Red Sox outright Colten Brewer to Triple-A Worcester

Before making up their series finale against the Marlins at Fenway Park on Monday, the Red Sox outrighted right-hander Colten Brewer to Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Monday afternoon.

Brewer, 28, was designated for assignment by the Red Sox last Thursday so that the club could make room on its 40-man roster for Brandon Workman.

In one lone appearance out of the Boston bullpen this season, Brewer yielded four runs — three of which were earned — on four hits, three walks, and one strikeout in one inning of relief against the Astros at Minute Maid Park on May 31.

Originally acquired in a November 2018 trade with the Padres, the righty has posted a 4.98 ERA, a 5.20 FIP, and a 78:51 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 70 total appearances (four starts) in parts of three seasons with the Red Sox.

Because he went unclaimed on waivers and was not traded, Brewer will report back to Worcester, where he put up a 9.00 ERA in four outings (four innings pitched) in two separate stints with the affiliate.

With the WooSox, Brewer rejoins a bullpen mix that includes plenty of other relievers with big-league experience, such as Marcus Walden, Kevin McCarthy, John Schreiber, Brandon Brennan, Matt Hall, Bobby Poyner, and Austin Brice.

Among those relievers, Brennan is the only name listed above currently on Boston’s 40-man roster. Eduard Bazardo, who has made two appearances with the Red Sox this season, is also on the 40-man, but he has been on the injured list since May 24 due to a lat strain.

(Picture of Colten Brewer: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox select Brandon Workman from Triple-A Worcester, designate Colten Brewer for assignment

The Red Sox have selected the contract of Brandon Workman from Triple-A Worcester, the team announced prior to Thursday’s series finale against the Astros.

In order to make room for Workman on both the 26-man and 40-man roster, fellow reliever Colten Brewer was optioned to Worcester following Wednesday’s game before being designated for assignment on Thursday.

Workman, 32, triggered the June 1 opt-out clause in his minor-league contract with the Red Sox on Tuesday, which in turn gave the club 48 hours to either promote or release him to pursue other opportunities.

The right-hander initially inked a minor-league pact with Boston last month shortly after getting released by the Cubs in late April. He posted a 1.29 ERA and a 2.75 xFIP to go along with four walks and 10 strikeouts over seven relief appearances spanning 7 2/3 innings pitched with the WooSox.

After mulling over their options these past two days, the Sox ultimately decided to bring back a familiar face in Workman, who spent the first six years of his major-league career and first 11 years of his professional career with Boston.

2019 was undoubtedly Workman’s best year in a Red Sox uniform, as he put up a miniscule 1.88 ERA over 73 outings in the process of emerging as Boston’s closer.

The 2020 campaign, however, was a different story. The former second-round pick out of the University of Texas was dealt from the Sox to the Phillies in late August as part of a four-player trade and never really got things going in Philadelphia (6.92 ERA in 13 innings).

It took until February for Workman to land a one-year deal with the Cubs. But, as previously mentioned, he was designated for assignment and eventually released by Chicago after just 10 April appearances.

Workman’s second go-around in free agency did not last nearly as long as the first with the Sox signing the veteran hurler to a minor-league deal on May 6.

With his promotion to the big-leagues, Workman now joins a Red Sox bullpen mix that includes the likes of Matt Barnes, Adam Ottavino, Josh Taylor, Darwinzon Hernandez, Phillips Valdez, Hirokazu Sawamura, Matt Andriese, and Garrett Whitlock. He will retain his No. 44.

Brewer, meanwhile, was designated for assignment in order to make room for Workman on Boston’s 40-man roster.

The 28-year-old was originally acquired by the Red Sox in a November 2018 trade with the Padres and has produced a 4.98 ERA and 5.20 FIP in 70 appearances (four starts) over the last three seasons.

After the right-hander was shelled for four runs in his 2021 debut at Minute Maid Park on Monday, the Sox must have felt like Workman was an upgrade over Brewer — at least for the time being.

Boston will now have seven days to either trade, release, or waive Brewer. He could be outrighted to the WooSox if he winds up clearing waivers.

