New Podding the Red Sox episode: Andrew Benintendi trade rumors, Corey Kluber’s market, and missing Winter Weekend this year

After debuting with a short, two-minute trailer last week, Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast is back with its first full official episode on Friday.

In said episode, which is available on iTunes and Spotify among other platforms, I discuss recent topics surrounding the Red Sox and their offseason thus far, such as trade rumors involving Andrew Benintendi, free-agency rumors surrounding Corey Kluber, Marcus Semien, and others.

Finally, I wrapped this episode up by taking a moment to highlight Red Sox Winter Weekend, the club’s signature offseason fan fest that likely would have commenced at MGM Springfield on Friday night were it not for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Apologies for this being another relatively short podcast due to the fact I was doing it solo. I’m still trying to line up some guests in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox attend two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber’s showcase in Florida

UPDATE: ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that “Corey Kluber’s negotiations could go quickly after his session in front of scouts [Wednesday]. There is no thought he’ll need to throw a second time, given how [Wednesday] went.”

The Red Sox were one of approximately 25 teams to attend free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber’s showcase on Wednesday, as confirmed by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Kluber, 34, threw for teams at pitching guru Eric Cressey’s facility in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, “scouts came away impressed” with Kluber’s outing, as he sat around 88-90 mph with his fastball with “more velocity in the tank as he builds towards spring training.”

Throwing 30 pitches, Kluber also showcased all of his off-speed stuff, and a strong market is expected to form for the 34-year-old in the coming weeks, per Passan.

Kluber, who turns 35 in April, has made just eight starts and worked 36 2/3 innings the past two seasons due to a multitude of injuries.

In May 2019, the former fourth-round draft pick took a line drive off his right arm in the fifth inning of his start against the Marlins. He would go on to miss the rest of the year due to a right ulna fracture.

In July 2020, seven months after getting dealt from the Indians to the Rangers, Kluber suffered a season-ending teres major strain in the first inning of his first outing of the year against the Rockies.

On account of him only being able to make one start with Texas, Kluber had his $18 million team option for 2021 declined by the Rangers in late October, making him a free agent.

Since that time, the two-time Cy Young Award winner has been ramping back up to the point where he was ready to throw in front of scouts this week.

“I don’t have a mindset that I need to prove myself to anyone, so to speak,” Kluber told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers ahead of his showcase. “I just need to show people that I’m healthy. I’m not putting pressure on myself to go out there and do X, Y and Z. It’s just about showing teams I’m progressing through a normal offseason.”

As he prepares for a normal spring training, Kluber should have plenty of suitors looking to potentially buy low on someone who not too long ago was considered one of the best pitchers in baseball.

The Red Sox, of course, are obviously one of these teams. And as Cotillo notes, Boston may “have geographic advantage in signing Kluber [since] he makes his offseason home in Winchester, Mass., where his wife, Amanda, grew up.”

(Photo of Corey Kluber: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Red Sox are ‘preparing for a series of moves’ in an effort to upgrade 2021 roster, per report

Despite having a relatively quiet offseason thus far, the Red Sox may be preparing to make a series of roster moves ahead of the start of spring training, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Per Olney, “the expectation [for the Sox] is that they will [make moves] in an effort to upgrade the ’21 team.”

Since ending the 2020 season with the fourth-worst record in baseball (24-36), Boston has made a handful of major-league caliber additions to its roster so far this offseason.

In November, right-hander Joel Payamps was claimed off waivers from the Diamondbacks, while the likes of Eduard Bazardo, Jay Groome, Bryan Mata, Hudson Potts, Jeisson Rosario, Connor Seabold, and Connor Wong were all added to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 deadline.

In December, righty Garrett Whitlock was selected from the Yankees in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, while a pair of former Rays — right-hander Matt Andriese and outfielder Hunter Renfroe — were signed to one-year deals for the 2021 season. Andriese’s contract includes a team option for 2022.

Outside of that, the Red Sox have jettisoned quite a few players — Tzu-Wei Lin, Yairo Munoz, Robert Stock, Kyle Hart, etc. — off its 40-man roster. They have also added (or re-signed) lesser-known players to minor-league deals for 2021.

Outfielder Cesar Puello, left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, and right-handers Daniel Gossett and Kevin McCarthy stand out among that group given the fact that all four have major-league experience.

Having laid that all out, it becomes quite apparent that the Sox have yet to make a huge splash either via trade or free agency pickup. And to be fair, not many teams except the Mets and Padres have to this point.

With that in mind, as well as taking what Olney tweeted into consideration, it would appear that Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. are preparing to make some noise one way or the other this winter.

Outfielder Andrew Benintendi has been thrown out there in trade rumors with the Sox seeking young pitching or outfield help in return, two-time Cy Young Award winner and current free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber is slated to pitch in front of interested teams in Florida on Wednesday. These are just some of the avenues Boston could be exploring as spring training draws closer.

As for other specific players the Red Sox could be in pursuit of this winter, Bloom somewhat addressed that topic when asked about his ‘offseason check list’ during a radio interview on WEEI late last month.

