Red Sox Avoid Arbitration With 5 of 7 Eligible Players

The Red Sox have agreed to one-year deals with five players for the 2020 season, thus avoiding salary arbitration. Those five players are outfielders Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr., and relievers Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree, and Brandon Workman.

On the other hand, two players, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez and outfielder Andrew Benintendi, were unable to reach one-year agreements with the Sox, meaning they are both more than likely headed to arbitration hearings come early February.

Starting with the five players who did reach agreements on Friday, here are the figures that were settled upon by both sides.

Matt Barnes – $3.1 million

Coming off an up-and-down 2019 campaign, the 29-year-old Barnes was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $3 million in penultimate year of arbitration eligibility. Instead, the UCONN product received a bit more than that projected figure and even saw a 94% increase in his salary from last year.

Mookie Betts – $27 million

As has already been discussed on here, Betts’ $27 million payday for 2020 marks the highest ever for a player in their final year of arbitration eligibility, surpassing Colorado’s Nolan Arenado’s record of $26 million from last February. The 27-year-old was projected to earn slightly more ($27.7 million) than that historic figure.

Jackie Bradley Jr. – $11 million

This time, MLB Trade Rumors got it right in the dot, as Bradley Jr. and the Sox settled on $11 million nearly three months after the site released that projection. Like his outfield counterpart in Betts, Bradley Jr. too is set to become a free agent for the first time at the conclusion of the 2020 season.

Heath Hembree – $1.6125 million

A potential non-tender candidate back in late November and early December, Hembree has struck around for the time being, earning a $300,000 raise from his 2019 salary.

Brandon Workman – $3.5 million

Another free agent at the end of the 2020 season, Workman enjoyed great success last year and earned a well-deserved 204.3% raise because of it. He was projected to earn $3.4 million by MLB Trade Rumors.

Going back to Benintendi and Rodriguez, the player and team could still theoretically split the difference in their price and reach an agreement, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

With that scenario unlikely to happen, it appears as if the two will take part in individual arbitration hearings by the first week of February. Winter Weekend just a got a bit more interesting.


Red Sox’ Mookie Betts Projected to Earn $27.7 Million in Final Year of Arbitration, per MLB Trade Rumors

MLB Trade Rumors released their ninth annual salary arbitration projections for all 30 major league clubs pertaining to the 2020 season earlier Wednesday, and according to their initial model, the Red Sox have 12 arbitration-eligible players.

As indicated above, All-Star outfielder Mookie Betts is projected to earn a record-setting $27.7 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter.

Since about the time the Sox were eliminated from postseason contention last month, most of the attention regarding the club has turned to what the future holds for Betts.

The recently turned 27-year-old has established himself as one of, if not the best corner outfielder in all of baseball and appears set to test the free agency waters in 2020.

That said, the Red Sox would surely like to keep Betts in Boston beyond next season and have made a handful of extension offers in order to make that happen. There seems to be this notion that Betts does not want to play in Boston even though he has shut that speculation down himself several times.

With how unlikely the chances of Betts agreeing to a contract extension before hitting the open market seem, a trade involving the 2018 American League MVP have come into question.

A player of Betts’ caliber has the ability to replenish Boston’s farm system to a certain extent if that is the direction they so choose, but he is also not a player you come across everyday either.

In regard to analytics, Betts’ has accumulated the second-most fWAR in all of baseball since the start of the 2015 season (35.4), trailing only Mike Trout (44.2) over that time period.

I understand that the Red Sox are hoping to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold for next season, which would require cutting a serious amount of payroll, but if you are still trying to compete for a postseason spot, or you are telling your fans that anyway, then I just do not see how you can deal a player who makes your team seriously better.

