#RedSox Engaged in Extension Talks with Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts

When speaking with the media at JetBlue Park on Monday, Red Sox principal owner John Henry and team chairman Tom Werner made it clear that the club is engaged in contract extension talks with at least two players who are set to become free agent following the 2019 season in Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts.

Although neither Henry nor Werner gave any specific details about where the extension talks were at, both Sale and Bogaerts have stated that they are open to remaining in Boston for the forseeable future this past week.

Regarding Sale, Henry said that, “we would love to be able to sign him. I think he would like to as well. But there are the realities of the marketplace and budgets. This is his opportunity to be a free agent, potentially. Which we’d like to avoid, and I think he would as well. So something could happen.”

Sale dealt with issues in his throwing shoulder in 2018, which could somewhat diminish the value, but Henry believes the Red Sox ace brings much more to the table than what he does on the pitching mound every five days, specifically citing his fiery speech in the dugout during Game 4 of the World Series.

Another thing that could warrant an extension with Sale is what went down between the Red Sox and another big left-hander in Jon Lester five years ago. Like Sale, Lester was entering the final year of his contract with Boston and talks regarding an extension opened up during spring training of 2014. Ultimately, the Red Sox failed to reach an agreement and later traded Lester to the Oakland Athletics that July. Lester would then go on to sign a six-year, $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs that winter.

“I think we blew the signing (of Jon Lester) in spring training,” Henry said. Perhaps some lessons learned from that ordeal can be applied now.

Sale, set to turn 30 in march, posted a 2.11 ERA and 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings over 27 games started last season. He finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting and 22nd in MVP voting.

As for Bogaerts, the 26-year-old shortstop told reporters on Friday, “I enjoy my time here. Obviously we’ve had something special going on for the last couple of years now. I think I’ve been a part of it since it pretty much started.”

Bogaerts also noted that, “the Red Sox have treated me and my family amazingly so far. So we’ll see what happens.”

A client of Scott Boras, it is understandable why Bogaerts may want to avoid free agency next winter given the circumstances right now with two of the best players in the game in Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still unsigned with just over a month until Opening Day.

In 2018, Bogaerts slashed .288/.360/.522 with a career best 23 home runs and 103 runs driven in. He finished 13th in American League MVP voting.

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#RedSox Catcher Christian Vazquez Considered ‘Someone Teams Could Make a Run at’ in Trade Talks

In his weekly column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo pointed out that teams looking for a backstop may have interest in the Red Sox’ Christian Vazquez now that JT Realmuto is off the board and a Philadelphia Phillie.

Teams Cafardo listed as potential Vazquez suitors were also teams that missed out on Realmuto,  including the Braves, Dodgers, Padres, and Reds.

Now, Vazquez and Realmuto aren’t exactly on the same level in terms of what they bring to the table both at and behind the plate, but Vazquez’s defensive prowess is no joke.

It’s been made pretty much abundantly clear that the Red Sox aren’t planning on carrying three catchers on their 25-man roster in 2019, and with Vazquez due to make $2.85 million, the most of any Boston catcher, this coming season, moving on makes sense, especially when you consider what Leon and Swihart can still provide.

Fresh off signing a three-year contract extension last spring training, the 28-year-old struggled immensely at the plate, slashing a career-worst .207/.257/.283 with three home runs and 16 RBI in just 80 games played in 2018. He also missed a significant amount of time with a fifth finger fracture in his right hand.

To add to the conversation, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Saturday that he feels comfortable with the minor league depth the club has at catcher with this inevitable trade coming, which starts with ex-Rangers backstop Juan Centeno, who Boston signed to a minor league deal last November.

“We’re good,” Cora said. “I had Juan in Houston in 2017. He was part of the playoff roster. So I’m comfortable.”

All three of Centeno, Cora, and Vazquez are natives of Puerto Rico for what it’s worth.

Although Vazquez’s future with the Red Sox is cloudy at this point in time, the same can certainly be said for Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon. The competition between the three of them should really be something to watch these next few weeks.

As for what Dave Dombrowski would want in return for one of the three backstops available via trade, I would venture to say it’s either going to be a middle innings reliever or back-end starter. The possibility that the Red Sox acquire prospects to improve their farm system, like Cafardo says above, is there as well.

#RedSox Reportedly Seeking Rotation Depth in Catcher Trade Talks as Spring Training Begins.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam reported that the Boston Red Sox are in search of some starting rotation depth. In order to do this, McAdam reports, the club is making any three of their big league catchers available via trade.

Now, this should not come as that large of a surprise, especially since president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi said in January that Boston would like to carry only two catchers on their Opening Day roster this season.

What may be surprising here is that Dombrowksi may be looking to shore up the back-end of the Red Sox starting rotation while the bullpen remains the biggest question mark for this club.

As things stand currently, the Red Sox’ starting five will more than likely consist of Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez in 2019. That’s already one of the better rotations in the American League if everyone stays healthy.

Even without the addition of a trade piece, hurlers such as Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, and Steven Wright, when healthy, are more than capable of both pitching out of the bullpen and filling in for a spot start when needed.

So, these rumors are certainly not coming out of nowhere, but when the time comes and one of Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, or Sandy Leon is dealt, I, for one, would be surprised if the Red Sox receive a back-end starting pitcher instead of a reliever in return for one of their backstops.

#RedSox Agree to Minor League Deal with Once Banned from Baseball RHP Jenrry Mejia.

