Red Sox Agree to Minor-League Deal With Reliever Trevor Hildenberger

The Red Sox have reportedly signed right-handed reliever Trevor Hildenberger to a minor-league contract, according to KSTOR North’s Darren Wolfson. The deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Hildenberger, 29, appeared in 22 games for the Minnesota Twins last season, posting a 10.47 ERA and 5.28 xFIP over 16 1/3 innings of relief while bouncing around between the majors and Triple-A Rochester.

Once touted as one of the more impressive relief pitching prospects in the Twins’ system, the former 2014 22nd round pick got his big league career off to a roaring start, allowing a total of 15 runs over his first 37 outings and 42 frames pitched upon his first call up in June 2017.

Things have not worked out in Hildenberger’s favor since then though, which ultimately led to Minnesota non-tendering the California native last month at a point where he was not yet eligible for salary arbitration.

Per Statcast, Hildenberger relies mostly on a changeup and sinker while having a slider and four-seam fastball to turn to as well.

Come the beginning of spring training, Hildenberger should have a chance to compete for a spot in Boston’s bullpen where he would earn $700,000. And if he does not make it to the majors by August 15th, he can opt out of his deal, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

 

Red Sox and Mookie Betts Avoid Arbitration With Record-Breaking $27 Million Deal for 2020

The Red Sox and outfielder Mookie Betts have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $27 million deal for the 2020 season, thus avoiding salary arbitration, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

https://twitter.com/JeffPassan/status/1215694968137883648?s=20

Headed into his final year of salary arbitration before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter, the 27-year-old Betts was projected to earn around $27.7 million by MLB Trade Rumors and now comes away with a record-breaking $27 million.

Last year, the Colorado Rockies and All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado settled on a then-record-breaking $26 million for Arenado’s final year of arbitration eligibility before the two sides ultimately reached agreement on an eight-year, $260 million extension that February.

The news of Betts and the Sox coming to an agreement Friday comes on the same day that all 30 clubs and their eligible players had until 12 PM eastern time to exchange arbitration figures.

Just because Betts is now under contract for the 2020 season does not mean that the groundwork has been laid for a potential contract extension. But, it now gives opposing teams such as the Braves, Cardinals, or Dodgers, a more specific idea of what one year of the All-Star outfielder would cost in any trade conversations.

As we all know, Betts still appears locked in on hitting the open market come this November. If no extension between him and Boston is agreed upon by that time, the Tennessee native will have earned approximately $59.5 million in six full seasons with the Sox before reaching free agency.

Steve Cishek Signs One-Year Deal With White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with right-handed reliever Steve Cishek, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The contract includes a $6 million option for a second year as well.

Cishek, 33, is coming off a two-year, $13 million deal with the Cubs, where most recently he posted a 2.95 ERA and 4.95 xFIP over 70 relief appearances and 64 innings of work in 2019 for the North Siders.

The Falmouth, Ma. native was viewed as a potential fit for the Red Sox in 2020, as he could help supplement an already solid bullpen and he had a previous connection to Boston’s chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when the two were in Tampa Bay.

Per MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, Cishek even had interest in signing with his hometown team as recently as last week, but because he earned $7.1 million with the Cubs in 209, he was believed to be out of the Red Sox’ pay range.

As it turns out, Cishek wound up taking just south of $7.1 million to remain in the same city he had spent the previous two years in.

I don’t have any inside information, but I would have to imagine this is how things went down before Cishek agreed to that deal with Chicago on Tuesday:

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn made his offer of one-year, $6 million to Cishek that included that aforementioned option for 2021. Cishek’s camp at Jet Sports Management makes one last call to Bloom and Co. to ask if they can go higher than that. Bloom responds by saying they can’t, and that’s that.

The fact that the Red Sox were unable to land a quality late-inning reliever, albeit one who does have injury concerns, for a mere $6 million just goes to show how handcuffed they are by the goal of getting below the $208 million luxury tax threshold ahead of the 2020 season.

Red Sox Agree to Major-League Deal With Catcher Kevin Plawecki

In their first move of the new decade and new year, the Red Sox have reportedly agreed to a one-year, major-league deal with free-agent catcher Kevin Plawecki, per Robert Murray and The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Plawecki, who turns 29 in February, slashed .222/.287/.342 with three home runs and 17 RBI over 59 games with the Cleveland Indians this past season.

The former Met was non-tendered by Cleveland on December 2nd, the same day the club acquired catcher Sandy Leon from Boston in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Adenys Bautista.

Because the Red Sox’ 40-man roster was already at full capacity prior to this signing, expect an additional roster move to be made once this deal becomes official.

Since it is a major-league contract that Plawecki signed, it would appear that the 2012 first-round pick out of Purdue University is locked in to become Christian Vazquez’s backup this coming season.

