Red Sox in ‘active discussions’ with free-agent right-hander Garrett Richards, per report

In the wake of reportedly agreeing to a two-year deal with utilityman Enrique Hernandez, the Red Sox are also in active discussions with free-agent right-hander Garrett Richards, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

Per Morosi, multiple clubs were talking with Richards as recently as Friday.

Richards, 32, is coming off a 2020 season with the Padres in which he posted a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 14 outings (10 starts) and 51 1/3 innings of work.

The 2020 campaign marked Richards’ first ‘full’ season in quite a while, as the California native was limited to just three starts with the Pads in September 2019.

That was the case because the righty had been recovering from Tommy John Surgery, which he underwent as a member of the Angels in July 2018.

At one point in time, Richards — a former first-round pick of Los Angeles in 2009 — was viewed as the Halos’ future ace who would take over for longtime stalwart Jered Weaver.

That vision never came to fruition, though, as the one-time Oklahoma Sooner dealt with his fair share of injuries in his time with the Angels that was capped off by undergoing TJS in ’18.

With the Padres, however, Richards showed some flashes of what made him a special prospect in the first place, especially this past season.

Despite putting up a so-s0 4.03 ERA, the 6-foot-2, 210 lb. hurler placed in the 82nd percentile in fastball velocity, the 97th percentile in fastball spin, and the 99th percentile in curveball spin among major-league pitchers, per Baseball Savant. His pitch mix also includes a ‘wipeout’ slider.

To put it in simpler terms, Richards is somewhat of a ‘Statcast darling,’ as @RedSoxStats put it.

With that high upside potential in mind, it’s possible that Richards, who does not turn 33 until May, is currently in search of a multi-year contract.

MLB Trade Rumors predicted back in November that the ISE Baseball client would net himself a two-year, $16 million deal this winter.

Even after signing the likes of Martin Perez and Matt Andriese to one-year deals and adding swingman candidate Garrett Whitlock via the Rule 5 Draft, Boston still finds themselves in need of starting pitching help as spring training draws closer.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said on the SoxProspects.com podcast earlier this week that he is hopeful the club will be able to make more moves between now and Opening Day.

“I think we have a chance to surprise some people in 2021,” he said. “And I’m hopeful and believe very much we’re going to do a few more things before Opening Day that will supplement this club.”

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox, utilityman Kiké Hernández agree to multi-year deal, per report

The Red Sox and free-agent utilityman Enrique Hernandez have reached agreement on a multi-year deal, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal adds that Hernandez’s new contract with Boston is good for $14 million over two years. It also includes deferrals and is pending a physical.

Hernandez, 29, had spent the previous six seasons with the Dodgers, most recently slashing a modest .230/.270/.410 to go along with five home runs and 20 RBI over 48 games played in 2020.

He also put together a decent postseason for Los Angeles en route to their first World Series title since 1988 by posting a .755 OPS across 15 games and 31 plate appearances this past October.

A right-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, Hernandez has proven to be quite the versatile player in his tenure with the Dodgers, seeing playing time all around the infield, outfield, and even the pitcher’s mound (one appearance in 2018).

Going back to last season, Los Angeles deployed the Puerto Rican at second base 27 times, in right field seven times, in left field four times, in center field three times, and at first base and shortstop two times each.

Based off these totals, one might assume Hernandez’s best position defensively is second base, which in this case is true.

Per FanGraphs, the 5-foot-11, 190 lb. infielder/outfielder played 220 1/3 innings at second base in 2020. In those 220 1/3 innings, he was worth positive-8 defensive runs saved despite posting a negative-2.6 ultimate zone rating.

Going into the offseason, the Red Sox sought out to address their second base issues coming off a 2020 season in which that particular position group  put up an American League-worst .586 OPS and league-worst wRC+ of 55.

The addition of Hernandez, who by no means is an offensive superstar, might not be too appealing on the surface, but this is really a solid pickup for the Sox.

That being the case because when they don’t need him to play second base, the club could start him at a bevy of other positions, including all three spots in the outfield if necessary.

As an added bonus, which the Red Sox likely took into consideration here, Hernandez owns a lifetime wRC+ of 120 in 893 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching.