The Boston Red Sox have reached an agreement on a minor league contract with former New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia. Fancred’s Jon Heyman was first with the report.

Mejia, 29, has not appeared in a big league game since 2015 and has quite the chequered past.

Once an important member of the Mets pitching staff, the Dominican Republic native has since fallen off the map following three violation of Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy, which subsequently led to a since-lifted lifetime ban from baseball in 2016.

Before that, Mejia posted a 3.68 ERA over 113 appearances (18 starts) and 183.1 innings pitched with New York from 2010 to 2015. He also recorded 28 saves as the team’s closer in 2014.

Reinstated by commissioner Rob Manfred this past August with eligibility to play in 2019, Mejia was ultimately released by the Mets on November 20th after appearing in two minor league rehab games in the Dominican Summer League.

With his new deal with the Red Sox, the right-hander did not receive an invite to major league spring training, but he will earn $625,000 if he cracks Boston’s 25-man roster at any point this season.

This move comes just days after president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski suggested on ESPN’s Buster Olney’s podcast that the club would be pursuing, “more big league roster invites and see if they could make the club. ”

The addition of Mejia certainly comes with a fair amount of risk. I mean, we are talking about the only player to be banned for life because of multiple PED offenses. But at the same time, it’s a minor league contract. The Red Sox do not have a lot invested in this particular pitcher. If either side feels as if things are not working out, there won’t be too many complications in working out a feasible solution.

Regardless of what happens there, it should be interesting to watch, read, and listen to what sort of reputation Mejia builds once spring training starts in Fort Myers in just a few weeks.

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#RedSox Avoid Arbitration with All 12 Eligible Players.

The Boston Red Sox have reached settlements with all 12 arbitration eligible players on their 40-man roster, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reports.

The 12 players who were eligible for arbitration, along with their brand new salaries for the 2019 season, go as follows:

Matt Barnes: $1.600MM
Mookie Betts: $20.000MM
Xander Bogaerts: $12.000MM
Jackie Bradley Jr.: $8.550MM
Heath Hembree: $1.312MM
Brock Holt: $3.575MM
Sandy Leon: $2.475MM
Eduardo Rodriguez: $4.300MM
Blake Swihart: $0.910MM
Tyler Thornburg: $1.750MM
Brandon Workman: $1.150MM
Steven Wright: $1.375MM

Prior to Friday, deals with Hembree, Thornburg, and Wright had already been settled upon.

Mookie Betts, meanwhile, was on the receiving end of far and away the largest one-year contract ahead of the upcoming season for any arbitration eligible player across baseball, let alone one in their second year of eligibility.

In total, the club spent approximately $55.395 million on these 12 contracts for 2019.

The Red Sox’ official Twitter account confirmed the 10 signings made on Friday just moments ago.

Mookie Betts and #RedSox Avoid Arbitration with $20 Million Deal for 2019 Season.

The Boston Red Sox and 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts have settled on a one-year, $20 million deal for the 2019 season, thus avoiding arbitration. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith was the first to report this.

Betts, 26, will be making history with this settlement, as $20 million is the most any player has earned in just their second year of arbitration eligibility.

The three-time All-Star earned $10.5 million this past season, so he will see his salary just about double this year.

Given the fact that Betts and the Red Sox could not come to an agreement on what the Tennessee native’s salary for 2018 would be and instead went to arbitration, the way things unfolded before the 1 PM EST deadline on Friday appear to be a lot more promising.

Rumors about a potential contract extension with Betts have loomed seemingly since the Red Sox won the World Series title in October. Now that the two sides have worked out a deal in pretty simple fashion, perhaps that increases the likelihood of an extension happening once the former fifth round pick’s market is determined.

In his 2018 season with Boston, Betts slashed .346/.438/.640 with 32 home runs and 80 RBI on his way to a historic AL MVP campaign. He also collected his second Silver Slugger Award and third consecutive Gold Glove Award.

Dustin Pedroia Is Set to Test His Injured Left Knee Next Week.

Earlier Thursday, The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato reported that Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia will start running for the first time in months beginning next week to test his surgically repaired left knee.

As Mastrodonato’s tweet reads, Pedroia’s health going into spring training next month is crucial to what the club’s plan at second base will be for the upcoming 2019 season.

Although there is some level of uncertainty surrounding Pedroia, the fact that the Red Sox already have veteran infielders such as Brock Holt and Eduardo Nunez on their 25-man roster is reassuring, but those two did not stop president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi from going out and acquiring Ian Kinsler from the Los Angeles Angels last July to seemingly fill in for Pedroia.

On the subject of Kinsler, it’s also worth mentioning that any acquisition Boston makes regarding a second baseman in the coming weeks would more than likely be a lower-level, minor league deal type of signing, as the club simply cannot promise regular playing time until Pedroia’s availability is determined.

Mastrodonato notes that the California native’s rehab will almost certainly take place in his adopted home state of Arizone, rather than at the Red Sox’s facility in Fort Myers, Florida.

When asked about Pedroia’s status at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas last month, Dombrowski said, “We’re hopeful that, again, Pedey will be fine. We are looking to add more minor league, guys on six-year renewal option players in general just because we need more depth. That’s a process we’ve been working on for a while.”

Pedroia, who will turn 36 this August, battled inflammation in his left knee throughout 2018 following cartilage restoration surgery in October of 2017.

The four-time All-Star only appeared in three games with Boston this past season, but still made his presence felt as a vocal leader off the field.