Former Red Sox right-hander Heath Hembree outrighted by Phillies, making August trade look like even bigger steal for Chaim Bloom

Former Red Sox right-hander Heath Hembree is on the verge of joining this years free-agency class, as the Phillies outrighted the 31-year-old from their 40-man roster earlier Thursday morning.

Because he has accrued enough major-league service time, Hembree, who was entering his final year of arbitration eligibility in 2021, can reject an assignment to the minors in favor of becoming a free agent a year earlier than initially anticipated.

The South Carolina native opened the 2020 campaign as one of Boston’s primary bullpen fixtures and got off to a fantastic start, posting a 1.86 ERA and .503 OPS against over his first 10 relief appearances and 9 2/3 innings of work.

A four-run implosion in which he failed to record an out against the Phillies, of all teams, on August 18 resulted in Hembree’s ERA skyrocketing up to 5.59. That would wind up being the righty’s last outing with the Red Sox, as Philadelphia acquired his services, as well as free agent-to-be Brandon Workman, in exchange for right-handed pitchers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold on August 21.

Things did not improve for Hembree, nor Workman, when they arrived in Philly. Together, the two hurlers combined to yield 24 runs (23 earned) on 40 hits, 14 walks, and 25 strikeouts over 25 total outings spanning 22 1/3 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 9.27.

According to FanGraphs, Hembree’s fWAR of -0.8 and Workman’s fWAR of -0.5 from August 21 until the end of the regular season were the worst and second-worst marks among 262 National League relievers. For what it’s worth, Hembree’s year came to a close on September 21, when he was placed on the injured list due to a right elbow strain.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, saw signs of promise in Pivetta, who gave up just two runs over his first two starts and 10 innings pitched with Boston in late September, and got an interesting prospect in Seabold who will presumably be added to the club’s 40-man roster within the next few weeks.

With Workman and Hembree no longer members of the Phillies organization, this trade has the makings to be an absolute steal for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox.

Medfield Native Matt Klentak Steps Down as Phillies General Manager

Matt Klentak has stepped down as general manager of the Phillies, the club announced earlier Saturday.

Klentak, a native of Medfield, Mass., had been on the job in Philadelphia since October 2015.

In his tenure as the youngest general manager in franchise history, Klentak saw the Phillies post a .460 winning percentage (326-382) while failing to reach the postseason in any of his five seasons at the helm in spite of facing increasingly lofty expectations.

A graduate of Xaverian Brothers High School in Braintree, Klentak attended and played baseball at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire before earning a bachelor’s degree in economics.

Despite losing the GM title with the Phils, Klentak will remain in the organization and serve a different role within the club’s front office.

“While I am disappointed that we failed to reach our ultimate goal, I am nevertheless very proud of the progress that this organization made over the last five years and of the people who worked so hard to make it happen,” the 40-year-old Klentak said in a statement. “I am grateful for all of the support that I received along the way from Phillies ownership, friends and colleagues, and our loyal Phillies fans.”

As it now turns out, one of the final major moves Klentak made as Phillies general manager was dealing right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold to the Red Sox in exchange for righty relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree back in late August.

That four-player swap proved to be very costly for Philadelphia’s postseason chances, as Workman posted a 6.92 ERA and 1.146 OPS against over 14 appearances and 13 innings pitched out of the Phillies bullpen. Hembree, meanwhile, yielded 13 earned runs in just 9 1/3 innings pitched (12.54 ERA) before hitting the injured list with a right elbow strain.

Workman, 32, is now a free agent, while Hembree, who turns 32 in January, has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining before reaching free agency at the end of the 2021 season.

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom Drove To Pawtucket To Meet With Nick Pivetta This Week; Right-Hander Still Needs To Get Stretched Out Before Getting Called up

With right-hander Nathan Eovaldi hitting the injured list due to a mild calf strain on Saturday, the Red Sox find themselves down another starting pitcher. Granted, Eovaldi should only be out for the next week since his IL stint is retroactive to August 26, but Boston will need someone to fill in for the righty in the meantime.

Nick Pivetta, who was one of two pitchers acquired from the Phillies in the Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree trade, could have been viewed as a potential rotation option during Eovaldi’s absence, but Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke snuffed out any chance of that happening when speaking with reporters on Saturday.

