Adam Ottavino fans a pair in Red Sox debut, says closing out games is not ‘a must’ for him, but would be something he would ‘definitely embrace’

A little less than two months after being acquired in a surprising trade with the Yankees, Adam Ottavino made his Red Sox debut against the Braves at JetBlue Park on Wednesday afternoon.

Getting the call for the top half of the fourth inning, the veteran right-hander retired three of the four hitters he faced while picking up his first two strikeouts — one looking, one swinging — of the spring.

For Ottavino, Wednesday’s outing marked the first time he had thrown in front of fans in nearly a year, and it also marked the first time he threw in a game with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

“I felt pretty good out there,” Ottavino said of his performance. “It was exciting to have people in the crowd again and throw to Vazquez for the first time in a game. So that type of stuff was good to get out of the way. And physically it felt good, so that was the bonus.”

As he prepares to embark upon his first season with the Red Sox, Ottavino has the chance to emerge as the club’s closer coming out of camp. He is currently competing with fellow right-handed reliever Matt Barnes for that job.

Over the course of his 10-year major-league career, the 35-year-old hurler has only notched 19 lifetime saves, a majority of which came with the Rockies from 2015-2018.

The closer role is one that Ottavino hasn’t had to undertake in quite a while, but it is not one he would shy away from if given the opportunity to do so with his new team.

“It would be great,” he said when asked how it would feel to close out games for the Red Sox. “The last time I had the job was right before I got hurt in 2015 and a little bit in 2016 when I came back. It was exciting. I really enjoyed it. It’s not something that I feel like is a must for me, but it is something I would definitely embrace. If Alex [Cora] gives me the ball in the ninth, I’ll definitely be pumped up about that.”

For his career, the former Cardinals, Rockies, and Yankees reliever owns a lifetime 2.76 ERA and .596 OPS against when pitching in the ninth inning of games.

Barnes, meanwhile, has posted a 4.03 ERA and .690 OPS against when working in the ninth inning over the course of his seven-year career with Boston.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora has gone as far to say that there is no frontrunner in the team’s closer competition, but the competition between Ottavino and Barnes itself is interesting due to the fact that neither have extensive closing experience and both are slated to become free agents at the end of the 2021 season.

Despite not having too much experience as a closer, though, Ottavino already seems to know what adjustments he will need to make if he does indeed win the job out of spring training.

“I think the biggest thing is you’re pretty much starting clean 80% of the time,” said the Brooklyn native. “You might finish off the eighth once in a while, but for the most part you’re starting clean in the ninth. You know exactly what it’s going to take to get the job done. Whether you’re up by one or up by three or whatever the case may be. So you kind of pitch to the scoreboard a little bit in that way and just try to do your job for the team.

“I’m sure I would get a lot more pinch-hitters — probably lefties, that sort of thing — but I’ve done it before,” he added. “I think the biggest thing is just attacking that first guy and putting yourself in a good position for success.”

The reason Ottavino specifically brought up the possibility of facing left-handed pinch-hitters is because of the struggles he has had against lefty bats in general since making his big-league debut for St. Louis in 2010.

Last season alone, across 24 appearances out of the Yankees bullpen, the Northeastern University product allowed left-handed hitters to slash .294/.458/.353 off of him.

This aspect of his game, not his ability to close out games, seems to take precedence for Ottavino as free agency looms.

“I have no idea what they’re looking at these days in terms of roles and stuff like that,” he said. “But I do think it would benefit me to get a full season in of facing as many lefties as possible so I can put that narrative to bed and show that I can dominate both sides. That would probably be a bonus, but beyond that, I think regardless of role I’m looking to put together a great season. Not only for myself, but for the team.”

Ottavino, who primarily relies on his sinker-slider combination to dominate his competition, has quickly become one of the more intriguing pitchers — if not players — the Red Sox have on their major-league roster.

“He’s just very smart, a great communicator,” Cora said of Ottavino Wednesday. “Him and Christian [Vazquez] were talking about sequences and pitch shapes in the dugout. Like I said before, we’re happy that he’s with us. He’s a great addition to our bullpen and is a guy that we trust.”

Right-handed pitching prospect Frank German, who New York included in the trade that sent Ottavino to Boston, also made his Red Sox debut against the Braves on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old maneuvered his way around a leadoff single and two out-walk while striking out one in a scoreless top of the eighth to pick up his first hold of the spring.

(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Chaim Bloom on newest Red Sox prospect Frank German: ‘We’re excited to get him in here and keep molding him’

Right-handed pitching prospect Frank German may be the lesser-known of the two players the Red Sox acquired from the Yankees on Monday, but don’t let that fool you into believing he has little to offer his new club.

