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)

Red Sox free agency rumors: Jackie Bradley Jr. seeking ‘significant contract, perhaps beyond four years,’ per report

Potential Red Sox free-agent target Jackie Bradley Jr. remains unsigned as major-league camps in Arizona and Florida are set to begin in just a matter of weeks.

There have not been too many recent rumblings as to where Bradley Jr. could land, but on Wednesday evening, The New York Post’s Mike Puma reported that the 30-year-old outfielder “has been seeking a significant contract, perhaps beyond four years.”

Bradley Jr., who turns 31 in April, is a client of super-agent Scott Boras.

The one-time All-Star and one-time Gold Glove award winner is coming off a 2020 campaign in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played (217 plate appearances) for the Sox.

Boston has expressed interest in a reunion with Bradley Jr. since the closing stages of last season, but the two sides do not appear to be anywhere close to an agreement on a new contract at the moment.

“As far as Jackie, as it’s been all offseason, we continue to stay in touch with him,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters late last month. “We have been this entire time. And I expect we’ll continue to until his free agency resolves.”

Although it’s out there that Bradley Jr. may be seeking a four-plus year deal from interested clubs, it would be interested to see how much he is looking for in terms of average annual value.

The former first-round draft selection may be the top centerfielder on the open market now that George Springer has signed with the Blue Jays, but the fact of the matter is that Bradley Jr., while superb in the outfield, has proven to be inconsistent at the plate over the course of eight-year major-league career.

With that in mind, it seems unlikely that a team such as the Mets would be willing to invest that much in a practically defense-first outfielder who is now on the other side of 30, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors’ Jeff Todd.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, are inching towards towards the $210 million luxury tax threshold with their 2021 payroll following the signings of Enrique Hernandez and Garrett Richards being made official, so they would probably prefer to avoid that much of an investment as well.

Given those circumstances, Boston could stand put and roll with an everyday outfield of Andrew Benintendi in left, Alex Verdugo in center, and Hunter Renfroe in right to open the 2021 season if they so choose.

Jarren Duran, one of the club’s top outfield prospects, also appears to be on the cusp of getting big-league consideration sometime this summer.

The 24-year-old, who played winter ball for Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League, is currently representing Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series.

If not Verdugo or Duran, the Red Sox could look at other free-agents still available who have experience playing center field, such as Jake Marisnick and old friend Kevin Pillar.

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

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Pitcher List’s Sarah Griffin joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Pitcher List writer Sarah Griffin.

Among the topics Sarah and I discussed were her ascension into sports journalism and Baseball Twitter, her thoughts on the Red Sox’ offseason and other moves Chaim Bloom has made/might make, predictions for 2021, and much more.

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Sarah for taking some time out of her day to have this conversation with me. You can follow her on Twitter by clicking here and check out her work on Pitcher List by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Fenway Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Alex Cora adapting to different approach regarding roster construction in second stint as Red Sox manager

In two stints as manager of the Red Sox dating back to November 2017, Alex Cora has worked under two heads of baseball operations in Dave Dombrowski, who first hired him, and Chaim Bloom, who re-hired him.

With nearly three decades separating them in terms of age, it’s safe to say that Dombrowski — 64, formerly Boston’s president of baseball operations — and Bloom — 37, currently Boston’s chief baseball officer — operate using different approaches when it comes to building up a major-league roster.

Cora, having been in the game for quite a while himself in a variety of roles, has seen these differences in style between Dombrowski and Bloom up close and personal.

He said as much when speaking with NESN’s Tom Caron and Jerry Remy on the most recent installment of The TC & Jerry Podcast.

“I saw it at the end of 2019 at the winter meetings in San Diego,” Cora said. “Just talking to [Bloom] and the way he does his thing with the other teams is a lot different. I loved working with Dave. It was fun. I still remember my first meeting him at the winter meetings in Orlando (2017), and we had this board and there were certain names. There was actually two on top, it was J.D. [Martinez] and Mitch [Moreland], and we got them. It was like, ‘We’re getting these guys. We’re going to get them.’ It took a little while with J.D., but right away we got Mitch and then we got J.D.”

Moreland ultimately re-upped with Boston on a two-year, $13 million deal in December 2017, while Martinez waited until February 2018 to ink a five-year, $110 million contract with what was then his new club.