“Chaim [Bloom] actually drove out to Pawtucket a couple days ago to talk to him and to feel out where we should be with him and when we should have him come up and pitch for us if he’s going to pitch for us,” Roenicke said of Pivetta via Zoom. “We need to stretch him back out again. He hasn’t pitched for a while. So, right now, we’re going to stretch him out and just see where that allows us to bring him up where we feel really confident that he’s ready and he’s extended out and has built up enough strength to pitch the innings that we’re going to have him go.”

Pivetta, 27, was traded to Boston on August 21 and was subsequently optioned to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket that same day.

The 6-foot-5, 214 lb. right-hander appeared in three games for the Phillies this season prior to the trade, allowing 10 earned runs in just 5 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Per Statcast, he operates with a four-seam fastball, a curveball, a changeup, and a slider.

“He’s a big, physical, power pitcher,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said of Pivetta the night the trade went down. “He’s got a really good fastball. Good breaking ball. He also has a changeup. A guy that’s shown the ability to carry a starter’s workload. And a lot of the underlying traits there have shown the potential for a lot more success than he’s enjoyed in terms of his results. Again, power pitcher that we think should be capable of holding down a rotation spot. Really feel like he’s a good fit going forward and that we’ve got a chance to help him reach a level he has not yet in his career despite his big stuff.”

As Bloom’s words indicate, Pivetta, a former fourth-round pick of the Nationals in the 2013 draft, has not exactly lived up to his former top prospect status in his time with Philadelphia, but the Red Sox are hoping to unlock something within him.

Along with fellow righty Connor Seabold, Pivetta arrived at McCoy Stadium this past Wednesday. Considering the fact that he is already on Boston’s 40-man roster, the British Columbia native could make his Red Sox debut sometime next month depending on how the organization views him in the short and long-term. The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch made this point as well.

Red Sox Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. ‘Should Be on Move’ Before Trade Deadline Passes, per Report

The Red Sox could trade Jackie Bradley Jr. before next week’s trading deadline, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Per Nightengale, the Sox “have let everyone know that there are no untouchables, meaning that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. should be on the move, but unlikely shortstop Xander Bogaerts.”

Bradley Jr., 30, is one of two Red Sox outfielders who will become free agents at the end of the season, with the other being Kevin Pillar.

After a hot start to 2020, Bradley Jr. has come back to earth and is currently slashing .235/.300/.358 to go along with two home runs and eight RBI through his first 25 games of the year. Both of those homers came in Baltimore this past weekend.

In terms of where he stands defensively, the 2018 Gold Glover ranks 10th in UZR/150 (-15) and 10th in Defense among qualified American League center fielders so far this season, per FanGraphs.

On a one-year deal that was originally worth $11 million but was brought down $4.074 million due to the shortened season, Bradley Jr. would only cost approximately $1.63 million for the month of September.

That being said, Bradley Jr. could prove to be a valuable addition for a contending club looking to shore up it’s outfield defense, especially if the former Gamecock were to get hot at the plate once more to close out the 2020 campaign.

Even if Bradley Jr. were to be productive for his new organization in this scenario, he likely would not fetch too hefty of a return considering the fact he would only be under team control for less than a full month not counting the postseason.

Over the weekend, the Red Sox were presumably able to get more in their trade with the Phillies by dealing Brandon Workman, who will become a free agent this winter, AND Heath Hembree, who is under club control through 2021, as well as cash considerations, in exchange for right-hander Nick Pivetta and right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom were to attempt to move Bradley Jr. and/or Pillar within the next week, would it be out of the realm of possibilities for the Sox to attach a controllable player or a considerable dollar amount to sweeten the deal and garner a more significant return?

In other words, could the Red Sox use an expiring contract to essentially buy a well-regarded prospect? There was a chance of that happening over the winter, and it looks like it could happen for real before the end of the month. We’ll have to wait and see.

Former Red Sox Closer Brandon Workman Suffers Blown Save, Loss in Phillies Debut

Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman had a tough night in his debut for the Phillies on Saturday.

One day after getting dealt from Boston to Philadelphia along with Heath Hembree, cash considerations and a player to be named later or cash considerations in exchange for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold, the 32-year-old was dispatched by Phils manager Joe Girardi in the eighth inning of a 4-3 game against the Braves in Atlanta.

With his new team up a run with two outs to record in the eighth, Workman was put on the spot right away, and he immediately served up a two-run double to Matt Adams on his very first pitch, an 80 mph curveball on the outer half of the plate, in a Phillies uniform.

Atlanta went up 5-4 on Adams’ two-run two-base hit, but Workman was at least able to escape the inning without giving up any further damage on a fielder’s choice and four-pitch strikeout of Johan Camargo.

