Chaim Bloom on possibility of Red Sox making more additions before Opening Day: ‘There’s still some players out there that are of interest’

Even after making a slew of roster moves this offseason, the Red Sox are likely still not done making additions between now and Opening Day on April 1.

Outside of the Marwin Gonzalez signing being made official sometime in the near future, nothing in regards to a roster move for Boston is imminent at this point, but that is not going to stop the club from exploring opportunities to improve for the short- and l0ng-term.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much on Sunday when asked if this is the roster that will kick off the 2021 season.

“Outside of what you alluded to (Gonzalez), there’s nothing else pending,” Bloom said via a Zoom call with reporters. “But, we’re always going to be on the lookout. There’s still some players out there that are of interest. We’re going to keep staying in touch with them, keep monitoring them. You guys saw the other day, we made a waiver claim.”

On Thursday, the Sox claimed right-handed reliever John Schreiber off waivers from the Tigers while placing ace left-hander Chris Sale to the 60-day injured list.

It was a transaction that, on the surface, is reminiscent of when Boston claimed right-hander Phillps Valdez off waivers from the Mariners last February and placed the now-retired Dustin Pedroia on the 60-day injured list in a corresponding move.

Valdez, 29, seemingly came out of nowhere and wound up making quite the impact in his debut season with the Red Sox, posting a 3.26 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 24 relief appearances and 30 1/3 innings pitched in 2020.

Expecting Schreiber, 27 in March, to do the same with his new team this coming season might be a bit unfair, but it’s safe to assume that Boston is making these sorts of moves with the idea that the players they bring in can contribute to the cause.

“This is a time of year when sometimes there can be that kind of roster shuffling in other organizations,” Bloom added. “It’s a bit early in spring to start having a lot of those conversations with other clubs, but we just want to make sure that we’re active. That we have our finger on the pulse and that we don’t walk past anything that has a chance to help us.”

While it still may be too early in the spring to engage with teams on players who may or may not be available via trade, one area the Red Sox can turn to is the free-agent market. And one free-agent the team is still interested in is old friend Jackie Bradley Jr.

Despite coming off a 2020 campaign in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played, the 30-year-old client of Scott Boras remains unsigned with just weeks to go until the 2021 season begins. That might have something to do with his reported asking price as well as the limited number of suitors out there.

The Red Sox, even while adding the likes of Gonzalez, Franchy Cordero, Enrique Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe to help bolster their outfield depth, have yet to rule out a reunion with Bradley Jr. — who spent the first eight seasons of his major-league career with Boston — to this point.

“We continue to stay in touch and make sure we’re in touch with Scott about his situation,” said Bloom in regards to Bradley Jr.’s free agency. “We’re going to do that until it resolves. Obviously, as the winter’s gone on, we haven’t let that prevent us from making other moves when we’ve seen opportunity to add good players that fit us and can bolster this roster. But, we love Jackie and we’ve stayed in touch with Scott on him throughout the entire winter.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora echoed this same sort of sentiment on Saturday when talking about Bradley Jr.’s current situation.

“We talk a lot, but we don’t talk baseball,” Cora said. “We don’t talk about his situation. I talk about Emerson and the baby and how they’re doing. He asks about my family, and we keep it at that. Obviously, he’s a good player. He’s a guy that can help any team at the big-league level to win ballgames. There’s more than just the manager and the player. There’s a relationship and I keep our conversations with that.”

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale experienced neck stiffness setback over holidays, has resumed throwing program since then

On the road to recovery from Tommy John surgery, Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale apparently ran into a setback some time within the past month or so, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Per Bradford, “Sale experienced a setback around the holidays due to neck stiffness. The ailment put a halt to the starter’s throwing program, which he has begun participating in again.”

The encouraging aspect of this is that Sale has since resumed his throwing program, though his “workouts now include treatment on the neck issue to prevent the problem from cropping up again,” Bradford writes.

