Red Sox claim right-hander Joel Payamps off waivers from Diamondbacks, designate Robert Stock

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Joel Payamps off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the club announced Wednesday.

In order to make room for Payamps on Boston’s 40-man roster, right-hander Robert Stock was designated for assignment. Righty Ryan Weber and left-hander Matt Hall were also outrighted to Triple-A Worcester.

Payamps, 26, had spent the previous two seasons with Arizona, appearing in a total of four games while allowing four runs (three earned) over seven total innings pitched in those appearances. He was designated for assignment last Friday.

The Dominican Republic native was originally signed by the Rockies as an international free agent in 2010 and has 145 career minor-league outings (119 starts) under his belt.

Per Statcast, Payamps utilizes a four-pitch mix that is comprised of a four-seam fastball, a slider, a sinker, and a changeup. He averaged 94.2 mph and topped out at 95.8 mph with his heater this past season.

With the addition of Payamps to the 40-man roster via a waiver claim, the Red Sox needed to create some room, and they did so by designating Stock.

The 31-year-old was initially claimed off waivers by Boston from the Phillies back on July 27.

In his debut season with the Sox, Stock posted a 4.73 ERA and 3.34 FIP over 10 appearances and 13 1/3 innings pitched spanning three separate stints with the big-league club.

Given the fact he can reach 99 mph with his heater, Stock may be someone that Boston would like to stash away in the minors for bullpen depth. The Washington native will of course have to clear waivers in order for that to happen, though.

As for Weber and Hall, the two hurlers who represented 40% of the Sox’ Opening Day rotation this year were outrighted to Triple-A after being designated for assignment on November 20.

Assuming both Weber and Hall accept their minor-league assignments as opposed to electing free agency, they too could provide integral swingman depth for the Red Sox since both are capable of starting and working out of the bullpen.

With Wednesday’s moves made, Boston’s 40-man roster is currently at full capacity. Expect more transactions like this one to be made by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. as the offseason continues.

UPDATE: As pointed out by SoxProspects’ Chris Hatfield, Payamps is out of minor-league options, so the Red Sox could very well look to sneak him through waivers as they did with second baseman Christian Arroyo over the summer.

Red Sox one of three teams who have Yasiel Puig ‘on their radar,’ per report

The Red Sox are one of three teams that have free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig “on their radar,” according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

Per Feinsand, the Astros and Orioles are the other two clubs interested in signing Puig, “though others could also be in the mix.”

Puig, who turns 30 next month, did not play Major League Baseball at all in 2020. He initially agreed to a one-year deal with the Braves in July, but that pact fell through just three days later on account of his testing positive for COVID-19.

Since that time, the Cuban born outfielder has remained relatively quiet, most recently signing with agent Rachel Luba of Luba Sports earlier this week.

In his most recent big-league action, Puig posted a .267/.327/.458 slash line to go along with 24 home runs and 84 RBI over 149 games played between the Reds and Indians in 2019.

That decent showing made it seem as though Puig would be an enticing free agent for clubs last winter, but that turned out to not be the case.

Now, after a challenging 2020 in which he could not play Major League Baseball at all, Puig is ready to get after it once more.

“2021, Puig will be ready,” he said Tuesday via Twitter. “I am willing to put in the work and I am going after the total win!”

This is far from the first time the Sox have been linked to Puig. Back in early July, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported that Boston had been mentioned as a possibility to sign the All-Star before he wound up agreeing to that short-lived deal with Atlanta.

Before that, going back to the 2017 offseason, the Red Sox reportedly turned down a trade proposal from the Dodgers that would have sent Jackie Bradley Jr. to Los Angeles and Puig to Boston.

With Bradley Jr. currently out of the picture on account of him being a free agent, the Sox find themselves in need of outfield help in some capacity.

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has hinted that the club’s preference would be to add an outfielder who is capable of playing center, something Puig has not done since 2016.

Still, as Bloom said earlier this month, the Red Sox “can’t be too rigid and miss good opportunities” while exploring the trade and free agency markets.

Would bringing in a motivated Puig on a one-year, major-league deal laden with incentives be one of those “good opportunities” Bloom described? Perhaps.

Red Sox among teams who have expressed ‘initial interest’ in free-agent right-hander Matt Shoemaker, per report

The Red Sox are one of several teams to express ‘initial interest’ in free-agent right-hander Matt Shoemaker, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported late Sunday night.

