Red Sox add veteran reliever Héctor Rondón on minor-league deal, per report

The Red Sox have signed veteran reliever Hector Rondon to a minor-league deal, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier adds that Rondon will net himself $1 million if he gets called up to the majors this year.

Rondon, 33, became a free-agent last week after opting out of his minor-league pact with the Phillies.

In his brief time with Philadelphia, the Venezuelan right-hander yielded seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts over eight relief appearances spanning seven innings of work this spring.

Prior to signing with the Phillies in February, Rondon was coming off a shortened 2020 season with the Diamondbacks in which he posted a 7.65 ERA and 6.59 FIP in 23 outings and 20 innings pitched out of Arizona’s bullpen.

The fact that Rondon — a client of Octagon — struggled as much as he did last year is somewhat befuddling since he was one of the game’s most consistent relievers over the course of the first seven years of his big-league career.

From 2013-2019, the 6-foot-3, 225 pound hurler put up a 3.29 ERA and 3.49 FIP over 421 games (416 innings) between the Cubs (2013-2017) and Astros (2018-2019).

Per Baseball Savant, Rondon’s four-pitch arsenal consists of a four-seam fastball, a slider, a sinker, and a changeup. He averaged a velocity of 95.7 mph with his heater last year, down from 96.7 mph in 2019.

A former international signee of the Indians back in 2004, Rondon is the second reliever the Sox inked to a minor-league deal Tuesday, as he joins another former member of the Tribe organization in left-hander Tyler Olson.

Unlike Olson, though, Rondon will report to the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester as opposed to minor-league spring training in Fort Myers, per WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

(Picture of Hector Rondon: Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have engaged in talks’ with free-agent reliever Héctor Rondón, per report

The Red Sox are showing interest and have even “engaged in talks” with free-agent reliever Hector Rondon, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Rondon, who turned 33 last month, initially signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies in early February before opting out of said contract last week.

In eight appearances out of Philadelphia’s bullpen this spring, the Venezuelan right-hander yielded seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, two walks, and eight strikeouts over seven innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 7.71 and WHIP of 1.43.

A veteran of eight big-league seasons, Rondon spent the shortened 2020 campaign with the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he struggled to the tune of a 7.65 ERA and 6.59 FIP over 23 relief outings spanning 20 innings pitched.

Prior to 2020, though, Rondon had established himself as a solid bullpen arm through the first seven years of his major-league career, as he posted a 3.29 ERA and 3.49 FIP over 421 games (416 innings) as a member of the Cubs and Astros from 2013-2019.

Per Baseball Savant, Rondon — who originally signed with the Indians as an international free-agent in 2004 — primarily relies on his four-seam fastball, slider, sinker, and changeup. He averaged a velocity of 95.7 mph with his heater last year, down from 96.7 mph in 2019.

Rondon, as Cotillo notes, is just one of a handful of free-agent relievers the Red Sox have engaged in talks with in recent weeks.

Jesse Biddle, a left-hander with three years of major-league experience under his belt with the Braves, Mariners, Rangers, and Reds, is someone Boston “has inquired about” after the 29-year-old was cut loose by Cincinnati on Friday.

Falmouth native Steve Cishek is another bullpen arm the Sox had interest in, but only on a minor-league deal. The veteran right-hander opted out of his contract with the Astros last week and it certainly looks like he will be landing with another club on a big-league deal sooner rather than later.

Boston’s pursuit of relievers on the open market comes at a time when veterans around baseball are either released or opt out of their minor-league deals to pursue major-league opportunities elsewhere.

When asked on Sunday if the Red Sox would consider adding to their bullpen in the wake of Matt Barnes testing positive for COVID-19 (he has since been cleared to return to the team), chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom acknowledged that an addition could happen depending on the circumstances surrounding the team.

“It’s interesting because this is the time of year where there’s often a lot of movement as teams are setting rosters,” Bloom said via Zoom. “Players might become available that haven’t been throughout the spring. So generally speaking, it’s a time of year when you’re looking around. This adds a little bit of a twist to that. At the same time, we’ve need to make sure that we’ve got our arms around the developing situation here and to the extent that this is just a short-term bump in the road. We also need to be mindful of that.”

