After being released by Red Sox, Kevin Plawecki drawing interest from Rangers

Two days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox have released catcher Kevin Plawecki, the club announced on Monday.

Plawecki, who was informed of the decision following Friday night’s 2-1 win over the Royals at Fenway Park, is already drawing interest from other teams. According to FanSided’s Robert Murray, the Rangers “are expressing serious interest” in the free-agent backstop.

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News adds that outfielder Nick Solak will be placed on the injured list with a season-ending foot fracture, so Plawecki could take his spot on Texas’ roster. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, however, notes that Plawecki can’t officially sign with a new team until 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Plawecki, 31, spent the last three seasons in Boston after originally signing with the Red Sox in January 2020. The right-handed hitter was brought on to be Christian Vazquez’s backup and served that role well in 2020-2021 by batting .305/.364/.414 over 88 total games.

This year has been a different story for Plawecki, who has struggled to a .217/.287/.287 slash line to go along with eight doubles, one home run, 12 RBIs, 15 runs scored, 14 walks, and 28 strikeouts across 60 games and 175 plate appearances.

Though he emerged as a clubhouse leader and a quality game-caller from behind the plate, Plawecki only threw out four of 44 base stealers with the Red Sox this season.

Given those offensive and defensive struggles, Boston elected to move on from Plawecki — who is slated to become a free-agent this winter — now so that it could a more extended look at Connor Wong and Reese McGuire — both of whom are under team control beyond 2023 — before the regular season ends.

Designating Plawecki also allowed the Red Sox to clear a spot on both their 28- and 40-man roster for rookie reliever Franklin German, who made his major-league debut on Saturday.

It may not have been a popular move from within the Red Sox clubhouse, but it appears as though Plawecki has already landed back on his feet. And because he was released, the Sox will remain on the hook for the remainder of his $2.25 million salary this year.

(Picture of Kevin Plawecki: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Jeurys Familia elects free agency after being outrighted by Red Sox

Two days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox outrighted veteran reliever Jeurys Familia off their major-league roster on Friday. Rather than accept an assignment to Triple-A Worcester, Familia elected to become a free-agent, the club announced.

Familia, who turns 33 next month, originally signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Phillies in March after spending the bulk of his big-league career with the Mets.

The right-hander struggled to a 6.09 ERA and 4.88 FIP in 38 relief appearances (34 innings) with Philadelphia before being released in early August. Shortly thereafter, the Red Sox inked Familia to a minor-league contract and assigned him to Worcester. He made just one appearance for the WooSox before having his contract selected on Aug. 13.

Four days later, Familia made his Boston debut against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. He gave up one run on three hits in the ninth inning of an 8-3 win, signaling that the difficulties he endured with the Phillies may have carried over to the Red Sox.

Including that performance, Familia posted a 6.10 ERA and 5.14 FIP to go along with eight strikeouts to seven walks over 10 relief outings (10 1/3 innings) with Boston. His Red Sox tenure ended on a sour note, as he issued three walks (one intentional) and surrendered a game-winning three-run double to Gleyber Torres in the 10th inning of Tuesday’s 7-6 loss to the Yankees at Fenway Park.

When taking questions from the media in front of his locker afterwards, Familia revealed that he had been designated for assignment. The Red Sox made that move official on Wednesday while also adding recently-claimed infielder Yu Chang to the active roster.

Though he could have elected to try and sign with another team before season’s end, Familia told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) that he was instead going to return home to the Dominican Republic to prepare for 2023.

“I’m going to have to take some time off and rest a little bit and then get back to work so I can be ready for next year,” Familia said through interpreter Carlos Villora Benítez.

In his time with the Phillies and Red Sox this season, Familia walked nearly 11 percent of the batters he faced. That ranks in the 15th percentile among qualified major-league pitchers, per Baseball Savant.