Anyway, I kind of went on a rant there, so here are the rest of the Red Sox’ arbitration projections, courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors:

  • Jackie Bradley Jr. – $11 milliom
  • Sandy Leon – $2.8 million
  • Chris Owings – $3.0 million
  • Mookie Betts – $27.7 million
  • Brandon Workman – $3.4 million
  • Steven Wright – $1.5 million
  • Eduardo Rodriguez – $9.5 million
  • Matt Barnes – $3.0 million
  • Heath Hembree – $1.6 million
  • Andrew Benintendi – $4.9 million
  • Marco Hernandez – $700K
  • Gorkys Hernandez – $1.0 million

Out of the names above, some are likely to get non-tendered, while others like Andrew Benintendi and Marco Hernandez are entering arbitration for the first time in their careers and will see decently significant raises in pay.

Xander Bogaerts and J.D Martinez Both Homer but Red Sox Drop Second Straight to Orioles

After managing just one run in a 4-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, the Red Sox saw their losing streak increase to three on Saturday, as they fell to the O’s by a final score of 9-4 to guarantee at best a series loss at Fenway Park to cap off the 2019 season.

Making his fifth and final start of the season for Boston was Jhoulys Chacin, who came into the weekend having given up four runs in back-to-back outings.

Working into the third inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered another four runs, all of which were earned, on five hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the afternoon.

The first pair of those Baltimore tallies came right away in the top half of the first, when with no outs and Jonathan Villar at second following a leadoff double, D.J Stewart unloaded on a 1-1, down and in, 91 MPH four-seam fastball from Chacin and sent it 408 feet over the Orioles’ bullpen to get his side on the board early.

An inning later, after the Sox offense pushed across three runs of their own in their half of the first, the home run ball came back to bite Chacin once more, as the Venezuela native served up a one-out solo shot to Richie Martin off a 1-1, 90 MPH two-seamer on the inner half of the plate. 3-3 ballgame.

In what would turn out to be his final frame, Chacin was just one out away from getting through three full, but he could not sneak a 1-0, 91 MPH two-seamer past a seemingly red-hot Renato Nunez, who proceeded to crush his second homer of the series to make it a 4-3 contest.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 60 (38 strikes), the 31-year-old hurler relied on his slider nearly 52% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 91.7 MPH with his heater, a pitch he threw nine times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Ultimately getting hit with his 12th loss while raising his ERA on the year up to 6.01, Chacin’s tenure with the Red Sox may indeed be over.

Since inking a minor-league deal with the club in late August, the ex-Milwaukee Brewer posted a 7.36 ERA in six outings (five starts) and 14 2/3 innings pitched with Boston.

In relief of Chacin, left-hander Bobby Poyner entered the top of the third with one out to get, and he walked Chris Davis on six pitches before doing just that.

From there, Heath Hembree fanned one in a perfect fourth inning, Ryan Brasier walked one and punched out two in a scoreless fifth, Andrew Cashner struggled and yielded four runs on five hits while only recording the first two outs of the sixth, Colten Brewer retired the side in the sixth before tossing a scoreless seventh, and Josh Smith walked one in the eighth before getting taken deep by Trey Mancini in the ninth to increase his side’s deficit to five at 9-4.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up a fairly familiar foe in Orioles rookie left-hander John Means, someone who held them to two runs over six innings the last time he faced them back on July 19th.

Down by two runs before even taking their first at-bats, Jackie Bradley Jr. quickly got things going in the bottom half of the first with a leadoff single.

Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts knotted things up with one swing of the bat, as he came through with his 33rd home run of the season, this one coming off a 2-2, 81 MPH changeup from Means and being hit a projected 414 feet over the Green Monster.

Before fans even had the chance to settle down from that two-run blast, J.D. Martinez followed suit by mashing his 36th big fly of the year, a 389-foot bomb, to put the Sox in front at 3-2.

Fast forward to the fifth, and it looked as though the top half of the lineup was about to come through again, with Rafael Devers representing the tying run at second and Bogaerts the go-ahead at first with two outs and Martinez coming to the plate.

A las, Martinez could not deliver this time up, as he flew out deep to right and would wind up being the last hitter Means faced.

