first Opening Day Red Sox roster this past season, where he allowed six runs to cross the plate over 14.1 innings of work before his year ultimately came to an end on May 14th.

After serving up an eighth inning solo home run to the Oakland Athletics’ Khris Davis, the right-hander slammed his glove in the Red Sox dugout of frustration upon retiring the side in the frame, which resulted in the subluxation of his throwing shoulder. An injury that would eventually see Smith placed on the 60-day disabled list and miss the remainder of the season.

To make matters worse, Smith essentially threw his manager Alex Cora under the bus following his embarrassing injury, saying that, “I think fatigue played a factor. My shoulder just couldn’t handle it. I think my shoulder is tired in general just from pitching. I’ve thrown a lot lately and I think my arm was just tired.”

That matter did not sit well with Red Sox fans back in the spring, but with the departure of Joe Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the probable departure of Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox have made adding pitching depth a priority this winter.

Already in the month of December alone the club has agreed to minor league deals with RHPs Erasmo Ramirez and Zach Putnam to go along with Sunday’s signing of Smith.

It remains to be seen if this latest deal with Smith includes an invite to major league spring training, but I’m going to go ahead and say it will.

#RedSox Reintroduce Nathan Eovaldi at Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

After officially signing a four-year contract with the Boston Red Sox this past Thursday, Nathan Eovaldi was formally reintroduced as a member of the club at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas along side Alex Cora and Dave Dombrowski.

Although there was no cap or jersey present for photo opportunities like you usually see at these press conferences, there were still plenty of questions to be asked regarding Eovaldi’s decision to remain with Boston and the Red Sox’s pursuit of the right-hander.

“We’re very thrilled to have Nate back in the organization,” President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski said to open things up, “He did a tremendous job for us last season. Joined us for the regular season and the postseason. For us it was really focused on if we could bring Nate back, and fortunately it worked out.”

Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 25th, Eovaldi posted a 3.33 ERA while recording 48 strikeouts over 54 total innings pitched and 12 appearances (11 starts) with Boston before reaching his first ever postseason.

There, the Houston native shined with a 1.61 ERA, a .185 BAA, and the performance of a lifetime in Game Three of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“What he did was amazing,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora, “Like he was saying, for me personally that was like the biggest moment of the World Series, for him to compete at that level.”

“The conversations in between innings, they were cool. And I remember the last one when I asked him, How are you feeling, he said, Let me finish it. He said it with a lot of conviction. I knew he was good.”

Those six-plus frames of relief from Eovaldi may have ultimately led to Boston’s only loss in this year’s Fall Classic, but it seemingly earned the admiration of Red Sox fans everywhere, and that more than likely played a role in the 28-year-old’s free agency decision.

“The love and support that they were showing me throughout that whole series and especially after that Game Three, gives me goosebumps just thinking about it,” Eovaldi said, “And it’s definitely a special moment and dear to my heart. I want to come back be a part of that.”

Eovaldi also mentioned how he had offers from other clubs to work out of the bullpen and close games, but he did not see himself taking on that role.

“I view myself as a starter, and that’s something I’ve always done my entire career. And I enjoy doing that. So if I had that choice, I still wanted to be a starter.”

The former 11th round pick’s new contract is worth a grand total of $68 million through 2022. He’s had Tommy John surgery twice, and is confident in the Red Sox training staff.

“I feel I can trust my training staff. That’s a big role in me coming over here as well,” Eovaldi said, “And anytime I feel anything, I tell them, and we start the rehab or the treatment for it. And then if it gets worse, then we take time off. But I think we’ve been able to work through a lot of things and stay healthy.”

A two-time recipient of Tommy John surgery, health and durability will remain to be a prevalent factor in Eovaldi’s tenure with the Red Sox, but he has the backing of the club’s coaching staff.

“Four years of Nathan [Eovaldi], that’s going to be great for the organization,” said Alex Cora.

 

#RedSox, Alex Cora Agree to Contract Extension.

One night after finishing as the runner-up in 2018 American League Manager of the Year voting, the Boston Red Sox announced on Wednesday evening that they had come to an agreement with Alex Cora to remain the club’s manager through 2021 with a club option for 2022.

Cora, who formally took over as the 47th manager in Red Sox history last November, initially signed a three-year deal that ran through 2020, but because of a more than impressive debut, the 43-year-old was rewarded with an extension that essentially adds an additional year to that original contract.

In his rookie season as manager, Cora, who played in Boston from 2005 to 2008, led the club to a franchise record 108 regular seasons wins as well as their ninth World Series title following an 11-3 run in the postseason.

A native of Puerto Rico, Cora began the offseason by taking the Commissioner’s Trophy to his hometown of Caguas to celebrate.

A three-time World Series champion, once as a player, once as a coach, and now once as a manager, Cora had the following to say regarding his extension:

“For me, 2018 was not only historic, but it was special as well, both on and off the field. We have a great appreciation for our accomplishments this past year, but now our focus moves forward to the season ahead and defending our World Series title.”

President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski also had this to say as part of the official announcement:

“Alex did a tremendous job for our club all year long and we wanted to reward him for his efforts after an amazing season. We are extremely happy that he will be with us and leading our club on the field.”

Although the numbers have yet to be released, one would have to assume that Cora’s salary got a bump up as part of this extension.

Quotes via MLB.com

Alex Cora Named Manager of the Year Finalist, Mookie Betts Named American League MVP Finalist.

One night after Ian Kinsler, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. won Rawlings Gold Glove Awards for their defensive prowess at their respective positions, the Red Sox were back it again on Monday in the thick of award season.

This time, two of the best at what they do were named finalists for some decently important awards.

First, first-year manager Alex Cora, fresh off leading his team to their ninth World Series title just over a week ago, was named one of the four finalists for Manager of the Year.