Shoemaker, who turned 34 in September, is coming off a 2020 season in which he posted a 4.71 ERA and 5.95 FIP over six starts and 28 2/3 innings pitched for the Blue Jays.

The Michigan native was limited to just six outings this year on account of hitting the injured list in late August due to right shoulder inflammation, but he was able to return to the mound a month later. He even got the nod for Toronto in Game 1 of the Wild Card series against the Rays in which he scattered two hits over three scoreless frames.

A former undrafted free agent who signed with the Angels in 2008, Shoemaker has proven to be a solid middle to back-end of the rotation caliber starting pitcher when healthy. That’s the thing, though. He has struggled to stay on the field these past few years.

Prior to the 2020 season, the veteran righty got off to a roaring start with the Jays in 2019, allowing just seven runs (five earned) through his first four outings and 25 2/3 innings of the year (1.75 ERA).

In what was his fifth start of the year against the Athletics on April 20, Shoemaker got caught in a rundown and wound up spraining his left knee. Nine days later, he underwent ACL reconstruction as well as medial meniscus repair, and his season was over just like that.

Again, when he is healthy, Shoemaker, who works with a split-finger fastball, sinker, four-seam fastball, slider, and curveball, has proven to be effective at the major-league level.

The Red Sox are a club in desperate need of starting pitching help, so taking a flier, if you want to call it that, on someone of Shoemaker’s caliber certainly makes sense. Even more so when you consider the fact that the Jays recently locked up left-hander Robbie Ray on a one-year, $8 million deal earlier this week.

MLB free agency: Red Sox, Jackie Bradley Jr. have talked about outfielder returning to Boston, per report

The Red Sox have reportedly approached Jackie Bradley Jr. about bringing the free-agent outfielder back for the 2021 season “and beyond,” according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Per Bradford, the Red Sox “are far from the only suitors for Bradley Jr., with the Astros showing strong interest and one American League Central team putting the 30-year-old at the top of its free agent wish-list.”

Bradley Jr., who does not turn 31 until next April, is coming off one of his better all-around seasons in the majors in 2020. Primarily serving as Boston’s centerfielder, the former first-round draft pick slashed a robust .283/.364/.450 to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played.

Those impressive numbers, as well as still proving to be one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball, will certainly help Bradley Jr.’s case as he embarks on free agency for the first time in his career.

Based off industry speculation, which can best be highlighted by MLB Trade Rumors’ free agency predictions, the Boras Corp. client is projected to land a two-year deal worth somewhere around $16 million this winter after not receiving a qualifying offer from Boston earlier this month.

MLBTR, in correspondence with the aforementioned report from Bradford, have Bradley Jr. joining the Astros on that two-year pact, but it would appear that the Red Sox can not be ruled out as favorites to retain the South Carolina product’s services.

“We love Jackie,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters back in August. “That shouldn’t be news. He’s been here for a long time. He means an enormous amount to this organization. For me personally, not having known him as long, I’ve still come to regard him so highly and see what an incredible person he is. We know he’s a good player. We’d love to have him for a long time. But that was the case months ago. It’s the case yesterday. It’s the case today. It’s the case tomorrow.”

Besides Bradley Jr., this year’s free agency class is not exactly filled to the brim with starting-caliber centerfielders save for three-time All-Star George Springer, who has a qualifying offer attached to him. The likes of Jarrod Dyson, Brett Gardner, Jake Marisnick, and Kevin Pillar represent some of the other possibilities on that front.

Internally, the Sox could move either one of Andrew Benintendi or Alex Verdugo to center, both of whom have logged a combined 147 games at the position at the major-league level. Neither would likely provide the level of defensive prowess Bradley Jr. would, though, and another vacancy at either corner outfield spot would open up as a result.

Looking at the prospect pipeline, outfielder Jarren Duran, Boston’s No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is without a doubt one of the Sox’ most exciting young talents.

The 24-year-old had a terrific spring and consistently put on a show at the alternate training site in Pawtucket over the summer, but he still may be at the point where he needs just a little more time to develop before getting the call.

Marcus Wilson, who is currently on Boston’s 40-man roster, and Jeisson Rosario, who will presumably be on Boston’s 40-man roster within the next 12 days, are also intriguing options, but like Duran, neither have played above the Double-A level yet.

