Red Sox among clubs that have ‘been involved to some extent in negotiations’ with free-agent infielder Marcus Semien, per report

The Red Sox are among the clubs that have been “involved to some extent in negotiations with free-agent infielder Marcus Semien,” according to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

Bowden additionally reports that the Athletics, Philles, and Reds have also been negotiating in some capacity with Semien, while “there are probably more clubs interested due to his versatility, athleticism, and durability.”

Semien, 30, was projected by MLB Trade Rumors back in November to net himself a one-year, $14 million deal this offseason.

The Bay Area native is coming off a 2020 campaign with the Athletics in which he posted an underwhelming .223/.305/.374 slash line in the wake of finishing third in American League MVP voting in 2019. He clubbed just seven home runs and drove in 28 RBI over 53 games played this past season.

That said, Semien improved his stock in October, as he went 11-for-27 (.407) at the plate while putting up an OPS of 1.151 in seven games against the White Sox and Astros in the American League Wild Card and Divisional Series’.

Bowden notes that this “strong postseason helped him” in terms of garnering interest as a free agent in addition to his past reputation as one of the more solid middle infielders in the American League.

The Athletic’s Peter Gammons was the first to report Boston’s interest in Semien late last month, tweeting that the “Sox like him” and view him as a second baseman despite his experience at shortstop with the A’s.

Gammons added that while attending the University of California, Berkeley, Semien was roommates with Red Sox amateur scouting director and former Golden Bear Paul Toboni. So there is a connection there.

At the time of this tweet, Gammons reported that the Red Sox did not yet know how much money it would take to sign Semien, but perhaps that dollar figure is starting to become more clear as spring training quicky approaches.

As currently constructed, the Sox’ 40-man roster is somewhat lousy with infielders capable of playing second base, but none have established themselves of being able to play the position on an everyday basis in the major-leagues. Christian Arroyo and Michael Chavis are among those in the organization that fit this description.

“We definitely have some options internally,” general manager Brian O’Halloran said in December in regards to Boston’s outlook at second base. “But we’re also open-minded. And this is not exclusive to second base. We’re open minded to different ways of improving the club.”

If they were to sign Semien, who has played 29 career games and has logged 236 2/3 career innings at second (none since 2014), to a short-term deal to primarily play that position, then perhaps the Red Sox’ plan would be for the former sixth-round draft pick to serve as somewhat of a bridge to top prospect Jeter Downs.

That all depends on what chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and the rest of Boston’s baseball operations department have in store, though.

ESPN’s Buster Olney did tweet on Tuesday night that the expectation around baseball was that the Red Sox are preparing to make a series of roster moves to upgrade the club’s roster for the 2021 season.

(Picture of Marcus Semien: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Red Sox feel top prospect Jeter Downs needs to gain more experience at second base in minors before getting big-league consideration

While the Red Sox continue to explore their options at second base this offseason, one thing is apparent: Don’t expect top prospect Jeter Downs to fill that gap next year, at least not right away.

This is the case because according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, the Red Sox would like to see the 22-year-old infielder gain more experience at second base at the minor-league level.

“The organizational perception is that [Downs] needs to experience the ups and downs of a semi-normal Triple-A season at this new position,” Bradford wrote over the weekend.

One of the three players (two prospects) Boston got in return from the Dodgers in the blockbuster Mookie Betts trade back in February, Downs has accrued significant playing time as a middle infielder in the minors, but little of that playing time as come at second.

Since being selected by the Reds with the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft out of Monsignor Pace High School (Fla.), the Colombia native has played 195 games (1,672 2/3 innings) at shortstop and just 84 games (698 1/3 innings) at second, with just one of those 84 coming above the High-A level in 2019.

FanGraphs does not get too in-depth with defensive metrics for minor-leaguers, but Downs recorded one error and helped turn seven double plays while patrolling second base for High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa last year.

This year, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic prevented the minor-league season from taking place, so coveted prospects such as Downs were limited to working out at their club’s respective training sites, which in Downs’ case was in Pawtucket.

There, as noted by SoxProspects.com, the young infielder primarily focused on improving his defense with coach Bruce Crabbe.