“I’ve fallen behind the hitters too much,” said Familia. “When you fall behind the hitters, [there’s a] 90 percent chance the hitter gets on base. I haven’t been able to command my pitches.”

Familia, who broke in with the Mets in 2012 and emerged as an All-Star closer during his time in New York, took note of how difficult it can be for a reliever to go through a rough stretch when they are only being used sparingly. Prior to Tuesday’s outing, for instance, Familia last pitched on September 5.

“Even though they’re struggles I’ve been having the whole season, it’s even more difficult when you pitch and then you have six or seven days off and have to go there and battle,” Familia said. “It’s harder when you’re not pitching day in and day out. It’s not an excuse at all or anything like that. It’s just how it works.”

While Familia’s 2022 season was nothing short of ugly, the 32-year-old c0uld very well bounce back with another team in 2023. That said, he will likely have to entertain minor-league offers this winter in order to make that happen.

(Picture of Jeurys Familia: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox, Kiké Hernández reach agreement on one-year, $10 million contract extension

UPDATE: The extension is now official, per a club announcement.

The Red Sox and center fielder Enrique Hernandez have reached agreement on a one-year, $10 million contract extension, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Hernandez, who was slated to become a free-agent at the end of the season, will now remain in Boston through the end of the 2023 campaign. The veteran utility man originally signed a two-year, $14 million deal with the Sox last February after spending the previous six seasons with the Dodgers.

At that time, it was believed that Hernandez would take over as Boston’s everyday second baseman while providing depth at other positions. He instead emerged as an elite center fielder and wound up leading a Red Sox team that was two wins away from a World Series appearance in bWAR (4.9) in 2021.

On the heels of such a promising season, Hernandez had the chance to establish himself as one of the top position players in this winter’s free-agent class. Injuries, among other factors, prevented that from happening.

Through June 7 of this season, Hernandez was slashing just .209/.273/.340 with 16 doubles, four home runs, 24 RBIs, 27 runs scored, 18 walks, and 38 strikeouts over 51 games (238 plate appearances. The following day, the 31-year-old was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a right hip flexor strain.

Exactly one month after hitting the IL, Hernandez began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester. But he was pulled from it after just one game and was sent to see a hip specialist in New York, where he received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection to speed up the healing process.

Beyond the flexor strain, Hernandez also dealt with a core injury that led to to a hematoma developing in one of his abdominal muscles and approximately 16 cubic centimeters of blood being drained through a needle in his back. He was transferred to the 60-day injured list on July 23 and was later sent out on a rehab assignment with Double-A Portland in early August.

After a brief four-game stint with the Sea Dogs, Hernandez returned to the Red Sox in Pittsburgh on Aug. 16. Since then, the right-handed hitter has batted .254/.318/.407 with three doubles, two homers, 13 RBIs, eight runs scored, six walks, and 20 strikeouts over his last 17 games.

Given his versatility, it is certainly no surprise that the Red Sox elected to lock up Hernandez now as opposed to later. The native Puerto Rican can play all over the field, which should allow Chaim Bloom and Co. to maintain a flexible and creative approach to the upcoming off-season.

Hernandez, who does not turn 32 until next August, was among a sizable group of Red Sox players set to hit the open market this winter. With Hernandez now signed, Boston is still faced with losing the likes of Xander Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez, Tommy Pham, Kevin Plawecki, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, and Matt Strahm in free agency.

As noted by both Passan and MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox are expected to have one of the busiest off-seasons in baseball on account of impending departures and a “massive” amount of financial flexibility.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ James Paxton suffers Grade 2 lat tear, ending left-hander’s season

Red Sox left-hander James Paxton has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 tear in his left latissimus dorsi muscle, manager Alex Cora announced Thursday. He has been shut down from throwing and his season is now over.

This diagnosis comes exactly one week after Paxton was forced to exit his first rehab start in the Florida Complex League after facing just two batters due to left lat tightness.