(Picture of Hector Rondon: Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Marwin González homers from each side of the plate against Twins, Alex Cora says ‘we’ll play him against lefties and righties whenever we have the chance’

During his pregame media availability on Thursday morning, Alex Cora made the point of saying that Marwin Gonzalez was going to be important to not only what the Red Sox do on the field in 2021, but what they do off the field as well.

Gonzalez made his sixth start of the spring for Boston against the Twins at Hammond Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

Batting out of the two-hole behind fellow newcomer Enrique Hernandez, the soon-to-be 32-year-old switch-hitter showed why he can be a valuable addition for a club with championship aspirations by going 2-for-2 at the plate with a pair of home runs, his first two of the spring.

He also stole a base after getting hit by a pitch in the fourth inning.

In his first at-bat, Gonzalez was matched up with Twins starter Matt Shoemaker, a right-hander, so he naturally hit from the left side of the plate with one out and nobody on in the top half of the first inning.

After watching a first-pitch sinker whiz by his knees for a called first strike, Gonzalez did not waste any more time, as he took an 0-1, 77 mph slider right down Broadway and deposited it 406 feet into the left field seats.

His first big fly of the spring — and in a Red Sox uniform — traveled 406 feet off the bat with an exit velocity of over 107 mph, per Baseball Savant.

Fast forward to the fifth, after the bottom of the Sox lineup had been productive with two outs and Hernandez collected an RBI on a run-scoring single, Gonzalez came to the plate once more, this time matched up against Twins southpaw Devin Smeltzer.

The versatile Venezuelan — hitting right-handed this time around — again watched the first pitch go by for a called strike, then proceeded to foul off a curveball to put himself in a quick 0-2 hole.

The third pitch from Smeltzer was an 87 mph heater at the top of the zone, right around the same area his catcher wanted it.

Despite accurately locating the pitch, Gonzalez was ready for it, as he demolished that fastball from Smeltzer and sent it 372 feet to left field, well far enough for his second home run of the afternoon.

This one was good for three runs and had an exit velocity of 101 mph.

Gonzalez’s day would come to an end a half inning later with Jonathan Arauz replacing him at second, but the damage had already been done considering the fact the former Twin was responsible for four of the five runs the Sox scored in what would turn out to be a 5-4 victory over Minnesota in eight innings on Thursday.

“He’s a good player,” Cora said of Gonzalez following the win. “We always talk about versatility and all that and it’s a good at-bat. It’s a good at-bat from both sides of the plate. He’s been very consistent throughout his career. We’ll play him against lefties and righties whenever we have the chance and whenever we find a matchup that we like, or to protect other guys.”

The Red Sox signed Gonzalez to a one-year, $3 million deal last month with the idea that he can play a plethora of defensive positions given his pedigree as a utility man.

In two seasons with the Twins alone between 2019 and 2020, the 6-foot-1, 205 pounder saw time at every position besides, pitcher, catcher, and centerfield.

“That’s the beauty of this, he can get a lot of at-bats playing at first, playing at second, giving Xander [Bogaerts] an off-day, even [Rafael Devers],” Cora added. “He’s been working hard with [Tim Hyers]. It was a tough year for him last year. In ’19, he hit the ball hard. He was top of the league in hard-hit balls. So, just put him in a good spot physically and just let him play. He enjoys playing the game and I’m happy that he’s with us.”

As previously mentioned, Hernandez had a front row seat to what Gonzalez did on Thursday since he was hitting ahead of him in Boston’s lineup.

The two were signed by the Red Sox over the winter for similar reasons, and Hernandez went into detail about what his versatile counterpart can bring to the table.

“He definitely won the MVP of the day today,” Hernandez said while praising Gonzalez’s performance at the plate. “I don’t think there’s going to be a player in baseball with a better day than he had today. Marwin’s a great player. Everybody knows that.

“Last season, it’s a little hard to dictate on players based off a 60-game season,” added Hernandez. “I would guarantee that he’s going to do better this year than he did last year. Also the fact that he can help us on both sides of the ball. Defensively, his versatility, he’s a plus-defender everywhere he plays. He can run the bases just like he did today. He got a great read on a dirt ball and he took off before the catcher or the infielders knew he was running, and he was able to get an extra 90 feet for us.

