Red Sox Option Ryan Weber to Pawtucket, Call up Dylan Covey

Before taking on the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, the Red Sox swapped one right-handed pitcher for another, as the club recalled Dylan Covey from their alternate training site in Pawtucket and in a corresponding move, optioned Ryan Weber.

Covey, who turns 29 next week, will be making his second stint with the Sox after allowing two runs over two innings of relief in a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on July 25. The California native was sent down to Pawtucket shortly after his team debut with the goal of getting him stretched out in mind, manager Ron Roenicke said at the time.

Originally acquired by Boston from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 21, Covey came into the 2020 season with a career 6.54 ERA and 5.56 FIP over 63 outings (45 starts) and 250 1/3 innings pitched with the Chicago White Sox from 2017 through 2019.

Weber, meanwhile, entered the 2020 campaign as the Sox’ No. 3 starter but struggled in that role, most recently surrendering two runs in just three innings of work against the Blue Jays on Friday night.

Through three starts at the big-league level thus far in 2020, the soon-to-be-30-year-old hurler has posted an ERA of 9.90 and OPS against of 1.220 over 10 total innings pitched.

With Weber off the major-league roster for the time being, it will be fascinating to see how the Red Sox approach the vacancy in their starting rotation. Roenicke will likely have more to say about that later Saturday.

Red Sox Acquire Right-Hander Dylan Covey in Trade With Rays

The Red Sox have acquired right-hander Dylan Covey from the Tampa Bay Rays, the club officially announced Tuesday.

By acquiring Covey and adding him to their player pool while removing left-hander Bobby Poyner, the Sox now have 59 players in said pool.

Covey, who turns 29 in August, was originally a fourth-round pick of the Oakland Athletics in the 2013 amateur draft.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 220 lbs., the University of San Diego product made his major-league debut with the White Sox in April 2017 after being taken by Chicago in the previous year’s Rule 5 draft.

Since that time, Covey has not had a simple time of things in the big-leagues, as he owns a career ERA of 6.54 and career FIP 5.56 through 63 outings, 45 of which were starts, and 250 1/3 innings pitched.

While he was consistently shuttled between the majors and Triple-A the past two seasons, Covey was ultimately designated for assignment by the ChiSox in January before he inked a minor-league pact with the Rays the very next month.

For what it’s worth, Covey was having a decent spring for Tampa Bay before things were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Through his first four Grapefruit League appearances of the spring, he had yielded just four runs (three earned) over 7 2/3 innings of work out of the Rays’ bullpen.

Per his Statcast page, Covey’s 2019 pitch mix included six pitches: a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a sinker, a slider, a changeup, and a curveball. He punched out 14.6% of the batters he faced last season.

With Covey, as well former Diamondbacks hurler Zack Godley, the Red Sox have added two intriguing rotation and/or bullpen options to their ranks in the past week.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the acquisition of Covey from the Rays marks the first time chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has made a deal with his former employer in St. Petersburg.

Former Red Sox Ace Jon Lester Open to Reunion With Organization He Began Career With

Former Red Sox ace and current Cubs left-hander Jon Lester is open to a potential reunion with Boston this winter, he said in a radio interview with WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Lester, who turns 37 in January, is entering the final year of the six-year, $155 million deal he signed with Chicago back in December 14. That contract includes a $25 million vesting option for 2021 if Lester were to pitch 200 innings this year or 400 innings between the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Even if those numbers wind up getting prorated due to the coronavirus-induced shutdown, it seems unlikely that he would reach that mark, thus making him a free agent later in the year.

“We’ve got a lot of what-if’s going on right now,” Lester told Bradford. “For me, I don’t know what is going to happen next year. I know I have the team option, the player option, that sort of thing. We’ll figure that out one way or the other. I will either be here or be a free agent. Obviously everything is open. I’m open-minded to anything.”

Drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2002 amateur draft out of Bellarmine High School in Tacoma, Wa., Lester won two World Series titles and made two All-Star teams in his first go-around with the Red Sox.

As you may recall, Sox brass famously low-balled Lester in the spring of 2014 as he was nearing free agency and coming off a 2013 campaign in which he was an All-Star, helped Boston win another World Series, and finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting.

At that time, principal owner John Henry and Co. offered the lefty a four-year, $70 million extension, good for an average annual value of $15 million.

