New Podding the Red Sox episode: Andrew Benintendi trade rumors, Corey Kluber’s market, and missing Winter Weekend this year

After debuting with a short, two-minute trailer last week, Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast is back with its first full official episode on Friday.

In said episode, which is available on iTunes and Spotify among other platforms, I discuss recent topics surrounding the Red Sox and their offseason thus far, such as trade rumors involving Andrew Benintendi, free-agency rumors surrounding Corey Kluber, Marcus Semien, and others.

Finally, I wrapped this episode up by taking a moment to highlight Red Sox Winter Weekend, the club’s signature offseason fan fest that likely would have commenced at MGM Springfield on Friday night were it not for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Apologies for this being another relatively short podcast due to the fact I was doing it solo. I’m still trying to line up some guests in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo named fourth-best center fielder in baseball heading into 2021 season by MLB Network

Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo has been named the fourth-best center fielder in baseball headed into the 2021 season by MLB Network.

The 24-year-old, finishing behind the likes of Mike Trout, former teammate Cody Bellinger, and George Springer, only started one game in center field for Boston last year during his debut season with the club.

In said start, which came on the road against the Marlins on September 16, Verdugo went 1-for-1 in his defensive chances, recording a putout on a Miguel Rojas pop fly in the first inning of what would turn out to be an 8-4 defeat.

Per Baseball Savant, Rojas’ pop fly off of left-hander Mike Kickham left his bat with an exit velocity of 84.7 mph, giving Verdugo a 99% chance to catch it, which he did after jogging a few steps to his left.

Other than that, the rest of Verdugo’s playing time came in 2020 came in left or right field, where he did a decent job showing off his arm strength en route to recording seven outfield assists.

Prior to coming over from the Dodgers in that infamous trade last February, the former second-round draft pick patrolled center field quite a bit for Los Angeles in 2019.

Over a 61-game sample size (52 starts), Verdugo logged 475 2/3 innings in center, where he posted a positive-3 defensive runs saved as well as a 1.1 ultimate zone rating, which translates to an ultimate zone rating of 3.6 over 150 defensive games, per FanGraphs.

In that same stretch of games in center for the Dodgers, Verdugo was worth zero outs above average, according to Baseball Savant, which essentially means he was average at that position defensively.

Even with those numbers in mind, the Arizona native appears to be the frontrunner to become the Sox’ everyday center fielder in 2021.

This being the case because Jackie Bradley Jr. still remains unsigned while Andrew Benintendi could apparently be traded any day now.

Take those two options away, and outside of Verdugo, Hunter Renfroe, J.D. Martinez are the only other two outfielders on Boston’s 40-man roster who have major-league experience.

Having said all that, it’s safe to assume that The Shredder, MLB Network’s “player rating formula,” ran with the notion that Verdugo will fill the void left by Bradley Jr. come Opening Day in April.

Seeing how Bradley Jr. is a Gold Glove Award winner and one of, if not the best defensive center fielder in baseball, that could be a sizable void to fill, but Red Sox officials seem confident that Verdugo could handle it if given the opportunity.

“I think Verdugo’s probably the one who — if we were starting today — would probably be most suited to it,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said last month when asked who on the Red Sox could play center field on a consistent basis. “But, it’s just great to have a group of athletes that you feel confident that they could all cover it.”

Red Sox general manager and Bloom’s right-hand man Brian O’Halloran echoed this same sort of sentiment when speaking with reporters in early December.

“I think he did a really good job. He’s obviously a very athletic outfielder who moves around very well,” O’Halloran said of the fiery outfielder. “I have not seen him play center field, but I believe that he could do it. And in terms of evaluations, this year I thought he did a terrific job both offensively and defensively.”

Verdugo’s manager, Alex Cora, also expressed optimism that the 6-foot, 192. lb. left-handed hitter would be able to handle things as the anchor of the Red Sox outfield this coming season.

“We do believe that he’s athletic enough to do that,” said Cora, when appearing on MLB Network Radio in December. “He’s got the instincts. His first step is pretty good. He can do it… We do feel comfortable with Alex playing center field.”

There is still plenty of time for the Red Sox’ outfield outlook to change during these winter months, but for now, let’s just roll with the idea that Verdugo will be Boston’s Opening Day center fielder, likely batting leadoff or out of the two-hole.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Red Sox are ‘preparing for a series of moves’ in an effort to upgrade 2021 roster, per report

Despite having a relatively quiet offseason thus far, the Red Sox may be preparing to make a series of roster moves ahead of the start of spring training, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Per Olney, “the expectation [for the Sox] is that they will [make moves] in an effort to upgrade the ’21 team.”