“Crabby’s amazing,” Downs said via Zoom back in August. “Almost everyday now we go out there and we get a little work in with a couple other guys as well. It’s a good learning curve, everybody does extra hitting, so I felt like I wanted to do that same thing with my defense. As much as I hit, I also want to do the same amount of defense. I want to be elite at both sides of the ball, so that’s where I’m trying to get it to.”

As it turns out, Downs did put in the work at the alternate site to improve his defensive capabilities at both middle infield positions. At least that’s what Worcester Red Sox manager Billy McMillon said when speaking with reporters in October.

“He made tremendous strides defensively,” McMillon said of Downs. “There are some things he needs to work on, like his makeup and his confidence and things like that. I think those issues affected how he did offensively. As far as Jeter, I see tremendous upside. His track record of offensive performance indicates that at 7:05, when the lights are on, he shows up at the plate. I’m hopeful his track record offensively meshes well with the strides he made defensively. If that happens, I think you’ve got a pretty good player. I don’t want to give a comp or anything, but I think he would more than hold his own based on what he did defensively and how much better and more consistent he got.

“I think he would be a better second baseman longterm, but I do believe he could play shortstop,” added McMillon. “He made some plays that were just unbelievable at shortstop. I personally would see him a better fit at second base if we were talking about 162 games. I think his athleticism, his skills, would be a little better at second base. But he’s still young. I don’t want it to seem like he can’t play shortstop. I think he could do a fine job over there. In my eyes, I see second base when I see him.”

Depending on how the rest of the offseason pans out, Downs will presumably get the opportunity to play second base on an everyday basis with Triple-A Worcester in 2021.

There, as Bradford alluded to, the Red Sox will obviously be keeping a close eye on the right-handed hitter as he prepares to make the jump to the majors — or at least Boston’s 40-man roster — in the months leading up to him being eligible for the 2021 Rule 5 Draft.

In the meantime, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote earlier this month that while the plan is for Downs to continue to develop at Triple-A, the Sox could pursue free-agent second base options, like Kike Hernandez or Kolten Wong, who would sign one or two-year deals in order to “serve as a bridge to Downs.”

Of course, as Speier points out, it’s not out of the question that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. could use Downs as a trade chip in order to acquire a bigger piece from another club.

That possibility likely depends on how the club views Downs, as well as its other second base candidates such as Jonathan Arauz, Christian Arroyo, and Michael Chavis, internally.

Red Sox should consider signing right-hander Ryne Stanek

The Red Sox are a team in need of pitching help — both of the starting rotation and bullpen variety — this offseason. Among the names available via free agency, Ryne Stanek is far from the sexiest. But, the right-hander could prove to be an integral piece of any club’s pitching staff if he regains his 2018-2019 form come next season.

Non-tendered by the Marlins earlier this week, the 29-year-old hurler hits the open market for the first time in his career coming off a lackluster 2020 campaign in which he allowed eight earned runs over just nine relief appearances and 10 innings of work. He was limited due to the fact that he missed a month on the injured list for an undisclosed reason.

Originally acquired by Miami from the Rays at last season’s trade deadline, Stanek had been enjoying success at the major-league level with Tampa Bay prior to his move to South Beach.

Going back to the start of the 2018 season, the St. Louis native had posted a 3.17 ERA and 3.64 FIP in exactly 100 appearances (56 starts) and 122 innings pitched up until the point he was traded in late July 2019.

Those are decent numbers, and considering the fact he was only projected to earn $800,000 in his first season of arbitration eligibility in 2021, Stanek could be someone teams believe will bounce back with a new change of scenery. The Red Sox, by all accounts, could very well be one of those teams.

Not only could Stanek, who works with a four-seamer, slider, and splitter, provide valuable pitching depth for a club in desperate need of it, but there’s the Chaim Bloom factor to consider as well.

Boston’s chief baseball officer was a key member of Tampa Bay’s front office for over a decade, and he most likely had input on who the Rays took with their second first-round pick of the 2013 amateur draft in Stanek, a former Arkansas Razorback.

