Red Sox’ Alex Cora on Bobby Dalbec: ‘He’s not a home run hitter. He’s a complete baseball player’

Alex Cora’s first exposure to Bobby Dalbec came well before he became manager of the Red Sox and well before Dalbec was even a member of the Red Sox.

It’s a story you have probably heard before: Cora, then an analyst at ESPN, was covering the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. in 2016 and got the chance to see Dalbec, then a junior at the University of Arizona, in person.

At that time, Dalbec was not an everyday first baseman, but rather a two-way player who pitched and played third base for a 44-21 Wildcats team that would go on to lose in the championship series in three games to Coastal Carolina.

While in Omaha, not only did the right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing Dalbec put the finishing touches on a solid junior season that would lead to him getting selected by the Red Sox in the third round of the 2016 June draft, he also impressed the likes of Cora.

Nearly five years later, the ex-Wildcat has emerged as arguably the top power-hitting prospect in Boston’s farm system who now has the chance to crack his first big-league Opening Day roster with Cora as his manager in just over two weeks.

Through 11 games this spring, Dalbec is slashing .308/.400/.808 while being tied with Michael Chavis for the team lead in home runs (4) to go along with eight RBI and four walks over his first 30 plate appearances.

While the 25-year-old slugger is hitting for power at an impressive rate, Cora is also pleased with what he’s been able to do in other phases of the game, like how he stole a base, drew a walk, and scored two runs against the Braves on Tuesday.

“That’s the thing about him. As you guys know, I saw him play in the College World Series,” Cora said Tuesday afternoon. “And he got my attention on the mound, but also at third base. He comes from a program that they do a lot of the little things right. That team, defensive-wise, it was one of the best I’ve seen in college baseball. And he was part of that.

“We talk to him about baserunning,” added Cora. “Talking about primary leads and secondary leads. He understands that. He’s a good baseball player. I was just telling him. I said, ‘You know what? People get caught up on the home run stuff.’ And he’s not a home run hitter. He’s a complete baseball player. And we’re very happy with the way he’s progressing.”

Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran echoed this same sort of sentiment regarding Dalbec when recently speaking with The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

“Bobby continues to work hard at all aspects of his game this spring,” said O’Halloran. “People obviously notice the home runs and the power to all fields. He is very diligent in working on his approach and any adjustments he needs to make at the plate. He also continues to focus on defense and base running in order to become a complete player.”

As previously mentioned, Dalbec is on track to make his first Opening Day roster out of camp this spring and figures to see most of his playing time come at first base with a little bit of third base — his natural position — mixed in there as well.

Upon getting called up by Boston last August, the 6-foot-4, 227 pounder posted a .263/.359/.600 slash line to go along with eight home runs and 16 RBI over his first 23 games in the majors.

He also struck out more than 42% of the time in that stretch, but Cora is optimistic that Dalbec will be able to lower that number in 2021 once he properly adjusts to a more advanced degree of pitching, as has been the case throughout his professional career after getting promoted to a new level.

“I don’t think Bobby Dalbec will be swinging and missing 40% of the time during the season,” Cora said back in February. “I think if you look at his career, the first part of the season, whatever league he’s at, he swings and misses a lot. But then he catches on. We do believe that he will make more contact. What he did last year was eye-opening. It was fun to watch. And hopefully he can get a lot of traffic in front of him and he can drive them in.”

Dalbec, who doesn’t turn 26 until late June, figures to be in play for the American League Rookie of the Year award this year assuming he can successfully build off what he did in 2020.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox lose right-hander Joel Payamps on waivers to Blue Jays, again

The Red Sox have lost right-hander Joel Payamps on waivers to the Toronto Blue Jays, the team announced Saturday afternoon.

Payamps, who turns 27 next month, has had quite the eventful offseason, as he has now been claimed by the same two teams on multiple occasions.

In late November, Boston claimed the Dominican reliever off waivers from the Diamondbacks and added him to their 40-man roster, where he would stay until early February.

At that point in time, the Sox designated Payamps for assignment in order to clear a roster spot for then-recently-signed right-hander Garrett Richards.