While the Red Sox were initially hopeful that Paxton’s injury was minor, an MRI later revealed a Grade 2 tear, thus ending the 33-year-old southpaw’s season before it really even started.

Paxton originally signed a unique one-year, $6 million contract with Boston back in December. The deal includes a two-year, $26 million club option that the Red Sox can pick up at the end of the season. If they decline, Paxton could then exercise a $4 million player option for the 2023 campaign.

Given that he had undergone Tommy John surgery while with the Mariners last April, the Red Sox likely were not banking on Paxton pitching key innings for them in 2022. The veteran lefty was shut down for a period of time earlier this spring due to posterior elbow soreness, which further delayed his rehab. Still, he could have provided the Sox with some sort of boost down the stretch were it not for this latest, season-ending setback.

It should now be interesting to see how the Red Sox decide to roll with Paxton, who turns 34 in November, this off-season. Committing $26 million to a pitcher who has been limited to just six starts and 21 1/3 innings since the start of the 2020 season would certainly be risky.

At the same, time, however, Paxton has proven to be an effective starter in the major-leagues when healthy. From 2016-2019, for instance, the Canadian-born hurler pitched to a 3.60 ERA and 3.16 FIP in 101 total starts (568 innings) with the Mariners and Yankees.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. elect to decline Paxton’s two-year player option, it would then be interesting to see how the Boras Corp. client responds. He could choose to exercise his player option and return to the Red Sox on a prove-it kind of deal next season. On the flip side, he could choose to test the free agency waters again over the winter.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) on Thursday. “We saw the guy making progress and getting to the point that he was actually getting to throw real games and that happened. As far as his arm and all that, we were very excited about it. Now it’s just see what we decide and what he decides. So we’ll get there when we get there.”

(Picture of James Paxton: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Trevor Story signing official, designate Jeisson Rosario for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed free-agent infielder Trevor Story to a six-year contract, the club announced on Wednesday morning. In order to make room for Story on the 40-man roster, outfielder Jeisson Rosario was designated for assignment.

Story, 29, was among this winter’s top free agents after spending the first six years of his major-league career with the Rockies. Although he was a shortstop throughout his time in Colorado, the two-time All-Star will shift to second base with Boston in order to accommodate Xander Bogaerts.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Story will earn $20 million in 2022 and 2023, $22.5 million in 2024 and 2025, and $25 million in 2026 and 2027. There is also a $25 million club option in 2028 that includes a $5 million buyout. He has the ability to opt out of the deal after the 2025 season, but the Red Sox could then exercise an option to retain him through his option year and pay him $25 million per season from 2026 to 2028.

All told, Story is guaranteed to earn at least $140 million and at most $160 million through 2028 if the option is picked up. As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, it is the largest deal the Red Sox have given out since they signed left-hander David Price to seven-year, $217 million contract in December 2015.

Originally selected by the Rockies in the first round of the 2011 draft out of Irving High School, Story broke in with Colorado in 2016 and has since hit 158 home runs in 745 big-league contests.

A two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, the right-handed hitting Story batted .251/.329/.471 with 34 doubles, five triples, 24 homers, 75 RBIs, 88 runs scored, 20 stolen bases, 53 walks, and 139 strikeouts across 142 games (595 plate appearances) for the Rockies last season.

Story, who will wear the No. 10 with the Red Sox, only took the field as a shortstop in his time with Colorado but will make the transition to second base with Boston. The 6-foot-2, 213 pounder represents an upgrade there and could also take over at shortstop next year in the event that Bogaerts opts out of his deal and signs elsewhere at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.

Rosario, 22, was one of two prospects the Red Sox acquired from the Padres in the August 2020 trade that sent veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland to San Diego. The other player Boston got in that deal was Hudson Potts, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday.