The 23-year-old was originally drafted by New York in the fourth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of North Florida, though he did also get looks from a few of the Yankees’ fiercest division rivals during the pre-draft process.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much himself when speaking with reporters on Monday.

“He’s an interesting prospect that I know this organization has had an eye on since he was in the draft,” Bloom said of German via Zoom. “I remember talking about him in our draft room when I was with the Rays. He was at North Florida and was kind of a pop-up guy that spring.”

Last time German saw any organized minor-league action (excluding rehab stints), he posted a 3.79 ERA and 3.56 xFIP over 16 outings (15 starts) and 76 innings pitched for the High-A Tampa Tarpons in 2019.

The native of Queens put up those numbers while working with a high-velocity four-seam fastball in addition to an evolving repertoire of secondary pitches that includes a changeup.

“He’s a power arm with a really good fastball that has good velo, good life,” said Bloom. “The secondaries are coming. The fastball is certainly the foundation right now, but that’s a great place to start. When a guy shows that he has a fastball that has the power and the life to be effective, and it’s a big-league fastball.

“A good body, athletic,” he continued. “A guy who improved a lot in a short period of time starting near the end of his college career. The type of guy that you would bet on to be able to make more improvement, so we’re excited to get him in here and keep molding him.”

One caveat that comes with the Red Sox acquiring a prospect such as German is the fact that there was no minor-league season last year.

On top of that, German was not included in the Yankees’ 60-man player pool, nor did he participate in a fall instructional league since New York did not have one. So, he was basically left to further his development with his own resources.

Having said all that, the Sox were essentially working with little to no new data and instead had to rely on information pertaining to German from 2019 and earlier, which can make these sorts of transactions a bit unnerving.

“This was one of the more interesting aspects of a trade like this, and frankly one of the more uncomfortable aspects of a trade like this is that there’s not as much information on his 2020,” Bloom stated. “This required a lot of legwork from a lot of different people in our organization, especially [vice president of professional scouting] Gus Quattlebaum and [director of professional scouting] Harrison Slutsky and their group.

“And then, really marshalling different resources to get as much intel as we could,” he added. “There’s no question when you’re acquiring a prospect right now — especially one that didn’t participate in an instructional league — there’s more unknowns. Now, we don’t want to be scared off too much by that because those can play in both directions. We felt we had enough intel on his situation to be comfortable making the trade, but it was definitely something that we had to work through and we had to get comfortable with.”

With the start date of the minor-league season below the Triple-A level getting pushed back until later in the spring, where German will began his Red Sox career — likely Greenville or Portland — has yet to be discussed.

What is clear now, however, is that the flame-throwing, 6-foot-2, 195 lb. hurler will remain a starter for the time being even if his path to the next level involves a move to the bullpen somewhere down the line.

“As far as his role, I think generally speaking, when a guy has had success in a starting role, you don’t want to cut off the upside of him continuing to have that success, absent some critical, immediate need,” Bloom said. “There are exceptions, but a lot of those exceptions come from really knowing the person and the player, and obviously we need to get to know him better. But, I could see him doing either in the future. It really depends on where he goes. But, like I said, he’s got a really good foundation with the athleticism and the fastball that he has, and we want to keep him developing.”

German, who does not turn 24 until September, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 27 prospect. He will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this coming December, so he is probably someone you want to get familiar with between now and the November 20 deadline.

(Picture of Frank German: Jon Monaghan/Broken Bat Media)

What the Adam Ottavino trade means for the Red Sox’ 40-man roster

After the Red Sox made their acquisition of right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino from the Yankees official on Monday, the club’s Opening Day roster took another step towards its completion.

That said, the reason the Sox were able to announce the addition of Ottavino so quickly is because they had an open 40-man roster spot for him following the trade that sent infielder C.J. Chatham to the Phillies last week.

Now that the 35-year-old hurler is officially a Red Sox, though, more questions arise pertaining to other players Boston has reportedly signed to major-league contracts recently. Those players would be none other than left-hander Martin Perez, utilityman Enrique Hernandez, and right-hander Garrett Richards, of course.

Perez agreed to a one-year deal with the Sox that includes a club option for 2022 on January 16, Hernandez agreed to a two-year deal on January 22, and Richards agreed to deal with a similar structure to Perez’s on Saturday.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, all three of these deals are still pending physicals and likely won’t be made official until later this week.

Between now and the time said deals are made official, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will have some tough decisions to make when it comes to trimming down the club’s 40-man roster in order to accommodate Perez, Hernandez, and Richards.