With seven days to trade him, release him, or sneak him through waivers, the Red Sox nearly retained Payamps’ services until he was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays on February 10.

Less than two weeks later, the 6-foot-2, 225 lb. hurler had been DFA’d again — this time by Toronto — and was once more claimed off waivers by Boston on February 22.

Payamps had been at Red Sox camp in Fort Myers and even got into a Grapefruit League game and tossed a scoreless inning against the Rays this past Tuesday, but he will now make the trek up north to Dunedin to re-join the Jays for the time being.

For his major-league career, which spans two seasons with the D-backs from 2019 through 2020, Payamps has allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits, six walks, and five strikeouts over four total appearances spanning seven total innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 3.86 and a FIP of 4.35.

He also made eight relief appearances for Estrellas de Oriente of the Dominican Winter League this offseason, where he posted a 1.38 ERA over 13 innings pitched out of the bullpen.

Per Baseball Savant, Payamps primarily works with a a four-seam fastball, slider, sinker, and changeup. He will have the chance to show off that pitch mix with the Blue Jays once again, though it would not be too surprising to see him back with the Red Sox before Opening Day.

That being the case because Payamps still has one minor-league option remaining, so he does come with some flexibility if a club were willing to use a 40-man roster spot on him.

Speaking of 40-man rosters, Boston’s 40-man now stands at 39 players. This might signal that backup catcher Kevin Plawecki, who has been on the COVID-19 related injured list since late February, is ready to be activated from the IL considering the fact he started behind the plate for the Sox on Saturday.

We will have to wait and see if the Red Sox make a corresponding roster move sometime between now and the end of the weekend, so stay tuned for that.

(Picture of Joel Payamps: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox bring back right-hander Joel Payamps via waiver claim, place outfielder Franchy Cordero on COVID-19 related injured list

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Joel Payamps off waivers from the Blue Jays, the team announced Monday afternoon.

In order to make room for Payamps on their 40-man roster, Boston also placed outfielder Franchy Cordero on the COVID-19 related injured list.

Payamps comes back to the Sox a little less than three weeks after being designated for assignment by the club in order to open up a roster spot for starter Garrett Richards on February 3.

The 26-year-old hurler was then claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays a week later, but his stint with Toronto obviously did not last that long.

Prior to getting DFA’d earlier this month, Payamps originally came to Boston from the Diamondbacks via a waiver claim back in November.

In limited action with Arizona the last two seasons, the Dominican native yielded four runs (three earned) on six hits, six walks, and five strikeouts over four total appearances and seven innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 3.86 and a FIP of 4.35.

Now that he is back with the Sox, Payamps will presumably compete for a spot on the team’s Opening Day roster as a mid-inning reliever, assuming he does not get designated and/or claimed by another club again.

Of course, Payamps, who works with a four-seam fastball, slider, sinker, and changeup, does have one minor-league option remaining, so him starting the year with Triple-A Worcester is a legitimate possibility as well. He is also under team control through 2026, for what it’s worth.

Moving on to Cordero now, the Red Sox placed the 26-year-old outfielder on the COVID-19 injured related list, but as noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, “being placed on this list does not require a confirmed positive test.”

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweeted earlier Monday that Cordero was not yet with the team and that manager Alex Cora was not sure of the exact reason as to why.

Cotillo later tweeted that the reasoning behind Cordero being placed on the COVID-19 related IL was “unclear,” noting that it’s not yet known if “he tested positive or has a disputed test or what the exact deal is.”

Cordero joins catcher Kevin Plawecki as the only two members of the Red Sox currently on the team’s COVID-19 related injured list. Both players will not count towards Boston’s 40-man roster as long as they are on said list.

The Dominican-born slugger was originally acquired by Boston from the Royals earlier this month as part of the trade that sent fellow outfielder Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City. He figures to see significant playing time in left field for the Sox this coming season, assuming he is healthy.

Following this particular transaction, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is back at full capacity, though some spots may be in jeopardy relatively soon assuming both Cordero and Plawecki return sooner rather than later.