Coming into the 2021 season, Rosario was regarded by Baseball America as No. 21 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The speedy outfielder spent the entirety of the year with Double-A Portland and struggled to the tune of a .232/.335/.307 slash line to go along with 15 doubles, one triple, three home runs, 36 RBIs, 48 runs scored, 11 stolen bases, 50 walks, and 113 strikeouts over 98 games (405 plate appearances) for the Sea Dogs.

As was the case with Potts, the Red Sox now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Rosario. If he clears waivers, the club can retain him as a non-40-man roster player.

(Picture of Trevor Story: Boston Red Sox)

Red Sox agree to six-year, $140 million deal with Trevor Story, per report

It is Story time in Boston. The Red Sox have reached an agreement on a multi-year deal with free-agent infielder Trevor Story, as was first reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, it’s a six-year contract worth at least $140 million. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman adds that Story has the ability to opt out of the deal after the fourth year, but the Red Sox can negate that by picking up a seventh-year option for $20 million. That would take the total value of the deal up to $160 million over seven years.

Story, 29, is expected to become the Sox’ everyday second baseman despite appearing exclusively as a shortstop in his six seasons with the Rockies. Xander Bogaerts, who can opt out of his contract after the 2022 season, will remain at shortstop for Boston.

In agreeing to such a deal with Story, the Red Sox have finally made a big splash in free agency this off-season. Since Chaim Bloom took over as Boston’s chief baseball officer in October 2019, the largest contract the Sox had given out was to Enrique Hernandez, who inked a two-year, $14 million deal with the club last winter.

Story’s deal will surpass Hernandez’s by at least 900%, if not more. He will also be under contract through the end of the 2025 season at the very earliest and through the end of the 2028 season at the latest.

A former first-round (45th overall) draft selection of the Rockies out of Irving High School in 2011, Story broke in with Colorado in 2016 and immediately established himself as a power threat from the right side of the plate by hitting 27 home runs his rookie season.

From the time he made his big-league debut in 2016, Story has hit a total of 158 home runs over 745 games in the process of being recognized as a two-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award winner who has finished in the top-12 of National League MVP voting on three separate occasions.

Most recently, the right-handed hitter slashed .251/.329/.471 with 34 doubles, five triples, 24 home runs, 75 RBIs, 88 runs scored, 20 stolen bases, 53 walks, and 139 strikeouts across 142 games (595 plate appearances) with the Rockies in 2021.

Colorado extended Story a qualifying offer in November, which the Excel Sports Management rejected to remain a free-agent. This means that the Red Sox now have to surrender their second-highest pick in this year’s draft while also having their international signing bonus pool reduced by $500,000.

In addition to the qualifying offer, the Rockies apparently offered Story more than the $140 million he received from the Red Sox, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Story, though, chose Boston over Colorado for competitive reasons.

On that note, Story coming to Boston changes the team’s positional outlook drastically. Although all 6,304 2/3 defensive innings in the majors have come at shortstop, Story — as previously mentioned — will see the lion’s share of his playing time with the Red Sox come at second base.

With Story at second base, Christian Arroyo will likely shift into a utility role and may even see time in the outfield. Hernandez, on the other hand, will presumably see the majority of his defensive reps come in center field, as was the case last year.

Bogaerts, of course, has the ability to become a free-agent next winter if he chooses to opt out of the final three years of the six-year, $120 million contract extension he signed with Boston in April 2019. If Bogaerts elects to go that route and winds up with another team, the Red Sox would have a viable replacement at shortstop in the form of Story for 2023 and beyond.

Story, who does not turn 30 until November, is set to earn an average annual value of $23.33 million with the Sox — making him the highest-paid position player on the team and the second-highest player overall behind only left-hander Chris Sale ($25.6 million).

The Red Sox have yet to make the signing of Story official. Their 40-man roster is currently at full capacity, so they will need to create an opening there before doing so.

