#RedSox Reportedly Shopping Sandy Leon

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney and Marly Rivera, the Red Sox are reportedly looking into trading catcher Sandy Leon as Opening Day looms.

Going into 2019, we knew that the club did not want to go into the season with three catchers on their 25-man roster like they did last year. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi made that much clear during the baseball winter meetings this past December.

Now, exactly one week before the new season begins, it appears that Leon may be the odd man out in Boston’s catching mix.

The recently turned 30-year-old backstop, who was acquired from the Washington Nationals for cash in March of 2015, is slashing .250/.382/.357 with one home run and five RBI in 14 games and 34 plate appearances this spring.

His competition for a spot on the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster is Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez.

Swihart, who is starting for Boston Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, has posted an .865 OPS in Grapefruit League play, while Vazquez has fared much worse with an OPS south of .300.

Now, Swihart would undoubtedly net the most return for the Red Sox in a potential trade. He may not be the best catcher of the trio, but he is the youngest and the most talented hitter of the group.

But, if the 26-year-old Swihart is the one who is poised to take over primary catching duties for the Red Sox, it would be interesting to see what the club could get in return for Leon, as well as what their plan for Christian Vazquez would be.

There’ll probably be more to come regarding this potential trade pretty soon, so stay tuned for that.

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#RedSox’ Mookie Betts Not Thinking About Contract Extension, Prefers to Wait Until Free Agency to Sign Next Deal

One day after Mike Trout signed a 12-year, $430 million contract extension to remain with the Los Angeles Angels, Red Sox superstar Mookie Betts indicated to reporters on Wednesday that he rather wait to test free agency than sign an extension of his own.

“I don’t expect anything to happen till I’m a free agent,’ Betts said.

The 26-year-old outfielder is set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2020 season.

According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, Betts rejected a seven-year, $200 million extension from Boston after the 2017 season, which would have netted him approximately $28.6 million per year over the lifetime of that pact.

But now that the game’s best position player, Trout, is off the board with a contract that will net the Angels outfielder nearly $36 million per season, it appears that Betts may have the right idea heading into the winter of 2020/2021.

Red Sox executives have made it abundantly clear that they have reached out to Betts this offseason in hopes of reaching agreement on a long-term extension, but as Sherman reports, “the Betts camp (has) not even made a counter-proposal.”

If the year-to-year game is the one Betts wants to play, so be it. He’s already going to make $20 million during the 2019 season, the most for any player in their second year of arbitration eligibility.

This isn’t to say that the Tennessee native is as good as gone come the conclusion of the 2020 season, he said that himself.

“I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold. That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.”

He doesn’t want to sell himself short of his value, which essentially sounds like any thought of taking a hometown discount is out the window.

Like the great philosopher David Price once said, Mookie Betts pretty much “holds the cards now.” It’s his decision to make and his alone.

If he wants to remain with the Red Sox and the Red sox want him to stay as well, then the club better be ready to pony up on a mega-deal of Trout-like proportions when the time comes in 2020.

If they aren’t willing to commit long-term to the reigning American League MVP, well, I rather not think about that right now.

Mike Trout and Angels Reportedly Agree to 12-Year, $430 Million Deal

The best player in baseball is about to become the highest paid player in baseball, as Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels are finalizing a new 12-year contract worth more than $340 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. This would be the largest contract in the history of professional sports.

If the details are indeed accurate, this contract will net Trout approximately $35.8 million per season over the next 12 years.

The two-time American League MVP, now entering his age 27 season with Los Angeles, has consistently been a five-tool phenom since his big league debut in 2011.

Since the start of his first full season in 2012, Trout leads all of baseball in fWAR (64.2) by a wide margin. He’s also finished top three in AL MVP voting in six of the last seven seasons, with the one exception coming in 2017 when he missed a significant amount of time due to a left thumb injury.

This past season, Trout slashed .312/.460/.628 with 39 home runs, 79 RBI, and 24 stolen bases over 140 games.