The addition of Plawecki also stays consistent with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. continuing to make low risk, high reward kind of signings, like with Martin Perez and Jose Peraza.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the deal is for one year and is worth $900,000. Plawecki is also eligible for arbitration.

Potential Red Sox Target Sergio Romo Goes Back to Twins on One-Year Deal

The Minnesota Twins have reportedly brought back right-handed reliever Sergio Romo on a one-year deal, $5 million deal that includes a club option for 2021, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Romo was seen as someone the Red Sox had interest in as recently as last week, but the 36-year-old ultimately winds up back with the club that acquired him from the Miami Marlins this past July.

In 65 relief appearances between Miami and Minnesota in 2019, Romo posted a 3.43 ERA and 3.68 FIP over 60 1/3 innings pitched.

Before that, the California native spent the latter half of the 2017 season and all off 2018 with the Rays, where he became the team’s first “opener” and started five games in ’18.

That’s where the Red Sox-related speculation comes in. Because at the time Romo was traded from the Dodgers to Tampa Bay in July 2017, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was serving as the Rays’ senior vice president of baseball operations.

In addition to that connection, Bloom’s right-hand man and Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran said during last week’s Winter Meetings that an opener is something Boston would be “open-minded” about.

Obviously, Romo is out of the question now, but that should not stop Bloom and Co. from pursuing other bullpen options that could also open for the Red Sox when needed.

Former Red Sox Catcher Blake Swihart Signs Minor-League Deal With Rangers

Former Red Sox catcher Blake Swihart has signed a minor-league deal with the Texas Rangers, per the club’s executive vice president of communications John Blake. The contract also includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Swihart opened the 2019 season with Boston, where he was the team’s second catcher behind Christian Vazquez up until April 16th.

At that point in time, the Sox sported a record of 6-11 and owned the third-worst team ERA in the American League at 5.93.

Offensively speaking, Swihart was not lighting the world on fire, as he was slashing .231/.310/.385 with one home run and four RBI through his first 12 games.

Given the struggles all the way around, as well as the fact that Sandy Leon was stashed away in Triple-A Pawtucket, Dave Dombrowski and Co. made the decision to go with Leon over Swihart from that point forward, ultimately designating the latter for assignment on the 16th and trading him to the Arizona Diamondbacks three days later.

Out of that deal, Boston also parted ways with international amateur signing bonus pool space, but they also gained outfield prospect Marcus Wilson, who has worked his way up to become the 18th-ranked prospect in the Sox’ farm system.

Arizona, meanwhile, did not get much production out of Swihart following the completed trade, as the 27-year-old went on to slash .136/.186/.273 with three home runs and nine RBI over just 31 games due to two right oblique strain-related stints on the injured list.

Eventually designated again by old friend Mike Hazen on August 12th and spending the rest of the year at the Triple-A level, Swihart opted for free agency in late September.

It is not known if the Red Sox had any interest in a potential reunion with Swihart. Given how Vazquez is currently the only backstop on Boston’s 40-man roster, bringing back Swihart might not have been the worst idea.

Once committed to the University of Texas at Austin, Swihart will have the chance to compete for a role with a resurgent Rangers club come the spring. If he makes the team’s Opening Day roster, he’ll also have the chance to play in the same division as his longtime friend and Astros third baseman Alex Bregman, both of whom grew up in New Mexico.

This news comes a day after Swihart and his wife Shelby announced that they are expecting their first child together, so congratulations to them on that.

Red Sox Sign Left-Hander Martin Perez to One-Year Deal

The Red Sox and left-hander Martin Perez have reportedly agreed on a one-year, $6 million deal for the 2020 season that includes a $6.25 million club option for 2021, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Perez, who turns 29 in April, spent this past season with the Minnesota Twins, where he posted an ERA of 5.12 over 32 outings (29 starts) and 165 1/3 innings of work.

Among the 26 American League hurlers with at least 160 innings under their belt in 2019, Perez ranked 22nd in ERA, 17th in xFIP (4.69), ninth in hard-hit rate (35%), and 21st in fWAR (1.9), per FanGraphs.

A former international signee out of Venezuela by the Texas Rangers back in 2007, Perez will look to fill the void left in the Sox’ starting rotation by Rick Porcello, who happened to sign a one-year deal with the New York Mets on Thursday as well.

In his career at Fenway Park, Perez owns a lifetime 5.96 ERA and batting average against of .287 over four starts and 22 2/3 innings pitched. That includes six innings of one-run ball in one of his final starts as a Twin back on September 5th.

With the additions of Perez and infielder Jose Peraza via free agency, as well as Jonathan Aurez through the Rule 5 Draft made by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. on Thursday, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster should stand at 39 players once everything is official.