An inning later, a leadoff walk drawn by Sam Travis against new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong in a now five-run game would result in another Boston run coming across to score with Sandy Leon picking up his 19th ribbie of 2019 on a bloop of a two-out RBI single. 8-4.

In the seventh, a one-out single from Bogaerts followed by a one-out walk from Martinez and fielder’s choice off the bat of Travis put runners at second and third for Brock Holt against right-hander Branden Kline.

Having never faced Kline before Saturday, all Holt could do was ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play, thus killing another shot at a potential rally.

And after squandering another chance in the eighth, Devers, Bogaerts, and Martinez went down in order in the ninth, as 9-4 would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

The Red Sox went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. They left nine men on base as a team.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Well, this is it. One last game to wrap up what has been an underwhelming World Series-defending campaign.

In terms of season milestones, Mookie Betts is one homer away from 30, Rafael Devers is two hits away from 200, and Sunday’s starter Eduardo Rodriguez is 3 2/3 innings away from 200 and one win away from 20.

Through three starts against Baltimore this season, Rodriguez is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.29 and OPS against of .522 over 21 total innings pitched.

The Orioles’ starter for Sunday, meanwhile, will be former Red Sox prospect Chandler Shepherd.

The 27-year-old right-hander was designated by Boston back on May 17th of this year in order to add catcher Oscar Hernandez to the 40-man roster when Sandy Leon was placed on the paternity leave list.

In four appearances (two starts) for Baltimore, Shepherd owns a 7.71 ERA and 1.64 WHIP over 14 total innings of work.

Sunday could very well be the last time we see the core members of the 2018 Red Sox on the field together.

Brock Holt, Mitch Moreland, and Rick Porcello are all soon-to-be free agents, J.D. Martinez could opt out of his current deal to become a free agent, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. may be traded, and even though he will not be playing, Steve Pearce might retire from baseball.

With all this uncertainty surrounding the Red Sox headed into the offseason, Sunday will provide us with one last chance to soak it all in.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 3:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to end the season on a high note.


Red Sox Activate Heath Hembree From Injured List

Before taking on the Tampa Bay Rays for the final time this season, the Red Sox announced that right-hander Heath Hembree has been activated from the 10-day injured list. The club made the move official earlier Monday.

Hembree had been sidelined since August 2nd, missing nearly eight weeks of action due to right elbow lateral inflammation and even receiving a plasma-rich-platelet injection for that inflammation last month.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora had been discussing over the past few days about how Hembree wanted to pitch again before seasons end, and after throwing a simulated game at Tropicana Field last week, the 30-year-old hurler is good to go for one more appearance, which could come as Boston’s opener in their series finale against the Texas Rangers on Thursday, per‘s Chris Cotillo.

Through 43 relief appearances this season, Hembree has posted a 4.06 ERA and .233 batting average over 37 2/3 total innings pitched. Those numbers inflated a bit when the South Carolina native returned from his first stint on the IL due to an extensor strain in his right elbow on July 4th, as he surrendered nine runs over 12 appearances and nine innings of work before hitting the injured list once again in early August.

Hembree has two more years of arbitration remaining before becoming a free agent for the first time at the conclusion of the 2021 season. He figures to be in the Sox’ bullpen plans for next year.

Red Sox Place David Price on Paternity Leave, Recall Marco Hernandez from Triple-A Pawtucket

In addition to placing right-hander Heath Hembree on the 10-day injured list on Friday, the Red Sox also placed left-hander David Price on the paternity list. Utility infielder Marco Hernandez was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket in a corresponding move.

Price was scheduled to start in the series finale against the New York Yankees on Sunday, but that has been left in the air for the time being.

As The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham notes, a player on the paternity list can return within one to two days after placement, and with Price’s wife, Tiffany, giving birth to the couple’s second child on Thursday, there’s still a chance that the 33-year-old hurler will be good to go.

The same can be said for Yankees left-hander J.A. Happ, as he too was scheduled to oppose Price on Sunday night before being placed on the paternity list himself earlier Friday.