That attribute could very well come in handy if Hernandez was to be used a platoon option with Andrew Benintendi in left field, assuming Benintendi is still on the team by Opening Day.

Of course, given his connections to Puerto Rico, Hernandez should be familiar with Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who, as Team Puerto Rico’s general manager for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, picked the former sixth-round draft pick to play for his home island’s team.

In signing Hernandez to a two-year deal, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have now added four free-agents (Hernandez, Martin Perez, Matt Andriese, Hunter Renfroe) on major-league contracts so far this winter.

Of that group, Hernandez is the first to get a deal with a guaranteed second year as opposed to a club option.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Red Sox have ‘engaged in talks’ with former Rays left-hander Matt Moore this winter, per report

In their quest to shore up their starting pitching ahead of the 2021 season, the Red Sox are making sure to leave no stone unturned.

Plenty of names have popped up and been linked to the Sox in recent weeks, but there is one in particular this article will focus on: Matt Moore.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Boston has “engaged in talks” with Moore — among others — this winter.

The 31-year-old left-hander last pitched in the majors in 2019, making just two starts for the Tigers before suffering a meniscus tear in his right knee in early April that would eventually require season-ending surgery.

Prior to injuring his right knee, Moore had looked like he was on the rebound with Detroit after struggling mightily with the Giants and Rangers the previous two seasons. Over 10 scoreless innings of work, he yielded just three hits and one walk to go along with nine strikeouts in his first two outings as a Tiger.

That said, that knee ailment came at a rough time for the southpaw, as he would have to settle and sign a one-year deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan last offseason.

With the Hawks, though, Moore picked up where he left off in Detroit, posting a 2.65 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over 15 starts spanning 85 innings pitched in his first exposure to the NPB in 2020.

Taking that strong showing into consideration, it now appears as though the former All-Star is back on the scope of major-league teams.

The Athletic’s Peter Gammons tweeted earlier Tuesday that Moore “has become an intriguing free-agent” and is a “mid-rotation possibility for several clubs.”

Gammons added that Moore got up to 90-95 mph with his fastball velocity while getting his delivery back to a point where it is balanced.

Given the apparent intrigue in Moore from across baseball, it is understandable to see why the Red Sox would have interest here.

For starters, Moore, a Florida native, was selected by the Rays out of high school in the eighth round of the 2007 amateur draft, so there is an obvious Chaim Bloom connection there given the fact that the Red Sox’ chief baseball officer spent more than 14 years in Tampa Bay (2005-2019).

On top of that, as was mentioned earlier, the Sox find themselves in dire need of starting pitching help coming off a 2020 campaign in which the club’s starters put up a collective 5.34 ERA (second-worst in baseball) while working just 246 innings (second-lowest total in baseball).

Seeing how he hasn’t pitched a full major-league season in nearly three years, it’s hard to imagine that Moore’s asking price will be too high as he looks to reintroduce himself.

There certainly is some appeal here given the fact that he doesn’t turn 32 until June and, as noted by Cotillo, threw more innings (85) “than any big-leaguer during the shortened regular season.”

There’s also some things to be wary about with Moore, too. Such as the fact that he has a somewhat extensive history of injuries and has proven to be inconsistent at times.

All that being said, though, Bloom and Co. have not shied away from bringing in players they are familiar with so far this offseason.

Moore, who amassed 96 appearances (94 starts) as a member of the Rays from 2011-2016, meets that particular prerequisite. He also has some upside working with a pitch mix that includes a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a curveball, and a changeup, per Baseball Savant.

(Picture of Matt Moore: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have inquired on’ free-agent outfielder Jake Marisnick, per report

The Red Sox might not be considered favorites to land George Springer at this point, but there is another former Astros outfielder the club could pursue in free agency.

That particular outfielder’s name? Jake Marisnick.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox are looking at a number of outfield options in the event that they are unable to re-sign Jackie Bradley Jr., who they are “still in on” as of this moment.

“If the Red Sox aren’t able to bring back Bradley Jr., they’ll start considering other options,” Cotillo wrote Friday. “One name they’ve inquired on — at least primarily — is Jake Marisnick.”

Marisnick, who turns 30 in March, was limited to just 16 games with the Mets this past season due to issues related to both his left and right hamstrings.