Since ending the 2020 season with the fourth-worst record in baseball (24-36), Boston has made a handful of major-league caliber additions to its roster so far this offseason.

In November, right-hander Joel Payamps was claimed off waivers from the Diamondbacks, while the likes of Eduard Bazardo, Jay Groome, Bryan Mata, Hudson Potts, Jeisson Rosario, Connor Seabold, and Connor Wong were all added to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 deadline.

In December, righty Garrett Whitlock was selected from the Yankees in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, while a pair of former Rays — right-hander Matt Andriese and outfielder Hunter Renfroe — were signed to one-year deals for the 2021 season. Andriese’s contract includes a team option for 2022.

Outside of that, the Red Sox have jettisoned quite a few players — Tzu-Wei Lin, Yairo Munoz, Robert Stock, Kyle Hart, etc. — off its 40-man roster. They have also added (or re-signed) lesser-known players to minor-league deals for 2021.

Outfielder Cesar Puello, left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, and right-handers Daniel Gossett and Kevin McCarthy stand out among that group given the fact that all four have major-league experience.

Having laid that all out, it becomes quite apparent that the Sox have yet to make a huge splash either via trade or free agency pickup. And to be fair, not many teams except the Mets and Padres have to this point.

With that in mind, as well as taking what Olney tweeted into consideration, it would appear that Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. are preparing to make some noise one way or the other this winter.

Outfielder Andrew Benintendi has been thrown out there in trade rumors with the Sox seeking young pitching or outfield help in return, two-time Cy Young Award winner and current free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber is slated to pitch in front of interested teams in Florida on Wednesday. These are just some of the avenues Boston could be exploring as spring training draws closer.

As for other specific players the Red Sox could be in pursuit of this winter, Bloom somewhat addressed that topic when asked about his ‘offseason check list’ during a radio interview on WEEI late last month.

“Right now, there’s a lot of players on it,” Bloom said in regards to his list. “Part of that is a function of where we are, where there’s a lot of different ways we can improve, and part of it is how we are looking to improve. In the short-term, we have touched base with so many different players who we think could help us, who could fit us. There’s pitching, obviously, but also on the position player side. I think there’s different ways we can improve and different profiles of players we can bring in to help us.

“We also don’t want to take our eye off 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,” he added. “We’re looking to take this organization back to where we can compete for championships consistently, year in and year out. And that means we got to be open to different moves, different acquisitions that might not just be about 2021. But, it just speaks to [the fact] that there’s a lot of different ways that we can improve. The No. 1 question we ask ourselves on anybody is: Is this pushing us towards that goal of sustaining a championship contender here? If the answer is yes, then we can explore it further, we can figure out how it impacts us in the near-term, what it might mean for other players, and hopefully we check as many of those boxes as possible.”

On top of being open to different sorts of roster moves, Bloom also expressed confidence that the Red Sox would be able to add a few more new players to improve the team before pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers next month.

“I would hope that by the end of this offseason, there’s a number of different guys we’ve brought in here,” he said. “There’s certain possibilities on the trade market, creative things that could come together. They may not, because those things are harder to do — they take at least two to tango. But, different things that hopefully can impact us beyond just this year as well.”

And, again, for what it’s worth, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is still at full capacity. So, if in the next few days or weeks the club designates a player or multiple players for assignment, that could signal that another move could be coming, if that makes sense.

Then again, if a player of Benintendi’s status were to be traded, that kind of supplementary roster move might not be necessary. It really all depends on what Bloom and Co. have in store.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox trade involving Andrew Benintendi ‘could happen soon,’ per report

UPDATE: Per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, Benintendi could be traded before the end of the weekend.

The Red Sox trading Andrew Benintendi is a legitimate possibility, and it could “happen soon,” according to the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam.

Per McAdam, the Marlins, who were previously linked to Benintendi, are not viewed as the favorites to land the 26-year-old outfielder.

Instead, the Rangers, Astros, and Athletics have all checked in with the Sox, while the Pirates, led by former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, are seen as a “potential fit.”

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reported over the weekend that Boston “is open” to discussing Benintendi in trade talks this winter, “though that’s not a guarantee that he’ll be dealt.”

Benintendi, who is about to embark upon the second year of a two-year, $10 million extension he signed last February, is coming off a 2020 season in which he posted a dismal wRC+ of 43 while being limited to just 14 games due to a right rib cage strain that prematurely ended his year in August.