Also, the Marwin Gonzalez signing still needs to be made official, so there’s that.

(Picture of Joel Payamps: Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox lose right-hander Joel Payamps on waivers to Blue Jays

In the second-most prevalent roster move related to the Red Sox of the day, right-hander Joel Payamps was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays Wednesday evening, per MLB.com’s transaction wire.

Payamps, who turns 27 April, never pitched a game in a Red Sox uniform. He was originally claimed off waivers from the Diamondbacks back in November before getting designated for assignment last week in order for Boston to make room on its 40-man roster for fellow righty Garrett Richards.

Because it took a full seven days for him to be claimed by another club, it appeared as though Payamps was on track to get outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, which would likely lead to him taking part in major-league spring training as a non-roster invite.

That is no longer the case, however, as the Dominican native joins the Blue Jays organization with less than a week to go until pitchers and catchers report to their respective spring training complexes.

Prior to briefly becoming a member of the Red Sox, Payamps had appeared in four total games for the D-backs over the last two seasons and had given up four runs (three earned) over seven total innings pitched at the big-league level. That’s good for an ERA of 3.86 for those keep tracking at home.

And while he is with the Blue Jays for the time being, MLB Trade Rumors’ Jeff Todd noted earlier that “it’s certainly possible [Payamps will] end up on the DFA carousel as teams compete to see who’ll be able to slip him through waivers in hopes of stashing him for depth.”

For what it’s worth, Payamps, who is listed at 6-foot-2 and 225 lbs., still has one minor-league option left for 2021, if you were curious.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo was the first to report that Payamps had been claimed by Toronto.

(Picture of Joel Payamps: Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox make Garrett Richards signing official, designate right-hander Joel Payamps for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed right-hander Garrett Richards to a one-year contract for the 2021 season that includes a club option for 2022, the team announced Wednesday.

In order to make room for Richards on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox also designated fellow righty Joel Payamps for assignment.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Richards will earn a base salary of $8.5 million in 2021. In 2022, his club option is worth at least $10 million, though it could increase to $11 million depending on how many games he starts this year.

Additionally, if Richards’ option for 2022 is not picked up, he will earn $1.5 million in the form of a buyout, so he is guaranteed to make $10 million either way.

The 32-year-old is coming off a 2020 campaign with the Padres in which he posted a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 14 appearances (10 starts) and 51 1/3 innings of work.

Per Baseball Savant, Richards works with a four-seam fastball, a slider, a sinker, and curveball. Last year, his fastball and curveball spin rates placed in the 97th and 99th percentile among major-league pitchers.

A former first-round draft pick of the Angels in 2009 out of the University of Oklahoma, Richards was once regarded as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball.

Several stints on the injured list — highlighted by Tommy John surgery in July 2018 — over the years have prevented the Oklahoma native from living up to that potential, but he will certainly have something to offer a Red Sox team whose starting rotation put up the second-worst ERA in baseball (5.34) while finishing second-to-last in innings pitched (246) in 2020.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 210 lbs., Richards, who actually turns 33 next month, will wear the No. 43 for Boston, becoming the 24th player in team history to do so.

He is scheduled to speak with reporters via Zoom at approximately 4 p.m. eastern time Wednesday.

As for Payamps, the Sox originally claimed the 26-year-old hurler off waivers from the Diamondbacks this past November.

Over the last two seasons, the Dominican right-hander had yielded four runs (three earned) on six hits, six walks, and five strikeouts over four total appearances and seven innings pitched out of the Arizona bullpen.

The Red Sox now have seven days to either trade, release, or sneak Payamps through waivers and outright him to Triple-A Worcester.

Following Wednesday’s transactions, the Sox’ 40-man roster is back at full capacity, which means another move will be required in order to make the signing of left-hander Martin Perez official.

As noted by SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield though, Boston could very well wait to announce the Perez signing until fellow southpaw Chris Sale (Tommy John) is placed on the 60-day injured list at the onset of spring training.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images)

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.