The pair of veterans went on to have All-Star seasons in 2018 in addition to playing crucial roles in the Red Sox’ historic World Series run that October.

Under Bloom, the Sox have yet to make a free-agent splash on par with what Martinez got three springs ago, though Moreland re-signed with Boston once more on a one-year pact last January.

“With Chaim, we’re in a different stage in the organization. We are,” Cora continued. “I don’t agree with the whole thing about not competing, what people think, or what they’re saying. We’re going to have a good team, a good baseball team. We’re not a bunch of superstars, but we have a good baseball team.

What he’s creating is a deeper roster, a better minor-league system,” said the Sox skipper. “He does his homework and that’s great. I’m learning a lot from him from that end. You guys know me, I can be patient but at the same time, I like action. But, I understand where we’re at. I know what he’s doing.”

In the past week alone, Bloom and Co. have made significant additions to the Red Sox’ 2021 Opening Day roster, acquiring right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino from the Yankees while signing right-hander Garrett Richards and utilityman Enrique Hernandez to one and two-year major-league contracts, respectively.

Left-hander Martin Perez also reportedly agreed to a one-year deal that includes a club option for 2022 to return to Boston earlier this month.

“If you’re a Red Sox fan or you’re a fan of Chaim Bloom, or whatever, you look from afar, and you’re like, ‘Oh, you know what, this is kind of interesting what he’s doing now,'” said Cora. “A few weeks ago, it was like, ‘Oh, whatever. They’re too slow. They’re not doing it.’ But now, it’s intriguing what we’re doing. And I guarantee you guys that the puzzle is going to be a good one. I believe that and I trust Chaim and I’m looking forward to keep on working with him for a lot of years.”

Cora, 45, signed a two-year contract to return to his post as Red Sox manager back in November. The deal also includes a two-year club option for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, per a team release.

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

Red Sox ‘have had some talks’ with free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland about potential reunion, per report

The Red Sox have ‘had some talks’ with free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland about a potential reunion, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Cotillo reported over the weekend that the Sox would like to add ‘a left-handed hitting bench bat’ to complement the right-handed hitting Bobby Dalbec at first base.

Moreland, a left-handed hitter, obviously fits that mold.

The 35-year-old spent 3 1/2 seasons with Boston — signing three separate contracts with the club — from 2017 until August 2020, at which point he was dealt to the San Diego Padres.

Moreland was having a superb year up until that trade, posting a .328/.430/.746 slash line to go along with eight home runs and 21 RBI over 20 games and 73 plate appearances.

That level of production decreased significantly upon Moreland’s arrival in San Diego, but you can make the argument that the Red Sox benefitted immensely from jettisoning one of their hottest players at the plate.

For one, trading Moreland opened up a spot for Dalbec to get called up regularly play first base for the remainder of the 2020 campaign. The 25-year-old rookie went on to crush eight homers himself while collecting 16 RBI in just 23 games (92 PAs) in his first go-around in the majors.

Second, in return for Moreland, Boston received infield prospect Hudson Potts and outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario from San Diego. The two minor-leaguers are currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as top-20 prospects within the Sox’ farm system after both were added to the club’s 40-man roster in November.

Moreland, meanwhile, struggled in his new role with the Padres, as previously mentioned. And even though he did not perform at the highest of levels, it still came as somewhat of a surprise to see the Friars decline the former All-Star’s $3 million club option for the 2021 season this past fall.

So, the Red Sox got two of their better prospects in exchange for a few weeks of Moreland’s services. Not too shabby.

Now that Moreland is once again a free-agent and still remains unsigned, though, a reunion between the two sides certainly seems palpable.

The Gold Glove-caliber first baseman was revered as a clubhouse leader in his time with Boston who was more than capable of coming up in clutch spots when needed.

At this stage of his career, Moreland likely is not looking to be an everyday player, and could even be willing to take a backseat to someone like Dalbec while also DH’ing and coming off the bench in pinch-hitting situations.

If the two were to form some sort of platoon, Moreland does own a lifetime .256/.325/.469 slash line against right-handed pitching.