That’s going to be huge, especially with our lineup,” he continued. “Everybody can do damage. And a lot of times I feel like in Fenway, being at first, you’re already in scoring position, but the extra 90 feet are always huge.”

Given the versatility both Hernandez and Gonzalez — among other position players — can provide, Cora said the Red Sox could very well begin the 2021 season with 14 pitchers and 12 position players on their Opening Day roster.

“These two guys, and others, they help us to accomplish that,” Cora explained.

(Picture of Marwin Gonzalez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. officially signs with Brewers

Former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. finally saw his free agency come to a close on Monday as his two-year, $24 million deal with the Brewers was made official.

The 30-year-old had been on the open market for a little more than four months, eventually reaching the point where he was the best position player still available by the time clubs reported for spring training in February.

A client of super-agent Scott Boras, Bradley Jr. never wavered while being in a situation others in his position might have considering the fact it was early March and he was still without a job.

Speaking with reporters via Zoom from Phoenix, Ariz. on Monday, the Gold Glover explained what led to him landing with Milwaukee after a long winter.

“This was an unprecedented offseason,” Bradley Jr. said. “This is my first free agency, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. I personally enjoyed it, because I focused on the things that were going on around me. I was able to spend a lot of quality time with my family and kind of let all that figure it out itself. I was just relaxing, and waiting for the opportunity. I was continuously staying ready, working hard.”

Coming off a successful 2020 season in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games while providing his usual superb defense in centerfield, the former first-round pick had multiple offers to consider, but he ultimately wound up signing a two-year pact with the Brewers that also includes an opt out after the first year.

“With the offer now, I just wanted to trust myself,” he added. “I believe in my ability and my talent and I feel like this particular deal offers me a lot of flexibility.”

Throughout the course of the offseason, Bradley Jr. seemingly had one definitive suitor in the form of his old club in Boston.

It never seemed all that likely that the two sides would come to terms on a new deal, but whenever he was asked, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom would say something along the lines of: ‘We love Jackie. We’re going to remain involved on that front until his free agency resolves.’

Bradley Jr.’s free agency ultimately resolved itself without the Sox getting overly involved, but the All-Star centerfielder did confirm that there were talks about a potential reuinion.

“I think, as a whole, you want to stay open-minded about it all,” he said when asked if there was a point this winter when he thought he might stay with the Red Sox. “Anytime you’re already closing off different avenues, then you’re limiting yourself. So I think as long as you’re pretty open-minded about listening and gathering all the information, that’s going to give you the best opportunity to make the decision that you feel is best for you and your family.”

Bradley Jr., who turns 31 next month, is slated to earn $13 million with the Brewers this season with the chance to earn an additional $11 million in 2022 if he declines to opt out of his deal.

That decision is a longways away, though, and the University of South Carolina product is just looking forward to familiarizing himself with his new organization for the time being. This is after all his first time reporting to a team whose spring training headquarters are not in Fort Myers.

And for what it’s worth, Bradley Jr. will wear the No. 41 for the Brewers. That number signifies the birth dates of himself, his wife Erin, his daughter Emerson, and his son Jackie III.

“It was a breath of fresh air,” Bradley Jr. said when describing what it was like to put on a Brewers uniform on for the first time. “To be able to finally be out here and moving around, I’m glad to be here. I’m really excited for the opportunity and I’m going to have a lot of fun with these guys.”

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox add utilityman Danny Santana on minor-league deal, per report

The Red Sox have signed utilityman Danny Santana to a minor-league deal with an invite to major-league spring training, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.

Santana, 30, had worked out for teams in Miami this month and the Red Sox were obviously among the teams who were interested.

The Dominican native became a free-agent this winter after getting non-tendered by the Rangers — who he had spent the last two seasons with — in December.

In his time with Texas, Santana truly experienced the ups-and-downs of being a major-leaguer.