There was some speculation fueled by the Bryce Harper signing that the Philadelphia Phillies were going to be in on Trout when he was supposed to hit free agency following the 2020 season. But, the New Jersey native ultimately decided to remain with the organization he has seemingly grown up with, at least for the forseeable future anyway.

Now that names such as Trout, Harper, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado have all gotten their record paydays, all eyes turn to the Red Sox’ own Mookie Betts, who like Trout before Tuesday, is set to hit free agency in 2020.

The 2018 AL MVP has gone on record this spring indicating that he’s in no rush to sign an extension before hitting the open market.

“Contracts and those type of things are kind of tough to do, especially with the market and how those things kind of roll,” Betts said back in February. “But I will say I love my teammates and my coaches and everybody who’s around and have a great deal of respect for the front office. We’ll just leave it at that.”

With Trout now set to earn more than $35 million per season when his new contract begins, one would have to guess that Betts probably will be seeking a deal with an AAV in that range as well.

Higher-ups in the Red Sox organization like John Henry, Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy, and Dave Dombrowski have made it clear that they would like Betts to remain with the club past 2020, but that all depends on the player’s willingness to sign an extension.

If  you were Mookie Betts, would you rather take the money and security now on a lucrative long-term deal, or wait until you reach free agency and test the waters then?

Betts, exactly 10 months younger than Trout, slashed .346/.438/.640 with 32 home runs, 80 runs driven in, and 30 stolen bases in 136 games played this past season on his way to his first MVP award.

In January, the two sides, that being Betts and the Red Sox, reached an agreement on a record-setting one-year, $20 million deal for the Tennessee native’s second year of arbitration eligibility.

Bobby Dalbec Among 11 Players Reassigned to Minor League Camp in Second Round of #RedSox Roster Cuts

Six days after making their first round of roster cuts last Tuesday, the Red Sox announced on Monday that the following 11 players have been reassigned to minor league camp.

Among the position players reassigned was infielder Bobby Dalbec. Boston’s sixth-ranked prospect outlasted top prospect Michael Chavis at Red Sox major league camp, but not by much.

Dalbec, 23, slashed .200/.333/.234 with no home runs and a pair of RBI in 36 spring plate appearances.

The Washington native made some noise by launching a monster shot of a home run in his first at-bat against the Northeastern University baseball team back in February, but really has not been able to showcase that legitimate power of his so far in Grapefruit League play.

Given the fact that names such as Chavis, Josh Ockimey, and Sam Travis are all projected to start the 2019 season in Triple-A Pawtucket, I would guess that Dalbec will begin his year with Double-A Portland, where he hit six homers and drove in 24 runs over the course of 29 games in 2018.

As things currently stand, the Red Sox have 36 players in their big league camp, and the most surprising of those who still remain might just be Darwinzon Hernandez.

The club’s top pitching prospect has impressed so far this spring, allowing just one run on seven hits, five walks, and three HBPs over five appearances (two starts) and 10 innings of work.

If he doesn’t crack Boston’s Opening Day roster, it would not be much of a shock to see Hernandez make his major league debut at some point this season. The 22-year-old left-hander is capable of both starting and coming out of the bullpen.

With Opening Day just over 10 days away, expect the team to announce their next round of roster cuts fairly soon.

 

 

#RedSox’ Chris Sale Tosses Three Innings in Minor League Game Monday

For the first time since Game 5 of the 2018 World Series last October, Red Sox ace Chris Sale was back on a mound and pitching in a game on Monday afternoon.

Granted, with the club having the day off, the left-hander’s 2019 spring debut came against a group of Red Sox minor leaguers at one of Fenway South’s backfields, but it was still exciting to see nonetheless.

Working three innings, Sale’s fastball velocity consistently hovered from 91 to 93 MPH on Monday, per the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato.

When speaking with media after his outing, the 29-year-old hurler said that he felt fine and will be ready to go again in five days.