(Picture of Trevor Story: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Red Sox make signing of Jake Diekman official, place James Paxton on 60-day injured list

The Red Sox have officially signed left-hander Jake Diekman to a two-year deal that also includes a team option for 2024, the club announced on Wednesday. In a corresponding move to make room on the 40-man roster, fellow southpaw James Paxton was unsurprisingly placed on the 60-day injured list as he continues to recover from Tommy John surgery

Diekman, 35, first agreed to a multi-year contract with the Sox over the weekend and was spotted at the Fenway South Complex with Matt Strahm on Monday. He then passed his physical on Wednesday, leading to his signing becoming official.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Diekman’s deal includes $8 million in guaranteed money. He will earn a base salary of $3.5 million over the next two seasons with the chance to earn an additional $4 million in 2023. If the Red Sox decline his club option, Diekman will net $1 million in the form of a buyout.

A former 30th-round draft choice of the Phillies out of Cloud County Community College in 2007, Diekman has pitched for five different teams over the course of his 10-year big-league career. The Nebraska native became a free agent this winter after spending the last 2 1/2 seasons with the Athletics.

In 67 appearances (third-highest on the team) out of Oakland’s bullpen in 2021, Diekman posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.46 FIP to go along with 83 strikeouts to 34 walks over 60 2/3 innings of work. His splits against left-handed hitters were similar to his splits against right-handed hitters, as he yielded a .716 OPS against the former and a .711 OPS against the latter.

There were 14 left-handed relievers across Major League Baseball who tossed at least 60 innings last year. Among them, Diekman ranked first in strikeouts per nine innings (12.3), first in strikeout rate (31.7%), 11th in walks per nine innings (5.0), 11th in walk rate (13%), ninth in batting average against (.211), 13th in WHIP (1.34), and ninth in xFIP (4.09), per FanGraphs.

Throughout his career, Diekman has primarily been a four-pitch pitcher who operates with a four-seam fastball (averaged 95.3 mph in 2021), a slider, a sinker, and a changeup. Based off the data available on Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 195 pound hurler had one of the top whiff rates (35.1%) in all of baseball last season.

Diekman, who will wear the No. 35 with the Sox, brings plenty of experience to his new team and should prove to be a versatile, high-leverage relief option for manager Alex Cora. He recorded seven of his 14 career saves last year and has otherwise made 479 lifetime appearances between innings seven through nine.

With the additions of Diekman and Strahm, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has bolstered the left side of Boston’s bullpen to complement the likes of Austin Davis, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.

(Picture of Jake Diekman: Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign reliever Dan Altavilla to two-year minor-league deal, per report; right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery last June

The Red Sox have signed free-agent reliever Dan Altavilla to a two-year minor-league contract, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The 29-year-old right-hander underwent Tommy John surgery last June and may miss most if not all of the 2022 season.

A former fifth-round draft selection of the Mariners out of Mercyhurst University (Erie, Pa.) in 2014, Altavilla debuted for Seattle in 2016. Four years later, the Pennsylvania native was traded to the Padres as part of a larger deal that also sent pitcher Austin Adams and catcher Austin Nola to San Diego.

In nine appearances out of the Friars’ bullpen down the stretch in 2020, Altavilla posted a 3.12 ERA and 2.61 FIP with 10 strikeouts to five walks over 8 2/3 innings of work.

Last season, Altavilla was limited to just two relief outings in April before being placed on the 10-day injured list due to right elbow inflammation. The righty was then transferred to the 60-day injured list on May 28 — approximately one month before he ultimately went under the knife.

The Padres outrighted Altavilla off their 40-man roster in November, allowing him to become a free agent in the first place.

Since Altavilla is still recovering from Tommy John, it feels safe to assume that the Red Sox made this move with either the second half of the 2022 season or the beginning of the 2023 season in mind.

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 226 pounds, Altavilla is a two-pitch pitcher who works primarily with a slider and a high-octane four-seam fastball. For his big-league career, which spans six seasons between the Mariners and Padres, Altavillia owns a 4.03 ERA and 4.39 FIP in 116 innings.