Across 130 games in 2019, he slashed .283/.324/.534 to go along with a career-best 28 home runs and 81 RBI over a career-high 511 plate appearances en route to being named the Rangers’ player of the year.

Following up that successful campaign, Santana fell back down to earth in 2020, as he appeared in just 15 games and posted a .511 OPS before going down with a season-ending right elbow sprain in late August.

Rather than pay Santana the $3.6 million he was projected to earn in his final year of salary arbitration, the Rangers cut the veteran switch-hitter loose over the winter.

Originally signed by the Twins as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, Santana has proven capable of playing multiple defensive positions since making his big-league debut in 2014.

With the Rangers alone, the 5-foot-11, 195 pounder played 53 games at first base, 17 at second base, eight at third base, nine at shortstop, 17 in left field, 31 in center field, and 15 in right field.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman was the first to report that the Red Sox were ‘in the final mix’ for Santana’s services.

As Heyman notes, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom clearly values versatility given the fact he has brought in the likes of Santana, Enrique Hernandez, and Marwin Gonzalez this offseason.

Heyman also tweeted that Santana’s deal with Boston consists of $1.75 million in a base salary, $1 million in potential incentives, a $100,000 bonus if he starts the year in Triple-A, and an opt out if he is not promoted by a certain date.

With the addition of Santana, Boston will now have approximately 34 non-roster invitees at camp, which pushes the size of their major-league spring training roster to 74 players. The maximum number of players teams can carry this spring is 75.

That means that the club will have to clear at least one spot on their spring training roster when catcher Kevin Plawecki and outfielder Franchy Cordero are ready to be activated from the COVID-19 related injured list.

(Picture of Danny Santana: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Red Sox free agency: Jackie Bradley Jr. in agreement with Brewers on two-year deal, per report

In case you missed it, now-former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is reportedly in agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers on a two-year, $24 million contract, according to The Boston Globe’s Julain McWilliams.

Per McWilliams, Bradley Jr.’s deal with Milwaukee includes a player option after the first year.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal adds that Bradley Jr. will net $13 million in 2021 with the chance to earn an additional $11 million in 2022 if he decides to not opt out. Some of the money will also be deferred.

Bradley Jr., who turns 31 next month, was the top position player free-agent on the market leading up to Thursday morning’s news.

The former first-round pick spent the first eight seasons — and first 10 years of his professional career — with the Red Sox, most recently posting a .283/.364/.450 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games in 2020.

Despite putting up those impressive offensive numbers in addition to his usual superb defense in center field, it took a little while for Bradley Jr. to find a job this winter.

One reason behind that likely had to do with the fact that the Scott Boras client was reportedly seeking a “significant contract, perhaps beyond four years” as recently as February 3, according to The New York Post’s Mike Puma.

With the number of potential suitors dwindling down, the Brewers jumped in on the Bradley Jr. sweepstakes in late February and ultimately wound up acquiring his services with just weeks to go until Opening Day.

Last season, the Brewers outfielder ranked 25th in baseball in terms of Defensive Runs Saved (-11) and 17th in Ultimate Zone Rating (0.1), which translates to an Ultimate Zone Rating of -0.1 over 150 games.

Bradley Jr., who figures to slide into center while Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich patrol the corners, should help improve Milwaukee’s overall defensive numbers in 2021.

Now that his time with the Red Sox is likely over, here is a brief list of what the Virginia native accomplished in his time in Boston:

  • Two-time World Series champion (2013, 2018)
  • One-time American League Championship Series MVP (2018)
  • One-time All-Star (2016)
  • One-time Gold Glove Award winner (2018)

Assuming he does not return to the Sox anytime soon, Bradley Jr. will likely go down as one of, if not the best defensive centerfielder in franchise history. He will be missed and we wish him all the best with the Brewers.

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Matt Andriese, Garrett Whitlock already proving to be interesting pieces of Red Sox’ 2021 pitching staff puzzle

In going about upgrading their pitching staff over the winter, one thing the Red Sox clearly targeted was versatility.

Looking past the additions of traditional starters such as Garrett Richards and Martin Perez and traditional relievers such as Adam Ottavino and Hirokazu Sawamura, two names that stand out in this particular category of pitcher are right-handers Garrett Whitlock and Matt Andriese.