Over that small sample size, the California native was impressive, going 11-for-33 at the plate (.333) to go along with two home runs, three doubles, and five RBI. He declared for free agency in late October.

Prior to getting traded to the Mets from the Astros in December 2019, Marisnick was somewhat of a mainstay in the Houston outfield more so for what he could do with the glove in his hand as opposed to the bat, with the majority of his playing time coming in center.

From the start of the 2015 season until the end of the 2019 season, the 6-foot-4, 220 lb. outfielder played a total of 3,676 2/3 innings in the outfield for Houston.

While doing so, he posted a positive-53 defensive runs saved as well as an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 19.7, per FanGraphs.

Marisnick’s best year defensively might have come in 2016, but Baseball Savant does not go that far back with its outs above average (OAA) leaderboards.

Going back to 2019 though, the former third-round draft pick was worth eight outs above average, placing ninth among qualified major-league centerfielders that year, per Statcast.

In summary, Marisnick may be approaching 30, but he still has the makings to be a quality defensive center field option for whichever club he signs with.

In the Red Sox’ case, the ex-Astro may serve as a solid replacement for Bradley Jr. if the Gold Glover were to sign with another team in the coming weeks. He’s another free-agent who has a connection to Alex Cora (former bench coach in Houston as well.”

On top of his ability to potentially fill the hypothetical void left by Bradley Jr., Marisnick would presumably command a shorter-term deal on the open market, meaning he could serve as a bridge of sorts for Boston as Jarren Duran inches closer to the majors.

Duran, currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the organization’s top outfield prospect, is projected to start 2021 with Triple-A Worcester and could very well make his big-league debut for the Sox later on in the summer.

FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen wrote last week that “Duran’s instincts in center field are still not good (though they’ve improved), and he relies on his speed to make up for what he lacks in off-the-bat feel and anticipation,” but it’s clear that the organization has high hopes for the 24-year-old.

That being said, under the assumption that Bradley Jr. does not return, Marisnick could be brought in to patrol center field to start the 2021 season. And if the timing is right, Duran could be called up to learn the ropes at the major-league level sometime in July, August, or even September.

This, of course, all depends on what Chaim Bloom and Co. have in mind for the puzzle that is the Red Sox outfield picture moving forward.

Boston’s chief baseball officer said back in November that he believes all three of Andrew Benintendi, Alex Verdugo, and Hunter Renfroe could play center field if needed, but he would not be opposed to adding another outfielder, either.

“I think we have guys on this club who are capable of playing center field,” Bloom said during a Zoom call with reporters. “But we certainly would like to be in as strong of a defensive position as you can. We know we play in a ballpark where you basically have two center fields here in Fenway Park. So we want to be mindful of that.

“We’d certainly like to have as strong of a defensive outfield as possible,” he added. “And a lot of that is contingent on having multiple guys who can play center field.”

Bringing on someone as capable of playing center field as Marisnick would certainly seem to fit the mantra of “having multiple guys” who can play that position when asked to.

(Picture of Jake Marisnick: Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Red Sox bring back left-hander Martín Pérez on one-year deal that includes club option for 2022

The Red Sox are bringing back left-hander Martin Perez on a one-year, $5 million deal for the 2021 season, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Per Rosenthal, Perez will earn a base salary of $4.5 million this year and will have the opportunity to earn $6 million in 2022 via a club option. The deal also includes incentives for number of innings pitched for both 2021 and 2022.

If the Red Sox were decline that club option, the southpaw could then earn an additional $500,000 through a buyout, which would take the total value of the contract to $5 million.

Perez, who turns 30 in April, is coming off a debut season with Boston in which he posted a 4.50 ERA and 5.12 xFIP over 12 starts spanning 62 innings of work in 2020.

Those numbers might not look great on the surface, but there was a stretch from July 30 until August 22 and another stretch from September 3 until September 18 where Perez was one of, if not the best starter in Boston’s rotation.

The Venezuelan international originally inked a one-year, $6 million pact with the Red Sox in December 2019. That contract also included a team option — worth approximately $6.25 million — for a potential second year, but the Sox declined said option in early November.

Since that time, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have not made too many major moves to address Boston’s pitching needs, as right-handers Matt Andriese (signed a one-year deal in December) and Garrett Whitlock (Rule 5 Draft selection) have been the only significant additions thus far in terms of potential rotation depth.

