Should the Red Sox be in the mix for Cody Bellinger?

The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported on Friday that free agent outfielder Cody Bellinger has drawn interest from up to 11 teams. Could the Red Sox be among this group? If not, should they be?

Bellinger, 27, was non-tendered by the Dodgers last week after spending six seasons with the club. The former fourth-round draft pick was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $18.1 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, which would represent a 6.5 percent increase from the $17 million salary he received in 2022.

Rather than give him a raise, the Dodgers elected to make Bellinger a free agent by not tendering him a contract. The left-handed hitter is coming off a disappointing season in which he batted just .210/.265/.389 with 27 doubles, three triples, 19 home runs, 68 RBIs, 70 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 150 strikeouts over 144 games (550 plate appearances). His 6.9 percent walk rate and 27.3 percent strikeout rate were the worst of his career.

When he first broke in with the Dodgers as a 21-year-old in 2017, Bellinger quickly established himself as one of the best young players in baseball. He took home National League Rookie of the Year honors in his debut season and was then named league MVP two years later. From 2017-2019, Bellinger slashed .278/.369/.559 with 111 homers and 288 runs driven in across 450 total games.

Bellinger’s production began to fall during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, as he hit .239/.333/.455 with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs over 56 games. During the Dodgers’ run to the World Series that October, Bellinger dislocated his right shoulder in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Braves while celebrating a home run with former teammate and current Red Sox utility man Enrique Hernandez. He was able to play out the rest of the postseason, but underwent arthroscopic surgery that November.

Despite missing some time the following spring, Bellinger made Los Angeles’ 2021 Opening Day roster. But he fractured his left fibula in early April and was sidelined until late May as a result. He also missed time with left hamstring tightness and a left rib fracture. Those injuries played a role in Bellinger posting a career-worst .542 OPS in 95 games. The Dodgers were optimistic that Bellinger would be able to bounce back this season, but that never really happened.

“Obviously, it’s been a unique path for Cody as he’s battled through injuries and worked diligently over the past few years to return to his All-Star-caliber performance,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters (including MLB.com’s Juan Toribio) earlier this month. “However, it hasn’t played out as well as we would’ve hoped or expected, and therefore we had to make a difficult decision of non-tendering.”

While the Dodgers opted to make Bellinger a free agent, Friedman and Co. remain interested in bringing him back at a cheaper price, which could prove to be difficult given the reported number of potential suitors. Heyman lists the Astros, Cubs, and Giants as three of the 11 teams who are in play for Bellinger’s services.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say this is the closing of the chapter of Cody and the Dodgers,” said Friedman. “We still very much believe in the talent of Cody and his competitive makeup, and we have interest in a reunion and will continue talks with Cody and his group. And he gets to discuss this on his end.”

Bellinger, who does not turn 28 until next July, is represented by super-agent Scott Boras. Last weekend, Boras told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that Bellinger has already received a number of multi-year deals, but he wants his client to take a one-year deal so that he can reset his value and hit the open market again next winter.

“I’ve already been offered multi-years,” Boras said. “Most likely, because of his age, we don’t want a multi-year.”

Going back to this month’s GM meetings in Las Vegas, Boras believes that Bellinger’s lack of production over the last two seasons has more to do with the lack of strength in his shoulder as opposed to his level of talent.

“Talents are so hard to find,” Boras said, via The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya. “You just don’t find talents like this. He’s 26, 27 years old. It’s really about getting his strength back so he can repeat his skill level.”

Even with the lackluster numbers at the plate in recent years, Bellinger has still proven to be one of the sport’s better defensive center fielders. This past season, the 6-foot-4, 203-pounder was worth seven outs above average at the position, which ranked 13th in Major League Baseball, per Statcast.

The Red Sox already have Hernandez in the fold as the everyday center fielder in 2023, but adding Bellinger to the mix would allow Alex Cora to move Hernandez back to the infield on occasion if necessary. If, for example, Xander Bogaerts were to leave Boston in free agency, Hernandez would provide the Sox with insurance at shortstop. Bellinger also has prior experience at first base and at both corner outfield spots, so he and Hernandez could always share the outfield grass.

