Red Sox shut down right-hander Tanner Houck due to sore flexor muscle

The Red Sox have shut down right-hander Tanner Houck due to a sore flexor muscle, manager Alex Cora announced Sunday morning.

Per Cora, Houck first felt discomfort during his last start for Triple-A Worcester, which was also the WooSox’ first game of the season in Trenton on May 4.

Houck lasted just three innings in his first start for Worcester this past Tuesday, allowing three runs on eight hits, no walks, and four strikeouts on 69 pitches (45 strikes).

The 24-year-old came in the following day experiencing soreness in his flexor muscle, which resulted in him being shut down.

“We’re not overly concerned,” Cora said. “This happened in his last start. The next day, he came in sore. He’s actually feeling better right now. But of course, we’re going to shut him down.”

Houck, who turns 25 next month, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 3 pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system.

The former first-round draft pick made his major-league debut for the Sox last September and has posted a 1.98 ERA over six outings (five starts) since then.

This year alone, Houck has allowed seven runs (five earned) on 14 hits, one walk, and 12 strikeouts in three appearances (two starts) spanning 10 1/3 total innings of work.

While the Red Sox do not seem too concerned about Houck’s status moving forward, the fact that he has been shut down now means that the club is without their top two rotation depth options at the minor-league level for the time being.

That being the case because in addition to Houck being shut down, fellow right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold was placed on the injured list last Monday with right elbow inflammation.

The Sox did not seem too worried that Seabold would miss a significant amount of time, either, but his absence becomes more significant since Houck has been sidelined as well.

On top of those two, Bryan Mata, the organization’s top pitching prospect, underwent Tommy John surgery last month. So it goes without saying that Boston’s starting rotation depth has taken somewhat of a hit these past few weeks.

Still, as previously mentioned, the Red Sox seem optimistic that in Houck’s case, the righty will not be shut down for long.

“There’s no timetable, but this is something that we feel is going to be short-term,” said Cora. “It’s not something that we are overly concerned, but that’s where we’re at right now.”

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign veteran left-hander Tyler Olson to minor-league deal

The Red Sox have signed veteran left-hander Tyler Olson to a minor-league deal, per FanSided’s Robert Murray.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo adds that Olson will head to Fort Myers to start the year at minor-league spring training as opposed to the Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester.

Olson, 31, did not pitch in the majors in 2020 after signing a minor-league deal with the Cubs last February.

Prior to that, the veteran southpaw had seen major-league action in five consecutive seasons, as he posted a 3.83 ERA and 4.01 FIP over 124 appearances and 94 innings of work between the Mariners, Yankees, and Indians from 2015-2019.

A former seventh-round draft pick of Seattle out of Gonzaga University in 2013, Olson’s best work in the big-leagues came in his first season with the Indians 2017.

Upon getting called up by the club for the first time in late June of that year, the Washington state native did not allow a single run — earned or unearned — while scattering just 13 hits and six walks to go along with 18 strikeouts over 30 relief outings spanning 20 innings pitched through the end of the season. He held opponents to a .188/.263/.217 clip over that span.

While the 2018 and 2019 campaigns did not go nearly as well for Olson as 2017 did, he can still provide upper-minors depth as a left-handed relief option.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-3, 2015 pound hurler works with a four-seam fastball, a curveball, a changeup, and a slider.

(Picture of Tyler Olson: Ron Schwane/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata ‘will get back into a throwing program before too long to test’ out elbow following slight UCL tear

Earlier this month, an MRI revealed that top Red Sox pitching prospect Bryan Mata suffered a slight tear in his right ulnar collateral ligament after he experienced soreness behind his right triceps.

At that time, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said the plan would be to shut down Mata for an extended period before treating his injury without surgery.

It’s been a little less than three weeks since Cora revealed these plans regarding Mata’s road to recovery, and Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush provided an update Wednesday afternoon on how the 21-year-old right-hander is holding up.