With that in mind, perhaps the Sox thought it was in their best interest to shore up their starting rotation a little bit by bringing back a familiar face in Perez.

The fact that the one-time Rangers hurler was even still available was somewhat of a surprise given the notion that the Padres — run by former Texas director of international and professional scouting A.J. Preller — were among the teams interested in his services.

Now that Perez is back in Boston, though, he joins the likes of Andriese, Whitlock, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, Nick Pivetta, and Tanner Houck among those currently on the team who will have a spot in the rotation to start the year and those who will have to fight for a spot during spring training.

That said, expect more pitching additions (Jake Odorizzi?) for the Red Sox to come relatively soon.

Also, the Red Sox will have to clear a spot on their 40-man roster to make the Perez signing official, so that’s another thing to monitor.

(Picture of Martin Perez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Might Red Sox consider adding George Springer if free-agent outfielder remains unsigned going into spring training?

Alongside the likes of Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto, outfielder George Springer remains one of the top free-agents still on the market.

The 31-year-old is coming off a 2020 season with the Astros in which he posted a .265/.359/.540 slash to go along with 14 home runs and 32 RBI over 51 games played, which was enough to finish 13th in American League MVP voting.

While there have not been too many definitive rumblings as to where Springer could land this offseason, it is apparent that the Blue Jays and the Mets are pursuing the three-time All-Star the hardest.

That being the case because according to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, “indications are [Toronto’s] No. 1 free-agent priority is still center fielder George Springer.”

MLB Network’s Jon Paul Morosi, meanwhile, notes that Springer “has drawn the most significant interest from the Blue Jays and Mets” and “the 31-year-old is said to have a preference to play near his home state of Connecticut.”

Given that reported preference, Springer — a UCONN product — would seem more likely to lean towards signing with the Mets, although New York might be limited in what they can do now in order to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

As SNY’s Andy Martino wrote on Friday, “Once the Mets traded for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco last week, their pursuit of Springer downshifted significantly, according to people involved in the talks.”

Martino also reports that Springer, who does not turn 32 until September, has a five-year deal on the table from the Blue Jays worth anywhere from $115 million to $125 million.

Assuming what has already been reported is true, it does not seem like the two-time Silver Slugger will remain on the open market for too much longer.

That being said, the possibility still remains that Springer could remain unsigned going into the start of spring training, as has been the case with past coveted free-agents such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in 2019.

In that scenario, it might not be too crazy for a team that has not been seriously linked to the right-handed hitting, 6-foot-3, 221 lb. outfielder to this point, like the Red Sox for instance, to explore a potential deal there.

Of course, any team outside of the Astros that signs Springer would have to forfeit a second-round draft pick as well as $500,000 in international signing bonus pool money due to the fact that Houston extended a qualifying offer, which was later rejected, to its former first-round draft pick in November.

Even with that caveat in mind, though, the Sox could at least consider negotiating with Springer if he is still a free agent come mid to late-February.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo discussed that possibility with MLB.com’s Ian Browne and The Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam on the latest installment of the Fenway Rundown podcast.

“I think if the bottom falls out of this George Springer market, and he is unsigned into spring training, which it feels like the Mets aren’t going there, the Blue Jays are a lot of talk and not a lot of action like another team we know… If the bottom really falls out of that, I think [the Red Sox] will legitimately consider whether it’s worth giving up a second-round pick for him. He might be the one exception to that rule there,” Cotillo said.

“He has the talent of somebody you would give up a second-round pick for. That would justify cheaping out on some of these other guys if they go out and get George Springer,” Browne added.

“He solves a ton of problems. He gives you an above-average defender in center — I don’t think he’s equal to [Jackie Bradley Jr.] but he’s good — but more importantly…he’s a terrific leadoff option. So you don’t have to worry about, in the event that [Andrew] Benintendi somehow stayed, putting [Benintendi] there since he’s not crazy about it. [Alex] Verdugo, I think, has made it well known that while he’ll do it, he’d prefer to hit lower. So it takes care of your leadoff guy.