One way to make room for this trio would be designate three players currently on the 40-man for assignment. Right-handers Joel Payamps, Chris Mazza, and Marcus Walden, left-hander Jeffrey Springs, and outfield prospect Marcus Wilson were among the candidates Cotillo suggested could be DFA’d.

Another way to make room, or at least make room for one player, would be for the Red Sox to trade a DFA candidate to another club in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, as they did with Chatham. That way, a 40-man roster spot could be cleared to go along with some compensation in return.

Finally, there is the Dustin Pedroia conundrum that needs to be addressed. Again, this only creates a resolution for one spot but it seems pretty apparent that Pedroia, who has played in just nine total games the last three seasons, will not play out the final year of his contract.

The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham reported last week that the 37-year-old second baseman “is not planning a comeback and a resolution could come this month.”

Given the fact that Pedroia is somewhat of a franchise legend, Abraham noted that while the Sox “will want to do this correctly,” they are also running low on non-impact players on their 40-man roster.

Put another way, cutting Pedroia now as opposed to giving him a ceremonial sendoff in-season would not do the former American League MVP’s legacy justice.

So, the Red Sox have some roster-related decisions to make and they do not have much time to make them. What sort of moves will Bloom have in store? We will have to wait and see.

(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino, right-handed pitching prospect Frank German from Yankees in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later

The trade is now official. The Red Sox will be parting ways with a player to be named later or cash considerations in exchange for Ottavino and German.

The Red Sox have acquired right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino and right-handed pitching prospect Frank German from the New York Yankees, according to The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.

This deal marks the first time the division rivals have made a trade with one another since 2014.

Ottavino, 35, is entering the final year of the three-year, $27 million contract he signed with the Yankees in January 2019.

The Brooklyn native is slated to earn $8 million in 2021, but for luxury tax purposes, his salary is essentially $9 million.

Adding on to that, Ottavino’s deal with New York includes a deferred $3 million signing bonus that that will be paid out in 2022, so the Red Sox will be on the hook for $11 million when it comes to the right-hander’s salary minus the $850,000 being covered by the Yankees, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

For a trade involving only two players, the terms are quite confusing. So, for clarity’s sake, here’s the full deal, courtesy of MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

As previously mentioned, Ottavino is slated to become a free agent at the end of the 2021 season.

The former first-round draft pick is coming off a 2020 campaign with New York in which he posted a 5.89 ERA but a much more respectable 3.52 FIP over 24 appearances and 18 1/3 innings pitched out of the Yankees bullpen.

Half of the 12 earned runs Ottavino surrendered last year came in a six-run blow-up against the Blue Jays on September 7 in which he failed to record a single out. If you take that one outing away, Ottavino’s ERA on the season drops to 2.98.

An alumnus of Northeastern University in Boston, Ottavino was once interested in joining the Red Sox as a free-agent going into the 2019 season. They, however, were not interested in allocating significant financial recourses to a singular reliever at that time.

“I think initially, I did expect [Boston] to be in on relief pitching prior to the offseason,” Ottavino said in March 2019. “Once it got going and you just saw their level of involvement, then I kind of felt like they were not trying to spend any money and stay where they were financially. As it kept going, I just started realizing that was more the case.”

Ottavino, after signing a three-year deal with New York that January, would go on to have a superb debut season with the Yankees, putting up a miniscule 1.90 ERA over 73 appearances spanning 66 1/3 innings of work.

Working primarily with a slider, a sinker, cutter, changeup, and four-seam fastball, Ottavino will look to regain that old form with his new club and figures to be used in late-inning situations alongside the likes of Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.

As for the other player the Red Sox acquired in this deal, German was originally selected by New York in the fourth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of North Florida.

The 23-year-old right-hander was regarded by MLB Pipeline as the Yanks’ No. 24 prospect.

Last time he saw any organized minor-league action, German — aside from two rehab stints in the Gulf Coast League — posted a 3.79 ERA and 3.56 xFIP in 16 appearances (15 starts) and 76 innings pitched with High-A Tampa in 2019.

German was not included in the Yankees’ 60-man player pool last season.

With the reported addition of Ottavino, the Red Sox now have four players (Ottavino, Enrique Hernandez, Garrett Richards, Martin Perez) who will need to be added to the club’s 40-man roster in the coming days.

Since this trade is now official (see top tweet from the Red Sox’ offical Twitter account), Boston’s 40-man roster is currently at full capacity as Ottavino takes C.J. Chatham’s spot.

That said, the Sox will have to clear three 40-man spots to make room for Hernandez, Richards, and Perez. Stay tuned for those moves.

(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)