“He’s in a rehab protocol right now,” Bush said. “There’s some strengthening exercises they’re doing. A whole variety. I’m not even sure exactly what they all are. But he will get back into a throwing program before too long to test it out and build from there. I don’t have a lot of specifics on it just because he’s [spent] more time with the trainers lately. Certainly he’s not throwing, not on the mound. But I still see him every day. He’s in here every day doing his rehab work and working back towards the throwing program.”

Mata, who turns 22 in May, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among pitchers in the organization.

The Venezuelan hurler — listed at 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds — spent the entirety of the 2020 season at the Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester, where his fastball sat between 96-97 mph.

He also took part in the club’s fall instructional league and came into the spring projected to begin the 2021 campaign at the alternate site, which is now in Worcester, with the chance to perhaps make his big-league debut later this year.

Now that he has been sidelined for the time being, though, the Red Sox will have to look elsewhere for internal starting rotation depth.

“With Bryan Mata on the IL right now, I’d probably say Connor Seabold is in that mix,” said Bush. “We also have a handful of minor league free agents that we signed. Some of them we signed last year and had at the alternate site.”

Stephen Gonsalves, Daniel Gossett, Kyle Hart, and Matt Hall were among the pitchers Bush named who are not currently on Boston’s 40-man roster but do have big-league experience.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, this group of pitchers will likely start out the year at the alternate training site.

“So we have a clump of guys that we’re going to get stretched out in Worcester,” Bush said. “And [we will] have them available for whatever we need, whenever we need it.”

(Picture of Bryan Mata: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox add right-hander Matt Carasiti on minor-league deal, per report

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Matt Carasiti to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford. The deal also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Carasiti, 29, is a veteran of two major-league seasons — first with the Rockies in 2016 and then with Mariners in 2019 — and owns a lifetime 7.46 ERA and 4.83 FIP over 30 appearances (five starts as an opener) and 25 1/3 innings of work between the two clubs.

A native of Berlin, Conn., Carasiti was originally selected by Colorado in the sixth round of the 2012 amateur draft out of St. John’s University in Queens.

Across seven minor-league seasons between five different levels, the 6-foot-2, 205 lb. righty is 17-29 with an ERA of 4.26 and batting average against of .272 over 250 total appearances, 34 of which were starts, and 432 2/3 innings pitched.

He also has experience overseas, as he pitched for the Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball in 2018 before coming back over to the states.

Around this time last year, Carasiti inked a minor-league pact with the San Francisco Giants only to undergo Tommy John surgery in March.

Per Bradford, the New England-born hurler recently held a workout for approximately nine clubs in Connecticut, leading to his signing with the Sox.

Based off data from Baseball Savant, Carasiti works with a sinker, a cutter, a forkball, and a changeup.

(h/t Chris Hogan for the video)

Carasiti will have the opportunity to further showcase this pitch mix while competing for a spot in the Red Sox’ Opening Day bullpen next month, though he will likely begin the year with Triple-A Pawtucket in more of a depth role.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed or re-signed the following players to minor-league deals:

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
INF Jack Lopez
INF Jeremy Rivera
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson
RHP Zack Kelly
RHP Jose Disla
RHP Daniel Gossett
RHP Zac Grotz
RHP Jose Adames
RHP Matt Carasiti

(Picture of Matt Carasiti: John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox add flamethrowing right-hander José Adames on minor-league deal

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Jose Adames to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, per MLB.com’s transaction wire. It’s unclear at this point if the deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Adames, who turned 28 earlier this month, has spent the last eight seasons with the Reds and Marlins organizations.

Originally signed by Miami out of the Dominican Republic in 2010, Adames has never pitched above the Class-A level due in part to the amount of time he has missed because of injury.

The 6-foot-2, 165 lb. hurler has undergone Tommy John surgery on two separate occasions in his professional career — the first of which came in September 2016, the second of which came in June 2018 — which resulted in him missing the entirety of the 2017 and 2018 minor-league seasons as well as the majority of 2019.