So far in his tenure with the Sox, Bloom has not shied away from picking up former early-round picks who had fallen off from their former top prospect status. Infielder Christian Arroyo, who was most notably part of the trade that sent Evan Longoria from the Rays to the Giants in 2017, is just one example.

Stanek fits that same mold to some degree, and he would also fit in with the Red Sox on account of the fact that he is versatile, capable of pitching out of the bullpen and serving as an opener when needed.

As mentioned earlier, 56 of Stanek’s 121 appearances with the Rays going back to 2017 had come as an opener. The 6-foot-4 right-hander proved to be quite effective in that role, and he may be able to regain that level of effectiveness if he were to return to it with Boston.

The way the Sox’ rotation looks at the moment in terms of the level of depth, it would not hurt to have an opener as a potential sixth or seventh option if a starter were to go down for whatever reason.

We have certainly seen out fair share of Red Sox openers going back to the latter half of the 2019 season, but bringing in someone like Stanek, one of the role’s innovators, could have the makings to be an underrated offseason addition for Bloom and Co.

Christian Arroyo’s Performance With Red Sox This Year Left Chaim Bloom ‘Hungry for More’ in 2021

Going into the 2020 season, Christian Arroyo likely wasn’t on the Red Sox’ radar.

The 25-year-old infielder opened the year with the Indians and managed to appear in just one game as a defensive replacement before getting designated for assignment on August 6.

A week later, Arroyo was claimed off waivers by Boston. All the while, the club’s brass was watching another former top prospect struggle at the major-league level in the form of Jose Peraza.

Peraza, who inked a one-year deal with the Sox last December after getting non-tendered by the Reds coming off a disappointing 2019 campaign, was viewed as a potential solution to Boston’s lingering second base problem.

The 26-year-old Venezuelan got off to a hot start with his new club by racking up seven hits in his first five games of the year, but eventually cooled off to the point where he was eventually optioned to the alternate training site for the remainder of the season on September 9.

Peraza’s demotion came a day after the Red Sox selected Arroyo’s contract from Pawtucket, thus promoting him to the major-league roster for the first time on September 8.

With more at-bats to be had now that his fellow second baseman had been sent down, Arroyo showed glimpses of his potential and reminded everyone why the Giants took him with the 25th overall pick in the 2013 amateur draft.

In 14 games with the Red Sox, the Tampa native slashed .240/.296/.440 with three home runs and eight RBI over 54 plate appearances, which came with him primarily playing second and batting out of the nine-hole.

Those numbers certainly are not off the charts, and Arroyo would probably be one of the first people to tell you that. But again, the ex-Rays infielder had his moments, and those moments left Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom very impressed with someone he was already familiar with.

“I knew he was a fundamentally sound player,” Bloom said of Arroyo’s potential when speaking with The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams earlier this week. “I knew he had versatility and ability. At the plate, I saw him drive pitches that I’ve never seen him drive before. That was impressive to see. He had a very confident approach at the plate.”

With all the uncertainties surrounding what the Red Sox will do at second base this offseason, Arroyo could emerge as a favorite to land the starting gig next spring. That possibility comes given the notion that Peraza will presumably get non-tendered, Dustin Pedroia will lose his 40-man roster spot, and top prospect Jeter Downs will begin the year in Triple-A.

All that being said, Bloom anticipates Arroyo will get more of a chance to show what he’s capable of once position players report to Fenway South this coming February.

“We were able to give him an opportunity down the stretch but if you look at it in the grand scheme it was not a long [opportunity],” Bloom added. “But it’s still a small sample. Certainly, what he did made you hungry for more.”

Arroyo, who turns 26 in May, is under team control with the Red Sox through the end of the 2024 season.

Red Sox Infielder Christian Arroyo Clears Waivers, Gets Outrighted To Pawtucket

Three days after getting designated for assignment, Red Sox infielder Christian Arroyo has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Pawtucket.

With this move made, Arroyo remains in the Sox’ 60-man player pool and will likely report to McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket within the coming days.

The 25-year-old was originally claimed off waivers by Boston from the Indians on August 13 and was subsequently placed on the 10-day COVID-19 related injured list three days later. The reason behind that was not because of a positive test, but rather due to the actual intake process.