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘going through the process’ when it comes to making a decision on Brandon Workman, Alex Cora says

When it comes to their decision regarding what to do with Brandon Workman, the Red Sox are still mulling over their options.

Workman, who triggered an opt-out clause in his minor-league contract with the Sox on Tuesday, threw a bullpen session at Polar Park in Worcester Wednesday afternoon.

The veteran reliever can become a free-agent in the next 24 hours if Boston chooses not to promote him to the major-leagues and instead cuts him loose so that he can pursue opportunities elsewhere.

“I spoke to Chaim [Bloom],” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said prior to Wednesday’s game against the Astros. “Work was going to throw a bullpen today, again. But he’s not there — he opted out. We still got, what? 24 hours to make a decision.”

After inking a one-year deal with the Cubs over the winter and getting released by the club in late April, the 32-year-old signed a minor-league pact to reunite with the Sox last month.

In seven appearances for Triple-A Worcester, the right-hander posted a 1.29 ERA and a 2.75 xFIP while striking out 10 and walking four in seven relief appearances spanning 7 2/3 innings pitched in the month of May.

“His last two outings were outstanding,” WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott recently said of Workman. “I feel like that was the Brandon Workman we’d seen in the past. I feel like he came here on a mission to show he could be that guy and I think he was more trying to impress, that he has the stuff and was just a little disconnected with his delivery [at first]. The last two outings he got back to where he felt good, he got into his legs better and everything for me ticked up, quality, consistency. I don’t know what’s going to happen with him, but I was really happy with the last two outings, he looked pretty good.”

If the Red Sox opt to promote Workman, they will need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster in order to do so. One possible way to make that happen would be to designate a fellow reliever currently for assignment.

Colten Brewer, who yielded four runs in his season debut against the Astros on Monday, could be the casualty in this scenario depending on which reliever (Brewer or Workman) the Red Sox view as a better bullpen option moving forward.

“We’re going through the process,” said Cora. “We’re talking a lot [about] where we’re at roster-wise, what benefits or doesn’t benefit us. So the conversations are ongoing.”

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Brandon Workman opts out of minor-league deal with Red Sox; Boston has 48 hours to either promote or release reliever

Veteran reliever Brandon Workman has triggered an opt-out clause in his minor-league contract with the Red Sox, manager Alex Cora told reporters prior to Tuesday’s game against the Astros.

Workman, 32, initially inked a minor-league pact to rejoin the Sox on May 6 after being released by the Cubs in late April.

The right-hander posted a 1.29 ERA and a 2.75 xFIP while striking out 10 and walking four in seven relief appearances spanning 7 2/3 innings of work for Triple-A Worcester. He was not with the WooSox on Tuesday.

The Red Sox now have until Thursday — approximately 48 hours — to make a decision in which they will either promote Workman to the majors or release him and subsequently allow him to to become a free agent once more.

While the clock is ticking, it’s safe to assume that the club is still mulling over their options.

“It’s his right. It’s part of the contract,” Cora said of Workman’s situation. “I’m not sure if he did opt out or he’s going to. That’s part of the contract. We were very pleased with the way he’s throwing the ball. He has been throwing his cutter a little bit better. Velocity is OK. Breaking ball has been great. But as of now, that’s all I have. He’s going to opt out and I think we have two days or something to make a decision.”

Workman, who Boston selected in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft out of the University of Texas, spent the first 11 years of his professional career and first 5 1/2 years of his big-league career with the Red Sox organization.

In 2019, Workman proved to be one of the most effective relievers in the American League, putting up a miniscule 1.88 ERA while converting 16 of a possible 22 save opportunities over 73 appearances (71 2/3 innings pitched) out of the Boston bullpen.

His 2020 campaign was a bit of a different story, as he was dealt to the Phillies as part of a four-player trade in late August and went on to struggle to the tune of a 6.92 ERA in 14 outings with the Phillies.

Hitting the open market at an inopportune time, Workman had to settle for a one-year deal with the Cubs in February. But his time in Chicago did not last long considering the fact he was designated for assignment and subsequently released after just 10 appearances with the club.

