Red Sox gain flexibility, versatility in signing right-hander Matt Andriese

In signing right-hander Matt Andriese to a one-year deal on Wednesday, the Red Sox acquired a versatile pitcher who is both capable and willing to do whatever is asked of him.

Whether that means working as a starter or reliever has yet to be determined, but the 31-year-old is ready for whichever role is thrown his way next season.

“I signed with the Red Sox for the opportunity to [work out of the bullpen and start],” Andriese said when speaking with reporters via Zoom. “I have a lot of flexibility in my career. I’ve started lots of games and I’ve come out of the bullpen more recently but can be given the opportunity to start. The Red Sox are obviously trying to get more starters, too. But, I think my flexibility and my role will be: I’m going to compete for a starting spot but I know that being in the bullpen is also an option to help the team.”

While with the Angels this past season, Andriese was used strictly as a reliever (his one start lasted 1 2/3 innings). In 15 appearances out of the Los Angeles bullpen, the California native proved to be effective by posting a 3.56 ERA and .559 against over 30 1/3 innings of work. The lengths of his outings ranged from 2/3 of an inning all the way to 5 2/3 innings.

The year prior, Andriese was again used strictly out of the bullpen by the Diamondbacks. But, even though it has been a while since he has operated as a starter, the former third-round draft pick has not wavered in his approach.

“I haven’t really changed much. I’ve kind of fine-tuned different pitches,” said Andriese. “I think using all my pitches in a starting role probably benefits me more. The last two, three years when I was strictly a reliever, I relied heavily on my fastball and changeup — my best pitch is my changeup — but I think getting back to using all four of my pitches, my curveball, slider, cutter, two-seam. [By] just mixing and matching better, I’ll be able to go deeper into games, throw more innings.

“Every spring trainer, I build up as a starter,” he continued. “I build up to five, six innings. Even this year in Anaheim, I was locked in to be the fifth starter and then we had some bullpen issues over there and we needed some coverage in the bullpen. I think just my flexibility allows a lot of teams to mix and match my types of roles.”

The flexibility mentioned by Andriese here was perhaps on display best during his tenure with the Rays from Opening Day 2015 through July 2018. Of the 99 appearances he made with Tampa Bay over that span, the UC Riverside product was used as a starter more than 48% of the time.

While he did spend a good chunk of his career to this point with the Rays after getting dealt from the Padres in 2014, Andriese formed a relationship with Chaim Bloom, who is now chief baseball officer for the Red Sox. The two got along well and that connection aided in the process that saw the veteran righty land with Boston on Wednesday.

“It was very important,” Andriese said when asked about how important Bloom’s role was in his signing with the Sox. “The familiarity with him and everything like that. It was easy to talk to him and we kind of cut right to the chase, didn’t have to deal with any other stuff. He knows me well and I think that will help us going forward.”

Even with his and Bloom’s relationship in mind, Andriese’s role with the Red Sox for 2021 has yet to be clearly defined. More will likely become clear at the onset of spring training come February.

In the meantime, the 6-foot-2, 215 lb. right-hander certainly looks like a fine addition as a potential swingman for the price the Red Sox paid.

The contract Andriese signed on Wednesday includes a club option for 2022 and is worth $2.1 million in guaranteed money, though different incentives and escalators based off number of innings pitched could increase that sum up to $7.35 million through 2022.

Red Sox sign veteran right-hander Matt Andriese to one-year deal that includes a club option for 2022

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Matt Andriese to a one-year contract, the club announced Wednesday afternoon. The deal also includes a club option for 2022.

Andriese, 31, spent the 2020 season with the Angels, posting a 4.50 ERA and 4.06 xFIP over 16 appearances (one start) and 32 innings of work. He was non-tendered by Los Angeles on December 2, effectively making him a free agent.

Prior to his time with the Halos, Andriese spent a season and a half with the Diamondbacks as well as three and a half seasons with the Rays.

With Tampa Bay, whom acquired him from the Padres in January 2014, the former third-round draft selection appeared in a total of 99 games from the start of the 2015 season until July 2018, at which point he was dealt to Arizona.

In those 99 outings, 48 of which were starts, as a member of the Rays for nearly four seasons, Andriese yielded 176 runs (162 earned) over 339 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 4.30 and a FIP of 4.13.