Despite being activated from the IL on August 19, though, Arroyo was designated for assignment on August 20 in order for the Sox to make room on their 40-man roster for left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, who had been on the COVID-19 related injured list himself.

Upon designating Arroyo, a former first-round pick of the Giants in 2013, it appeared that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co.’s intentions were to sneak the Florida native through waivers, which they were of course able to accomplish on Sunday.

Prior to joining the Red Sox, Arroyo had appeared in 71 games with the Giants, Raysn and Indians since making his big-league debut with San Francisco in April 2017.

In those 71 games, the former top prospect slashed .215/.280/.342 with six home runs and 27 RBI over 251 plate appearances.

While in Pawtucket, Arroyo will presumably see time all around the infield seeing how he has major-league experience at second base, third base, and shortstop.

As for when we could see Arroyo in Boston, he would have to be added back to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster in order for that to happen.

Red Sox Activate Darwinzon Herndandez From COVID-19 Related Injured List, Designate Christian Arroyo for Assignment

Before taking on the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, the Red Sox made yet another roster move, activating left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez from the 10-day COVID-19 related injured list and designating infielder Christian Arroyo for assignment.

Hernandez, 23, had been on the injured list since July 14 after testing positive for COVID-19 while at home in Venezuela.

Upon recovering from the virus, the southpaw reported to Fenway Park late last month for Summer Camp workouts and was subsequently shuttled down to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket to continue to build up his stamina.

While in Pawtucket, Hernandez had been getting stretched out and most recently worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings in an intrasquad game this past Sunday.

Per Sox manager Ron Roenicke, Hernandez will likely be used as a bulk-inning reliever first before a potential move to the starting rotation is made towards the later stages of the 2020 season.

Because Hernandez was not counted towards Boston’s 40-man roster while he was on the IL, the Red Sox needed to clear a roster spot in order to activate the young hurler, hence the move, albeit a surprising one, to designate Arroyo.

Arroyo, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians last Thursday, was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list himself on Wednesday and appeared as if he would make his Red Sox debut in this series against the Orioles.

That outlook has since changed though, and I would have to imagine the Sox would like to see the 25-year-old former top prospect slip through waivers. If not, Arroyo’s tenure with the Red Sox was certainly a short one.

With this transaction made, the Sox’ 60-man player pool is now at 59, so the club has one open slot to work with there. Pretty solid breakdown from The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch on that matter here:

Red Sox Activate Christian Arroyo, Option Marcus Walden To Pawtucket, and Designate Mike Shawaryn for Assignment

Before taking on the Phillies on Wednesday, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves, activating infielder Christian Arroyo off the COVID-19 related injured list, optioning right-hander Marcus Walden to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, and designating right-hander Mike Shawaryn for assignment to make room for Arroyo on the 40-man roster.

There is certainly a lot to unpack here, so let’s start with Arroyo.

The 25-year-old was claimed off waivers by Boston from the Indians last Thursday and was immediately added to the club’s 60-man player pool. However, due to the intake process related to COVID-19 testing, Arroyo could not be added to the Sox’ major-league roster right away and was instead placed on the injured list on Monday retroactive to August 14.

Because he was out of minor-league options at the time he was DFA’d by Cleveland, Arroyo had to be added to Boston’s 28-man roster, which was unable to happen until Wednesday.

A former first-round pick of the Giants back in 2013, Arroyo has only appeared in 71 big-league games between San Francisco and the Tampa Bay Rays dating back to 2017, and he owns an OPS+ of 66 in the majors, so he has not exactly lived up to the former top prospect hype quite yet.

With Boston, though, the Florida native should be able to play all around the infield and will likely make his team debut against the Orioles this weekend.

Walden, meanwhile, was optioned to Pawtucket less than 24 hours after yielding three earned runs to the Phillies in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s 13-6 loss.

Since the calendar flipped to August, the 31-year-old has posted a dismal 16.50 ERA and 1.357 OPS against over his last seven appearances and six innings of work, which is very surprising when you consider how valuable he was out of the Boston bullpen in 2019.