Despite that small bit of success, the Texas native’s fortunes took a turn for the worst in the bottom half of the ninth even after the Phillies offense had knotted things back up at five runs each.

That being the case because after Workman allowed three of the first five Braves he faced in the frame to reach, the bases were full with two outs and nowhere to put Adam Duvall.

Entering Saturday, Workman had never faced the Braves outfielder before in his career, and he initially fell behind in the count at 2-1.

On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, the right-hander could not sneak a 77 mph curveball past Duvall, and the ex-Red laced it to center field for the walk-off single.

As a result of that game-winning base hit, Workman was simultaneously charged with the loss and blown save in his first appearance as a Phillie.

“It’s not the first impression I’m trying to make, obviously,” Workman said during his postgame media availability. “That’s not what I do on the mound. I need to execute pitches better than I did tonight. There’s no excuse for that, I just need to do a better job of getting my job done.”

It just so happens that Workman’s old bullpen mate, Red Sox right-hander Matt Barnes, also took home the loss and blown save in Boston’s 5-4, extra-innings loss to the Orioles on Saturday. I’m sure those two will have a somewhat comical, self-depreciating exchange between one another before night’s end.

Red Sox Recall Jeffrey Springs, Robert Stock From Alternate Training Site

One day after trading two of their better relievers — Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman — to the Philles on Friday, the Red Sox have recalled left-hander Jeffrey Springs and right-hander Robert Stock from the club’s alternate training site ahead of Saturday night’s game against the Orioles.

Both Springs and Stock will be making their second major-league stint with the Sox this season after the former was optioned to Pawtucket on August 11 and the latter was optioned on August 13.

In his first four relief outings with Boston, Springs, who turns 28 next month, posted a 15.43 ERA and 1.164 OPS against over 4 2/3 total innings pitched from July 27 until August 11. The North Carolina native was originally acquired by the Sox from the Rangers in exchange for Sam Travis back in January.

Stock, meanwhile, made just one appearance for Boston while he was up with the big-league club from August 11 until August 13.

In that one outing against the Rays on August 11, the 30-year-old hurler yielded one unearned run on two hits, three walks and three strikeouts over 1 1/3 total innings of work.

A former second-round draft pick out of the University of Southern California back in 2009, Stock was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox from the Phillies on July 27.

With these moves made, the Red Sox once again have 28 players on their active roster, 15 of which are pitchers.

Matt Barnes Not Only Reliever Who Could Close Out Games for Red Sox Following Brandon Workman Trade, Ron Roenicke Says

With Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman now Philadelphia Phillies, a couple late-inning spots just opened up in the back end of the Red Sox bullpen. More specifically, with Workman gone, the Sox do not exactly have a set closer at this point in time.

Right-hander Matt Barnes took charge of that responsibility in Boston’s 8-5 win over the Orioles on Friday and he looked good doing so, needing just 13 pitches to record his first save since last June.

Even with Barnes’ impressive importance fresh in his mind, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke didn’t really commit to the 30-year-old hurler as his set ninth-inning man moving forward.

“No doubt, I have faith in what he can do,” Roenicke said of Barnes during his postgame media availability. “I probably won’t do it the same way that we did with [Workman] because we had Barnes for the seventh or eighth or somebody and then going to [Workman]. This will be a little bit different, probably. I’m sure [Barnes] will get most of the opportunities, but if it matches up better with him in the eighth inning and another closer in the ninth, we’ll do that. I don’t think I’m just going to limit him to doing it for one inning.”

If it’s Barnes getting the call for the ninth, Roenicke named Austin Brice and Josh Taylor as relievers who could close out games if necassary.

“I think we have a couple guys that could do it,” the Sox skipper added. “I’m comfortable with all of them, so I think the match-ups will tell us what to do there.”

Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who worked two scoreless innings in his 2020 debut on Friday after missing time on the COVID-19 related injured list, could be another candidate to close were it not for the plans the Red Sox have for the 23-year-old hurler.

“The only thing with Darwinzon is because we know he can give us two or three [innings], it may be more important to do that in the…sixth, seventh, or eighth, maybe,” said Roenicke. “I think he is more valuable in doing that than just keeping him to one inning. We’ll see as time goes on, but he was coming out [Friday] for the first time. He threw some nasty pitches. I know sometimes he may get a little wild, but his pitches, you see the swings they take and the bats that break and it’s just really good stuff.”