Workman’s second go-around in free agency did not last nearly as long as the first, as he reunited with the Sox last month and could still very well be part of Boston’s plans for 2021.

That said, the Red Sox would need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster — which is currently at full capacity — if they do decide to promote Workman between now and Thursday.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, fellow reliever Colten Brewer, who got shelled for four runs in his 2021 debut on Monday, could be designated for assignment in order to create that open slot for Workman.

“There’s a lot of stuff on the table,” said Cora. “We’ve got a 26-man roster right now and he’s not part of it.”

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox outright Austin Brice to Triple-A Worcester after reliever clears waivers

Four days after being designated for assignment, Red Sox reliever Austin Brice has cleared waivers and has subsequently been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced Tuesday afternoon.

Brice, who turns 29 next month, was designated by Boston last Friday when utility man Danny Santana was called up from the WooSox ahead of this past weekend’s series against the Phillies in Philadelphia.

Originally acquired in a January 2020 trade from the Marlins, the veteran right-hander struggled to find his footing in his second season with the Sox, posting an unsightly 6.94 ERA, 6.40 FIP, and 9:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 12 appearances (11 2/3 innings pitched) this year.

Because he went unclaimed on waivers, Brice will report to Worcester, where — as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — he will join a WooSox bullpen that includes the likes of Brandon Brennan, Colten Brewer, Matt Hall, Kevin McCarthy, John Schreiber, Marcus Walden, and Brandon Workman, all of whom have big-league experience with the Red Sox or elsewhere.

Cotillo also adds that if the Red Sox found themselves in need of bullpen help at the minor-league level, they would likely turn to Brewer since he is one of two names above who are currently on Boston’s 40-man roster.

(Picture of Austin Brice: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Josh Taylor among baseball’s best left-handed relievers since calendar flipped to May; ‘This is the guy we envisioned,’ Alex Cora says

Junior welterweight Josh Taylor, who became just the sixth men’s boxer since 1988 to claim undisputed champion status over the weekend, is not the only professional athlete named Josh Taylor who is having a strong month of May.

Going from the world of boxing to the world of Major League Baseball, Red Sox left-hander Josh Taylor has also put together an impressive month of work for himself over the last three-plus weeks.

In three relief appearances against the Blue Jays and Phillies during the Sox’ most recent road trip, Taylor tossed a total of two scoreless, no-hit innings while yielding just one walk to go along with two strikeouts. He retired six of the seven batters he faced in that three-game stretch in which Boston went 3-0.

Going back to April 30, the 28-year-old has strung together 10 consecutive scoreless outings (7 1/3 shutout innings) while limiting opponents to a .087/.192/.087 slash line.

Among 56 left-handed major-league relievers who have pitched at least seven innings since April 30, Taylor ranks first in ERA (0.00), first in weighted on-base average (.148), second in batting average against, second in on-base percentage against, second in slugging percentage against, second in WHIP (0.68), and 11th in FIP (2.47), per FanGraphs.

In the process of looking as sharp as ever out of the bullpen lately, not only has Taylor trimmed his ERA down by more than three runs (8.68 on April 30, 5.17 now), but he is also dominating against left-handed hitters, which has not always been the case throughout his career.

“This month of May, he has been throwing the ball well,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Taylor on Saturday. “Overall, amazing against lefties, which is a big difference from ’19. In ’19, he was a reverse-split guy. Now, you can mix and match with the [three-batter] rule. You’ve seen him. We’ve got two outs and there’s a lefty coming up, we use him there, then depending on where we’re at in the lineup with the opposition, we’ll push him out there or we shut him down. We’re very pleased with what he’s done.

“He’s done an amazing job also taking care of himself,” Cora added. “His routine in the weight room, in the training room. It’s a lot better than in ’19, and you can see the results… He has to keep pushing. It’s a long season. Last year, obviously was a struggle with the virus and everything. But so far, he’s been amazing in May. This is the guy we envisioned.”

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Red Sox claim reliever Brandon Brennan off waivers from Mariners, place Ryan Brasier on 60-day injured list

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Brandon Brennan off waivers from the Seattle Mariners and optioned him to Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Monday afternoon.