At the end of the day, who Bloom and Co. decide to roll with at center field moving forward will be no simple decision. Perhaps the Sox will take advantage of what looks to be a slow-moving market this winter, but if a savvy team like the Astros are that interested in acquiring Bradley Jr.’s services, they will surely be aggressive in doing so.

On another note, it should be fascinating to see how Bradley Jr., who described free agency as “cool” because “you get to weigh out your options,” goes about fielding offers this winter. Will he allow the Red Sox to counter any offer he may get? Or, will he just take the best deal possible due to the current economic climate? We will have to wait and see on that.

Red Sox free agency: right-hander Keone Kela comments that he would ‘love’ to play in Boston

Former Pirates reliever and current free-agent right-hander Keone Kela recently expressed an interest to play with the Red Sox through social media.

Early Friday night, Major League Baseball’s official Instagram account posted an update pertaining to the Red Sox’ rehiring of Alex Cora to be their next manager.

Within minutes of the post going live, Kela took to the comment section, tagged the Sox’ official Instagram handle (@redsox) and simply expressed his thoughts through the use of the ‘100’ emoji (💯).

According to Dictionary.com, the ‘100’ emoji is “used in digital communication to express or emphasize achievement, support, approval, and motivation. It also generally means ‘absolutely’ or ‘keep it 100’ (keep it real), so it would appear that Kela approves of the move by the Red Sox to bring Cora back.

On top of that, when urged by a fellow commenter to ‘come on down [to Boston], Kela replied, “I’d love to” followed by a heart emoji. The full exchange can be seen in this accompanying screenshot, courtesy of Reddit user u/williamsw21.

Kela, 27, has spent the last 2 1/2 seasons with the Pirates after beginning his big-league career with the Rangers in 2015.

In his time with Pittsburgh, the Los Angeles native posted a 2.49 ERA and 3.54 FIP over 51 total appearances and 47 innings pitched going back to July 2018.

Most recently, in what was already a truncated 2020 campaign, Kela managed to appear in just three games for the Pirates on account of testing positive for COVID-19 in July and going down with right forearm tightness in late August.

Seeing how he is still relatively young as he enters free agency for the first time, Kela could look to take a short-term deal this offseason in order to better establish his value next winter if he can stay healthy.

According to Statcast, the righty has in his arsenal a curveball that hovers around 82-83 mph, a four-seam fastball that hovers around 96 mph and can top out at 98 mph, and a changeup that hovers around 90-91 mph.

Taking that into consideration, the Red Sox could perhaps benefit from adding someone of Kela’s caliber to the mix in their bullpen. The club is coming off a 2020 season in which it owned the second-worst bullpen ERA (5.72) in the American League.

There are certainly other free-agent relievers the Red Sox could target here, such as Liam Hendriks, Trevor May, or Blake Treinen, but seeing how Kela, or whoever runs his Instagram account, has expressed an interest in signing with Boston, this may very well be an avenue worth exploring for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co.

On another note, Cora’s return makes it seem as though the Red Sox could become a more popular destination for free-agents since the Sox skipper is so well regarded by players. That should be something worth paying attention to as the offseason progresses.

Former Red Sox utilityman Tzu-Wei Lin is now a minor-league free agent

Last week, the Red Sox outrighted utilityman Tzu-Wei Lin and four other players from their 40-man roster.

At the time, I thought that because he was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket, or Worcester, Lin was going to remain within the organization for the time being as opposed to becoming a free agent like Mike Kickham, Zack Godley, or Andrew Triggs.

It turns out that one week following his being outrighted, the 26-year-old was declared a minor-league free agent earlier Monday, according to Baseball America.

Lin was among 21 Red Sox minor-leaguers who became free agents to kick off the week. That list includes the likes of Jett Bandy, Juan Centeno, Ryder Jones, Tommy Joseph, Robinson Leyer, Nick Longhi, and Dan McGrath, among others.

The Taiwanese native had been with Boston for more than eight years after signing for just over $2 million as an international free agent in 2012.

Most recently, Lin had a tough go of things with the Sox this past season, as he posted an uninspiring .154/.182/.173 slash line to go along with two runs scored and three runs driven in while playing in 26 of a possible 60 games.

As was the case with infielder Marco Hernandez last year, it would not surprise me in the slightest if the Red Sox at least entertain the idea of a reunion with Lin at some point this winter if another club does not acquire his services first.