“And as we know, Springer has shown himself to be a fabulous October player. He’s had a ton of experience on the big stage with Houston the last four years. So, presumably, if someone can do that in the big moment in October, then playing in Boston with expectations would not be anything that would rattle him. Of course, he’s got a New England background having gone to UCONN,” said McAdam.

“And Alex Cora. There are some damaged relationships from all the fallout of the Astros’ scandal. That’s not one of them. Alex has said that he communicates with Springer pretty frequently, so that won’t be an issue,” concluded Cotillo.

So, even though Queens may be slightly closer to New Britain, Conn. — Springer’s hometown — than Boston, it’s probably fair to say that the Red Sox, with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom at the helm, cannot be ruled out of the Springer sweepstakes at this point in time.

If push were to come to shove within the next few weeks, then perhaps former UCONN right-hander turned Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes, who was teammates with Springer on the Huskies baseball team from 2009-2011, would be willing to do some recruiting as well.

(Picture of George Springer: Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘are in’ on free-agent utilityman Marwin Gonzalez, per report

In their pursuit to upgrade their depth at second base, the Red Sox are reportedly “in” on free-agent utilityman Marwin Gonzalez, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Per Cotillo, Gonzalez is “one of a few versatile options” the Sox are looking at to address the apparent hole at second base.

Gonzalez, who turns 32 in March, has spent the last two seasons with the Twins, most recently posting a slash line of .211/.286/.320 to go along with five home runs and 22 RBI across 53 games and 199 plate appearances for Minnesota in 2020.

If you’re not a fan of evaluating players based off a shortened season, then going back to 2019, Gonzalez was okay in his debut season in the Twin Cities.

Per FanGraphs, the Venezuelan put up an OPS of .736 as well as a 93 wRC+ while clubbing 15 homers and driving in 55 runs over 114 games played.

Prior to signing with the Twins in February 2019, Gonzalez had established himself as a legitimate utility player as a member of the Astros from 2012 until 2018, even finishing 19th in American League MVP voting the same year Houston won the World Series (2017).

Given his past with the Astros, Gonzalez obviously established a relationship with Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who served as the ‘Stros’ bench coach under A.J. Hinch in 2017.

That being said, it’s extremely likely that the switch-hitting veteran used the Astros’ illegal sign-stealing system to his full advantage when he was with the club.

In the two seasons leading up to his free agency during the winter of 2018/2019, Gonzalez collected 39 home runs and 59 doubles over 279 total games and 1,067 plate appearances with Houston.

Since that time, all of which was spent with the Twins, Gonzalez has hit just 20 home runs and 23 doubles over 167 games and 662 plate appearances dating back to the start of the 2019 campaign.

Even with that disparity in mind, it’s unlikely that the Sox would shy away from signing a former Astro — like Gonzalez — if they believe he provides what they are in search for. That being, someone who can play second base on an everyday basis while also being more than capable of playing all around the infield and even both corner outfield spots if necessary.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. were to lock down Gonzalez to what would likely be a short-term deal, it would be somewhat of a homecoming for the former international free agent.

That being the case because going back to 2011, Boston selected Gonzalez from the Cubs in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, though they dealt him to Houston in exchange for minor-league right-hander Marco Duarte that same day.

With Gonzalez now added to the mix, here is a full list of free-agent second base options the Red Sox “have been in touch with,” according to Cotillo.

As Cotillo notes in the above tweet, D.J LeMahieu signing with the Yankees on Friday could get this particular market moving relatively soon. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Photo of Marwin Gonzalez: Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/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)

New Mets star Francisco Lindor grew up watching Red Sox ‘a lot’ in Puerto Rico; Could Boston be in play for shortstop’s services next winter?

Growing up in Puerto Rico, new Mets star shortstop Francisco Lindor did not have too many options when it came to watching specific Major League Baseball teams on television.

Star players from the island — such as Roberto Alomar and Carlos Delgado –took precedence, but among the 30 major-league clubs out there, Lindor’s options were really whittled down to just a handful of teams: the Braves, Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Marlins, and last but not least, the Red Sox.

Surrounded by fans infatuated with the Bronx Bombers, the young Lindor opted to follow their biggest rivals at the time in the Red Sox.