As a former early draft pick and top prospect who grew up in the Dodgers organization, Bellinger — in certain respects — represents the kind of player the Red Sox have coveted under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. If healthy, his potential is through the roof. And he has the versatility to play multiple positions — and one important one in particular — at a high level.

Bellinger’s 19 home runs this season would have ranked second on the 2022 Red Sox. His 14 stolen bases would have led the team. So, if Bloom and Co. are looking to inject more power and speed into their lineup heading into the spring, bringing in Bellinger on a one-year deal makes all the sense in the world.

(Picture of Cody Bellinger: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox sign lefty reliever Joely Rodriguez to one-year deal with club option for 2024

The Red Sox have signed left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez to a one-year contract for the 2023 season, the club announced on Wednesday. The deal comes with a club option for 2024 as well.

Rodriguez, who turned 31 earlier this month, will make at least $2 million in guaranteed money with the Red Sox. His contract includes a base salary of $1.5 million in 2023 and up to $2 million in active roster bonuses, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. The Red Sox then hold a $4.25 million option over Rodriguez for 2024. If they decline that, Rodriguez will receive $500,000 in the form of a buyout. When taking other performance bonuses into account, Rodriguez’s deal can max out at $8.25 million over the next two seasons.

After finishing with the fifth-worst bullpen ERA (4.59) this year, the Red Sox have elected to make Rodriguez their first free agent addition of the offseason. The Dominican-born southpaw spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign with the Mets and posted a 4.47 ERA and 3.23 FIP to go along with 57 strikeouts to 26 walks over 55 relief appearances spanning 50 1/3 innings of work.

Rodriguez was initially one of 12 pitchers to make the Mets’ Wild Card series roster last month, but he was removed from it following Game 1 due to an unspecified shoulder issue that ultimately required minor surgery after the season, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Listed at 6-foot-1, and 200 pounds, Rodriguez operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a sinker and changeup — his two most frequently-used offerings — as well as a four-seam fastball and slider. This past season, Rodriguez limited opposing hitters to an average exit velocity of 85.3 mph, a hard-hit rate of 31.8 percent, and a barrel rate of 3.8 percent, per Baseball Savant. His chase rate of 34.7 percent also ranked in the 94th percentile of the league.

The Red Sox, per Cotillo, are intrigued by Rodriguez’s pitch mix and his ability to induce ground balls, soft contact, and whiffs. They are optimistic that his performance will be more in line with his Statcast numbers as opposed to his 4.56 career ERA moving forward. They also believe in his ability to get both right-handed and left-handed hitters out, as he held righties to a .625 OPS against and lefties to a .645 OPS in 2022.

A native of Santo Domingo, Rodriguez first signed with the Pirates as an international free agent in March 2009. He was traded to the Phillies in 2014 and made his major-league debut two years later. In June 2017, Rodriguez was traded to the Rangers and became a free agent at the end of the season. He spent part of the 2018 campaign in the Orioles system before signing with the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball.

After spending the remainder of 2018 and the entirety of 2019 in Japan, Rodriguez returned to the major-leagues in 2020 with the Rangers. Texas traded him and Joey Gallo to the Yankees at the 2021 trade deadline. New York then flipped him to the Mets for fellow reliever Miguel Castro back in April.

All told, Rodriguez owns a 4.56 ERA and 3.65 FIP across 157 career appearances (146 innings) in five seasons at the big-league level. The lefty will now join a Red Sox bullpen that at the moment includes the likes of Matt Barnes, John Schreiber, Tanner Houck, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, and Zack Kelly, among others.

While that group could still undergo a dramatic change between now and Opening Day, Rodriguez is line to provide Boston with a left-handed relief option in 2023. With the addition of Rodriguez, the Red Sox currently have 39 platers on their 40-man roster.

(Picture of Joely Rodriguez: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign right-hander Michael Wacha to one-year deal

UPDATE: It’s a straight one-year, $7 million deal with no incentives, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The deal is also now official.