That being said, the former first-round pick’s trade value could be at an all-time low given the fact the has not lived up to his once-promising potential in recent years.

Still, considering that he is set to earn $6.6 million this coming season while being under team control through the 2022 campaign, it may be in the Red Sox’ best interest to hold on to Benintendi for the time being.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. were to deal Benintendi, though, they would likely be seeking an outfielder and/or young pitching in return, as noted by WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Bradford also mentions that the Rangers are NOT involved in trade talks regarding Benintendi, and “another American League team not mentioned has had deeper discussions” with the Red Sox involving the Cincinnati native.

Having written all that, it goes without saying that this situation is fluid, so stay tuned for more as additional information becomes available.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Marlins one of several teams engaged with Red Sox regarding potential Andrew Benintendi trade, per report

The Miami Marlins are one of the teams that have been engaged with the Red Sox in trade talks involving outfielder Andrew Benintendi, according to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

The two sides have not been able to reach an agreement to this point, though, and other teams have also been involved.

Bowden was the first to report on Saturday that the Red Sox “have been in serious trade talks with multiple teams” regarding Benintendi, citing that Boston was “looking for prospect(s) type return with [an] emphasis on pitchers and outfielders.”

Benintendi, who is coming off a disastrous 2020 season (.442 OPS over 52 PAs) in which he was limited to just 14 games due to a right rib cage strain, is under team control for two more years and can become eligible for free agency at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.

The 26-year-old is slated to earn $6.6 million in the second year of a two-year, $10 million extension he signed with Boston last February. 2022 would serve as his third and final season of arbitration eligibility.

The Marlins, meanwhile, are coming off a year in which their outfielders ranked 12th in the National League in wRC+ (86) and 14th in fWAR (0.3), so it would appear that they are attempting to upgrade their outfield corps.

On that note, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported earlier this month that Miami is looking for a “corner outfielder, preferably a right fielder and left-handed hitter.”

Though Heyman did not specify if the Marlins were looking for this particular player via trade or free agency, Benintendi certainly fits that mold seeing how he is a corner outfielder who hits from the left side of the plate.

Of course, the former first-round draft pick has never played an inning in right field as a professional, but he did log some time there during his freshman season at the University of Arkansas.

As for who the Marlins would give up in this potential trade, that much is unclear, and it’s likely to remain that way seeing how Boston and Miami “have not been able to agree on a return” yet.

Given the knowledge we have of this ongoing situation, the Sox and Fish could just be in the opening stages of trade talks here.

As a matter of fact, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote on Sunday that “[one] major league source characterized the Red Sox’ conversations about Benintendi as ‘due diligence’ and ‘nothing out of the ordinary,’ at a time when teams often gauge the value of virtually all of their players.”

That much is understandable, especially at a point in time where Benintendi’s trade value is presumably at an all-time low on account of how much he has underperformed these past two seasons.

2021 could prove to be a ‘revenge tour’ of sorts for the Cincinnati native, so the Red Sox may want to hold on to Benintendi for a little longer at the risk of dealing him and potentially seeing him thrive with a new organization given his track record.

At the moment, per Speier, Benintendi has been working out in Nashville, and he was scheduled to meet with Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers on Monday.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox in ‘serious trade talks’ with other teams regarding Andrew Benintendi, per report

The Red Sox have reportedly been engaged in serious trade talks regarding outfielder Andrew Benintendi, per The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

Per Bowden, the Sox are in serious talks with multiple teams and are looking for a prospect-centered return focused on young pitchers and outfielders. It is worth noting that nothing is imminent as of this moment.

Benintendi, 26, is coming off his worst season in the majors in 2020.

Over just 14 games played, the former first-round pick posted an abysmal .103/.314/.128 slash line to go along with just one extra-base hit and one RBI.

That lone extra-base hit, a double, came against the Rays on August 11, the same night Benintendi suffered a right rib cage strain on the base paths, which would place him on the injured list and wind up costing him the rest of the year.

Benintendi’s struggles in 2020 added on to an underwhelming 2019 campaign in which he yielded a wRC+ of 100 (league average), adding on to the notion that the Cincinnati native has been trending in the wrong direction recently.

Even with that concerning trend in mind, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom spoke quite highly of Benintendi during his end-of-the season presser back in September.