Out of the 40 pitches Hernandez threw in his first outing on Friday, the Venezuelan got the Orioles to swing and miss seven times. Because he accrued two innings of work against Baltimore, his next outing likely won’t come until the Red Sox’ next series against the Blue Jays in Buffalo.

Powered by Home Runs From Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, and Rafael Devers, Red Sox Extend Winning Streak To Three Following 8-5 Victory Over Orioles

On a night they made their first move before the trade deadline, the Red Sox extended their winning streak to a season-best three consecutive games on Friday following an 8-5 victory over the Orioles.

Colten Brewer made his second start and ninth overall appearance of the season for Boston, and he looked much better than he did in his first career start against the Yankees last week.

That being the case because over four strong innings of work, the right-hander held the O’s scoreless while scattering three hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

The only real trouble Brewer ran into came in the bottom of the first, when he yielded two straight two-out singles to Renato Nunez and Pedro Severino before getting out of the inning unscathed.

Other than that, Brewer proceeded to retire eight of the final 11 hitters he faced going into the end of the fourth, which is the point where his outing came to a close.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 71 (50 strikes), the 27-year-old turned to his four-seam fastball 49% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing two swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.2 mph with the pitch.

Unable to pick up the winning decision due to the length of his outing, Brewer did manage to lower his ERA on the season to 3.50. If he gets another start, it will likely come against the Blue Jays in Buffalo sometime next week.

In relief of Brewer, Darwinzon Hernandez got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in what was his 2020 debut.

The 23-year-old southpaw faced eight batters over two scoreless frames of work, allowing one hit, walking another, and fanning three on his way to picking up his first career major-league victory.

From there, fellow lefty Josh Osich got lit up for five runs on three separate homers over 1 2/3 innings before Austin Brice had to come on and record the final out of the eighth.

And in the ninth, with Brandon Workman on his way to Philadelphia, Matt Barnes got the call to close this one out, and the right-hander did just that by maneuvering his way around a leadoff single in an otherwise clean inning to secure his first save and his team’s ninth win of the season in 8-5 fashion.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Orioles ace left-hander John Means, who entered Friday with a 10.57 ERA through his first three starts of 2020.

After going down 1-2-3 in their half of the first, the Boston bats got it going in the second inning for a second straight night when a red-hot Xander Bogaerts led the frame off with a 412-foot solo shot to give his side an early one-run lead.

An inning later, the middle part of the Sox lineup struck once again, when after Kevin Pillar reached base on a one-out single, J.D. Martinez drove the outfielder and himself in on a 431-foot two-run blast to center field for his third homer of the year. 3-0 Boston.

Fast forward to the fifth, with reliever Jorge Lopez pitching for Baltimore, Rafael Devers put his power on display and had by far the best swing of the night.

With one out and runners at first and second, the 23-year-old took a 1-0, 85 mph changeup down the chute from the O’s right-hander and proceeded to deposit it 447 feet to dead center.

Per Statcast, Devers’ fourth big fly of the year had an exit velocity of 108.1 mph, which was the hardest hit ball of the evening for either side. It also put the Red Sox up 6-0.

In the sixth, Michael Chavis provided what would turn out to be some much-needed insurance with a two-run single off Lopez following back-to-back leadoff base knocks off the bats of Christian Vazquez and Alex Verdugo.

Chavis’ sixth and seventh RBI of the season put the Red Sox up 8-0, and 8-5 would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

With two hits on Friday, Alex Verdugo has extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games.

Rafael Devers has six hits in his last three games.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the third game of this four-game weekend set on Saturday night.

Left-hander Martin Perez will get the ball for Boston, while veteran right-hander Alex Cobb will do the same for Baltimore.

Perez surrendered five runs (four runs) to the O’s in his Red Sox debut back on July 25. The 29-year-old has made four career starts at Camden Yards and owns a 4.32 ERA and .698 OPS against in those outings.

Cobb, meanwhile, held the Sox to just one run in that same game Perez started in July. The 32-year-old, who was born in Boston, comes into the weekend with a 3.76 ERA and .634 OPS against through his first five starts and 26 1/3 innings pitched this season.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI. Red Sox looking for their fourth straight victory.

Red Sox Trade Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman, Cash To Phillies in Exchange for Right-Handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold

The Red Sox have traded right-handed relievers Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman, as well as cash considerations and a player to be named later or cash considerations, to the Phillies for right-hander Nick Pivetta and right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold, the club announced Friday night.