The Red Sox are in the process of finalizing a one-year contract with free agent right-hander Michael Wacha, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal is still pending a physical.

Wacha, 30, spent the 2021 season with the Rays, posting a 5.05 ERA and 4.47 FIP to go along with 121 strikeouts to 31 walks over 29 appearances (23 starts) spanning 124 2/3 innings of work.

Boston was known to be in the market for starting pitching help after Eduardo Rodriguez left to sign a five-year deal with the Tigers earlier this month. And Wacha, as Passan points out, is expected to provide the Sox with experienced rotation depth.

While his ERA this year was north of five, Wacha did put up a much more respectable 3.91 xFIP and 4.00 SIERA during his time with Tampa Bay, and he did so while producing a career-best chase rate of 32.6%.

A former first-round pick of the Cardinals out of Texas A&M University in 2012, Wacha established himself as one of the better starters in the National League in his tenure with St. Louis, earning National League Championship Series MVP honors in 2013 and an All-Star nod in 2015.

Since leaving the Cardinals at the conclusion of the 2019 campaign, the 6-foot-6, 215 pound righty will now be joining his third team in three years after spending 2020 with the Mets and 2021 with the Rays.

Per Baseball Savant, Wacha operates with a five-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, changeup, cutter, curveball, and sinker. His changeup may just be his best pitch, as opponents only batted .207 off it this season.

A client of CAA Sports, Wacha does not turn 31 until next July and figures to compete for a spot in Boston’s starting rotation by the time the Red Sox report to spring training in February.

That said, Wacha does have some experience as a reliever as well, so it would not be a surprise if chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. view the veteran hurler as someone who could start and pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen when needed.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox made ‘competitive’ offer to Andrew Heaney before left-hander signed with Dodgers, per report

Before Andrew Heaney signed a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Dodgers last Wednesday, the Red Sox were reportedly among the many teams interested in the then-free agent left-hander.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the Sox initially made Heaney an offer that would include one guaranteed year and a team option that would add on a second, which is similar to the deals the club signed Garrett Richards and Martin Perez to last winter.

That said, Speier noted that Boston was willing to up the ante by making a straight one-year offer to Heaney “that was competitive with” what the Dodgers were offering him, but the 30-year-old ultimately chose to sign with Los Angeles.

A former first-round draft pick of the Marlins in 2012 out of Oklahoma State University, Heaney was traded to the Dodgers along with Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, and current Red Sox utility man Enrique Hernandez in December 2014.

The Dodgers then flipped Heaney to the Angels for Howie Kendrick, and the lefty spent the next six-plus seasons with the Halos before being dealt to the Yankees over the summer.

While splitting the 2021 campaign between the Angels and Yankees, Heaney struggled for the most part, posting a 5.83 ERA and 4.85 FIP to go along with 150 strikeouts to 41 walks over 30 appearances (23 starts) spanning 129 2/3 total innings of work with both clubs.

Upon arriving in the Bronx in late July, the 6-foot-2, 200 pound southpaw was originally a member of the Yankees’ starting rotation, but was demoted to the bullpen towards the end of August.

As a reliever, Heaney did not fare much better by putting up a 10.24 ERA and 7.10 FIP across seven outings and 9 2/3 innings pitched before being designated for assignment in early October and being made a free agent as a result.

For as ugly as a season Heaney had as far as ERA and FIP goes, Speier notes that his struggles “were little deterrent to teams drawn to his swing-and-miss stuff.”

Of the 31 left-handers who pitched at least 125 innings in the majors this year, Heaney ranked sixth among them in regards to strikeout rate (26.9%), 19th in walk rate (7.3%), and 17th in xFIP (4.12), per FanGraphs.

Put another way, teams such as the Red Sox were intrigued by Heaney — who works with a four-seam fastball, curveball, and changeup — for reasons that go beyond the box score.

Because of his eye-opening peripherals, Heaney is viewed by some evaluators as someone who can bounce back in 2022 the same way fellow left-hander Robbie Ray did on his way to winning the American League Cy Young Award with the Blue Jays in 2021.