Sale, who turns 32 in March, underwent elbow reconstruction surgery on March 29 last year.

Pitchers typically take anywhere between 12-15 months to recover from said operation, which would put the southpaw on track to return to the mound at some point this summer if all goes accordingly.

“With Chris, we’re still looking at a midsummer return to have him fully stretched out as a starter,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said of Sale in November. “But everything continues going along with that. Arm’s doing great, which is awesome.”

Earlier this month, however, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Sox are expected to be “cautious” with Sale’s rehab and that “the pace for his return from Tommy John surgery is expected to be deliberate.”

The seven-time All-Star inked a five-year, $145 million contract extension with Boston shortly before the start of the 2019 campaign, when then-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was at the helm.

Since then, Sale has started just 25 games for the Red Sox, posting a 4.40 ERA and .695 OPS against over 147 1/3 innings pitched before getting shut down due to left elbow inflammation in August 2019, which ultimately led to TJS the following spring.

Under contract through the 2024 season (vesting option for 2025) with the opportunity to opt out after 2022, Sale is slated to earn $30 million in 2021. That dollar figure translates to $25.6 million for luxury tax purposes.

As noted by Bradford, the Florida native was expected to begin throwing off a mound sometime this month, though it appears the neck stiffness he dealt with and is getting treatment on threw a wrench in those plans.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox expected ‘to take a conservative approach’ in Chris Sale’s return from Tommy John surgery, per report

Even though left-hander Chris Sale is slated to throw off a mound later this month for the first since undergoing Tommy John surgery last March, the Red Sox could be taking things slow with the starting pitcher’s rehab, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Sale, who turns 32 in March, last pitched in a big-league game on August 13, 2019.

The Florida native signed a five-year, $145 million contract extension — which includes an opt-out after 2022 and a vesting option for 2025 — with Boston shortly before the start of the 2019 season.

Because of the money they have invested in him, the Red Sox, writes Olney, “would love for Sale to come back and be a factor at some point in 2021, [but are more] apt to take a conservative approach.”

Put another way, “the pace for [Sale’s] return from Tommy John surgery is expected to be deliberate, according to sources.”

As Olney notes, pitchers typically take anywhere from 12 to 15 months to recover from the elbow reconstruction that is Tommy John surgery.

With that time frame in mind, Sale, in theory, could be on track for a June or July return to the mound this coming season, especially given the hurler’s drive.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much when speaking with reporters back in November.

“With Chris, we’re still looking at a midsummer return to have him fully stretched out as a starter,” said Bloom. “But everything continues going along with that. Arm’s doing great, which is awesome.”

While Sale’s arm may be “doing great” at the moment, there is a legitimate possibility that the Red Sox would not want to rush the seven-time All-Star back too soon given the fact he is still under contract for at least two more seasons, and likely more.

“Both the team and the pitcher have reason to take a long view on his recovery,” Olney wrote earlier Monday. “The bulk of the left-hander’s production for the Red Sox will happen in the last three years of the deal.”

Per Spotrac, Sale is set to earn $30 million in 2021 as well as $30 million in 2022, $27.5 million in 2023, and another $27.5 million in 2024. Good for a hefty sum of $85 million over the final three years of his contract. He has a full no-trade clause included in there as well.

Taking the idea that Sale’s time table could be pushed back further than initially expected, Boston may need to do even more to address their starting rotation needs between now and the start of the 2021 season.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora touched upon this issue when appearing on MLB Network Radio over the weekend.

“I think being deeper means the world this year,” said Cora. “You come from a short season and all of a sudden you’re asking these guys to perform at the high levels for a lot of innings. So you’ve gotta be careful. So we’re trying to do that and at the same time, compete at the highest level on a daily basis.”

Last year, Boston starters put up the second-worst ERA in baseball (5.34) while finishing second-to-last in innings pitched (246). As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, “that’s a 162-game pace of just 664.2 innings.”