With this trade made, the first domino has fell for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. leading up to the August 31 trading deadline.

Workman was set to become a free agent this winter, while Hembree is under team control through the end of the 2021 season.

The Phillies, who came into the weekend with the worst bullpen ERA in baseball (8.07), are clearly trying to upgrade their pen as they look to vie for a playoff spot despite a 9-12 start to the season.

By acquiring Hembree and Workman from Boston, Philadelphia has accomplished this in at least some capacity.

Hembree, 31, carried a 1.86 ERA and .503 OPS against through his first 10 appearances and 9 2/3 innings of the year before getting lit up for four runs against the Phils on Tuesday.

Workman, meanwhile, turned 32 last week and had yielded three runs on eight hits, four walks, and eight strikeouts through his first seven outings and 6 2/3 innings of 2020. That’s good for a 4.05 ERA and 2.57 FIP.

The two now-former Sox hurlers will likely become two of the top late-inning relief options out of the Phillies bullpen from now until the end of the season.

As for what the Red Sox got back in this deal, let’s start with Nick Pivetta.

A 27-year-old right-hander out of British Columbia, Pivetta appeared in three games for the Phillies prior to being optioned to the club’s alternate training site on August 11.

In those three outings, the former fourth-round pick surrendered 10 earned runs over just 5 2/3 innings of work.

Prior to 2020, Pivetta owned a 5.34 ERA and 4.56 FIP through his first 89 appearances (71 starts) and 390 2/3 innings with the Phillies dating back to 2017.

Per Statcast, Pivetta, who is listed at 6-foot-5 and 214 lbs., is a four-pitch pitcher who primarily relies on his four-seam fastball and has a curveball, changeup, and slider in his arsenal as well.

Turning to Connor Seabold now, the 24-year-old was the Phillies’ third-round pick in the 2017 amateur draft out of Cal State Fullerton.

Regarded by MLB Pipeine as Philadelphia’s No. 23 prospect, Seabold, listed at 6-foor-2 and 190 lbs., posted a 2.24 ERA and .224 batting average against in 12 total appearances (11 starts) and 56 1/3 innings pitched between three minor-league levels in 2019.

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, Seabold “will always be a command and control pitcher, one who has to rely on changing speeds and keeping hitters off-balance. His swing-and-miss rate went up in the Arizona Fall League and if that’s for real, he could fit into the back end of a big league rotation soon.”

Because the Red Sox traded Hembree and Workman, they opened up two spots on their 60-man player pool, which will now presumably be filled by Pivetta and Seabold. The former was on Philly’s 40-man roster, while the latter was not.

Update: For clarity, Pivetta was optioned to the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket following the move.

Red Sox Trade Rumors: Phillies Have Spoken To Boston About Brandon Workman, per Report

With the 2020 trade deadline fast approaching, the Red Sox are already getting involved in some rumors, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the club has been in contact with the Phillies about right-hander Brandon Workman.

Workman, who turned 32 last week, is set to become a free agent for the first time this winter.

The Texas native owns an ERA of 4.05 and a FIP of 2.57 through his first seven appearances and 6 2/3 innings pitched this year. He is also coming off a season in which he accrued 16 saves while finishing third among qualified American League relievers in fWAR (2.1) in 2019.

The Phillies, meanwhile, own the worst bullpen ERA (8.07) and fourth-worst FIP (5.61) in baseball through their first 21 games of the season, so the need to improve their ‘pen is certainly there.

Philadelphia also has a prior connection to Workman, as the club drafted him out of high school in the third round of the 2007 amateur draft. The Sox closer forwent going pro then, however, and instead played college baseball at the University of Texas for three seasons before getting drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft.

Even though the Red Sox (8-18) only have one less win that the Philles (9-12) do at this point, it would appear as though one club is aiming to be sellers at the deadline while the other is leaning towards being a buyer.

In terms of what the Phils would be willing to give up in this potential deal, it would be difficult to see them part ways with any one of their four top-100 prospects seeing how Workman is on an expiring contract. I would venture to say that, from Philly’s point of view, they could give up far less in order to acquire just one to two months of Workman’s service.

Along with Workman, outfielders Jackie Bradley Jr. and Kevin Pillar are two more players on the Sox’ active roster who are set to become free agents at the end of the season, while first baseman Mitch Moreland and left-hander Martin Perez have club options for 2021.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. feel any need to move any of these five players, they have until August 31 to do so.