Now, Andriese is once again reunited with former Rays executive and current Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom in Boston. It’s likely Bloom played a role in the trade that sent Andriese from San Diego to Tampa Bay in the first place nearly seven years ago.

With the Sox, Andriese could provide value as a swingman capable of both starting and pitching out of the bullpen when needed. Given the current state of Boston’s starting rotation, the addition of the California native comes at a sound time.

Per Baseball Savant, the UC Riverside product operates with a five pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, a changeup, a curveball, a cutter, and a sinker. He relied on his four-seamer and changeup the most this past season

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Andriese, who is entering his third year of arbitration eligibility, will earn a base salary of $1.85 million in 2021. The club option for 2022 is worth $3.5 million and includes a $250,000 buyout.

All in all, Andriese will make $2.1 in guaranteed money, though incentives and escalators, which will be based on number of innings pitched, could bring the total value of this contract up to $7.35 million over two years.

On another note, the Red Sox were able to sign Andriese to a major-league deal in the first place because the club placed catcher Deivy Grullon on waivers.

The 24-year-old backstop has since been claimed by the Reds, meaning the Sox’ 40-man roster is currently at full capacity.

Red Sox claim right-hander Joel Payamps off waivers from Diamondbacks, designate Robert Stock

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Joel Payamps off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the club announced Wednesday.

In order to make room for Payamps on Boston’s 40-man roster, right-hander Robert Stock was designated for assignment. Righty Ryan Weber and left-hander Matt Hall were also outrighted to Triple-A Worcester.

Payamps, 26, had spent the previous two seasons with Arizona, appearing in a total of four games while allowing four runs (three earned) over seven total innings pitched in those appearances. He was designated for assignment last Friday.

The Dominican Republic native was originally signed by the Rockies as an international free agent in 2010 and has 145 career minor-league outings (119 starts) under his belt.

Per Statcast, Payamps utilizes a four-pitch mix that is comprised of a four-seam fastball, a slider, a sinker, and a changeup. He averaged 94.2 mph and topped out at 95.8 mph with his heater this past season.

With the addition of Payamps to the 40-man roster via a waiver claim, the Red Sox needed to create some room, and they did so by designating Stock.

The 31-year-old was initially claimed off waivers by Boston from the Phillies back on July 27.

In his debut season with the Sox, Stock posted a 4.73 ERA and 3.34 FIP over 10 appearances and 13 1/3 innings pitched spanning three separate stints with the big-league club.

Given the fact he can reach 99 mph with his heater, Stock may be someone that Boston would like to stash away in the minors for bullpen depth. The Washington native will of course have to clear waivers in order for that to happen, though.

As for Weber and Hall, the two hurlers who represented 40% of the Sox’ Opening Day rotation this year were outrighted to Triple-A after being designated for assignment on November 20.

Assuming both Weber and Hall accept their minor-league assignments as opposed to electing free agency, they too could provide integral swingman depth for the Red Sox since both are capable of starting and working out of the bullpen.

With Wednesday’s moves made, Boston’s 40-man roster is currently at full capacity. Expect more transactions like this one to be made by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. as the offseason continues.

UPDATE: As pointed out by SoxProspects’ Chris Hatfield, Payamps is out of minor-league options, so the Red Sox could very well look to sneak him through waivers as they did with second baseman Christian Arroyo over the summer.

Red Sox Interview Diamondbacks Bench Coach Luis Urueta for Managerial Opening for Second Time This Year

For the second time this year, the Red Sox have interviewed Diamondbacks bench coach Luis Urueta for their managerial opening, according to ESPN’s Enrique Rojas.

Per Rojas, Urueta’s interview with Boston was conducted by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom last week. Obviously, the results of the interview are not known yet.

Urueta, who turns 40 in January, was also interviewed for the Sox’ managerial opening this past January after the club dismissed Alex Cora in the wake of the details of the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal coming out.

Bloom and Co. ultimately decided to roll with an internal candidate in Ron Roenicke to immediately replace Cora in 2020, but the 64-year-old will not be returning to the club in 2021, thus leaving a vacancy for a highly sought out position.