Whitlock, 24, was acquired by Boston in the major-league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft from the Yankees organization.

A former 18th-round draft selection of New York back in 2017 out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Whitlock comes into Red Sox camp having never pitched above the Double-A level. He also has not appeared in an organized minor-league game since undergoing Tommy John surgery in July 2019.

Having said all that, the 6-foot-5, 190 lb. hurler out of Georgia does bring with him a lifetime 2.41 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over 42 total appearances (38 starts) and 205 1/3 total innings pitched across four minor-league levels since 2017.

Equipped with a groundball-inducing pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s fastball, a low-80s slider, and a changeup (per Baseball America), Whitlock must make Boston’s Opening Day roster and remain on the major-league roster for the entirety of the season if the Sox do not want to offer him back to their division rivals.

With that in mind, the Red Sox will surely find a way to utilize Whitlock properly in 2021. His new manager, Alex Cora, already seems pretty high on him.

“Whitlock is a guy that I’ll be paying a lot of attention to,” Cora said Saturday when speaking with reporters via Zoom. “He plays the part. He threw a bullpen yesterday (Friday). It was very impressive. The most impressive thing about him is the way he acts. The way he takes care of his body and what he does. He’s a very quiet kid. He knows what he wants to do. I’m looking forward to see him pitch and see where he takes us.”

As for Andriese, the Red Sox signed the 31-year-old right-hander to a one-year, $1.85 million contract for the 2021 season back in December. The deal also includes a $3.5 million club option for 2022 or a $250,000 buyout is said option is declined.

Over the course of a six-year major-league career between the Rays, Diamondbacks, and Angels, Andriese owns a lifetime ERA of 4.57 and a lifetime FIP of 4.23 over 183 total outings — 50 of which were starts — and 460 2/4 innings of work dating back to 2015.

Like Whitlock, Andriese could carve out a role for himself as a swingman for the Sox in 2021.

At the time his signing was made official over the winter, the California native said he believed his role with Boston going into the spring would be to compete for a starting rotation spot, but he also acknowledged that “being in the bullpen is also an option to help the team.”

Going off the notion that he is flexible with his role, Cora said Tuesday that the Red Sox would stretch Andriese out as a starter this spring, but have him ready to do anything once the season begins in April.

“He’s a good pitcher. Good stuff, good fastball, good changeup,” said Cora in regards to the 6-foot-2, 215 lb. hurler. “Actually today, me and Christian [Vazquez] were talking about him. Important role. We’re going to stretch him as a starter and see where we go throughout spring training. He’ll be ready to do anything. He’ll be our utility guy in the pitching staff, and you need those guys. We saw it in ’18, we saw it in ’19 when it didn’t work. Guys like that, they save bullpens, they save the rotation, they help the manager a lot to get some sleep at night. He’s been good.”

Cora added that he believed Andriese proved to be a valuable member of the Angels’ pitching staff last year, which is evident by the fact that he posted a 1.65 ERA and .373 OPS against over his final 10 relief appearances and 16 1/3 innings pitched of the season.

“Besides that, great teammate. Puts work in the weight room. Very smart about pitching,” Cora said. “Guys like that, they’re going to make us better.”

(Picture of Matt Andriese: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Chaim Bloom on possibility of Red Sox making more additions before Opening Day: ‘There’s still some players out there that are of interest’

Even after making a slew of roster moves this offseason, the Red Sox are likely still not done making additions between now and Opening Day on April 1.

Outside of the Marwin Gonzalez signing being made official sometime in the near future, nothing in regards to a roster move for Boston is imminent at this point, but that is not going to stop the club from exploring opportunities to improve for the short- and l0ng-term.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much on Sunday when asked if this is the roster that will kick off the 2021 season.

“Outside of what you alluded to (Gonzalez), there’s nothing else pending,” Bloom said via a Zoom call with reporters. “But, we’re always going to be on the lookout. There’s still some players out there that are of interest. We’re going to keep staying in touch with them, keep monitoring them. You guys saw the other day, we made a waiver claim.”