The Red Sox, as Speier highlights, are “trying to shore up” their starting rotation in the wake of Eduardo Rodriguez signing a five-year contract with the Tigers last week.

It may have been an unconventional way of going about addressing a need, but it would seem that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. were looking to maximize Heaney’s potential were he to choose the Red Sox over the Dodgers.

Heaney, who does not turn 31 until next June and is represented by Icon Sports Management, instead opted to join the Dodgers as he will surely be striving to reestablish his value in 2022 and test the free agency waters again next winter.

(Picture of Andrew Heaney: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox among teams interested in free agent utility man Chris Taylor, per report

The Red Sox are among a handful of teams interested in free agent utility man Chris Taylor, according to MLB.com’s Juan Toribio.

Per Torobio, Taylor is drawing interest from the likes of the Sox, Cardinals, Rangers, Giants, Marlins, and others including the Dodgers, who originally acquired him from the Mariners in June 2016.

After spending the last six seasons with the Dodgers, Taylor is now officially a free agent in the wake of rejecting Los Angeles’ one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer for 2022 on Wednesday.

Taylor, 31, was a first-time All-Star in 2021. The versatile right-handed hitter batted .254/.344/.438 (113 wRC+) with 25 doubles, four triples, 20 home runs, 73 RBIs, 92 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 63 walks, and 167 strikeouts over 148 games and 582 plate appearances.

In those 148 games, Taylor made 46 appearances at second base, 11 at third base, 23 at shortstop, 30 in left field, 62 in center field, and eight in right field. For his career, the University of Virginia product’s best position has been left field (+13 defensive runs saved), though he saw the majority of his playing time come in center field (423 innings) this past season.

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox have clearly placed an emphasis on versatile players who are capable of playing multiple positions.

Taylor obviously fits this mold, as does his former Dodgers teammate and current Sox utility man Enrique Hernandez. As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Boston originally signed Hernandez last year to serve as their everyday second baseman, but he ultimately wound up taking over the day-to-day responsibilities in center field.

So, if the Red Sox were to pursue a starting outfielder such as Taylor, they would have the ability to move Hernandez back to the infield thanks to the flexibility of the 30-year-old.

Because the Dodgers extended a qualifying offer to Taylor, there is now draft pick compensation attached to the Virginia Beach native if another club were to sign him away from Los Angeles.

The Red Sox, for instance, would forfeit their second-highest unprotected pick in next year’s draft as well as $500,000 in international signing bonus pool space if they manage to sign a qualified free agent like Taylor. Boston did, however, gain a compensatory pick in the 2022 draft earlier this week when Eduardo Rodriguez signed a five-year deal with the Tigers.

After staying away from qualified free agents last off-season, Bloom and Co. have expressed an interest in pursuing those free agents with qualifying offers attached to them this time around.

With that being said, Taylor — a client of Meister Sports Management — is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to net himself a four-year, $64 million contract in free agency this season.

FanGraphs, on the other hand, projects that Taylor will land a four-year deal worth approximately $60 million. A steep price to pay for someone who turns 32 in August.

(Picture of Chris Taylor: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez agrees to five-year, $77 million deal with Tigers, per report

Eduardo Rodriguez’s time with the Red Sox has come to an end, as the left-hander has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers. The agreement was first reported by The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen and was later confirmed by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Per Heyman, Rodriguez’s deal with the Tigers includes a potential opt out after the second year and contains up to an additional $3 million in incentives. It also includes a no-trade clause.

Rodriguez, 28, was originally acquired by the Red Sox from the Orioles in the trade that sent fellow lefty Andrew Miller to Baltimore at the 2014 trade deadline.

After making his big-league debut the following season, Rodriguez established himself as a key cog in Boston’s starting rotation, most notably helping the club win a World Series title in 2018 and then finishing sixth in American League Cy Young voting in 2019.

Last year, the Venezuelan southpaw contracted myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) as a result of a bout with COVID-19, forcing him to miss the entirety of the compressed 2020 campaign.