On the other side of this move, Marco Hernandez was recalled from the PawSox 10 days after surprisingly being demoted.

In that time with Pawtucket, the 26-year-old went 14-for-35 (.400) with one double, one stolen base, and rwo RBI.

While with the Red Sox this season, the resurgent Hernandez is slashing .339/.359/.500 to go along with two home runs and seven RBI over 27 games played.

Red Sox Place Heath Hembree on Injured List, Recall Josh Smith from Triple-A Pawtucket

Before kicking off a four-game weekend series with the first place New York Yankees on Friday, the Red Sox announced that right-hander Heath Hembree had been placed on the 10-day injured list due to right lateral elbow inflammation. I

n a corresponding move, right-hander Josh Smith was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to take Hembree’s spot on the 25-man roster. The club made the transaction official earlier Friday.

Hembree had struggled since his return from the IL back on July 4th, posting a 9.00 ERA and .350 batting average against over his last 12 appearances and nine innings pitched.

Compare that to the 0.60 ERA and .118 batting average against Hembree owned from the beginning of May up until June 10th, and it becomes quite clear that the 30-year-old was still dealing with some elbow issues.

That much is evident in how the velocity of Hembree’s four-seam fastball has dipped over recent weeks. Per Statcast, the South Carolina native averaged 94.5 MPH on his heater in five June appearances. That average velocity shrunk down to 92.5 MPH in July.

In that initial injured list stint, Hembree was shelved for a little more than three weeks with what the Red Sox described as a ‘right elbow extensor strain.’

On the other side of this move, Josh Smith was recalled from the PawSox for the fifth time this season.

Since he was last optioned to Triple-A on June 25th, the 31-year-old allowed 15 earned runs on 32 hits and eight walks over a span of five starts and 27 1/3 innings pitched. That’s good for an ERA of 4.94.

While with Boston this season, Smith owns an ERA of 5.40 and xFIP of 4.54 over 10 appearances, two of which have been starts, and 18 1/3 innings pitched, per FanGraphs. He is also 1-for-1 in save opportunities.

In other roster-related news, left-hander Brian Johnson is expected to re-join the Sox in New York on Saturday and get the start in either the first or second game of the double-header that day.

Because he is out of options, I can’t imagine Johnson can be Boston’s 26th man, so another roster move will probably have to be made in order to make room for the 28-year-old.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN.

Xander Bogaerts’ Two-Homer Night Goes for Naught as Red Sox Get Swept by Rays to Extend Losing Streak to Four

The Red Sox were swept in a three-game series at Fenway Park for the first time this season on Thursday, as they fell to the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 9-4 to mark their fourth consecutive loss overall.

Making his fourth start of the season for Boston was Andrew Cashner, who came into this series’ finale fresh off his best outing in a Red Sox uniform in his last time out against the New York Yankees.

Working into the sixth inning this time around, the right-hander yielded a season-worst seven runs, all of which were earned, on seven hits and a season-high five walks to go along with one lone strikeout on the night.

The first of those Tampa Bay tallies came right away in the top half of the first, when with two outs and a runner at third following a Ji-Man Choi leadoff double, Matt Duffy reached first safely on an infield single, narrowly beating out the throw from Cashner to drive in Choi for the early lead.

In the second, Cashner put himself in a tough spot by allowing the first three Rays he faced in the frame to reach base on a pair of walks and an Eric Sogard single, which in turn resulted in three more Tampa Bay runs crossing the plate on a Choi bases-loaded walk, a wild pitch with Tommy Pham at the plate, and an RBI double off the bat of Pham that very well could have gone for two had it not been for Andrew Benintendi and Michael Chavis completing a nice relay to nab Choi at the plate.

To Cashner’s credit, he did settle in a bit by sitting down eight of the next 10 Rays hitters who came to the plate from the start of the third up until the sixth, but that is the point where things really started to fall apart.