“I think talent-wise, I wouldn’t factor this year into an evaluation of his talent at all,” Bloom said of Benintendi’s performance in 2020. “I mean, this guy has great all-around ability. It’s just unfortunate how the year started. He actually looked great at Summer Camp, and then for whatever reason the season opened and he wasn’t operating on all cylinders. He had a couple bad weeks and then got hurt, so I wouldn’t let that change anyone’s mind.

“This is a guy who has shown the ability to perform at a really high level, including in some really critical situations,” added Bloom. Still young, still has all that ability. It’s just a shame that his year kind of got wiped out.”

Benintendi’s manager for the time being, Alex Cora, also appeared confident that the young outfielder could return to form in 2021 when speaking with reporters last month.

“The Andrew that we saw in October 2018, that’s the Andrew we want,” Cora said. “The swings-and-misses — we talked about it in ’19, we saw it in ’20 — we need to find a balance between driving the ball and not swinging and missing. I’ll take Andrew Benintendi, the complete player. I don’t want Andrew to hit 35-40 home runs. I want him to get on base, be fast in the base paths, steal bases, play better defense — the way he played in October [2018] — and if we get that guy back, we’re in a good position.”

Seeing how Benintendi has not lived up to his promising potential over the past few seasons, it would seem like if the Red Sox were to trade the former top prospect now, they would be selling relatively low on him.

There is still plenty of optimism that Benintendi can bounce back in 2021, which would lead to the belief that 2020 was a fluke.

With that in mind, “the Sox wouldn’t want to sell [Benintendi] at a low-value point. Given his potential upside and the likely modest return [he] would bring, the risk of dealing him likely exceeds the payoff,” as The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier noted back in November.

Benintendi, who does not turn 27 until July, is under team control for two more seasons. He is set to earn $6.6 million in 2021, which will mark his sixth season in the major-leagues.

UPDATE: WEEI’s Rob Bradford adds that “at least one interested team is more interested in what happened [for Benintendi] in ’19 rather than small sample ’20.”

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox manager Alex Cora wants to see Andrew Benintendi return to October 2018 form

Even though spring training is still two months away, it’s safe to say the spotlight will be on Andrew Benintendi headed into the 2021 major-league season.

Coming off an injury-shortened 2020 campaign in which he mustered all of two hits in 52 trips to the plate, the Red Sox outfielder has been a focal point in conversations between reporters and club officials since the start of the offseason.

Back in late September, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said he would not let 2020 change his opinion on Benintendi, who he views as having “great, all-around ability.” Last week, general manager Brian O’Halloran said something along these same lines to kick off the virtual winter meetings.

“Andrew has proven he’s a very capable outfielder,” said O’Halloran via a Zoom call. “Obviously it was a tough year for Andrew all around [in 2020]. The injury and sort of a lost season unfortunately due to that injury. We expect that he’s healthy, he comes back again. We expect big things out of Andrew. As of right now, he’s expected to be our left fielder. Can’t rule anything out going forward. But that’s the plan for right now.”

And on Thursday, Benintendi’s manager, Alex Cora, also expressed confidence that the 26-year-old can bounce back next year despite the fact he has been on the decline going back to 2019.

“The Andrew that we saw in October 2018, that’s the Andrew we want,” Cora said. “I know a lot people talk about the second half [of 2018], I don’t think it was that bad. In ’19, talking to him, he tried to make some adjustments as far as hitting the ball in the air. You saw him, he became a little bit stronger. He wasn’t out of shape, actually, he was in great shape. But, I think his mindset was a little bit different.”

After nearly making his first All-Star team while playing a pivotal role for Boston during their World Series-winning run in 2018, Benintendi fell back down to earth in 2019. Over 138 games played, the Cincinnati native posted a .774 OPS and league-average 100 wRC+ to go along with 13 home runs and 68 RBI.

Headed into the 2019/2020 offseason, Benintendi intended to slim down, and he did so. Bloom had even said that he thought the outfielder “looked great” during spring training and summer camp, but that obviously did not translate to positive results.

In addition to a miserable start to the 2020 campaign, Benintendi suffered a right rib cage strain on August 11, which would wind up costing him the remainder of the shortened 60-game season.

While he was playing though, Benintendi was striking out nearly 33% of the time while swinging and missing at a 13.5% clip, both of which were uncharacteristic and career-worsts for the University of Arkansas product.

“Last year (2020), talking to him, he never felt right at the batter’s box, although it was 50-something at-bats,” Cora said of his conversations with Benintendi. “The swings-and-misses — we talked about it in ’19, we saw it in ’20 — we need to find a balance between driving the ball and not swinging and missing. I’ll take Andrew Benintendi, the complete player. I don’t want Andrew to hit 35-40 home runs. I want him to get on base, be fast in the base paths, steal bases, play better defense — the way he played in October [2018] — and if we get that guy back, we’re in a good position.”