In brief stints with the Ariziona League Reds and rookie-league Billings Mustangs at the tail end of the 2019 campaign, Adames “came out firing fastballs in the upper 90s each time, and struck out 8 of the 16 hitters he faced,” according to RedsMinorLeague.com’s Doug Gray.

This past season, Adames was not included in Cincinnati’s major-league spring training roster, though he did get the chance to appear in two Cactus League games against the Rangers and Cubs on February 24 and March 7.

The fireballer managed to work a scoreless frame in each of those outings while also topping out at 100 mph with his fastball at one point.

With the 2020 minor-league season getting cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Adames did not get the opportunity to pitch in organized games over the summer, nor was he part of the Reds’ 60-man player pool at any point last year.

He did however pitch for Águilas Cibaeñas of the Dominican Winter League, allowing six runs (five earned) on three hits and five walks over two relief appearances and 2 2/3 innings of work.

With his new organization, Adames, who projects as potential upper minor-league bullpen depth, will look to make a positive first impression in Fort Myers if he is indeed invited to big-league spring training.

He does bring with him some rave reviews from members of the Reds’ player development staff, including pitching coordinator Kyle Boddy.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed or re-signed the following players to minor-league deals:

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
INF Jack Lopez
INF Jeremy Rivera
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson
RHP Zack Kelly
RHP Jose Disla
RHP Daniel Gossett
RHP Zac Grotz
RHP Jose Adames

(Picture of Jose Adames: Águilas Cibaeñas/Twitter)

Red Sox add infielder Jack López on minor-league deal

The Red Sox have signed free-agent infielder Jack Lopez to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, per MLB.com’s transaction wire. It’s unclear at this point if the deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Lopez, who turned 28 last month, was originally drafted by the Royals in the 16th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Deltona High School (Fla.).

Since then, the native of Puerto Rico has spent time in the Royals and Braves’ organizations, accruing a career .237/.290/.324 slash line to go along with 42 home runs, 282 RBI, and 130 stolen bases over 820 total minor-league contests between the Rookie League, Class-A, Advanced-A, Double-A, and Triple-A levels.

This winter, Lopez has been playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League for Indios de Mayaguez, who are currently in that league’s championship series against Red Sox manager Alex Cora’s hometown Criollos de Caguas.

In 13 games with Mayaguez, Lopez has posted a .655 OPS over 52 plate appearances while also drawing eight walks and swiping three bases.

Capable of playing all over the infield and in addition to some corner outfield, Lopez could potentially serve as upper-level minor-league depth in his new role with the Sox.

The 5-foot-10, right-handed hitter’s baseball roots run deep, as he is the son of former minor-league backstop and major-league bullpen catcher Juan Lopez and the nephew of former Royals infielder Onix Concepcion.

A one-time commit to the University of Miami, Lopez already has some Red Sox connections given the fact that he is followed on Instagram by the likes of Cora and Enrique Hernandez.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed or re-signed the following players to minor-league deals:

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
INF Jack Lopez
INF Jeremy Rivera
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson
RHP Zack Kelly
RHP Jose Disla
RHP Daniel Gossett
RHP Zac Grotz

(Picture of Jack Lopez: Scott Audette/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox catching prospect Jhonny Pereda takes home Venezuelan winter ball Rookie of the Year honors

Red Sox catching prospect Jhonny Pereda took home Rookie of the Year honors in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League Saturday night.

The 24-year-old, playing for Leones del Caracas, slashed an impressive .338/.421/.421 to go along with one home run and 16 RBI over 39 games and 153 plate appearances this season, which ended on January 10.

He also threw out six of a possible 13 runners on the base paths, which translates to a 46% success rate.

Pereda received 37 of 50 possible first-place votes in the league’s MVP race while also finishing with 205 voting points, 105 more than the runner-up.

“This makes me very happy because last year was a strong year because of the virus. There were no minor-leagues and that affected many players, both me and many, because there was no season,” Pereda said (in Spanish) of winning the award. “But I kept working to come to Venezuela. Thank God and Leones, who gave me the opportunity to play here.”