It also doesn’t hurt that, even before these rumors emerged, the Mississippi State product talked to fellow former Bulldog Hunter Renfroe about what it was like to play in Boston before the newest Red Sox outfielder signed with the club in December.

At the end of the day, whether Moreland returns to the Sox is presumably dependent on A. what his market looks like and B. how the Red Sox front office views him.

Moreland was one of the first free-agents Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom signed to a major-league contract, so there is a connection there.

Moreland’s bond with Red Sox manager Alex Cora cannot be forgotten about, either.

Then again, as Cotillo tweeted, other options — such as Brad Miller and Marwin Gonzalez — are in the mix as well.

(Picture of Mitch Moreland: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino, right-handed pitching prospect Frank German from Yankees in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later

The trade is now official. The Red Sox will be parting ways with a player to be named later or cash considerations in exchange for Ottavino and German.

The Red Sox have acquired right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino and right-handed pitching prospect Frank German from the New York Yankees, according to The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.

This deal marks the first time the division rivals have made a trade with one another since 2014.

Ottavino, 35, is entering the final year of the three-year, $27 million contract he signed with the Yankees in January 2019.

The Brooklyn native is slated to earn $8 million in 2021, but for luxury tax purposes, his salary is essentially $9 million.

Adding on to that, Ottavino’s deal with New York includes a deferred $3 million signing bonus that that will be paid out in 2022, so the Red Sox will be on the hook for $11 million when it comes to the right-hander’s salary minus the $850,000 being covered by the Yankees, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

For a trade involving only two players, the terms are quite confusing. So, for clarity’s sake, here’s the full deal, courtesy of MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

As previously mentioned, Ottavino is slated to become a free agent at the end of the 2021 season.

The former first-round draft pick is coming off a 2020 campaign with New York in which he posted a 5.89 ERA but a much more respectable 3.52 FIP over 24 appearances and 18 1/3 innings pitched out of the Yankees bullpen.

Half of the 12 earned runs Ottavino surrendered last year came in a six-run blow-up against the Blue Jays on September 7 in which he failed to record a single out. If you take that one outing away, Ottavino’s ERA on the season drops to 2.98.

An alumnus of Northeastern University in Boston, Ottavino was once interested in joining the Red Sox as a free-agent going into the 2019 season. They, however, were not interested in allocating significant financial recourses to a singular reliever at that time.

“I think initially, I did expect [Boston] to be in on relief pitching prior to the offseason,” Ottavino said in March 2019. “Once it got going and you just saw their level of involvement, then I kind of felt like they were not trying to spend any money and stay where they were financially. As it kept going, I just started realizing that was more the case.”

Ottavino, after signing a three-year deal with New York that January, would go on to have a superb debut season with the Yankees, putting up a miniscule 1.90 ERA over 73 appearances spanning 66 1/3 innings of work.

Working primarily with a slider, a sinker, cutter, changeup, and four-seam fastball, Ottavino will look to regain that old form with his new club and figures to be used in late-inning situations alongside the likes of Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor.

As for the other player the Red Sox acquired in this deal, German was originally selected by New York in the fourth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of North Florida.

The 23-year-old right-hander was regarded by MLB Pipeline as the Yanks’ No. 24 prospect.

Last time he saw any organized minor-league action, German — aside from two rehab stints in the Gulf Coast League — posted a 3.79 ERA and 3.56 xFIP in 16 appearances (15 starts) and 76 innings pitched with High-A Tampa in 2019.

German was not included in the Yankees’ 60-man player pool last season.

With the reported addition of Ottavino, the Red Sox now have four players (Ottavino, Enrique Hernandez, Garrett Richards, Martin Perez) who will need to be added to the club’s 40-man roster in the coming days.

Since this trade is now official (see top tweet from the Red Sox’ offical Twitter account), Boston’s 40-man roster is currently at full capacity as Ottavino takes C.J. Chatham’s spot.

That said, the Sox will have to clear three 40-man spots to make room for Hernandez, Richards, and Perez. Stay tuned for those moves.

(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox would like to address bench depth by adding left-handed hitter, per report

While the Red Sox continue to fill out their major-league roster, one area of concern they would like to address between now and Opening Day is bench depth, or more specifically, adding a left-handed hitter who could come off the bench, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Per Cotillo, it would be ideal if this left-handed bat could complement the right-handed hitting Bobby Dalbec at first base. Among the free-agents who could do this, Cotillo notes that Marwin Gonzalez, Brad Miller, and old friend Mitch Moreland stand out above the rest.