From the time the Red Sox departed from Houston after evening up the American League Championship Series against the Astros on October 14 until the final out of the 2018 World Series was recorded in Los Angeles on October 28, Benintendi batted .303 while scoring nine runs and making multiple superb defensive plays in left field. Boston went unbeaten in all seven games he started. This is the kind of player the club would like to get back in 2021.

“As you know, I’m a big fan of Andrew,” Cora added. “At 7:05 or 7:35, I know he gives his best, but we need him to get back to staying level in the strike zone, drive the ball all over the field, run around, and be a complete player. I don’t want him to be one-dimensional.”

Benintendi, who doesn’t turn 27 until July and is under team control through 2022, is about to embark on his fifth full season as a member of the Red Sox organization. He was selected by Boston with the seventh overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft out of Arkansas and quickly rose through the minor-league ranks before making his big-league debut the following summer. The fact that he was a first-round pick proves to Cora that the potential is still there.

“When this kid got drafted, he was probably the best hitting prospect coming out of college,” stated the Sox skipper. “Like I always said, those first-rounders, they don’t get lucky, they’re good. I still believe Andrew Benintendi is a good player. I think Andrew Benintendi is an impactful player, and we got to get him back to that mindset that he had in ’18 — and even in ’17.”

Red Sox ‘feel comfortable’ with Alex Verdugo playing center field, Alex Cora says

Even as the Red Sox remain interested in bringing back Jackie Bradley Jr. this winter, club officials appear confident that fellow outfielder Alex Verdugo can take the Gold Glover’s spot in center if needed in 2021.

“One of the great things is [Verdugo, Andrew Benintendi, and Hunter Renfroe] all could do it,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said via Zoom earlier this week when asked who stands out as the primary centerfield option at this point. “I think Verdugo’s probably the one who — if we were starting today — would probably be most suited to it. But, it’s just great to have a group of athletes that you feel confident that they could all cover it.”

Bloom’s right-hand man, Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran praised Verdugo for what he did on both sides of the ball in his debut season with Boston when speaking with reporters last week.

“I think he did a really good job. He’s obviously a very athletic outfielder who moves around very well,” O’Halloran said of the fiery 24-year-old. “I have not seen him play center field, but I believe that he could do it. And in terms of evaluations, this year I thought he did a terrific job both offensively and defensively.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who described Verdugo as the team’s 2020 MVP back in November, echoed this same sort of sentiment on Tuesday when appearing on MLB Network Radio.

“We do believe that he’s athletic enough to do that,” the Sox skipper said of Verdugo’s ability to play center field. “He’s got the instincts. His first step is pretty good. He can do it.”

This past season, Verdugo managed to start just one game in center for now-ousted manager Ron Roenicke against the Marlins on September 16, a contest in which the Arizona native made one putout over eight innings of work.

Prior to coming over to Boston back in February, though, Verdugo actually saw the majority of his playing time for the Dodgers in 2019 come in center field.

Across 61 games in which he logged 475 2/3 innings in center for Los Angeles, Verdugo posted a positive-3 defensive runs saved and 1.1 ultimate zone rating, which translates to an ultimate zone rating of 3.6 over 150 defensive games, per FanGraphs.

Baseball Savant, meanwhile, states that Verdugo was worth zero outs above average as a center fielder last year, which essentially means he was average at that position in terms of defensive capabilities.

With that in mind, it would appear that the Red Sox would indeed benefit from bringing back Bradley Jr. to regularly patrol center field, and there’s still time to make that happen.

As of now, however, Boston’s current, everyday outfield alignment would have Benintendi in left, Verdugo in center, and the recently-signed Renfroe in right.

“That’s a pretty solid outfield,” Cora said Tuesday. “But obviously the season doesn’t start tomorrow. Let’s see what the offseason brings and what Chaim and the group decide to do. But we do feel comfortable with Alex playing center field.”

Latest 2021 mock draft has Red Sox taking University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian with top pick

The 2021 Major League Baseball first-year player draft may still be seven months away, but the Red Sox already know they will be picking fourth in said draft thanks to finishing the 2020 season with the fourth-worst record in baseball (24-36).

Since the inception of the amateur draft in 1965, Boston has made its first selection within the top four on just two occasions in 1966 and 1967, so it goes without saying the upcoming draft will serve as an important hallmark for the franchise.