Even after publicly expressing that he’d be willing to take a discount to keep the Red Sox as competitive as possible, that offer was still downright disrespectful, to be blunt. Especially when Lester had just seen the Yankees sign international free agent Masahiro Tanaka, then 25, to a seven-year, $155 million contract that January.

So after botching those extension talks, the Red Sox wound up dealing Lester to the Oakland Athletics prior to the 2014 trade deadline, and the Washington native went on to sign that aforementioned six-year deal with the Cubs a few months later.

As productive as Lester has been since joining the North Siders, his 2019 campaign was not the most memorable.

Starting 31 games, Lester posted a 4.46 ERA and 4.35 xFIP over 171 2/3 innings of work. Not terrible numbers by any means, but it certainly would appear that the southpaw is on the decline at this stage in his career.

Preferably, Lester would like to prove that last year was just a blip and not the way things are trending for him, but his chances to do that are growing slimmer and slimmer as each day passes with no plan for a 2020 season in place.

“On a personal level, this hurts me,” he said of the shutdown. “I’m not getting any younger and coming off a year like I had last year, this isn’t going to help me.”

Because of that uncertainty, I’m sure Lester has had more time to think about different things while waiting this pandemic out from his Georgia home, and it certainly seems like returning to Boston has crossed his mind more than once.

“Absolutely it would be cool to go back and finish my career where it all started,” he said. “But, I’ve got a little time before I really have to sit down and weigh that decision, even if it’s something where they want me back. Hopefully, I’m still a good enough caliber pitcher that the want of my services will still be out there for people. We’ll see.”

We will have to wait and see. I mean, who knows what the market for a veteran 37-year-old left-hander with 2,500+ innings under his belt will look like come free agency? How much would Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom be willing to dish out for someone like that if he feels like Lester fits a team need? Both are unknowns at this point in time.

Former Red Sox Prospect and Cubs Star Anthony Rizzo Donates Meals to Doctors and Nurses Across Maine

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has not been part of the Red Sox organization for more than nine years, but that did not stop the three-time All-Star from keeping his past in mind as part of his efforts to aid in coronavirus containment efforts through the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation.

On Friday, Rizzo donated lunches and dinners to several hospitals across the state of Maine, including the Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute in Lewinston.

Dr. Paul Weldner, whose family hosted Rizzo when Rizzo played for the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs in 2010, is a cardiologist at CMHVI. The two still stay in touch to this day, and Rizzo recently reached out to his former host parent about how he could help in the midst of this pandemic.

“He basically reached out to me and said, ‘Paul I am giving out meals to a bunch of hospitals in your area and I would like your unit to benefit from it,'” Weldner told the Sun Journal’s Nathan Fournier. “So, we arranged it and that happened [Friday].”

Food was ordered from a popular local spot among the nurses, and “They ordered two sets of meals,” Weldner said. “One for the afternoon shift and I guess another meal is coming for the evening shift. And they just ordered a whole bunch of individual meals so people didn’t have to gather in one place.”

Weldner, who went to see Rizzo play in Game 4 of the 2016 World Series in Chicago and attended Rizzo’s wedding in 2018, was also gifted an engraved baseball from the first baseman.

Per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal:

“As of Friday, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation will have delivered approximately 3,500 meals to front-line workers at 23 hospitals in six different states (Florida, Arizona, New York, New Jersey and Maine), according to executive director Abby Suarez.

Friday’s efforts also will include a shipment of 1,000 boxes of medical gloves to Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, with 50 gallons of hand sanitizer set to be delivered to the same facility on Monday. Next week, the foundation plans to expand its delivery of meals to nursing homes. It also is preparing care packages for pediatric cancer families and seeking to purchase a large amount of personal protective equipment (PPE) to donate, Suarez said.”

For a little more background, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation was founded in 2012, four years after Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma as an 18-year-old in April 2008, just as he was about to begin his first full season as a professional in the Red Sox organization.

Fortunately, Rizzo was able to overcome that adversity and was told by his doctor that he “could live a normal life” again that November.

The main goal of Rizzo’s foundation is to “support pediatric cancer patients and their families,” but in these unprecedented times, it’s certainly encouraging to see them broadening their horizons.

For more information on the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, click here.