In order to make room for Brennan on the 40-man roster, fellow right-hander Ryan Brasier was placed on the 60-day injured list.

Brennan, 29, was designated for assignment by the Mariners last Wednesday after starting the season at the team’s alternate training site in Tacoma.

In two big-league seasons with Seattle (2019-2020), the California native posted a 4.45 ERA, a 4.73 FIP, and a 54:29 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 49 total relief appearances spanning 54 2/3 innings of work.

He was however limited to just five outings last year on account of suffering a left oblique strain in late July.

A former fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox out of Orange Coast College, Brennan originally joined the Mariners via the 2018 Rule 5 Draft.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 207 pound hurler works with a changeup, a sinker, a four-seam fastball, and a slider.

Among the 198 major-league relievers who compiled at least 50 innings pitched over the last two seasons, Brennan ranked 26th in terms of swinging strike percentage (15.3%), per FanGraphs.

Now that he has been added to Boston’s 40-man roster, Brennan — who has three minor-league options remaining — will look to provide right-handed bullpen depth for the Sox in Worcester. He will join the likes of Eduard Bazardo and Colten Brewer as WooSox relievers currently on the Sox’ 40-man.

Brasier, meanwhile, opened the 2021 season on the 10-day injured list for the Red Sox, so transferring him to the 60-day IL is more of a formality than anything.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the 33-year-old “has dealt with two significant injured since the end of last season, as he fractured his pinky finger during an off-season workout and then strained his calf during a ‘B’ game during the last week of spring training.”

The earliest Brasier can be activated from the injured list now is May 28 after the start of his initial IL stint was backdated to March 29.

(Picture of Brandon Brennan: Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Darwinzon Hernandez has struck out 6 of the last 7 hitters he has faced: ‘The fastball up in the zone is hard to hit,’ Alex Cora says

There was a stretch between April 16-28 where Darwinzon Hernandez appeared in a grand total of one game for the Red Sox.

In that one game, which came against the Mariners on April 22, the left-handed reliever gave up four runs (three earned) on two hits, two walks, and one strikeout in the 10th inning of what would go down as a 7-3 loss for Boston. Three of those runs came on a three-run home run off the bat of Mitch Haniger.

“That home run he gave up against Seattle, I don’t want to say it was a wake-up call,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Friday. “But it was kind of like, ‘I need to attack hitters differently.'”

For a full week after that implosion, which raised his ERA on the year to an unsightly 5.14, Hernandez was not used for the remainder of the Sox’ series against the Mariners, nor was he used in their two-game set against the Mets in New York.

It was not until this past Thursday night that the 24-year-old was called upon again, as he took responsibility for the eighth inning in a game the Red Sox were trailing by three runs to the Rangers.

Matched up against Texas’ 3,4, and 5 hitters — Joey Gallo, Adolis Garcia, and Nate Lowe — Hernandez needed just 13 pitches (nine strikes) to punch out the side in order. He induced seven swings-and-misses in the process of getting all three of Gallo, Garcia, and Lowe to strike out swinging.

On Friday, Hernandez was once again deployed in the eighth inning against the Rangers, though this time his side had a five-run lead to work with.

Even with that lofty cushion, the Venezuelan hurler stayed on the aggressive side of things by thoroughly attacking the strike zone in the process of punching out three more batters.

He very well could have struck out the side in yet another perfect inning of relief, but an 0-2 fastball to Lowe with two outs that was very clearly a strike was ruled a ball by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn. Lowe wound up reaching base on an infield single moments later.

So although he could not notch the 1-2-3 inning, Hernandez punched out the very next hitter he faced in Garcia on three straight strikes to retire the side.

“We talk about his fastball up in the zone,” Cora said. “Yesterday, he did it. He did it again today. He made a great pitch to the lefty that got a hit at the end (Lowe). It was a good pitch in the zone. It was called a ball. But, he’s slowing down now. The slider is playing. The fastball up in the zone is hard to hit.”

Following Friday’s showing, Hernandez lowered his ERA on the season to 4.00 through his first 10 outings and nine innings pitches of 2021.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-2, 244 pound southpaw currently ranks in the 99th percentile in whiff rate (44.8%). And as noted by Red Sox Stats, he is getting hitters to swing-and-miss at his fastball a major-league-best 50% of the time.