On Thursday, the Sox claimed right-handed reliever John Schreiber off waivers from the Tigers while placing ace left-hander Chris Sale to the 60-day injured list.

It was a transaction that, on the surface, is reminiscent of when Boston claimed right-hander Phillps Valdez off waivers from the Mariners last February and placed the now-retired Dustin Pedroia on the 60-day injured list in a corresponding move.

Valdez, 29, seemingly came out of nowhere and wound up making quite the impact in his debut season with the Red Sox, posting a 3.26 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 24 relief appearances and 30 1/3 innings pitched in 2020.

Expecting Schreiber, 27 in March, to do the same with his new team this coming season might be a bit unfair, but it’s safe to assume that Boston is making these sorts of moves with the idea that the players they bring in can contribute to the cause.

“This is a time of year when sometimes there can be that kind of roster shuffling in other organizations,” Bloom added. “It’s a bit early in spring to start having a lot of those conversations with other clubs, but we just want to make sure that we’re active. That we have our finger on the pulse and that we don’t walk past anything that has a chance to help us.”

While it still may be too early in the spring to engage with teams on players who may or may not be available via trade, one area the Red Sox can turn to is the free-agent market. And one free-agent the team is still interested in is old friend Jackie Bradley Jr.

Despite coming off a 2020 campaign in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played, the 30-year-old client of Scott Boras remains unsigned with just weeks to go until the 2021 season begins. That might have something to do with his reported asking price as well as the limited number of suitors out there.

The Red Sox, even while adding the likes of Gonzalez, Franchy Cordero, Enrique Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe to help bolster their outfield depth, have yet to rule out a reunion with Bradley Jr. — who spent the first eight seasons of his major-league career with Boston — to this point.

“We continue to stay in touch and make sure we’re in touch with Scott about his situation,” said Bloom in regards to Bradley Jr.’s free agency. “We’re going to do that until it resolves. Obviously, as the winter’s gone on, we haven’t let that prevent us from making other moves when we’ve seen opportunity to add good players that fit us and can bolster this roster. But, we love Jackie and we’ve stayed in touch with Scott on him throughout the entire winter.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora echoed this same sort of sentiment on Saturday when talking about Bradley Jr.’s current situation.

“We talk a lot, but we don’t talk baseball,” Cora said. “We don’t talk about his situation. I talk about Emerson and the baby and how they’re doing. He asks about my family, and we keep it at that. Obviously, he’s a good player. He’s a guy that can help any team at the big-league level to win ballgames. There’s more than just the manager and the player. There’s a relationship and I keep our conversations with that.”

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Alex Cora sees a lot of Nathan Eovaldi in newcomer Garrett Richards

When the Red Sox agreed to sign veteran right-hander Garrett Richards to a one-year, $10 million contract last month, they did so knowing there would be some risk involved.

Excluding the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the last time the 32-year-old accrued more than 150 innings pitched in a single campaign came in 2015 when he was a member of the Angels.

In July 2018, his season was cut short due to right elbow UCL damage which would require Tommy John surgery that same month.

Since successfully recovering from the elbow reconstruction, Richards has technically not missed a beat, though he’s made just 17 appearances (13 starts) — all with the Padres — at the major-league level dating back to late September 2019.

Even in a limited sample size, however, the Oklahoma native proved to be effective enough for San Diego in 2020, posting a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 14 outings (10 starts) and 51 1/3 innings pitched while placing in the 82nd percentile in fastball velocity, the 97th percentile in fastball spin, and the 99th percentile in curveball spin among big-league hurlers, per Baseball Savant.

The fact that Richards had quality stuff — and quite frankly has had quality stuff since being selected by the Angels in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft — last year made him appealing to a lot of clubs this offseason, the Red Sox included.

“Stuff-wise, for me, he was one of the best in the league,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Richards’ career when speaking to reporters via Zoom earlier Saturday. “He’s been hurt, but what I saw last year with the Padres was eye-opening. I’m glad that he’s with us. This is a guy that when we talked to him during the offseason, he feels that there’s more. For how veteran he is and his age, he hasn’t wasted too many bullets, right? Because he’s been hurt.”