Red Sox Acquire Catcher Jhonny Pereda From Cubs to Complete Travis Lakins Trade

The Red Sox have acquired minor-league catcher Jhonny Pereda from the Cubs to complete the trade that sent right-hander Travis Lakins to Chicago back in January. The club made the transaction official earlier Monday.

Pereda, who turns 24 in April, was originally signed by the Cubs as an international free agent out of Venezuela in April 2013.

In 98 games with Double-A Tennessee last year, the backstop slashed .241/.336/.305 with two home runs and 39 RBI. He was also the recipient of the 2019 Minor League Rawlings Gold Glove Award for catcher, as he threw out 44 of the 132 (33.3%) of the runners who attempted to steal against him last year.

A right-handed hitter, Pereda also played eight games at first base in 2019 as well as two games at third base in 2017.

As for Lakins, the 25-year-old was dealt to the Cubs in January in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Pereda turned out to be that PTBNL, but Lakins has since been waived by Chicago and claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.

Steve Cishek Signs One-Year Deal With White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with right-handed reliever Steve Cishek, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The contract includes a $6 million option for a second year as well.

Cishek, 33, is coming off a two-year, $13 million deal with the Cubs, where most recently he posted a 2.95 ERA and 4.95 xFIP over 70 relief appearances and 64 innings of work in 2019 for the North Siders.

The Falmouth, Ma. native was viewed as a potential fit for the Red Sox in 2020, as he could help supplement an already solid bullpen and he had a previous connection to Boston’s chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when the two were in Tampa Bay.

Per MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, Cishek even had interest in signing with his hometown team as recently as last week, but because he earned $7.1 million with the Cubs in 209, he was believed to be out of the Red Sox’ pay range.

As it turns out, Cishek wound up taking just south of $7.1 million to remain in the same city he had spent the previous two years in.

I don’t have any inside information, but I would have to imagine this is how things went down before Cishek agreed to that deal with Chicago on Tuesday:

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn made his offer of one-year, $6 million to Cishek that included that aforementioned option for 2021. Cishek’s camp at Jet Sports Management makes one last call to Bloom and Co. to ask if they can go higher than that. Bloom responds by saying they can’t, and that’s that.

The fact that the Red Sox were unable to land a quality late-inning reliever, albeit one who does have injury concerns, for a mere $6 million just goes to show how handcuffed they are by the goal of getting below the $208 million luxury tax threshold ahead of the 2020 season.

Red Sox Free Agency Targets: Pedro Strop

MLB Trade Rumors on Tuesday released their annual predictions for where this year’s crop of top 50 free agents will land this winter.

As it is already known, the Red Sox find themselves needing help out of the bullpen. That much is evident by how team chairman Tom Werner said that, ” we’re going to hopefully supplement our relief pitching,” back in September.

Whether adding new arms to the mix comes via trade or free agency has yet to be determined, but that should not stop new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom from exploring his options.

Last month, I brought up the idea of the club reaching out to right-handed reliever and Massachusetts native Steve Cishek. Now, I am going to throw out another name who also spent the 2019 season with the Chicago Cubs in right-hander Pedro Strop.

MLBTR has the 34-year-old inking a one-year, $5 million deal with the Sox this winter.

Strop is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he posted a 4.97 ERA and 4.53 FIP over 50 relief appearances and 41 2/3 innings of work. Those numbers may not seem great on the surface, but it is worth mentioning that Strop did spend time on the injured list twice this year due to a left hamstring strain in May and left neck tightness in late July/early August.

Before that though, the Dominican Republic native had established himself as one of the better relievers in the National League since joining the Cubs from the Baltimore Orioles as part of the Jake Arrieta trade in July 2013.

Strop’s pitch arsenal includes a slider, four-seam fastball, cutter, sinker, and split-finger fastball. He certainly appears to be someone who could very well bounce back in 2020.

Although Strop was the only free agent directly linked to the Sox by MLBTR, other named that Boston could be interested in include Zack Wheeler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Will Smith, Cole Hamels, Jose Abreu, Daniel Hudson, Brock Holt, and Rich Hill.

Red Sox Claim Josh Osich off Waivers From White Sox

The Red Sox have made their first roster move under new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, as the club claimed left-handed reliever Josh Osich off waivers from the Chicago White Sox on Thursday.