The Red Sox originally acquired Pereda from the Cubs back in March as the player to be named later in a January trade that involved right-hander Travis Lakins.

The club briefly released the Venezuelan from his contract on July 15 only to re-sign him to a two-year minor-league deal on July 17 and promptly add him to their 60-man player pool. He would go on to spend the rest of the summer at the alternate training site in Pawtucket.

After baseball activities ended at the alternate training site in late September, Pereda did not attend the Red Sox’ fall instructional league in Fort Myers, but he did receive an invite to major-league spring training in December.

In addition to his catching abilities that netted him a minor-league Gold Glove Award in 2019, the right-handed hitting backstop can play a little first base as well, as evidenced by what he did this winter.

Going into spring training next month, Pereda should figure to be an intriguing component of the Red Sox’ catching depth equation given the fact Deivy Grullon was lost on a waiver claim by the Cincinnati Reds in December.

As of this writing, the 6-foot-1, 202 lb. catcher is Boston’s top backstop not included on their 40-man roster, according to SoxProspects.com’s depth charts.

Pereda, along with fellow catching prospect Connor Wong, is expected to begin the 2021 minor-league season with Triple-A Pawtucket.

“I know that this season here in Venezuela will help me. It gave me many experiences that I will put into practice in the training field,” said Pereda (in Spanish) of his time in his home country. “I played with a very experienced team. I had teammates who have played in the major-leagues, who have been in pro ball for many years and I always tried to listen to what they talked about baseball, and those little details that can help me.”

(Picture of Jhonny Pereda: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox sign former Athletics right-hander Daniel Gossett to minor-league deal, per report

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Daniel Gossett to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The deal also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Gossett, 28, was originally drafted by Boston out of high school in the 16th round of the 2011 amateur draft, but he opted to honor his commitment to Clemson University as opposed to signing with the club.

Later drafted out of Clemson by the Athletics in the second of the 2014 amateur draft, the South Carolina native made 23 big-league starts with Oakland between the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

He posted a 5.91 ERA and 5.67 FIP over 115 2/3 total innings of work in those outings before undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2018.

Since going under the knife, Gossett may have missed the remainder of 2018 and the entirety of 2019, but he did make five starts for the Mesa Solar Sox in last year’s Arizona Fall League.

In those five starts, the 6-foot, 185 lb. hurler yielded just four earned runs on 10 hits and three walks to go along with 12 strikeouts over 14 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 2.57 and .204 batting average against.

Following that impressive showing in the desert, Gossett opened up the shortened 2020 campaign on the Athletics’ 40-man roster and at the team’s alternate training site in San Jose. But, the once-highly touted pitching prospect was designated for assignment and subsequently released in late July.

According to The Athletic’s Melissa Lockard, Gossett “is healthy and ready for a full season in 2021.”

If anything, Gossett could provide intriguing starting rotation depth to a Red Sox team in need of it at the moment.

Working primarily with a four-seam fastball, slider, changeup, curveball, and sinker, the former A’s righty owns a lifetime 3.36 ERA over 23 appearances (21 starts) and 128 2/3 innings spanning parts of three seasons, as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

With that in mind, Gossett could begin the 2021 season in Triple-A Worcester’s rotation depending on how well he performs in spring training. We will have to wait and see on that.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed — Gossett included — or re-signed the following players to minor-league deals:

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson
RHP Zack Kelly
RHP Jose Disla
RHP Daniel Gossett

Red Sox should consider claiming former Indians outfielder Greg Allen off waivers

So far this offseason, the Red Sox have done a fine job in bolstering their outfield depth.

Slugging outfielder Hunter Renfroe signed a one-year deal with the club last month, while the likes of Cesar Puello and Michael Gettys have been signed to minor-league contracts for 2021.

That being said, you can never have enough depth at any position, and it just so happens an intriguing outfielder technically became available earlier this week. That outfielder’s name? Greg Allen.

The 27-year-old was designated for assignment by the Padres on Thursday in order for the club to make room on its 40-man roster for South Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim.