(Picture of Chris Sale: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox 40-man roster crunch: Chris Sale, Dustin Pedroia among six players reinstated from injured list

As the month of October comes to a close, the Red Sox made another series of roster moves earlier Saturday afternoon, this time reinstating six players from the injured list and therefore adding them back to the club’s 40-man roster.

Those six players? Left-handers Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Kyle Hart, right-hander Colten Brewer, outfielder Andrew Benintendi, and second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

All three of Sale (Tommy John surgery), Rodriguez (Myocarditis), and Pedroia (left knee), missed the 2020 season for their own respective reasons, while Brewer (strained right middle finger), Hart (left hip impingement), and Benintendi (right rib cage strain) all had their seasons cut short due to injury.

By reinstating this group of players, the Sox have bumped up the size of their 40-man roster to 37, which is significant seeing how the deadline to add Rule 5 eligible minor-leaguers to the 40-man is just under three weeks away.

Based off the list of those who are eligible, Boston seems keen on adding at least six prospects — Jay Groome, Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold, Connor Wong, Jeisson Rosario, Hudson Potts — to its 40-man roster before the November 20 deadline.

With that in mind, expect chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. to keep busy as the calendars flip to November. There is much to do, like deciding on whether to pick up Martin Perez’s $6.5 million option for 2021 or reaching some sort of settlement with Pedroia, in a relatively short period of time.

Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke on Nathan Eovaldi: ‘He Probably Would Be Ready for a Season in a Week’

Before MLB spring training was suspended in mid-March due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi was putting together an impressive string of exhibition outings leading into what would have been his second full season in Boston.

Over three starts spanning 12 innings of work, the 30-year-old hurler had yet to surrender a run while scattering just four hits and one walk to go along with 12 strikeouts against 29 total batters faced.

It was just Grapefruit League play, sure, but in the midst of Chris Sale undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery and David Price being dealt to the Dodgers, a resurgent Eovaldi would have been a welcome sight for a Red Sox pitching staff with plenty of holes.

Five days after his start against the Blue Jays in Fort Myers, spring training sites across Florida and Arizona were shut down due to the aforementioned pandemic, and players were allowed to go back home, where they would have to stay prepared for the 2020 season on their own outside of phone/video conference calls with their respective coaching staffs.

Flash forward from March to where things stand right now, and Red Sox pitchers and catchers, along with the rest of the team, are ready to report to Fenway Park on Wednesday for ‘Summer Camp,’ as it has been dubbed by MLB.

When speaking with reporters via Zoom on Wednesday, Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke provided some updates on his pitching staff, which included the fact that guys like Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Martin Perez have already begun to ramp up their workloads while at home these past few weeks.

“You look at guys like Nate Eovaldi and what he’s done so far, “Roenicke said. “He probably would be ready for a season in a week.”

It’s unclear whether Roenicke meant a 60-game or 162-game season, but it still an encouraging update pertaining to an important member of the Red Sox’ starting rotation nonetheless.

After signing a four-year, $68 million deal to stay in Boston two Decembers ago, Eovaldi struggled to stay on the field at times in 2019.

Last April, after just four starts, the Houston native required surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow, a procedure that cost him just about four months of the season.

Upon his return to the Red Sox as a reliever in late July, Eovaldi proved mostly ineffective out of the bullpen, as he posted an ERA above five over 11 appearances before closing out the season as a starter once more from August 18th on.

Due to his contract and lackluster 2019 campaign, Eovaldi has drawn the ire of many a Red Sox fan.

The 2020 season may be a truncated one, but if healthy, the flame throwing Eovaldi could prove his doubters wrong and emerge as a key cog on an overlooked Red Sox pitching staff.

Red Sox Placing Plenty of Emphasis on Undrafted Free Agent Market

The window for teams to sign undrafted free agents opened up a week ago Sunday. Since that time, the Red Sox have signed 13 undrafted free agents for no more than $20,000, according to Baseball America. That’s the most of any club thus far.