This past season, Rodriguez returned to form for the most part while also experiencing some ups and downs. In 32 appearances (31 starts), the 6-foot-2, 231 pound hurler posted a 4.74 ERA and 3.32 FIP to go along with 185 strikeouts to 47 walks over 157 2/3 total innings of work.

Despite the relatively high ERA, Rodriguez still proved to be one of the more effective left-handed starters in baseball. Among the 18 lefties who accrued at least 150 innings on the mound this year, he ranked second in strikeout rate (27.4%), third in FIP, and second in xFIP (3.43), per FanGraphs.

From the time he became a free agent earlier this month, the Red Sox had strong interest in bringing Rodriguez back on a multi-year deal for 2022 and beyond. According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the club made several extension offers throughout 2021, but their one mid-season offer “was so far off from Rodriguez’s wishes that talks basically ended immediately.”

Ahead of last week’s GM meetings in Carlsbad, Calif., the Red Sox extended an $18.4 million qualifying offer for the 2022 season and the ISE Baseball client rejected it shortly thereafter.

Because the Sox extended him a qualifying offer, though, Rodriguez’s new club — in this case, the Tigers — now owes Boston compensation in the form of a draft pick.

By joining the Tigers, Rodriguez becomes the first major free agent to come off the board this off-season. He is also the first Red Sox free agent to sign elsewhere, as the likes of José Iglesias, Adam Ottavino, Martín Pérez, Garrett Richards, Hansel Robles, Danny Santana, Kyle Schwarber, and Travis Shaw remain on the open market.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have some interest’ in free-agent reliever Ben Heller, per report

As pitchers and catchers report to their respective spring training camps this week, the Red Sox are reportedly interested in adding to their bullpen mix.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox “have some interest” in free-agent right-handed reliever Ben Heller.

Heller, 29, was released by the Yankees last week after initially being designated for assignment so that the club could make room on its 40-man roster for fellow reliever Darren O’Day.

In parts of four seasons (2016-17, 2019-20) with New York, the Wisconsin native posted a 2.59 ERA and 5.57 FIP over 31 total appearances and 31 1/3 innings of work.

The reason Heller did not pitch in 2018 was due to the fact that he underwent Tommy John surgery that also involved the removal of a bone spur in his throwing elbow in April of that year.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-3, 210 lb. righty operates with a four-seam fastball, a curveball, and a changeup.

Originally selected by the Indians in the 22nd round of the 2013 draft out of Olivet Nazarene University (Ill.), Heller is perhaps most notably known for being part of the trade that sent left-hander Andrew Miller to Cleveland and outfielder Clint Frazier and lefty Justus Sheffield, then top prospects, to New York in July 2016.

As noted by Cotillo, Heller should be a popular name on the free-agent market because not only has he put up decent numbers in the majors, but he’s also under team control for three more seasons and has one minor-league option remaining on his contract.

Taking those factors into consideration, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to think that Heller could net himself a major-league deal — or at the very least a potentially lucrative minor-league pact with an invite to big-league camp — at some point before Opening Day.

If the Red Sox were to sign Heller, or another available reliever, to a major-league contract, they would have to clear a 40-man roster spot for that individual since their 40-man is currently at full capacity.

That note does not take into account that utilityman Marwin Gonzalez still needs to be added to the 40-man as well since his signing has not yet been made official.

(Picture of Ben Heller: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Hirokazu Sawamura signing official, designate Jeffrey Springs for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura to a two-year contract that includes a dual club/player option for the 2023 season, the team announced Tuesday.

In order to make room for Sawamura on their 40-man roster, Boston also designated left-hander Jeffrey Springs for assignment.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Sawamura will earn $3 million over the next two seasons with the chance to earn a total of $7.65 million over the next three years if he “hits every performance bonus and escalator.”

Rosenthal also described Sawamura’s option as “conditional and complex,” and seeing how it is a dual club/player option, that would fit said description.

Expanding on that, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweets that Sawamura will earn a base salary of $1.2 million in 2021 and a base salary of $1.2 million in 2022 that can escalate up to $1.7 million.

As for Sawamura’s dual option for 2023, Cotillo adds that if its a club option, it’s worth anywhere between $3 and $4 million depending on escalators. If the Red Sox decline that, the option then becomes a player option worth anywhere between $600,000 and $2.2 million depending on escalators.