“In Puerto Rico, back in the day, they weren’t showing every team,” the27-year-old explained on SNY following his introductory press conference earlier Monday. “They were showing the Atlanta Braves, they would show the Dodgers, they would show the Yankees, Boston, the Marlins when they had Ivan Rodriguez, the Mets when they started getting players from Puerto Rico.

“So, Boston was a team that I watched a lot,” he continued. “Because everybody was [for the] Yankees in Puerto Rico, so it was like ‘All right, I got to pick something to have the rebuttal. So, that was one of the teams that I watched.”

In addition to the Red Sox, Lindor also watched quite a bit of the Mets, the organization he now plays for. However, in citing the players from old Mets teams he enjoyed to watch, the four-time All-Star mentioned former big-league infielder and current Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

Cora, about to embark upon his second stint as Sox skipper, served as Lindor’s general manager for Team Puerto Rico during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The pair of Puerto Ricans share a very close bond, as evidenced by the former Indians star likening Cora to his “big brother” in 2019.

Even with that close bond in mind, the Red Sox were never really close to trading for Lindor before Cleveland dealt the star infielder to the Mets in a blockbuster, six-player trade last week.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported back in November that Boston wouldn’t “prioritize” a trade for the two-time Silver Slugger given their need to allocate resources towards pitching.

The reason Lindor was a trade candidate in the first place is because he is entering his third and final season of arbitration eligibility, meaning he can become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2021 campaign.

That being said, the Mets could very well lock up their new superstar to a lucrative contract extension before that happens. They certainly dealt for him with the intention to do that. Sandy Alderson, New York’s head of baseball operations, even said last week that he expected to talk to Lindor’s representatives about a potential long-term deal relatively soon.

Lindor himself said Monday that he’s open to signing an extension with the Mets to remain in the Big Apple for the foreseeable future, but only if an agreement that makes sense for both sides can be reached before the start of the season.

“I have never negotiated a contract during the season,” he told reporters. “Never. I’ve always said either before spring training, but once it gets to a point in spring training, it’s time to enjoy the ride and focus on winning. That’s the only thing I should be focused on — not how much money do I get, how much money do I need to get for my family. No, it’s about focusing on every day, my task.”

Given his willingness to potentially sign an extension, Lindor is not exactly locked in on hitting the open market this winter. But then again, free agency is definitely something that has been on his mind recently.

“I have never said, ‘I can’t wait to get to free agency,'” stated Lindor. “That was always so far ahead for me… When the negotiations with the Indians weren’t going how we were planning, then it was like, ‘Okay, this at some point might become a reality.’ Either I go to free agency or I get traded. But, if I told you I didn’t think about [free agency] this offseason, I would be lying. Yes, it was on my mind, but I’m happy to be where I am today and we’ll see what happens.”

When it comes down to it, Lindor’s situation resembles that of former Red Sox sensation Mookie Betts from over the summer.

Having just been traded from the Sox to the Dodgers in February, Betts opted to sign a record-breaking 12-year, $365 million extension with Los Angeles in July before even playing a game for the team.

Betts agreeing to that extension came at a time when the 28-year-old had already publicly stated he was intent on reaching free agency, but the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic likely changed his mind.

Taking into account the financial constraints that have been placed on clubs as a result of said pandemic, Lindor may opt to follow Betts and agree to a deal with the Mets before suiting up for them.

New York, with owner Steve Cohen now at the helm, has shown a willingness to spend after all, and re-upping a bona fide talent such as Lindor would certainly be money well spent.

Having written all this, I did think it was interesting that Lindor brought up the Red Sox in his presser earlier Monday.

Given the connection to Cora, as well as the fact that Boston’s current shortstop, Xander Bogaerts, can opt out of his contract and become a free agent at the end of the 2022 season, I feel like the Sox can’t be ruled out on Lindor as long as he doesn’t commit to the Mets for the long-term.

In other words, under the assumption that Lindor heads into next winter as a free agent, which I should add is unlikely, I have to assume that the Red Sox will to some extent be in play for his services next winter.

Even as I type that out, whatever is in store for the Red Sox all depends on what chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have in mind for the time being. I will leave it at that.

(Picture of Francisco Lindor and Alex Cora: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox reached out to DJ LeMahieu early on in free agency, could reconnect with veteran infielder this week (report)

In addition to improving their starting pitching depth, one of the holes the Red Sox need to address this offseason is at second base.