Not only that, but Boston, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, are making sure they get the guys they want.

That being the case because two of the 13 UDFAs the Sox have signed so far have been recruited by a pair of All-Stars.

St. Joseph’s University (Philadelphia) right-hander Jordan DiValerio, a senior, already had the Red Sox at the top of his list after he realized he was not going to get drafted. A call from Chirs Sale last Sunday morning all but solidified which club the Nescopeck product was going to sign with.

“I was definitely nervous,” DiValerio said of his conversation with the Red Sox ace. “But he’s just a normal dude. When it boils down to it, he’s really normal, easy to talk to. We talked about Pennsylvania a little bit. He said he’s excited to have me as part of the club.”

On that same Sunday, Boston reached out to another undrafted college player in the form of Grand Canyon University’s Cuba Bess.

A first baseman by trade, the redshirt junior out of Fruita, Colo. received a call from Red Sox area scout Vaughn Williams that was accompanied by a recruitment video pitch from Xander Bogaerts.

One day later, Bess made the decision to forego his senior season and sign with the Sox.

“I took about a day to discuss it with family and coaches and even some of my teammates and former teammates,” Bess told WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “It was a tough decision, especially having eligibility back. It took about a day to say, ‘Yeah, I’m going to sign with you guys.'”

Along with DiValerio and Bess, the Red Sox have reportedly signed Jacinto Arredondo, Graham Hoffman, Jake MacKenzie, Juan Montero, Cole Milam, Henry Nunez-Rijo, Jose Garcia, Merfy Andrew, Brian Van Belle, Maceo Campbell, and Robert Kwiatkowski to undrafted free agent contracts.

Red Sox Open Fenway South Complex for Players to Prepare for 2020 Season, If There Is One

The Red Sox have opened the Fenway South complex in Fort Myers back up for players to once again prepare for the 2020 season, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

The important distinction here is that before this week, the complex was only available to players who were working their way back from injuries, such as Alex Verdugo and Chris Sale.

Now though, I would imagine the facility surrounding JetBlue Park is available to Red Sox players and staff in the same capacity it was before pitchers and catchers reported to camp back in February.

Per Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the complex was open on Wednesday and Thursday to a handful of players that included Jackie Bradley Jr. and Tzu-Wei Lin, and he expects that the exact number of players who show up “may vary day to day.”

This news comes at a time where the club is debating on whether to hold a second version of spring training in Boston or Fort Myers if baseball does indeed return this year. Of course, that all depends on the ongoing negotiations between Major League Baseball and the MLBPA.

As Abraham notes, if the two sides can reach an agreement on starting the season relatively soon, “formal workouts would begin approximately June 10th and last three weeks.”

These preseason workouts would more than likely consist of intrasquad games, so it would seem like it would be in the Sox’ best interest to hold a second version of spring training in Fort Myers rather than Boston given the volume of players who would be on hand in this scenario.

Red Sox’ Chris Sale on Handling Criticism: ‘I’ve Never Paid Attention to What People Say About Me, Because It Doesn’t Matter’

Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale underwent successful Tommy John surgery seven weeks ago.

Before Tuesday, the 31-year-old had only spoken to the media once since undergoing the procedure in Los Angeles, but he spoke with ESPN’s Mary Rivera in an extensive one-on-one, presumably over-phone interview earlier this week.

Topics covered in said interview included Sale’s recovery from Tommy John, criticism from fans over his contract, the Red Sox trading Mookie Betts and David Price, thoughts on a disappointing 2019 season, the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal in 2017, and Alex Cora’s departure from Boston.

You can read Rivera’s conversation with Sale in full here, but I wanted to hit on a few highlights, starting with the Florida native being asked if it’s “hard to handle the criticism” from people who believe he has not lived up to expectations under his new contract.