For this year alone, Sawamura will count as a $1.2 million hit against Boston’s competitive balance tax threshold.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old hurler had been pitching in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization since 2011, mostly for the Yomiuri Giants.

This past season, Sawamura got off to a tough start with Yomiuri and was ultimately dealt to the Chiba Lotte Marines as part of a midseason trade between the clubs.

Once he arrived in Chiba City though, things turned around for the better for the Japanese-born righty.

Across 22 relief appearances spanning 21 total innings of work, Sawamura posted a dazzling 1.71 ERA and 0.95 WHIP to go along with 29 strikeouts and just 10 walks.

Sawamura’s pitch arsenal consists of a 94-99 mph four-seam fastball, a swing-inducing splitter, and a below-average slider.

With his new club, Sawamura figures to slide into a late-inning role alongside the likes of Matt Barnes, Adam Ottavino, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.

As for Springs, the 28-year-old southpaw was designated for assignment 13 months after the Red Sox acquired him from the Texas Rangers in exchange for infielder Sam Travis.

In his debut season with Boston, Springs produced a 7.08 ERA and 4.81 FIP over 16 relief outings and 20 1/3 innings of work in two stints with the club.

That being said, there was a stretch from August 31 through September 23 of last season in which the North Carolina native thoroughly impressed to the tune of a 2.53 ERA and 2.39 xFIP over nine appearances out of the Sox’ bullpen.

Considering the fact he still has three minor-league options remaining, it would not be all that surprising to see another team take a chance on Springs through waivers.

Having said that, the Red Sox will have seven days to either trade Springs, release him, or try to sneak him through waivers themselves.

On another note, Boston’s 40-man roster is back at full capacity, so there will be another move to make in order to accommodate the signing of Marwin Gonzalez, which should be made official in the coming days.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Sports Nippon/Getty Images)

Red Sox were in attendance to watch free-agent reliever Chaz Roe throw a bullpen over the weekend

The Red Sox were one of a handful of teams in attendance to watch free-agent reliever Chaz Roe throw a bullpen in his home state of Kentucky over the weekend, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Roe, 34, had spent the last 3 1/2 seasons with the Rays before being outrighted off their 40-man roster and electing free agency in late October.

The veteran right-hander was limited to just 10 appearances and 9 1/3 innings pitched out of the Tampa Bay bullpen in 2020 on account of an elbow soreness-related injured list stint that prematurely ended his season in August.

In those 10 outings, Roe yielded four runs (three earned) on 10 hits, three walks, and nine strikeouts. That’s good for an ERA of 2.89 and FIP of 2.55, but an xFIP (Expected Fielder Independent Pitching) of 4.82, per FanGraphs.

Cotillo notes that Roe is “said to be healthy now,” but even when healthy, one of the things that has hindered him over the course of his eight-year major-league career is his inability to get left-handed hitters out on a consistent basis.

Looking at his lifetime splits, Roe owns a respectable OPS against of .636 when going up against right-handed hitters, but that number inflates all the way up to .862 against lefties.

Even with that being said, the former first-round draft pick of the Rockies in 2005 has proven to be quite the effective relief option, especially in his time with Tampa Bay.

According to Baseball Savant, Roe relies upon a slider, sinker, cutter, and four-seam fastball. He threw his slider 58.5% of the time he was on the mound in 2020 and 64.8% of the time he was on the mound in 2019.

The last time he pitched enough to qualify for Statcast’s percentile rankings, 2019, Roe placed in the 94th percentile in exit velocity, the 97th percentile in hard-hit percentage, the 91st percentile in expected slugging percentage, the 96th percentile in barrel percentage, and the 92nd percentile in fastball spin.

Given the sheer number of relievers who are still on the open market at this point in the offseason, it’s difficult to say what Roe could be seeking in regards to his next contract.

As noted by Cotillo, the Apex Baseball client should already be quite familiar with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom given the time the two spent together in Tampa Bay, so that relationship could serve as a solid starting point in negotiations.