In a field that also consists of Athletics manager Bob Melvin, Rockies manager Bud Black, and Brewers manager Craig Counsell, Cora sticks out as the only rookie manager on this impressive lost of baseball minds.

Taking over a team that had won back-to-back American League East titles for the first time in its franchise’s history, the native of Puerto Rico went ahead and set the club’s all-time record in regular season wins (108).

Cora’s Red Sox didn’t bat an eye in October either, as they went a stunning 11-3 run to clinch another World Series title, making their mark as one of the more dominant baseball teams ever assembled.

On the player side of the award announcements, neither Chris Sale nor JD Martinez were named finalists in AL Cy Young and AL MVP consideration, but as was expected by many, Mookie Betts was named as one of the three finalists in the junior circuit for the second time in three seasons.

In his age 25 season, the three-time All-Star led the American League in batting average (.346), slugging percentage (.640), and runs scored (129), as well as setting a new career high in home runs with 32 of them in 2018.

Along with Betts, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout and Cleveland Indians infielder Jose Ramirez were named as MVP finalists.

I was a tad bit flustered that JD Martinez was not named given how much he meant to the Red Sox this season, but all will be forgiven if Betts claims his first ever MVP crown on November 11th.

Next up in the award season circuit is the Silver Slugger Award, whose winners are set to be announced on November 8th.

Mookie Betts at Second Base for the World Series? According to Alex Cora, That’s a Possibility.

Red Sox All-Star Mookie Betts is and has been regarded as one of the best outfielders in baseball for years now, and that was on full display this past week in the American League Championship Series.

Despite that, conversation at Fenway Park, where light workouts were taking place on Saturday, mostly revolved around the position Betts grew up playing, second base.

Yes, the former 2011 fifth round pick signed out of high school rose through Boston’s farm system as a second baseman, and it wasn’t until 2014 when he was moved to the outfield in order to make his path to the majors a little more simpler with Dustin Pedoria regularly patrolling second at the time.

That all transpired when Betts was still at the Double A level with the Portland Sea Dogs. On June 28th of that same year, the Tennessee native was promoted to Boston from Triple A Pawtucket and his made his highly touted debut the following day against the New York Yankees, starting in right field.

Since then, according to Baseball Reference, Betts has played in 644 major league games, with 15 of those coming at second and the other 629 coming in the outfield with a little bit of DH mixed in there as well.

As recently as August 3rd of the 2018 regular season, the 26-year-old appeared in a game as a second baseman once again, in another game against the New York.

With Alex Cora already ejected and Ian Kinsler having exited in the third inning due to a left hamstring strain, acting manager and current Red Sox bench coach Ron Roenicke seemingly asked Betts if he would move over to second for the remainder of that night’s contest.

“I don’t know if [Roenicke] told me [to play second],” Betts said. I kind of asked if I could play second. He asked if I was sure and I said, ‘yeah.’ I went and got an infield glove. He told me I was at second, and before I went out on the field I went up and asked him if he wanted me to go to second. He said yeah, so at that point, I was running. I wasn’t sure that he really wanted me to go to second, so I ran out there.”

Pretty funny exchange, really.

So, Betts went out to his old position, made a few nice plays, and moved back out to right field in the eighth before finishing the night 1/4 at the plate.

We haven’t seen the three-time All-Star back at the positon since that time in early August, but that could change come Game Three of the World Series.

When asked by reporters about keeping JD Martinez, the usual DH, in the lineup while the team is playing at a National League ballpark, the hypothetical idea of Betts moving  back to second base was brought up by Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

“I don’t know, man. He already played second in the regular season. There’s always a chance, I guess.”

What Cora did make clear, though, is that his league leader in RBI will play everyday.

“We’ve got some pretty good second basemen, we’ve got some pretty good outfielders,” Cora said. “Like I said, we’re in the World Series. That conversation was gonna come up. One thing for sure, J.D. will play. That’s clear. We’ll see which alignment is better, which lineup is better and we’ll make decisions accordingly.”

The World Series is set to begin this upcoming Tuesday night at Fenway Park, and it’s looking like the Red Sox will match up against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stay tuned for more coverage.

Quotes via MassLive.com

 

 

The #RedSox have officially hired Alex Cora as their 47th manager.

After weeks of speculation, the Red Sox have officially named Alex Cora as their manager for 2018. The announcement was made official this afternoon, as Cora has inked a three-year deal with the club. Cora, who spent the better part of four seasons with Boston from 2005 to 2008, will look to tap into this teams full potential. Inking a three-year deal, the 42-year-old will not have too long of an adjustment period with his “new” team. The only player who remains from his playing days in Boston would be none other than Dustin Pedroia. The two won a World Series together back in 2007, and I’m sure that’s the type of attitude and Culture Cora will want to instill here.

Acquired back on July 7, 2005 for Ramon Vazquez, Cora proved to be valuable to the Red Sox despite never playing all that much. In the 301 regular season games he appeared in for the Red Sox, the infielder hit .252 with 6 HRs and 61 RBIs.

Known as one of the best baseball minds in the game, Cora began coaching with the Houston Astros at the beginning of this season under AJ Hinch. Ever since John Farrell was relieved of his managing duties, Cora was the heavy favorite to replace him. There were rumors that Ron Gardenhire would be the choice, but he has already signed with the Detroit Tigers to be their new manager.

Personally, I’m excited by this move. I remember liking Cora when he played here, he helped Dustin Pedroia get to where he is today. He could have been selfish and not wanted a rookie to take his job, but he was key in developing Pedroia back in 2007 and 2008. It appears that Cora is a better communicator than Farrell, and he may understand more since he has not been out of the game as a player for too long. I’m not saying this move guarantees a championship next year, but it definitely helps.