“When I got to Boston, my first year was really good,” Sale said. “My second season was decent but I ran into some shoulder issues. We ended up winning a World Series, so I’d even call that a relatively good season with a little hiccup. Then, 2019 was an absolute disaster. But in the end, I’ve never paid attention to what people say about me, because it doesn’t matter.”

Prior to the start of the 2019 season, Sale inked a five-year, $145 million contract extension with the Red Sox while Dave Dombrowski still served as the club’s president of baseball operations.

Dombrowski has since been removed from that post and was effectively replaced by former Rays executive and current chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, whose first major move at the helm in Boston was dealing Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers in February.

That sort of transaction, which significantly hindered the Red Sox’ chances of winning in 2020, could have upset a veteran like Sale, whose first priority is to win no matter who he plays for, but he did not seem to take too much offense to it.

“Very rarely in this day and age, you get to play with the same team for a long time,” Sale told Rivera. “We have to adapt and go with it. We don’t make decisions; we don’t trade players. We show up to spring training and we do our best to win with the players we have.”

At the time Betts and Price were dealt to Los Angeles, the 2020 MLB season really wasn’t in question. That has obviously changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though, and Sale isn’t too sure there will even be a season at all. Not like that matters much for him anyway since he is still recovering from Tommy John.

It still is a concerning matter for players who can play this year though, and Sale certainly feels for them while the MLBPA remains in active negotiations with the league.

“There’s too many moving parts with all this right now,” he said in regard to getting baseball back this year. “There’s obviously negotiations between the players and the owners, and that’s what I hope we can iron out sooner rather than later. On my end of it, I’m not missing any games that everyone else isn’t missing. Plus, I’m not getting paid, so no one can call me an overpaid asshole right now [laughs].”

For the time being, Sale will continue the process of coming back from Tommy John surgery. He’s been one of the few players to work out at Fenway South in Fort Myers since the complex opened back up earlier in the month.

“I’ve been doing a shoulder program and we’re doing soft-tissue stuff but I’m starting to get into some pushing stuff, some rows,” Sale said of the rehab process. “A lot of this actually is a lot of shoulder work too, which is good.

“We can kind of start, as they say, tearing it down to the studs. I can work from the ground up. I can completely tear my body down and build it back up. Right now, since I’m not really working out to achieve anything, I can really focus on the little fine details that sometimes might be overlooked getting ready for a big, bulky season. I love the guys I’m working with and I know I’m in good hands.”

If all goes according to plan, Sale should be able to return to a big league mound sometime in June or July 2021.

On This Day in Red Sox History: Pedro Martinez Leads off With Immaculate Inning

On this day in 2002, Red Sox right-hander Pedro Martinez took the mound at Fenway Park for his eighth start of the season, this one coming against the 29-12 Seattle Mariners.

Entering that dreary and cold evening in Boston, Martinez owned a 4-0 record to go along with a 3.49 ERA and .616 OPS against through his first seven starts and 38 2/3 innings pitched of the ’02 campaign.

As indicated by their record, the Mariners were a pretty decent club up to this point in the 2002 season. They had just taken two out of three from Boston in Seattle the previous weekend and took the opener of the three-game set at Fenway the day before Pedro took the hill.

That said, Martinez dominated the M’s in the Sox’ lone win in the Emerald city, and he followed suit with another impressive outing in his third consecutive start against an American League West foe on that faithful Saturday.

What was even more splendid about this performance from Martinez was how he led it off: With an immaculate inning.

That’s right, by getting Ichiro Suzuki, Mark McLemore, and Ruben Sierra to all fan on three pitches each, the Dominican national became the 11th pitcher in American League history to record an immaculate frame. In other words, three batters faced, nine pitches thrown, and three punchouts. Not too shabby.

That set the tone for Martinez to best the Mariners once more, as he went on to surrender just one run over eight solid innings while scattering six hits and one HBP to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

Improving to 6-0 on the year thanks to this start, Martinez went on to finish second in American League Cy Young voting and 20th in AL MVP voting in 2002.