“Right now, there’s a lot of players on it,” Bloom said in regards to his list. “Part of that is a function of where we are, where there’s a lot of different ways we can improve, and part of it is how we are looking to improve. In the short-term, we have touched base with so many different players who we think could help us, who could fit us. There’s pitching, obviously, but also on the position player side. I think there’s different ways we can improve and different profiles of players we can bring in to help us.

“We also don’t want to take our eye off the ball that at the end of the day, we’re not just looking to put a little plaster in here and patch some holes,” he added. “We’re looking to take this organization back to where we can compete for championships consistently, year in and year out. And that means we got to be open to different moves, different acquisitions that might not just be about 2021. But, it just speaks to [the fact] that there’s a lot of different ways that we can improve. The No. 1 question we ask ourselves on anybody is: Is this pushing us towards that goal of sustaining a championship contender here? If the answer is yes, then we can explore it further, we can figure out how it impacts us in the near-term, what it might mean for other players, and hopefully we check as many of those boxes as possible.”

On top of being open to different sorts of roster moves, Bloom also expressed confidence that the Red Sox would be able to add a few more new players to improve the team before pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers next month.

“I would hope that by the end of this offseason, there’s a number of different guys we’ve brought in here,” he said. “There’s certain possibilities on the trade market, creative things that could come together. They may not, because those things are harder to do — they take at least two to tango. But, different things that hopefully can impact us beyond just this year as well.”

And, again, for what it’s worth, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is still at full capacity. So, if in the next few days or weeks the club designates a player or multiple players for assignment, that could signal that another move could be coming, if that makes sense.

Then again, if a player of Benintendi’s status were to be traded, that kind of supplementary roster move might not be necessary. It really all depends on what Bloom and Co. have in store.

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

Red Sox ‘uninterested’ in exploring four-year deals for free-agent pitchers this winter, prefer ‘shorter-term deals of up to to two or three years in length’

Before coveted Japanese right-hander Tomoyuki Sugano returned to the Yomiuri Giants of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization on Thursday, it appeared as though the Red Sox had at least some interest in signing the 31-year-old hurler before his posting period ended.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, “the Sox had some interest in Sugano – who possesses excellent command of a four-pitch mix anchored by a low-90s fastball along with a slider and splitter – but his asking price exceeded the team’s level of interest.”

This is mainly the case because Sugano was reportedly seeking out a contract of four years or more from interested clubs, which apparently goes against Boston’s philosophy when it comes to signing free-agent pitchers this offseason.

In other words, the Red Sox “have been uninterested in exploring deals of that length for pitchers” and “have been focused on shorter-term deals of up to two or three years in length this winter,” per Speier.

Free-agent righty Jake Odorizzi would seemingly fit that mold after The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Wednesday that the 30-year-old “expects to land a three-year contract in the $36 million to $42 million range” at some point this winter.

Aside from Odorizzi, who is familiar with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom from their time together in Tampa Bay, Speier notes that while top free-agent pitcher Trevor Bauer likely won’t garner interest from the Red Sox on account of his hefty price tag, the club is still very much in need of starting pitching help following a dismal 2020 campaign from its shorthanded rotation.

With that in mind, Boston may look into signing other veterans still on the market such as Corey Kluber or Rich Hill, both of whom reside in Massachusetts during the offseason.

Kluber, a two-time American League Cy Young Award winner, is expected to hold a workout — one in which the Red Sox will attend — for interested teams in Florida on January 13.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘showing interest’ in two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, per report

The Red Sox are showing interest in free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

Kluber, 34, is coming off a 2020 season in which he only made one start and threw one inning for the Rangers on account of suffering a torn right teres muscle against the Rockies on July 26.

Texas had acquired Kluber from the Indians in exchange for outfielder Delino Deshields and pitching prospect Emmanuel Clase last December.

As a result of his only making one start this year, Kluber had his $18 team option declined by the Rangers at the end of October, making him a free agent.

After collecting two American League Cy Young Awards and finishing third or better in A.L. Cy Young voting four times within a five-year span with Cleveland from 2014 through 2018, Kluber has fallen off a bit recently regarding his durability.

Since the start of the 2019 campaign, the three-time All-Star has made just eight starts and accrued 36 2/3 innings of work due to injuries. Last year, he suffered a right ulna fracture in early May, which wound up costing him the rest of the season.

Despite those potential concerns, Kluber was cleared for normal offseason activities back in October and is slated “to be ready to go for spring training,” per WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

As noted by Morosi in the tweet above, Kluber makes his offseason home in the greater Boston area since his wife, Amanda, is a Massachusetts native.

With that connection in mind, Kluber and the Red Sox certainly seem like a possible match, especially if the Texas native was willing to sign a short-term, incentive-laden deal in order to re-establish his value.

Of course, what the veteran righty is seeking in terms of contract details has yet to be revealed, but one thing is for certain: the Red Sox are in need of starting pitching, and for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co., Kluber certainly fits the bill.