“If that guy throws the ball the way he did,” said Cora, “it’s going to put us in a great place with the bullpen.”

(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Héctor Rondón retires from baseball shortly after signing minor-league deal with Red Sox

Just days after signing a minor-league deal with the Red Sox, veteran reliever Hector Rondon retired from the game of baseball earlier this month, per his transaction log at MLB.com.

Rondon, 33, initially joined Boston on a minor-league pact in late March, shortly after getting cut loose by the Phillies during the closing stages of spring training.

Upon signing with the Sox, the right-hander was assigned to the club’s alternate training site and had the opportunity to earn $1 million if he reached the majors this season.

With that in mind, the expectation seemed to be that Rondon could very well contribute to the Red Sox’ cause this year if they ever found themselves in need of more bullpen depth.

Instead of that ever happening, though, Rondon has opted to effectively end his baseball career by retiring.

Originally signed by the Indians as an international free-agent in 2004, the Venezuelan hurler went on to post a solid 3.49 ERA and 3.63 FIP over 444 career appearances (one start) and 436 total innings of work between the Cubs, Astros, and Diamondbacks from 2013-2020.

(Picture of Hector Rondon: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)

Phillips Valdéz off to strong start in second season with Red Sox

It’s still early, but Phillips Valdez’s second season with the Red Sox is off to a strong start.

Coming into the week, the lanky right-hander has posted a 2.25 ERA and .258 OPS against to go along with five strikeouts and two walks through his first six appearances and eight innings pitched of the year.

Five of the six outings Valdez has made this month have been scoreless ones, with the only blip thus far coming when he surrendered two runs against the Orioles on April 11.

Besides that, the 29-year-old has just about been perfect, and he showed how valuable he can be to Boston’s bullpen in Sunday’s doubleheader against the White Sox at Fenway Park.

In Game 1 of the twin bill, Valdez worked two scoreless frames of relief while striking out two of the six hitters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings — his second multi-inning relief appearance of the season already.

A few hours later, the Dominican native was once again called into action to work the top half of the seventh of Game 2.

Again, Valdez needed all of 15 pitches — 10 of which were strikes — to retire Chicago’s Nos. 3, 4, and 5 hitters (Yoan Moncada, Jose Abreu, Yermin Mercedes) in order, which is no simple task.

The Red Sox may have dropped both games of their doubleheader against the White Sox on Sunday, but Valdez proved to be effective nonetheless.

“If you have an MVP of a doubleheader that you got swept, it was Phillips Valdez,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said during his pregame media availability Monday morning. “He was the MVP of the day yesterday. For him to pitch in both games and save the bullpen, it was huge for us.”

Per Baseball Savant, Valdez’s early success this year goes beyond statistics like ERA and WHIP.

The 6-foot-3, 173 pound hurler is currently in the 96th percentile in regards to average exit velocity, the 89th percentile in regards to max exit velocity, the 99th percentile in regards to hard-hit percentage, the 97th percentile in regards to expected weighted on-base average, the 97th percentile in regards to expected ERA, the 93rd percentile in regards to expected batting average, the 97th percentile in regards to expected slugging percentage, and the 83rd percentile in regards to barrel percentage.

To put it simply, Valdez has done a quality job of limiting hard contact throughout the first month of the 2021 campaign by effectively utilizing his pitch mix, which consists of a changeup, a slider, and a sinker.

The fact that he has emerged as such a solid relief option is somewhat surprising considering that he was A. claimed off waivers last February and B. was not a lock to make Boston’s Opening Day roster this year after struggling in spring training.

Since making his Red Sox debut last July — five months after being claimed off waivers from the Mariners, Valdez owns a 3.05 ERA and 4.01 FIP across 30 appearances spanning 38 1/3 innings of work at the big-league level.

If Valdez continues to impress out of the Sox bullpen moving forward, it should be interesting to see if there is any change in the way Cora uses him, with the possibility of being deployed in higher leverage situations always an option.

(Picture of Phillips Valdez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)