Bloom hasn’t shied away from bringing in former Rays via free agency this offseason, either. That much was made clear when Boston inked outfielder Hunter Renfroe and righty Matt Andriese to one-year deals in December.

At the end of the day, though, Roe is not the only free-agent bullpen option the Red Sox are looking at as the start of spring training is just days away now.

Cotillo reports that the Sox have expressed interest in the likes of veteran right-handers Jeremy Jeffress and Brandon Workman. And as previously mentioned, there are still plenty of quality relievers out there looking for jobs, including another former Ray — and Worcester native — in Oliver Drake.

This speculation comes in the wake of a tweet from @RedSoxStats, who tweeted Monday morning that Boston may still be trying to add to its bullpen before the start of the 2021 season.

(Picture of Chaz Roe: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox free agency updates: Hirokazu Sawamura, Marwin González signings could be made official soon

As spring training approaches, the Red Sox are reportedly close to making their signings of right-hander Hirokazu Sawamura and utilityman Marwin Gonzalez official.

Here are some notes on each of those players’ situations regarding their pending contracts with Boston.

Hirokazu Sawamura: According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Sawamura’s deal with the Red Sox is good for $3 million over two years with a “conditional and complex” option for a potential third year. The contract could also grow to $7.65 million over three years thanks to performance bonuses and escalators.

Sankei Sports of Japan originally reported last week that Sawamura had reached agreement on a two-year deal with Boston worth $2.4 million.

The 32-year-old righty (33 in April) has spent the entirety of his professional career, which dates back to 2011, pitching in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization.

Most recently, Sawamura split the 2020 season between the Yomiuri Giants and Chiba Lotte Marines. And while he was not particularly sharp with Yomiuri, the 6-foot, 212 lb. hurler turned things around for the better upon arriving in Chiba City via a midseason trade.

Over 22 appearances and 21 innings pitched out of the Marines bullpen, Sawamura dazzled by posting a 1.71 ERA and 0.95 WHIP while striking out nearly three times as many hitters as he walked (29:10 K:BB ratio).

Working with a four-seam fastball that sits anywhere from 94-99 mph, a whiff-inducing split-finger fastball, and a so-so slider, Sawamura figures to play a key role in Boston’s bullpen puzzle in 2021.

“Multiple evaluators saw Sawamura as at least a seventh-inning reliever, a pitcher who alternately dominates the strike zone with elite stuff and then loses the strike zone completely,” The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote of Sawamura on February 10. “Still, based on his peaks in the NPB, there’s a chance for an even more prominent late-innings role.”

Marwin Gonzalez: Earlier Monday, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweeted that Gonzalez is getting a straight-up, one-year deal with Boston worth $3 million for the 2021 season. No options or anything of the sort, though he could earn an additional $1.1 million in performance bonuses based off number of plate appearances.

That, of course, would take the total value of the contract up to $4.1 million.

Cotillo adds that Gonzalez, who turns 32 next month, is expected to arrive in Fort Myers for his physical at some point this week, though poor weather conditions in the southern part of the United States (i.e. Texas) may delay his arrival.

Once he does make his way to the Fenway South complex and passes his physical, though, Gonzalez’s deal with the Sox will become official.

As noted by Cotillo, the former Astro and Twin could be “slated for significant work in the outfield while also serving as a left-handed hitting complement to Bobby Dalbec at first base” in the wake of the trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals.

Over the last two seasons with Minnesota, Gonzalez slashed .248/.311/.387 with 20 home runs and 77 RBI in 167 total games played while seeing time at every defensive position besides pitcher, catcher, and centerfield.

The versatile Venezuelan’s best year in the majors came with Houston in 2017, when he clubbed a career-best 23 homers and drove in 90 RBI over 134 games.

He finished 19th in American League MVP voting that year, and will now be reunited with his former bench coach in Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

In order for the Red Sox to make the additions of Sawamura and Gonzalez official, they will need to find a way to clear two spots on their 40-man roster, which is currently at full capacity.

(Picture of Hirokazu Sawamura: Sports Nippon/Getty Images)