Boston is coming off a 2020 season in which its second basemen posted an American League-worst OPS of .586 and American League-worst wRC+ of 55.

The club was aggressive in their pursuit of coveted Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim to fill that hole at second base, but the 25-year-old inked a four-year, $28 million deal with the Padres in late December.

With Kim off the market, the Sox may very well turn to another highly-touted free agent second baseman in three-time All-Star D.J. LeMahieu.

LeMahieu, according to Yahoo Sports‘ Tim Brown, “has become dismayed by the slow-play tactics of the Yankees, along with other clubs.”

The 32-year-old out of Louisiana State University is coming off another successful season with the Bronx Bombers in which he slashed .364/.421/.590 with 10 home runs, 10 doubles, and 27 RBI over 50 games (216 plate appearances) in 2020.

Emerging as perhaps one of the best infielders in baseball in his time with New York, LeMahieu is reportedly seeking a new contract this winter that exceeds “Josh Donaldson’s four-year, $92 million deal with the Minnesota Twins and [is] at least on par with J.D. Martinez’s five years and $110 million with the Boston Red Sox.

“The Yankees, LeMahieu’s preferred club after two successful seasons in the Bronx, have not met those terms,” Brown writes.

Given his frustrations, LeMahieu has asked “his representatives to re-engage with teams that have previously shown the most interest…and to reconnect with teams that reached out early in the free agent period.”

The Red Sox are one of the teams that reportedly reached out to the two-time batting champ early on in the free agent period, likely in late October or early November.

They could also be one of the teams planning to meet virtually with LeMahieu at some point this week, according to Brown, seeing how they are “seeking to fill holes at second or third base.”

One caveat that comes with pursuing LeMahieu is the fact that he has a $18.9 million qualifying offer attached to him, meaning the Red Sox — or any club besides the Yankees — would have to forfeit a 2021 second-draft pick as well as $500,000 in international signing bonus pool money in order to sign him.

Back in November, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom stated that he would not shy away from certain free-agents with QOs attached to them as long as they fit a team need.

“I think it’s our responsibility to engage on everybody that could fit us,” Bloom said via a Zoom call. “Obviously when you’re talking about somebody that has a qualifying offer on them, the cost to us in signing them is greater and you have to factor that in on some level. But I don’t like ruling us out on anybody.”

While not ruling the likes of LeMahieu out then, Bloom also emphasized the significance second-round picks can have for an organization, citing Jon Lester (2002) and Dustin Pedroia (2004) as prime examples in the Sox’ case when speaking with reporters last month.

“All draft picks are calculated risks to some extent,” Bloom said. “There’s no guarantees with any of them. You can look at 2002 and 2004 just to see how valuable a second round pick can be in this organization. It’s really valuable. You saw this past year in the draft, we didn’t have one. And as a result we had to navigate the draft differently than we might have if we had our pick in that round. So it matters. It obviously has value. It gives you a very good shot at an impactful player. And so you just have to factor that in. It’s not an absolute one way or the other. But you can’t be blind to the value that you’re giving up in
that scenario.”

In addition to the constraints — both financial and developmental — bringing in LeMahieu would create, the right-handed hitter’s swing may not even play that well at Fenway Park in comparison to how it plays at Yankee Stadium.

That being the case because, as The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier noted in December, LeMahieu’s “batted-ball profile — a right-handed hitter who drills liners to the opposite field — represents an ideal fit for Yankee Stadium but a poor one for Fenway.”

In 14 career games and 65 career plate appearances inside Fenway Park, LeMahieu has posted a .516 OPS, which pales in comparison to his lifetime OPS of 1.042 at Yankee Stadium.

With those numbers in mind, LeMahieu could very well be attempting to use the Red Sox as leverage in this scenario, and the Red Sox, upon getting in touch with the veteran infielder’s reps in the fall, may have just been doing their due diligence, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors’ Mark Polishuk.

Still, it is somewhat fascinating to see that Boston could be in play for a premier free-agent like LeMahieu at this stage in the offseason, though I don’t really see the two sides coming to terms on a long-term contract that lines up with what the 32-year-old is looking for anytime soon.

(Photo of D.J. LeMahieu: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)