That is not to say Lin will have a bevy of suitors, but considering the fact he is a defense-first utilityman who can play all around the infield and outfield, one would think at least a handful of teams could be interested in signing him to a minor-league deal with an invite to major-league spring training. We will have to wait and see on that.

Red Sox Still Appear Interested in Acquiring Wil Myers, Prospects From Padres

Even after dealing Mookie Betts to the Dodgers last week, the Red Sox are still talking to the Padres about acquiring former All-Star outfielder Wil Myers, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee.

Per Acee, the Sox are also interested in Padres right-hander Cal Quantrill, in addition to top prospects Luis Campusano and Gabriel Arias, while San Diego is interested in offloading ‘about half’ of the $61 million owed to Myers over the next three seasons.

In initial trade talks revolving around Betts, it was reported that the Padres wanted Boston to assume more than half of Myers’ remaining salary due to the money San Diego would be taking on for the 2020 season.

Now, with Betts out of the equation, it seems as though Padres general manager A.J. Preller is more interested in ‘attaining the salary flexibility moving Myers would create.’

Because of that notion, any return the Pads would get in a potential trade with the Red Sox is ‘unclear’, according to Acee.

After shipping both Betts and left-hander David Price to Los Angeles, the Sox are a little more than $13 million below the $208 million luxury tax threshold, so they would be capable of assuming a portion of Myers’ 2020 salary without going over.

Speaking of that, the 29-year-old Myers is set to earn $20 million this coming season in the fourth year of the six-year, $83 million extension he signed with San Diego in 2017. But, since the average annual value of that deal comes out to about $13.8 million, that is the amount that will count towards the luxury tax in 2020.

Myers was coming off an All-Star season when he inked that extension with the Padres, but he has fallen off since, most recently slashing .239/.321/.418 with 18 home runs and 58 RBI over 155 games played in 2019.

The North Carolina native is capable of playing both first base and all three outfield positions, and he does have a history with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when the two were with the Rays.

If this deal were to happen, it would be interesting to see who Boston parts ways with. Jackie Bradley Jr. comes to mind when considering the signing of Kevin Pillar, but he is owed $11 million in his final year of team control before reaching free agency in the winter.

Anyway you put it, it looks like Bloom and Co. are in pursuit of pitching, which is a positive development given the current questions surrounding the Red Sox’ starting rotation.

Red Sox Reportedly in Agreement With Kevin Pillar on One-Year Deal

The Red Sox are reportedly in agreement with free-agent outfielder Kevin Pillar on a one-year deal in the $4 million range, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The completion of the deal is still pending a physical.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman had reported that the two sides were close to a major-league deal on Tuesday.

After officially dealing Mookie Betts to the Dodgers earlier this week, the Red Sox found themselves in need of a right-handed hitting outfeilder, as the club’s projected everyday outfield — Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Alex Verdugo — are all left-handed hitters.

Pillar fills that need in addition to providing exceptional defense in center field.

In 161 total games between the Blue Jays and Giants last year, the 31-year-old slashed .259/.287/.432 with a career-best 21 home runs and 88 RBI to go along with 14 stolen bases. He was non-tendered by San Francisco in early December.

One thing Pillar did exceptionally well last year was produce against left-handed pitching, as he posted an .823 OPS in 174 plate appearances against southpaws.

Compare that to Jackie Bradley Jr.’s struggles against left-handed pitching in 2019 (.640 OPS in 188 PAs), and the two could create quite the platoon for Boston in center field.

A native of California, Pillar was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn approximately $9.7 million in his final year of salary arbitration heading into the 2020 season.

The former Blue Jay owns a lifetime slash line of .307/.339/.380 with one career home run and 22 RBI at Fenway Park.

Red Sox Reach New Agreement With Dodgers to Send Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles

It took five days longer than expected, but the Red Sox and Dodgers have reportedly agreed to a trade that would send outfielder Mookie Betts and left-hander David Price to Los Angeles, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Going back to Tuesday night, the original deal that would have shipped Betts and Price to southern California involved a third team in the Twins. In this three-team swap, Los Angeles would have received Betts, Price, and cash considerations, Minnesota would have received right-hander Kenta Maeda, and Boston would have received outfielder Alex Verdugo and right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol.