As for Shawaryn, the 25-year-old was designated and essentially removed from the Sox’ 40-man roster in order to make room for Arroyo, as previously mentioned.

Once one of the top pitching prospects in the Boston farm system, Shawaryn had been a member of the Red Sox’ taxi squad when the club was in Tampa Bay earlier this month.

The New Jersey native was coming off a rookie campaign in 2019 in which he posted a 9.74 ERA and 6.31 FIP over 14 relief outings and 20 1/3 innings pitched.

If Shawaryn clears waivers, he will presumably be outrighted back to Pawtucket.

With all these moves being made on Wednesday, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is now at full capacity, although they do have an opening in their 60-man player pool that will likely be filled by top prospect Triston Casas, who was at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Red Sox Activate Josh Taylor off Injured List, Option Chris Mazza To Pawtucket in Slew of Roster Moves

Before wrapping up a four-game series against the Yankees on Monday night, the Red Sox made a series of roster moves, activating left-hander Josh Taylor off the 10-day COVID-19 related injured list, optioning right-hander Chris Mazza to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, and placing newly-acquired infielder Christian Arroyo on the injured list retroactive to August 14.

Taylor had been on the IL since July 14 after testing positive for COVID-19 during intake screening in Boston before the start of Summer Camp. After getting cleared to return to baseball activities after self-isolating in a hotel room in the city, the 27-year-old had been building up his stamina while working out at McCoy Stadium prior to Monday’s announcement. His return to the Red Sox bullpen will be a welcome one.

Mazza, meanwhile, was optioned back down to Pawtucket shortly after making his first career major-league start at Yankee Stadium on Sunday night. The 30-year-old hurler surrendered four runs on eight hits and one walk over three innings pitched in his second appearance of the season with the Red Sox, and it now appears as though the club will turn to someone else next time through the rotation.

As for Arroyo, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo suggests that the Sox placing the 25-year-old on the COVID-19 related  injured list does not imply a positive test, just that the intake process is not yet complete. Per Cotillo, the “hope is to activate him [Tuesday].”

A former top prospect selected in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft by the Giants, Arroyo was claimed off waivers by Boston from the Indians last Thursday.

The Florida native has not exactly lived up to that first-round hype to this point, as he owns a lifetime OPS+ of 66 through his first 71 major-league games dating back to 2017, but he is capable of playing all around the infield, so he certainly comes with plenty of versatility.

When the time comes for the Red Sox to activate Arroyo, which again could be as early as Tuesday, expect a 40-man roster move to be made then.

 

Red Sox Claim Former Top Prospect Christian Arroyo off Waivers From Indians

The Red Sox have claimed infielder Christian Arroyo off waivers from the Cleveland Indians, the club announced Thursday afternoon.

Arroyo, 25, has been added to the club’s 60-man player pool and must be added to the active roster seeing how he is out of minor-league options.

A former first-round pick of the Giants back in 2013, Arroyo was most recently with the Indians up until last week, when he was designated for assignment on August 6.

Through his first 71 games in the majors dating back to 2017, Arroyo hasn’t exactly lived up to his former top-prospect status. He posted a .548 OPS over 135 plate appearances in his rookie year with San Francisco before getting dealt to the Rays that December. As a matter of fact, the Florida native was part of the trade that saw three-time All-Star Evan Longoria head out west.

Given the fact he spent 1 1/2 years within the Rays’ organization, Arroyo likely formed some type of relationship with then-Rays executive vice president, now-Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, hence the move being made by Boston to claim him on Thursday.

In those 1 1/2 seasons with the Rays, Arroyo slashed a collective .243/.322/.388 with three home runs and 13 RBI over 36 games total games prior to getting traded to Cleveland last July.

Arroyo missed a significant amount of time in 2019 due to right forearm tendinitis and was only able to appear in one game as a defensive replacement with Cleveland this season.

Speaking of his defense, Arroyo is capable of playing all around the infield, so he comes with plenty of versatility, which is always a plus.

With the addition of Arroyo, the Red Sox’ 60-man player pool is now at full capacity.