Osich, 31, posted an ERA of 4.66 and batting average against of .242 over 57 appearances and 67 2/3 total innings pitched this past season with Chicago, his first in the Windy City after coming up and spending four years with the San Francisco Giants.

Per MLB Trade Rumors, Osich is projected to earn approximately $1 million in his first year of salary arbitration.

The Idaho native has a solid track record against left-handed bats over the course of his career, limiting them to a lifetime .659 OPS over the span of 380 plate appearances.

Beginning in 2020, relievers will be required to face a minimum of three hitters or end the inning they have entered, so it appears that the days of the LOOGY (Left-Handed One Out Guy) in baseball are over.

That new rule did not stop the Sox from picking up a left-handed option out of the bullpen though, especially when they did not have to give anything up to acquire him.

Based off of his Statcast page, Osich relied heavily on his cutter in 2019, turning to the pitch nearly 67% of the time he was on the mound. His pitch arsenal also includes a slider, sinker, changeup, and a mid-90’s fastball.

The offseason is just getting started, and the Red Sox are already on the board in terms of transactions made. It’s hard to imagine that they are anywhere close to being finished.

Theo Epstein Shoots Down Red Sox Rumors Amid Speculation Surrounding Potential Reunion

In the last few weeks following the firing of now ex-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, rumors had been swirling that the Red Sox were interested in a potential reunion with former general manager and current Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein.

Epstein himself shut down those reports on Wednesday, telling reporters before the Cubs took on the Pittsburgh Pirates that, “I’m here. We have a lot we need to work on to get back to the level we’re accustomed to. I’m invested in that. That’s what I’m focused on.”

The Brookline, Ma. native’s current contract with Chicago runs through the end of the 2021 season. He initially joined the Cubs back on October 21st, 2011, the same day he resigned from the post as GM of the Red Sox for a second time.

At just 45-years of age, Epstein has already established himself as one of the more accomplished baseball executives of the 21st century, snapping an 86-year World Series drought with the Sox in 2004, winning another in 2007, and snapping a 106-year drought with the Cubs in 2016.

As you may have already guessed, the Red Sox are going to need someone to lead their baseball operations department ahead of what looks to be a crucial winter for the club with plenty of important decisions to be made.

And with that bit of knowledge, Epstein also confirmed Wednesday that, “neither he, GM Jed Hoyer or executive Jason McLeod were linked to the Red Sox position,” per the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer.

“I have really good relationships with a lot of people there,” Epstein said. “And I certainly wish them the best, but there’s nothing to that story.”

So, unless something dramatic happens relatively soon, it seems as though the Red Sox will have to look elsewhere for a new head of baseball operations. Perhaps Eddie Romero, an internal option, is a viable choice?

Red Sox Reportedly ‘Monitoring’ White Sox’ Jose Abreu’s Availability as Trade Deadline Looms

The Red Sox are reportedly among a handful of clubs monitoring the availability of Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu as the trade deadline nears, per Forbes’ Phil Rogers.

Abreu, 32, is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2019 season and is slashing .273/.309/.500 with 21 home runs and 66 RBI through 92 games this year.

As things stand right now, the White Sox are about halfway through a five-year rebuild, and with a record of 42-51, currently sit 11 games back of the Minnesota Twins for first place in the American League central.

Abreu and the Red Sox have been linked since the Cuba native defected from his country back in 2013.

Boston did make a lucrative offer to the then-26-year-old infielder, but ultimately came up short of the six-year, $68 million proposal from Chicago.

Now, the White Sox are in a position to deal Abreu for prospects and perhaps re-sign him in the winter.

Against left-handed pitching this season, Abreu owns an OPS of .947 to go along with four homers and 15 RBI. His OPS falls by nearly 200 points when facing off against right-handed pitching, but the power numbers go up as well.

With those splits in mind, would it necassarily make sense for the Red Sox to pursue a right-handed first baseman? Probably not, because Michael Chavis is already holding things down and Steve Pearce should be able to make his return from the injured list at some point this season.

Sure, going after a vaunted slugger like Abreu, who owns a career 1.063 at Fenway Park, would be nice, but given how financially pressed president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowsk and the Red Sox seem to be, the main objective heading into July 31st should be to acquire bullpen help.