Upon reviewing Graterol’s medical information though, the Sox became worried over how the 21-year-old flamethrower projected to be more of a reliever than a starter, and thus sought out additional compensation from the Twins.

Since parting ways with another top prospect really would not have been to their benefit, Minnesota ultimately decided to back out of the three-team trade on Saturday and now have their own deal in place with the Dodgers that would net them Maeda and cash considerations in exchange for Graterol and the 67th pick in this year’s amateur draft, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

So, with the Twins out of the picture, the Red Sox and Dodgers were able to work things out themselves without needing another third team to step in.

In this now-agreed-upon trade, Boston will be receiving Verdugo as initially anticipated, as well as 21-year-old infield prospect Jeter Downs and 23-year-old catching prospect Connor Wong from the Dodgers.

As already mentioned, Los Angeles will be receiving Betts, Price, and $48 million from the Sox, which were all part of the original agreement.

Betts, 27, is set to earn $27 million this coming season before becoming a free agent for the first time in the winter. Price, meanwhile, has three years and $96 million remaining on the seven-year, $217 million deal he signed with Boston back in December 2015. The Red Sox will be paying half of that remaining amount.

Turning to the return Chaim Bloom got in his first blockbuster trade as Boston’s chief baseball officer, Verdugo is a former top prospect in his own right.

The 23-year-old out of Arizona slashed .294/.342/.475 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI over 106 games for the Dodgers last year. He did not play a major-league game after August 4th due to a plethora of issues involving his lower back, core, and right oblique.

As for Downs, the 21-year-old was not part of the original deal but he will be heading to the Red Sox this time around.

Ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Downs, a former Competitive Balance Round A pick out of Miami, played in 119 games between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa last year.

In those contests, the native of Colombia slashed .276/.362/.526 with 24 home runs, 86 RBI, and 24 stolen bases while primarily playing shortstop.

Downs was named after former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, and he is the younger brother of current Red Sox minor-league outfielder Jerry Downs.

Finally, Wong was ranked as Los Angeles’ No. 28 prospect by MLB.com and, like Downs, was drafted by the Dodgers in 2017.

Playing in 111 games between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa in 2019, the Houston native posted a .281/.336/.541 slash line to go along with 24 home runs and 82 RBI.

This five-player trade is no longer pending medical reviews but nothing has been made official quite yet. All that is left is approval from Major League Baseball on the transfer of the $48 million going to the Dodgers, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

At the end of the day, it still stinks that the Red Sox are trading a player like Mookie Betts, a homegrown superstar who should spend his entire career wearing one uniform.

I understand that you can’t force Betts to sign a contract extension and you don’t want him to leave for nothing outside of a compensatory draft pick in the winter, but still, this stings.

It also stinks, although to a lesser extent, to lose David Price, because without him another hole opens in an already questionable Red Sox starting rotation.

Pitchers and catchers are set to report to Fenway South in Fort Myers on Tuesday. Looking forward to it!

Red Sox Reportedly Seeking Another Top Prospect From Twins in Blockbuster Trade That Would Send Mookie Betts and David Price to Dodgers

The Red Sox are reportedly still seeking a top prospect from the Minnesota Twins in addition to right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol in order to complete the three-team trade that would send Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

At this point in time, per Heyman, Minnesota has yet to budge from their original offer.

This news comes one day after it was reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that the Red Sox, upon reviewing his medical information, viewed Graterol more as a reliever than a future starter, leading to the club seeking additional compensation for parting ways with two of its marquee players.

As a result of this, any official movement between Boston, Los Angeles, and Minnesota has been at an impasse.

In the original trade proposal, the Sox would be receiving Graterol and outfielder Alex Verdugo, the Dodgers would be receiving Betts, Price, and cash considerations, and the Twins would be receiving right-hander Kenta Maeda.

Compared to the Red Sox and Dodgers, the Twins’ return in this scenario is minimal, so it is understandable why they would not want to throw in an additional top-10 prospect when it would not really benefit them.

Because Boston and Los Angeles appear to and should be motivated to complete this deal before pitchers and catchers report next week, there are a plethora of directions they could go with this.

First off, the Twins could remain on as the third team while the Dodgers throw in another prospect to satisfy the Sox’ needs. On the other hand, the Sox and Dodgers could either try and work out a trade themselves or find a completely different third team that would fill the gap left by the Twins.

Either way, this trade is still going to happen, probably. It just may not go down the way it was initially set up to.