In Cora’s praise of Richards, the 6-foot-2, 210 lb. righty also drew comparisons to a key member of Boston’s World Series-winning team in 2018 in Nathan Eovaldi.

The Sox acquired Eovaldi in late July of that season, a little less than two years after the flame-throwing right-hander had undergone Tommy John surgery for the second time in his baseball career. He went on to produce a 3.33 ERA over 12 outings (11 starts) and 54 innings to close out the regular season for Boston and a 1.61 ERA over six outings (two starts) and 22 1/3 innings in the postseason.

“It’s pretty similar to what we got in ’18 with Nate, when we traded for him,” said Cora Saturday. “A guy that has been hurt, but we knew at that time that he was going to be okay. Stuff-wise, off the charts.”

While Richards, like Eovaldi, has the potential to do some special things on the mound in 2021, one thing that cannot be ignored about his addition is the veteran presence he provides, especially with the uncertainty stemming from the ongoing pandemic.

“He’s a good teammate, too,” the Sox skipper confidently stated. “He was in a winning situation last year with the Padres and it’s good to have him around. With all the guidelines and everything because of the virus, it’s not that easy to get the groups together like we usually do in meetings to meet people. But, little by little, we will get to know him — we’ll get to know all of them — and he’s somebody that I’m looking forward to pitch every five days and see where he can go.”

Because Cora, who talks to the media first every day, mentioned Eovaldi when praising Richards, the 31-year-old Sox starter, who also spoke to the media on Saturday, was asked about the rotation newcomer and how their situations compare in regards to overcoming injuries.

“Early on, getting to see him throw a couple bullpens, his stuff is so electric,” Eovaldi said of Richards’ pitch repertoire. “The slider, the changeup, the fastball. It all comes out of the hand really well. He’s got a little bit of a different delivery, I think, but he looks great coming into camp. I’m excited to have him here.

“And then getting over the hurdles, I think you just build off of each start,” he continued. “You continuously build, you build that confidence up. I think him being here, our pitching staff, having [pitching coach Dave Bush and bullpen coach Kevin Walker] around, I think that’s going to help him out a lot. Just mainly using his strengths when he’s pitching and just keep attacking.”

At the moment, both Eovaldi and Richards are slated to crack the Red Sox’ Opening Day starting rotation. I would pencil them in to be the team’s No. 2 and No. 3 starters at this point, but that’s really more of a guess than anything.

(Picture of Garrett Richards: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman signs one-year deal with Cubs, per report

Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman has reportedly reached agreement on a one-year, major-league contract with the Cubs, according to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney.

Per Mooney, Workman will earn a base salary of $1 million in 2021 with the chance to earn an additional $2 million in performance bonuses.

The 32-year-old right-hander is a little more than four months removed from what can best be described as a tumultuous 2020 season between the Sox and Phillies.

With Boston to begin the year, Workman got off to a so-so start, allowing three earned runs over seven appearances and 6 2/3 innings pitched out of the bullpen before getting dealt to Philadelphia along with Heath Hembree for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.

Upon arriving in Philly, Workman had the chance to re-establish himself as he was about to embark upon free agency, but he instead floundered.

In 14 appearances (13 innings) in a Phillies uniform, the Texas native posted a dismal 6.92 ERA and 1.146 OPS against while blowing three of a possible eight save opportunities to close out the season.

Performing that poorly to end a contract year has to be unsettling to some degree, but Workman still managed to net himself a major-league deal anyway, albeit a short-term one.

It’s likely the Cubs are banking on the former first-round draft pick returning to his 2019 form — in which he produced a 1.88 ERA and struck out 104 hitters in 71 2/3 innings — with a new change of scenery.

Prior to his signing with Chicago, Workman was someone the Red Sox “had at least some interest in a reunion with,” per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

A reunion between the two sides in 2021 may not be possible anymore, but Cotillo adds that Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have “at least some interest in three free-agent righties — Jeremy Jeffress, Chaz Roe and Ben Heller.”

Earlier this week, the @RedSoxStats Twitter account hinted at the idea that Boston is not yet done making bullpen additions ahead of the start of the 2021 season.

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)