In terms of coaching experience, Urueta, a native of Colombia, has spent the past four seasons with the Diamondbacks in some capacity at the minor and major-league level, most recently serving as old friend Torey Lovullo’s bench coach this season. He has also managed Leones de Monteria of the Colombian Winter League and Team Colombia in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Along with Urueta, the Red Sox have also interviewed Cubs third base coach Will Venable and Pirates bench coach Don Kelly for their vacancy at manager.

Cora, the former Sox skipper, is thought to be the favorite to return to his old post, but he cannot speak to the Red Sox or any other club until the conclusion of the World Series on account of the one-year suspension he received in April.

Former Red Sox Catcher Blake Swihart Released by Rangers

Former Red Sox catcher and top prospect Blake Swihart has been released by the Rangers, the club announced Tuesday.

Swihart, 28, originally signed a minor-league pact with Texas back in December after spending the first eight-plus years of his professional career with Boston.

Last April, the Red Sox designated Swihart, a former 2011 first-round draft pick, and dealt him to the Diamondbacks in exchange for outfield prospect Marcus Wilson.

The New Mexico native appeared in 30 games for Arizona from April 22 until May 31, going a measly 9-for-64 at the plate (.141) with three home runs and nine RBI before getting placed on the injured list with an oblique strain.

From there, Swihart was eventually activated from the IL on August 7, got into one game on August 11 against the Dodgers where he went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts off the bench, and was subsequently DFA’d a day later.

After clearing waivers and getting outrighted, the one-time University of Texas commit played 16 games and posted a .143/.234/.304 slash line for the DBacks’ Triple-A affiliate in Reno from the middle of August until the beginning of September. At that point, Swihart opted to become a free agent, leading to his joining the Rangers on a minor-league contract, as previously mentioned.

In his brief stint with Texas, Swihart had a decent spring training, going 5-for-16 at the plate with one home run and four RBI prior to the COVID-19-induced shutdown.

Assigned to the Rangers’ alternate training site last month, Swihart had been one of four non-roster backstops in Texas’ 60-man player pool.

Now a free agent for the second time in 11 months, Swihart will have the opportunity to sign wherever he so chooses depending on how much interest he garners on the open market.

Red Sox Take Prep Infielder Nick Yorke With 17th Pick in 2020 MLB Draft

In a surprising turn of events, the Red Sox have selected prep infielder Nick Yorke with their top pick in the 2020 MLB first-year player draft at No. 17 overall.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 139 draft-eligible prospect in this year’s class, Yorke is committed to play college baseball at the University of Arizona.

An 18-year-old out of Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif., Yorke is listed at 6’0″ and 200 lbs. His Baseball America scouting report from May goes as follows:

Yorke dealt with a shoulder injury prior to his junior year and is still recovering from that, which leads some scouts to believe he’ll be a better fit as an offensive second baseman. Still, other scouts have said his arm has looked good, with a better arm stroke recently and above-average arm strength.

Per his MaxPreps page, Yorke, who hits from the right side of the plate, slashed .457/.552/.709 with 11 home runs, 35 doubles, and 77 RBI over 94 games played spanning four seasons at Mitty High.

Regarded by one Red Sox evaluator as a potentially “special offensive player,” the club does expect to sign Yorke, according to the same evaluator.

Earlier Wednesday, it was thrown out there that the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, could target an underslot prospect with the club’s top pick in order to allocate more money later in the draft. That being the case because Boston was stripped of their second-round pick in April as part of their punishment for stealing signs in 2018.

The assigned slot value for the 17th overall pick in this year’s draft is approximately $3,609,700, and the Red Sox have  $5,129,900 to work with in total pool space.

The first draft pick of the Chaim Bloom Era, Yorke represents Boston’s lone Day 1 pick. When the draft picks up again on Thursday evening, the Sox will be on the clock with the 89th, 118th, and 148th overall selections.

While Yorke weighs between going pro or honoring his commitment to the Arizona Wildcats, the Red Sox will have until August 1st to sign him.

UPDATE: According to Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser, “the Red Sox apparently have an underslot deal done with [Yorke] that will save them ‘quite a bit of money’ according to one source.”

In other words, that would allow them to spend more on their Day 2 picks.

Red Sox’ Dustin Pedroia Suffers ‘Significant Setback’ With Left Knee

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia has reportedly suffered a ‘signigficant setback’ with his left knee, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

This news comes at a disappointing time, as it appeared that Pedroia was aiming to be ready for the start of the 2020 season as recently as this past November, when he was set to meet with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and general manager Brian O’Halloran at his home in Arizona while the two were in town for the yearly GM meetings.