With San Diego this past season, Allen appeared in just one game after being part of the trade that sent Mike Clevinger from the Indians to the Friars in late August.

Prior to that blockbuster trade, Allen spent parts of four major-league seasons with the Tribe starting in 2017, accruing a .239/.295/.344 slash line to go along with eight home runs, 57 RBI, and 31 stolen bases over 220 total games played.

Seven of those 220 games have come at Fenway Park, where Allen owns a career-best 1.249 OPS over 27 plate appearances.

In addition to providing speed on the base paths, the California native has proven to be a capable major-league defender who can play all three outfield positions adequately.

Looking back at the 2019 campaign, Allen posted a positive-six defensive runs saved and ultimate zone rating of 5.0 while logging 570 1/3 innings — 360 2/3 in left, 132 2/3 in center, 77 in right — in the Indians outfield.

He also ranked sixth among major-league left fielders in sprint speed (29 feet per second) and 44th among major-league outfielders in outs above average (3) in 2019, per Statcast.

Having presented all this information, the Red Sox could very well look into adding Allen to their outfield mix despite the former top prospect’s light-hitting ways.

It’s a scenario that is reminiscent of Christian Arroyo’s over the summer.

Boston claimed the infielder off waivers from the Indians on August 13, promptly designated him for assignment a week later, and then outrighted him on August 23 before purchasing his contract on September 8.

It’s a unique — and somewhat risky — way to go about adding depth, but the Sox managed to do it with Arroyo, who is out of minor-league options, as is the case with Allen.

On top of that, trying to stash Allen away would address an offseason need by bolstering Boston’s outfield defense. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom conveyed this school of thought last month in the wake of the Renfroe signing.

“I always talk about depth and it’s so important, but I do think we still have room to add without straining our roster,” Bloom said when speaking with reporters via Zoom. “The good thing here is we have a number of outfielders who are all good enough athletes to play center field. But we still also have room to augment that with a center fielder or a corner outfielder. So we now have options and different paths we can take. But it would be nice to increase our depth as we go forward.”

Bringing on Allen seems like a potentially sound way for Bloom and Co. to increase the Red Sox’ depth going forward. But, another roster move would be required in order for that to happen.

This is the case because the club’s 40-man roster is currently at full capacity.

To make it clear, this is just a suggestion. Allen won’t clear waivers until late next week, and I’m assuming he doesn’t have enough service time to refuse an outright assignment to the minors given the fact he isn’t supposed to reach free agency until the conclusion of the 2024 season.

Red Sox re-sign outfielder César Puello to minor-league contract, per report

The Red Sox have re-signed outfielder Cesar Puello to a minor-league contract for the 2021 season, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. It’s likely this contract includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Puello, 29, appeared in five games — two in left field, three in right — for Boston this past season after initially inking a minor-league pact with the club in February. He previously spent time with the Angels, Rays, and Marlins after making his big-league debut with Los Angeles in 2017.

In those five contests in 2020, the Dominican national went 3-for-8 (.375) at the plate with one run scored, two walks drawn, and two strikeouts from September 19 through September 27. He was outrighted from Boston’s 40-man roster on October 28

Prior to having his contract purchased in late September, Puello was added to the Sox’ 60-man player pool in late June and took part in workouts at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket throughout the summer.

Now that he is back with the organization, Puello will once again look to provide valuable outfield depth for a club in need of it at the moment. Expect him to start the 2021 minor-league campaign with Triple-A Worcester.

So far this offseason, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have either signed or re-signed the following players to minor-league contracts (h/t SoxProspects.com):

C Roldani Baldwin
C Jhonny Pereda
1B Joey Meneses
1B Josh Ockimey
OF Cesar Puello
OF Michael Gettys
OF Johan Mieses
LHP Emmanuel De Jesus
LHP Stephen Gonsalves
RHP Kevin McCarthy
RHP Seth Blair
RHP Raynel Espinal
RHP Caleb Simpson