Red Sox’ Eduardo Rodriguez Celebrates MLB’s Opening Day at Home by Gaming

Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez was more than likely going to make his first career Opening Day start against the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon. Instead, he, like the rest of Major League Baseball players, staff, and executives, is currently sitting at home in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that has pushed back the start of the 2020 season by several weeks.

That did not stop the soon-to-be-27-year-old from suiting up in full uniform though, as he took to social media to promote MLB’s ‘Opening Day at Home’ initiative that encouraged fans on Thursday to ‘feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to, while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.’

An avid gamer and streamer, Rodriguez posted a video of himself on Instagram and Twitter putting on a gaming headset and tossing a PS4 controller up and down like a baseball with the caption, “When you don’t want to get out of the routine but you only have video games #OpeningDay #StayatHome.”

Recently, Rodriguez has been streaming Fortnite online with Xander Bogaerts, Xander’s brother Jair, and former Red Sox outfielder Gorkys Hernandez.

You can follow Rodriguez on Twitch here. His PlayStation Network ID is ‘thegualo’, although he has yet to accept my friend request.

Bogaerts’ PSN ID is ‘thebogiestud2.’ He, too, has not accepted my friend request.

UPDATE: Rodriguez is now streaming online with Dustin Pedroia. You can watch that here.

Red Sox Add Yairo Muñoz to Spring Training Roster, Option Four Pitchers to Minor-League Camp

The Red Sox officially announced the signing of former Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz on a minor-league deal on Thursday. The 25-year-old has been added to Boston’s spring training roster as a non-roster invitee and will likely begin the year with Triple-A Pawtucket once the 2020 season does begin.

In a series of other moves, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom also announced that Colten Brewer and three pitchers picked up over the course of the offseason — Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, and Jeffrey Springs– had been optioned to minor-league rosters.

Hall and Mazza were both optioned to High-A Salem, while Brewer was optioned to Double-A Portland and Springs was optioned to Pawtucket.

Brewer and Mazza both seemed like potential options to serve as an opener for the Sox this season, but it looks like they’ll start the year in the minors once baseball does resume, although I doubt it will be at the levels they were optioned to on Thursday.

Hall and Springs, meanwhile, were picked up via a pair of trades over the winter. The two left-handers appeared in a total of 41 major-league games last year with the Tigers and Rangers respectively.

With these moves, the Red Sox now have 43 players at major-league camp, 16 of which are pitchers.

 

Red Sox Sign Former Cardinals Utilityman Yairo Muñoz to Minor-League Deal

The Red Sox have signed former Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz to a minor-league deal, according to Major League Baseball’s official transaction wire. He was assigned to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday.

Munoz, 25, was released by St. Louis earlier this month after he “left the team” and “flew home” without ever contacting the Cardinals. His agent apparently told the club that his client was frustrated with his role, something Cards manager Mike Shildt said on multiple occasions last season.

According to The Athletic’s Mark Saxon, that frustration did not hamper Munoz’s chances of making the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster this year, as Shildt told him that the Dominican Republic native had an “inside track” to landing a roster spot.

That vote of confidence did not stop Munoz from receiving his unconditional release from St. Louis though, and less than three full weeks after essentially excusing himself from the Cardinals, he has joined the Red Sox on a minor-league deal for the 2020 season.

Originally signed by the Athletics as an international free agent out of the DR back in 2012, Munoz was part of the trade that sent outfielder Stephen Piscotty to Oakland in December 2017.

The former top prospect is capable of playing second base, third base, and shortstop, as well as all three outfield positions. That sort of versatility is something the Red Sox have seemed to value immensely lately.

In 88 games with the Cardinals last season, Munoz slashed .267/.298/.355 with two home runs and 13 RBI. That rather underwhelming performance for Munoz was coming off an impressive rookie campaign where he posted an OPS+ of 109 over 108 games in 2018.

Munoz still has five years of team control remaining and is not arbitration eligible until the 2021 season.

If baseball is played in 2020, Munoz could provide the Red Sox with solid infield and maybe even outfield depth at the Triple-A level.

Red Sox Minor-Leaguer Tests Positive for COVID-19, Club Shuts Down Fenway South Complex for at Least Two Weeks

A Red Sox minor-league player has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Tuesday night.

Per a team spokesman, that player tested positive and received the results of the test on Monday, eight days after he had last been at the Red Sox’ facility in Fort Myers.

That player is now recovering and “doing well” at home, and the Red Sox believe that it is “more likely” he contracted COVID-19 upon departing from Fort Myers last week.

With this news though, the Fenway South complex will now be shut down for at least the next two weeks, effective immediately. During that time, the facility, JetBlue Park included, will undergo a deep cleaning.

Some Red Sox players were still using the facilities at Fenway South to continue their workouts even after spring training was suspended by Major League Baseball. Those players will now have to find somewhere else to work out.

The Red Sox also advised any player or staff member who came into contact with the aforementioned minor-leaguer who tested positive for the virus to self-quarantine for the next two weeks.

Although this Red Sox minor-leaguer has yet to be identified, he is now the third known professional baseball player to test positive for COVID-19 after two Yankees minor-leaguers tested positive earlier in the month.

Red Sox Social Media Team Gets Creative in Promoting Social Distancing

In the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that has seemingly shut down the sports world, the Red Sox got creative in promoting something we should all be doing during this time: social distancing.

Yes, across the three major social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter –the Red Sox changed their avatar/profile picture to what you see in the tweet above, which features the two “hanging Sox’ of the club’s primary logo being separated by an inch or two and the caption ‘#NewSociallyDistantProfilePic.’

This comes around the same time the Sox changed their bio on Twitter to ‘Wash your hands’ and on Instagram to ‘Official IG of the Boston Red Sox. Pls wash your hands.’