That being the case because two-straight hits from Jesus Aguilar and Eric Sogard, as well as a four-pitch walk drawn by Mike Zuninno filled the bases for Tampa Bay once more, and Willy Adames nearly bailed Cashner out by grounding out to Xander Bogaerts at short, but since Bogaerts had to play the ball on the hop, only one out was recorded at second and Aguilar scored from third.

So, instead of escaping another tight spot with the help of an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play, Cashner’s disappointing evening came to a close with still one out to get in the sixth.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 110 (64 strikes), the 32-year-old hurler relied on his changeup nearly 41% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing five swings and misses with the pitch. He also topped out at 96.5 MPH with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 44 times while Sandy Leon was behind the plate.

Since being acquired from the Baltimore Orioles, Cashner has taken the loss in three of his four outings with Boston. Over that span, he has allowed 19 earned runs in 23 1/3 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 7.93, which is not ideal.

His next start should come against the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday.

In relief of Cashner, Darwinzon Hernandez entered with runners on the corners and still one out to get in the sixth, and he allowed two more Rays runs to cross the plate on a wild pitch and a RBI double from Pham to officially close the book on Cashner’s night before retiring the side with a five-pitch punchout of Austin Meadows.

From there, Colten Brewer tossed a scoreless seventh before serving up a leadoff homer to Zunino in an otherwise clean eighth, while Heath Hembree did the same by serving up a leadoff solo shot to Meadows in the ninth.

Meadows’ 17th home run of the season put Boston in a 9-4 hole, or a hole they could not dig out of, in other words.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against rookie left-hander Brendan McKay for the Rays, someone ranked as Tampa Bay’s top pitching prospect who had never pitched at Fenway Park before Thursday.

Perhaps taking advantage of that unfamiliarity, Xander Bogaerts came to the plate with his team down by one run early and got that one-run lead right back by mashing a one-out, two-run homer 383 feet over the Green Monster to score Mookie Betts, as well as himself, to make it a 2-1 contest.

Fast forward all the way to the fifth, and Bogaerts struck again, this time taking McKay deep off a two-out, 2-0, 94 MPH for his 25th big fly of the year. A new career-high for the 26-year-old.

Bogaerts’ second blast of the evening cut Tampa Bay’s lead to just one run at 4-3, but a three-run rally of their own a half-inning later essentially put this one out of reach.

Still, that did not stop Mookie Betts, as the reigning AL MVP came through with a rare opposite field homer off of Rays reliever Oliver Drake with one out in the seventh.

Betts’ 19th of 2019 trimmed Boston’s deficit back down to three runs at 7-4, but as already mentioned, the Rays plated a run of their own in the eighth and ninth innings, and 9-4 would go on to be Thursday’s final score.

Some notes from this loss:

There were three instances on Thursday where Andrew Benintendi led an inning off with a double. He did not score in any of those situations.

The Red Sox went 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position on Thursday. They left seven men on base as team.

The Red Sox have been outscored 32-20 during their four-game losing streak.

Andrew Benintendi’s last seven games: .516/.545/1.000 with three homers and nine RBI. He has multiple hits in five of those games.

From Red Sox Notes:

From’s Christopher Smith:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

Having dropped four straight, the Red Sox now sit 10 1/2 games back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East and 3 1/2 games back of the Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a four-game, three-day series against those Yankees in the Bronx over the weekend.

Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez is set to get the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw James Paxton will do the same for New York.

Both of these starters will be facing the same opponent on Friday as they did in their last time out.

Rodriguez picked up his 13th win of the year this past Saturday by holding the Yankees to three runs over 5 2/3 strong innings.

Paxton, on the other hand, got shellacked for seven runs on nine hits, four of which were homers, in a 10-5 loss this past Friday.

In his career at Yankee Stadium, Rodriguez owns a lifetime 3.74 ERA and .240 batting average against over eight career starts and 45 2/3 total innings pitched.

Paxton’s first start as a Yankee against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium came back on April 16th, where he tossed eight shutout innings en route to the 8-0 win for New York.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:05 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox looking to play with some urgency and put a stop to this skid.