RECAP: Rick Porcello Serves up Five Runs on Three Homers as #RedSox Drop Opener to Indians.

After taking two out of three from the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend, the Red Sox welcomed the American League Central leading Cleveland Indians into town for a four-game series between two teams vying for an AL pennant.

In the series opener, it was a starting pitching matchup that featured two decorated right-handers in Corey Kluber, a two-time Cy Young Award winner, for Cleveland and Rick Porcello, who received the same honor in 2016, for Boston.

Porcello, coming off a fine effort in his last time out against the Phillies and making the 300th start of this career, took the mound for the 26th time this season, and he was struck hard by the home run ball.

Tossing seven full innings in this one, all five runs surrendered by the righty came on three separate Indians home runs, all of which came after the fourth.

Through the first four frames, Porcello was nearly untouchable, as he sat down 12 of the first 14 batters he faced while his team jumped out to an early three-run advantage.

The fifth inning though, is where things started to go awry for the New Jersey native and it began with a leadoff home run off the bat of veteran outfielder Melky Cabrera, who is in his second stint with the Indians this season.

After retiring the next three batters he faced, a Francisco Lindor single to begin the sixth would later turn into another pair of runs for Cleveland two pitches later when Michael Brantley, another outfielder, punished a 1-0 slider for his 14th homer of the season. And just like that, this game was momentarily tied.

Momentarily, because an inning later, with his pitch count inching closer and closer to 100, Porcello gave up another two-run shot, but not before taking a Yan Gomes comebacker that had an exit velocity of 95.2 MPH off his chest.

I’m not going to sit here and say that Porcello should have come out after that, because he was able to recover and get an out at second, but what transpired after he was left in was not all that encouraging.

Yes, that two-run home run off the bat of Indians rookie Greg Allen put Cleveland up 5-3, which is all they would need to pick up the win. Porcello did stay in to finish the seventh, which is how his night would come to an end.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 107 (74 strikes), the New Jersey native ended up with six strikeouts on the night to go along with one walk and a season-high three home runs given up in this one.

Out of those 107 pitches, Porcello turned to his fastball, two-seam and four-seam, a combined 49% of the time on Monday and topped out at 94 MPH with that four-seamer in the second inning.

In four starts this month, we have truly seen the highs and the lows of what is Rick Porcello.

8/3 vs. NYY: 9 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 9 K
8/9 @ TOR: 4 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 2 HR, 0 BB, 5 K
8/14 @PHI: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 HR, 0 BB, 10 K
8/20 vs. CLE: 7 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 1 BB, 6 K

He’ll look to return to that same form he had against the Yankees and Phillies in his next time out, which should come against the Tampa Bay Rays sometime next weekend.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the eighth and ninth innings of last night’s contest, and Tyler Thornburg and Drew Pomeranz did their jobs by holding the Indians scoreless with two combined strikeouts in that span.

On the other side of things, matched up against one of the best pitchers in all of baseball in Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and all, the Red Sox lineup pounced early but did not have much to show for the remainder of the evening.

Entering Monday with a 3.96 ERA in four career at starts at Fenway Park, Kluber certainly had his fair share of struggles early, but like the ace he is, settled down eventually.

Starting the scoring right away in the first, three straight hits from Mitch Moreland, JD Martinez, and a two RBI double off the bat of Xander Bogaerts plated Boston’s first two runs.

An inning later, another round of three straight hits, this time from Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, and an Andrew Benintendi RBI single, his 71st of the season, tacked on another run to that Red Sox lead to make it a 3-0 game, but that is all they would end up with off of Kluber going into the seventh.

Fast forward to the ninth, trailing by two runs with Indians closer Cody Allen on the mound, a Mookie Betts leadoff double followed by a seven pitch walk of Andrew Benintendi put the Red Sox in a prime spot for a comeback win.

After Mitch Moreland grounded into a force out and JD Martinez popped out to first, it all came down to Xander Bogaerts, who scored Betts from third on an infield single to make it a one-run contest.

With the tying run at second and the go-ahead run at first, Ian Kinsler came to the plate with the opportunity to have his first big moment in a Red Sox uniform, but he could only drop his bat in disgust after flying out to left on the eighth pitch of a tough at bat for the final out of the night.

Some notes from this one:

The Red Sox have lost consecutive games for the first time since July 24-26. They have scored five runs in their last 26 innings.

In the month of August, Xander Bogaerts is slashing .326/.458/.543 with one home run and 12 RBI over 15 games played.

Looking to even things up later tonight, it will be Nathan Eovaldi getting the ball for Boston. He owns a career 2.70 ERA in 16.2 career innings pitched against the Indians.

Matched up against Eovaldi will be rookie hurler RHP Shane Bieber for Cleveland. Bieber, 23, as you may have guessed, has never faced the Red Sox in his short career, but does own a 4.37 ERA in 12 games started in his first big league season.

First pitch of the second game is scheduled for 7:10 PM ET Tuesday.