On the topic of his fastball velocity, Sale stated that he held things back but felt that it was there if he wanted to go it, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Abraham also noted that Alex Cora, Dana LeVangie, and Dave Dombrowski were among others in attendance to watch Sale work.

If the Florida native is set to pitch again in five days, his next start and 2019 Grapefruit League debut should come against the Atlanta Braves this Saturday at JetBlue Park.

As for when Sale will more than likely be named Boston’s Opening Day starter for the second consecutive year, Cora said on Sunday, “We can’t do that one yet. Maybe by the end of the week.”

Entering his final season before hitting free agency, Sale posted a 2.11 ERA and 13.5 K/9 in 27 games started and 158 innings pitched in 2018.

One Day After His Brother Passed Away, Blake Swihart Bats Sixth for #RedSox Thursday

On Wednesday, Blake Swihart’s brother Romell Jordan passed away at the age of 23. The Red Sox released the following statement regarding that.

Jordan, who was a running back for the University of New Mexico football team from 2014 to 2017, was taken in by Swihart’s parents after being a family friend for some time.

Both Swihart and Jordan attended V. Sue Cleveland High School in Rio Ranco, New Mexico.

Swihart was scratched from the Red Sox’ lineup against the Orioles yesterday and took a brief leave of absence from the club.

Today, the 26-year-old has reported back to JetBlue Park and is surprisingly batting sixth and DHing against the Washington Nationals.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters on Wednesday that Swihart told him, “My brother would probably love for me to show up and play.” And that he is.

The last few days at Red Sox camp have certainly been emotionally draining. With the passing of The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo last Thursday and now the passing of Swihart’s adopted-brother, saying things have been tough would be an understatement.

“There was no energy,” Cora said Wednesday following a 7-6 loss to Baltimore. “We just show up today. And I’m not complaining because I was the same way. I just told Dave (Dombrowski), we’ve gotta go home and get some rest. It was a tough one.”

The Red Sox take on the Washington Nationals on Thursday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. Here is Alex Cora’s full starting lineup:

Condolences to the Swihart family.

Free Agent Closer Craig Kimbrel Reportedly Considering Sitting out 2019 Season

UPDATE: It looks like this report may indeed be untrue, according to the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Former Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel may be willing to sit out the 2019 season if he does not receive a contract offer close to his ‘perceived value’, reports The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

Back at the Baseball Winter Meetings this past December, it was reported that Kimbrel was seeking a contract in the six-year and $100 million range, which would be a record-setting deal for a closer.

Touted by his agent David Meter as the ‘best-closer of all-time’, the 30-year-old Kimbrel posted a 2.74 ERA while converting 42 saves in 63 relief appearances and 62.1 innings pitched with Boston in 2018.

According to FanGraphs, Kimbrel has been the second most valuable reliever in the American League since joining Boston prior to the start of the 2016 season.

His case for being one of the more dominant closers of this generation is certainly there, so it’s understandable why the Alabama native and his camp are trying to squeeze the most value out of his next contract as possible. Still, sitting out an entire season would be an extreme measure that does not need to be taken.

Simply put, Kimbrel, who will be turning 31 in May, may just be on a bit of a decline. Compare his numbers over the last two seasons:

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ERA+ was down, FIP was up, WHIP was up, H/9 was up, HR/9 was up, SO/9 was down, and maybe most importantly, BB/9 increased by nearly three from 2017 to 2018. Now, it’s only a small sample size, but this could be a sign of things to come.

A six-year contract for a relief pitcher over the age of 30 was probably never going to happen given the current state of Major League Baseball. If Kimbrel and his camp can accept that, then it would be intriguing to see if Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox could get the flamethrower back on a one-year deal that closely resembles a qualifying offer in the range of $17-$18 million.

That might be a pipe dream at this point, but it is a better option than seeing one of the more electric arms in this game sitting out a year of his prime just to recoup his value for next offseason.