Per the Red Sox’ 2020 media guide, Maria Schroeder is the team’s social media coordinator. I can’t say for sure if this was solely her idea, but it is ingenious nonetheless.

The Salem Red Sox, the High-A affiliate of Boston, followed suit by changing their Twitter avatar and Instagram profile picture as well.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, social distancing can best be defined as “remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding mass gatherings, and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others when possible.”

The CDC also recommended last week that no gatherings of 50 or more people should take place for the next eight weeks. A recommendation that Major League Baseball rightfully complied with, meaning the start of the 2020 season will be pushed back even further than initially anticipated.

If you want to learn more about COVID-19, here’s a helpful link from the CDC.

What If the Red Sox Traded for Sonny Gray in 2015?

Truth be told, I’m stealing this “What if” idea from The Athletic, whose various writers are ‘exploring what might have happened if things had gone differently at significant points in sports history.’

The Athletic’s Chad Jennings began by looking back as recently as the Mookie Betts and David Price trade, and in accordance with that, I thought it would be interesting to look back at a time in Red Sox history prior to the club signing Price to a then record-setting seven year, $217 million contract in December 2015.

Yes, this point in time was just a few months before that, in October to be more specific.

The Red Sox were coming off their second consecutive last place finish in the American League East, marking the first time they had done that since the 1929-1930 seasons.

Under new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who was hired to replace Ben Cherington that August, the club was in desperate need of front-line starting pitching help coming off a 2015 campaign in which they ranked 13th in the American League in starters’ ERA (4.34).

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, before Dombrowski had even been hired, the former Tigers executive identified soon-to-be free agent left-hander David Price as a potential target to pursue that winter in an interview with Red Sox brass.

Potential trades for names such as the White Sox’ Chris Sale, the Indians’ Corey Kluber, and the Athletics’ Sonny Gray seemed possible as well.

Come October, per Speier, “the Red Sox tried to quantitatively compare the cost of a trade for an ace versus signing one in free agency. [Director of major league operations Zack] Scott oversaw the production of a sixteen-page memo, in this case exploring a hypothetical deal for the A’s Gray, in exchange for a five-prospect package of Rafael Devers, Blake Swihart, Manuel Margot, Henry Owens, and Javy Guerra.”

Based on the projections used in this memo, “the Red Sox considered such a trade a $230 million proposition, with the prospects carrying a projected future worth of $200 million on top of the roughly $30 million that the team anticipated it would have to pay Gray in salary over his remaining four years of team control.”

Gray, at the time, was entering his final year of being a pre-arbitration player.

The results of the assessment, however, did not sway the Sox to swing a trade for an ace, as they “believed it would cost less simply to sign a free-agent starter than it would to trade for a rotation solution.” That was especially the case in the event that including Mookie Betts or Xander Bogaerts in a trade for a starting pitcher became a must for another team, like the A’s.

In the end, Dombrowski and Co. chose giving up money over giving up prospects and wound up signing Price to that then-record-setting seven-year deal that December.

Although it does not appear that the Red Sox were all that close to acquiring Gray from Oakland, it is fascinating to look back and wonder what could have been.

Out of those five prospects listed above, Devers would be the one missed the most, as the major-league careers of Swihart, Margot, Owens, and Guerra haven’t really panned out to this point for various reasons.

It’s also compelling to look back because Gray in Boston would have been no sure thing. That much was made evident by a rather tumultuous 1 1/2 year tenure with the Yankees, although he has since bounced back nicely after being traded to the Reds in January 2019.

Price’s tenure with the Red Sox wasn’t picture-perfect either, but he did play an integral role in the club’s march to a historic World Series title in 2018 before getting traded to the Dodgers last month.

All in all, handing out massively lucrative contracts and involving top prospects in blockbuster trades both involve a great deal of risk. In the case of acquiring the services of a front-line starter when they most desperately needed one in Dombrowski’s first offseason as president of baseball operations, the Red Sox went with the former over the latter.

Note: If you haven’t already, you should read Homegrown by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. This piece would not have been possible had it not been for the information provided in that terrific book about how the Red Sox built a World Series champion from the ground up.

Former Red Sox World Series Hero and Noted Patriots Fan Steve Pearce Is Now a Tampa Bay Buccaneers Season Ticket Holder

When Tom Brady officially signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Friday, that decision was met with plenty of distraught from New England Patriots fan across the country.

One Patriots fan who wasn’t all that upset with Brady’s decision to move on from the Pats was former Red Sox first baseman Steve Pearce.

The self-proclaimed “unofficially retired” 2018 World Series MVP makes his residence in Tampa, and he now has the chance to watch a future Hall of Famer who used to play for his favorite team up close and personal.

“I’m a Tampa Bay season ticket holder as of three days ago,” Pearce told WEEI‘s Rob Bradford via text message. “I’m still rooting for the Pats. [Brady’s] been my QB for the last 20 years. I’m just glad I get to see him still playing. He’s the GOAT. I’m a Tom Brady fan, as well. But…Go Pats!”

Pearce, who was born and raised in Florida, grew up a fan of all Boston sports teams thanks to his father, Steve Sr., who grew up in Rehoboth and North Attleboro before moving to Lakeland, Fla. as a 13-year-old.

Steve Jr. “unofficially retired” from baseball back in December after surpassing 10 years of Major League Baseball service time last season, meaning he is now entitled to a fully-vested pension.

The 36-year-old will forever be remembered in Red Sox lore for his performance during the 2018 World Series, when he slashed .333/.500/1.167 with three home runs and eight RBI over five games against the Dodgers en route to being named the series’ Most Valuable Player.