(Picture of Dan Altavilla: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox slugger Kyle Schwarber to sign with Phillies, per report

Kyle Schwarber will not be returning to the Red Sox in 2022. The free-agent slugger has instead reached an agreement with the Phillies, as first reported by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury.

According to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, Schwarber and the Phillies have agreed to a four-year deal, pending a physical, with an average annual value of just under $20 million. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman relays that the total value of the contract is $79 million.

Schwarber came to the Red Sox from the Nationals last July in a trade that sent pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez back to Washington. At that time, the then-28-year-old was on the injured list due to a right hamstring strain he suffered earlier that month.

It took until August 13 for Schwarber to make his Red Sox debut, but he certainly made his impact felt and endeared himself to the fanbase quickly. Over 41 regular season games with Boston, the left-handed hitter slashed .291/.435/.522 with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 18 RBIs, 34 runs scored, 33 walks, and 39 strikeouts across 168 plate appearances.

Traditionally an outfielder throughout his big-league career, Schwarber made 15 appearances in left field for the Sox and 10 appearances at first base, marking the first time he had played the infield position since 2017.

All told, Schwarber was a member of the Red Sox for just over three months before hitting free agency by declining his mutual option in November. It was reported several times throughout the off-season that Boston was interested in a reunion with the 29-year-old, though nothing came to fruition on that front.

Earlier Wednesday morning, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom spoke with reporters from JetBlue Park just after Salisbury reported the details of Schwarber’s agreement with Philadelphia.

“I don’t need to tell you guys what he did here, what he meant here, how he fit here. We stayed in touch with him the whole way,” Bloom said of Schwarber. “Just ultimately, like I said, you want to make sure it actually aligns in terms of term, in terms of price with other things you might be able to do — not just now but over the whole time you might have him.

“Ultimately, we just thought it was to a level that didn’t make sense. As much as we love him, and we do,” he added. “In such a short time, he became an incredible part of this team. Very beloved in the region. And he’s a great fit for Philly.”

(Picture of Kyle Schwarber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Potential Red Sox target Collin McHugh signs with Braves

Former Red Sox reliever Collin McHugh will not be taking his talents back to Boston this year. The free agent right-hander has instead signed a two-year deal with the Braves, the club announced on Tuesday evening.

Per a team release, McHugh’s contract includes $10 million in guaranteed money. The 34-year-old will earn $4 million this season and an additional $5 million in 2023. There is also a $6 million club option for 2024 that comes with a $1 million buyout.

A veteran of nine major-league seasons, McHugh originally signed a one-year deal with the Red Sox in March 2020 after a successful six-year stint with the Astros. At that time, however, the righty was still recovering from a Tenex procedure he underwent the previous December to treat a flexor strain in his elbow.

After the COVID-19 shutdown halted spring training and delayed the start of the 2020 campaign, McHugh reported to Fenway Park for summer camp but ultimately opted out of the season altogether since he was not progressing well from his elbow procedure.

The Rays then signed McHugh to another one-year deal last February and he made the most of it. Despite multiple trips to the injured list in 2021, the 6-foot-2, 191 pound hurler still bounced back by posting a 1.55 ERA and 2.12 FIP with 74 strikeouts to 12 walks over 37 appearances (seven starts) spanning 64 innings of work for Tampa Bay.

On the heels of such an effective campaign, McHugh was seen as a viable free agent target for the Red Sox since he is undoubtedly familiar with the organization and can pitch in a variety of roles.

As recently as last Friday, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reported that the Sox were indeed “among the teams with interest” in McHugh. How interested Boston was in McHugh remains unclear, but it obviously was not enough in the end for any sort of reunion.

While chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will now have to continue to look elsewhere for bullpen help, McHugh is heading back to his home state of Georgia to pitch for the team he grew up watching.

(Picture of Collin McHugh: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)