Fast forward a little more than three months later, and it seems as if the 36-year-old is now facing a life-altering decision based off Abraham’s reporting above. Usually, when family, agents, and the team are involved, I would have to assume retirement is a potential option here.

It sucks. It really does. What happened in Baltimore on April 21st, 2017 forever altered the course of what looked to be a Hall of Fame career for Pedroia. Since the end of that 2017 season, the California native has played in just nine total games while undergoing three different procedures on his left knee.

Pedroia still has two years and approximately $25 million remaining on the eight-year, $110 million extension he signed with Boston back in July 2013, a deal that was worth well below his market value at the time.

For now, we’ll have to monitor if either of Pedroia or the Red Sox make a statement regarding this matter. While we wait and see on that, I just want to make one thing clear: Dustin Pedroia should do what is best for Dustin Pedroia. Whether that be to step away or keep trying to play, he has earned the right to make the decision he feels is best for him and his family. I wish him nothing but the best going forward.

 

Former Red Sox Catcher Blake Swihart Signs Minor-League Deal With Rangers

Former Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart has signed a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers, per the club’s executive vice president of communications John Blake. The contract also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Swihart opened the 2019 season with Boston, where he was the team’s second catcher behind Christian Vazquez up until April 16th.

At that point in time, the Sox sported a record of 6-11 and owned the third-worst team ERA in the American League at 5.93.

Offensively speaking, Swihart was not lighting the world on fire, as he was slashing .231/.310/.385 with one home run and four RBI through his first 12 games.

Given the struggles all the way around, as well as the fact that Sandy Leon was stashed away in Triple-A Pawtucket, Dave Dombrowski and Co. made the decision to go with Leon over Swihart from that point forward, ultimately designating the latter for assignment on the 16th and trading him to the Arizona Diamondbacks three days later.

Out of that deal, Boston also parted ways with international amateur signing bonus pool space, but they also gained outfield prospect Marcus Wilson, who has worked his way up to become the 18th-ranked prospect in the Sox’ farm system.

Arizona, meanwhile, did not get much production out of Swihart following the completed trade, as the 27-year-old went on to slash .136/.186/.273 with three home runs and nine RBI over just 31 games due to two right oblique strain-related stints on the injured list.

Eventually designated again by old friend Mike Hazen on August 12th and spending the rest of the year at the Triple-A level, Swihart opted for free agency in late September.

It is not known if the Red Sox had any interest in a potential reunion with Swihart. Given how Vazquez is currently the only backstop on Boston’s 40-man roster, bringing back Swihart might not have been the worst idea.

Once committed to the University of Texas at Austin, Swihart will have the chance to compete for a role with a resurgent Rangers club come the spring. If he makes the team’s Opening Day roster, he’ll also have the chance to play in the same division as his longtime friend and Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, both of whom grew up in New Mexico.

This news comes a day after Swihart and his wife Shelby announced that they are expecting their first child together, so congratulations to them on that.

Red Sox ‘Actively’ Trying to Trade Jackie Bradley Jr., per Report

The Red Sox are actively trying to trade outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Abraham also notes that before last week, the Sox were engaged with the Mets regarding a potential deal before New York opted to trade for Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick instead.

Entering his final year of arbitration eligibility in 2020, Bradley Jr., who turns 30 in April, is projected to earn $11 million next season.

That price may be too high for a Chaim Bloom-led Red Sox team looking to trim down payroll to under the $208 million luxury tax threshold, especially when you consider that the majority of Bradley Jr.’s value comes from what he does with his glove compared to his bat.

The Virginia native slashed .225/.317/.421 to go along with 21 home runs and 62 RBI over 147 games played in 2019. He also finished just short of notching his second straight Gold Glove Award for American League center fielders this past season, finishing as the runner up behind Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier.

This is certainly not the first time Bradley Jr. has been on the trade block, and with teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks being linked to him, the former first-round pick out of the University of South Carolina’s days with the Sox may be numbered.

All of this information has come from a busy first full day of the Baseball Winter Meetings out in San Diego, so there is definitely going to be more to come in the next few days as well.

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.