Though the 2021 high school and college baseball seasons are still a ways away from starting, next year’s potential draft class is already starting to take shape, even with possible COVID-19-related obstacles on the horizon.

That being said, MLB.com’s Jim Callis recently released his first round of predictions for which amateur prospects will be taken within the top-10 picks of July’s draft, and he has the Red Sox selecting University of Florida outfielder Jud Fabian at No. 4.

“Fabian might be the most polarizing prospect among the eight players who seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the Draft class at this point,” Callis wrote. “He could have the most usable power in the Draft and may stay in center field, but he also has hit just .250 with a 22-percent strikeout rate in two seasons at Florida.”

Fabian, who turned 20 in September, is about to embark on his junior season for the Gators this coming spring.

The right-handed hitting, left-handed throwing center fielder out of Ocala, Fla. came into 2020 as a preseason All-Southeastern Conference second teamer. He posted an impressive .294/.407/.603 slash line to go along with five home runs and 13 RBI over 17 games played before the ongoing coronavirus pandemic forced the SEC to suspend its baseball season in mid-March.

Still, Fabian managed to salvage the year by taking part in the Florida Collegiate Summer League, where he went 14-for-46 (.304) at the plate with a pair of homers and 11 runs driven in across 19 games for the Orlando Scorpions.

He also spent the summer of 2019 on the Cape with the Bourne Braves.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 190 lbs., Fabian very well could have been drafted out of Trinity Catholic High School in 2019 had he not skipped his senior season in order to enroll early at Florida. He has the advantage over other college prospects on account of the fact that he will be younger than the average junior.

Per his FanGraphs scouting report, Fabian “has a rare, unfavorable ‘backwards’ profile — he hits right and throws left, limiting him to 1B/OF — but looks like he’ll hit enough for that not to matter. While his lower half has gotten a little heavier and softer since high school, Fabian still has a fairly athletic swing, and his hitting hands work in an explosive loop that give him low-ball power. His hands load deep and high, and Fabian’s bat path doesn’t always look like it’s going to work, but he still covers the zone from (nearly) top to bottom and can pull his hands in to get the barrel on inside pitches.”

In recent years, the Red Sox have leaned more towards taking high school talent — Nick Yorke, Triston Casas, Jay Groome, Michael Chavis, Michael Kopech — with their first-round selection.

As it turns out though, the last two college prospects Boston has taken in the first round have both come out of the SEC, as right-hander Tanner Houck was drafted out of Missouri with the 24th overall pick in 2017 and outfielder Andrew Benintendi was drafted out of Arkansas with the seventh overall pick in 2015.

Red Sox sign slugging outfielder Hunter Renfroe to one-year deal

The Red Sox have signed free-agent outfielder Hunter Renfroe to a one-year contract for the 2021 season, the club announced earlier Monday afternoon.

Renfroe, who turns 29 next month, was designated for assignment by the Rays in late November. The right-handed hitting outfielder slashed a measly .156/.252/.393 to go along with eight home runs and 22 RBI over 42 games for Tampa Bay this past season.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Renfroe will earn a base salary of $3.1 million in 2021, but his deal includes bonuses that could bump that number up to $3.7 million.

Because he was just about to enter his first season of arbitration eligibility, Renfroe could remain with the Sox through the end of the 2023 campaign. The former Padres prospect clubbed 26 or more homers in each of his first three full seasons with San Diego, and he was part of the trade that sent fellow outfielder Tommy Pham to the Pads last December.

One would have to figure that although he had already joined Boston’s front office as chief baseball officer at that time, Chaim Bloom very well could have been involved in the process leading up to that trade for Renfroe while he was still serving under Erik Neander in Tampa Bay.

Prior to getting drafted by the Padres in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Mississippi State University, Renfroe was initially selected by Boston in the 21st round of the 2010 amateur draft out of high school, but the club could not get him to sign.

Now, more than 10 years later, Renfroe joins the Red Sox representing some pretty important outfield depth considering the fact he has experience at all three outfield positions, primarily in left and right.

On top of that, Renfroe has an impressive track record against left-handed pitching over the course of his major-league career, as he has posted a .912 OPS in 495 lifetime plate appearances against southpaws thus far.

With that in mind, we could see the former Bulldog potentially form a platoon in left field with Andrew Benintendi, who owns a career .691 OPS against lefties.

Bloom could very well address this topic when he speaks to reporters via Zoom later this afternoon, so stay tuned for that.