Gonzalez, a switch-hitter, spent the 2020 season with the Twins and played 23 games at third base, 21 games at second base, nine games at first base, and eight games in right field.

When facing right-handed pitching as a left-handed hitter last year, the 31-year-old slashed .209/.295/.357 to go along with five home runs and 16 RBI over 132 plate appearances.

For his career, which spans nine seasons, Gonzalez is a lifetime .261/.321/.411 hitter off of right-handers when hitting from the left side of the batter’s box.

Cotillo linked the Venezuelan-born utilityman to the Sox earlier this month, citing that Boston ‘was in’ on Gonzalez. One reason for this is likely because of the relationship Gonzalez has with Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who served as the versatile veteran’s bench coach for the Houston Astros in 2017.

Miller, meanwhile, hits strictly from the left side of the plate and is also capable of playing several defensive positions.

Last year with the Cardinals, the 31-year-old played every infield position besides first base, which he has done in the past.

In 48 games (171 plate appearances) with St. Louis, Miller posted a solid .807 OPS while clubbing seven homers and 25 RBI.

Narrowing that down to what he did against right-handed pitching — when he got most of his playing time — in 2020, the Orlando native proved to be quite effective by posting a .240/.364/.464 slash line. Six of his seven home runs on the year came against righties.

Over the course of his eight-year big-league career, Miller owns a lifetime wRC+ of 111 off of right-handed pitching, which pales in comparison to his lifetime wRC+ of 84 off of left-handed pitching.

Unlike Gonzalez, Miller does not have a connection to Cora, but he does have one to Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

That being the case because the former Clemson Tiger spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Rays from 2016 until June 2018, so it’s likely he and Bloom got to know each other a little bit during their time together in Tampa.

On Friday night, Cotillo tweeted that Miller was a guy the Red Sox “are looking at,” so there’s that.

Finally, we arrive at someone who has a connection to both Bloom and Cora in Moreland, who spent 3 1/2 seasons with the Sox on three separate contracts before being dealt to the Padres in late August.

That trade turned out to be a win for Bloom and Co., as they received prospects Hudson Potts and Jeisson Rosario in exchange for Moreland while San Diego declined the 35-year-old’s club option for 2021 in early November.

The move also cleared up a spot for Dalbec to get the call up from the alternate training site and make his major-league debut. It’s safe to say the 25-year-old made the most of that opportunity.

Before said three-player trade went down, Moreland was on an absolute tear to kick off his 2020 campaign in Boston after re-signing with the club in January.

Over the course of 22 games, the Mississippi native slashed a robust .328/.430/.746 in addition to clobbering eight homers and driving in 21 RBI in just 79 plate appearances.

Moreland’s playing time decreased when he arrived in San Diego, as did his on-field performance, but the former All-Star could still prove to be a valuable, veteran addition to the Red Sox if he were willing to embrace a bench role and maybe even mentor Dalbec.

While being limited to just first base, designated hitter, and pinch-hit duties, the left-handed hitting Moreland does carry with him a career OPS of .794 against right-handed pitching.

He was also one of Bloom’s first free-agent signings as Boston’s CBO last January and is lauded as an impact leader and veteran presence by Red Sox players and coaches — Cora included — alike.

Last week, Cotillo wrote that a reunion between Moreland and the Sox cannot be ruled out at this point, so that is also something to monitor.

At the end of the day, it would appear that while the Red Sox may be ready to make Dalbec their everyday first baseman, they do not want to put too much on his plate to at least start off the 2021 campaign.

The power-hitting prospect did well against both lefties and righties in his first go-around in the majors last September, but there remains a a possibility that Boston would like to see him play some third base (his natural position) in addition to first base as well.

In that scenario, if there was a game where the Red Sox wanted to sit Rafael Devers for whatever reason, they could slide Dalbec over to third while Moreland, Miller, Gonzalez, or another free-agent/in-house candidate could man first base in his place.

That is all just speculation, though. We will just have to wait and see what Bloom and Co. actually have in mind for Boston’s infield plans moving forward.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)