Since Martinez accomplished the feat on this day 18 years ago, Clay Buccholz, Craig Kimbrel, Rick Porcello, and Chris Sale have been the only Red Sox pitchers to also toss an immaculate inning, with Sale doing it on two separate occasions last season.

Koji Uehara, Chris Sale Reflect on Recording Final Outs of 2013, 2018 World Series for Red Sox

Despite being born on opposite sides of the world 14 years apart and despite throwing with the opposite hand, Koji Uehara and Chris Sale have something in common: They both recorded the final out of a World Series for the Red Sox in the last 10 years.

Uehara, then 38, did so for Boston against the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the 2013 fall classic at Fenway Park, while Sale, then 29, did so for Boston against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the 2018 fall classic at Dodger stadium.

Uehara, a right-hander, got the Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter swinging on a 2-2 splitter on the outer half of the plate, while Sale, a left-hander, got the Dodgers’ Manny Machado to corkscrew into the ground and whiff on a 1-2, 84 MPH slider.

Both hurlers wrapped up historic seasons for the Red Sox with those respective punchouts, and both hurlers recently spoke to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal in separate conversations about what they recall from those special nights in late October of 2013 and 2018.

Starting with Uehara, the Japan native was coming off a dominant season in which he didn’t even start the year as Boston’s closer.

Season-ending surgeries for Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey resulted in Uehara sliding into that ninth-inning role in July, and he did not look back from there all the way until coming into the final frame of Game 6 of the 2013 World Series with a 6-1 lead to protect.

With the chance to secure the Sox’ first World Series win at Fenway Park since 1918, Uehara retired Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso in simple fashion, leaving Carpenter as the lone obstacle remaining.

Upon fanning the Cardinals infielder on the seventh and final pitch he would throw in 2013 to secure his club’s eight World Series title in franchise history, Uehara reveled in what he and the Red Sox had just accomplished.

“I realized that I didn’t need to throw anymore,” he said, through team interpreter Mikio Yoshimura. “It came purely from my complete satisfaction…how fulfilled I was. I can still feel the ultimate happiness when I look back at that moment.”

According to Rosenthal, Uehara considers recording the final out of the ’13 World Series the ‘pinnacle of his’ professional baseball career.

Turning to Sale now, the Florida native was slated to start Game 5 of the 2018 World Series for Boston, but that responsibility instead went to fellow left-hander David Price while Sale would be available to pitch out of the bullpen that night.

“We were like, ‘We’re in,'” Sale recalled him and Price’s meeting with then-manager Alex Cora following Boston’s Game 4 win over the Dodgers. “Me and DP high-fived, hugged it out. I looked at him and said, ‘We’re going old-school tomorrow.”

Price delivered with seven-plus quality innings of work in Game 5, while Joe Kelly finished the eighth and the Red Sox entered the ninth with a comfortable four-run advantage.

Sale had begun to warm up in the eighth, but after Kelly got through the frame unscathed, he sat back down until he got the call for the ninth.

“I remember running in from the bullpen,” Sale told Rosenthal. “The only two things going through my mind were, I have a four-run lead and I have three outs to get. Don’t trip on the way in.”

Sale did not trip on the way in, and he mowed down Justin Turner and Kike Hernandez in consecutive order before fanning Machado on four pitches to secure the series victory.

“It was like the chain didn’t catch. It happened so slow for me,” Sale said of the first few moments after recording the final out. “It was almost like strike three, OK, click-click, game’s over, click-click, holy shit, we’re world champions, we just won the World Series. It was like a delay for me. I got the third out. I took a couple of steps. Then boom, it hit me.”

Just recalling what happened that night gave Sale chills, he told Rosenthal. As it should considering how the 119-win, World Series champion 2018 Boston Red Sox are one of, if not the greatest team in the franchise’s storied history.