Chaim Bloom on possibility of Red Sox making more additions before Opening Day: ‘There’s still some players out there that are of interest’

Even after making a slew of roster moves this offseason, the Red Sox are likely still not done making additions between now and Opening Day on April 1.

Outside of the Marwin Gonzalez signing being made official sometime in the near future, nothing in regards to a roster move for Boston is imminent at this point, but that is not going to stop the club from exploring opportunities to improve for the short- and l0ng-term.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much on Sunday when asked if this is the roster that will kick off the 2021 season.

“Outside of what you alluded to (Gonzalez), there’s nothing else pending,” Bloom said via a Zoom call with reporters. “But, we’re always going to be on the lookout. There’s still some players out there that are of interest. We’re going to keep staying in touch with them, keep monitoring them. You guys saw the other day, we made a waiver claim.”

On Thursday, the Sox claimed right-handed reliever John Schreiber off waivers from the Tigers while placing ace left-hander Chris Sale to the 60-day injured list.

It was a transaction that, on the surface, is reminiscent of when Boston claimed right-hander Phillps Valdez off waivers from the Mariners last February and placed the now-retired Dustin Pedroia on the 60-day injured list in a corresponding move.

Valdez, 29, seemingly came out of nowhere and wound up making quite the impact in his debut season with the Red Sox, posting a 3.26 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 24 relief appearances and 30 1/3 innings pitched in 2020.

Expecting Schreiber, 27 in March, to do the same with his new team this coming season might be a bit unfair, but it’s safe to assume that Boston is making these sorts of moves with the idea that the players they bring in can contribute to the cause.

“This is a time of year when sometimes there can be that kind of roster shuffling in other organizations,” Bloom added. “It’s a bit early in spring to start having a lot of those conversations with other clubs, but we just want to make sure that we’re active. That we have our finger on the pulse and that we don’t walk past anything that has a chance to help us.”

While it still may be too early in the spring to engage with teams on players who may or may not be available via trade, one area the Red Sox can turn to is the free-agent market. And one free-agent the team is still interested in is old friend Jackie Bradley Jr.

Despite coming off a 2020 campaign in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played, the 30-year-old client of Scott Boras remains unsigned with just weeks to go until the 2021 season begins. That might have something to do with his reported asking price as well as the limited number of suitors out there.

The Red Sox, even while adding the likes of Gonzalez, Franchy Cordero, Enrique Hernandez, and Hunter Renfroe to help bolster their outfield depth, have yet to rule out a reunion with Bradley Jr. — who spent the first eight seasons of his major-league career with Boston — to this point.

“We continue to stay in touch and make sure we’re in touch with Scott about his situation,” said Bloom in regards to Bradley Jr.’s free agency. “We’re going to do that until it resolves. Obviously, as the winter’s gone on, we haven’t let that prevent us from making other moves when we’ve seen opportunity to add good players that fit us and can bolster this roster. But, we love Jackie and we’ve stayed in touch with Scott on him throughout the entire winter.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora echoed this same sort of sentiment on Saturday when talking about Bradley Jr.’s current situation.

“We talk a lot, but we don’t talk baseball,” Cora said. “We don’t talk about his situation. I talk about Emerson and the baby and how they’re doing. He asks about my family, and we keep it at that. Obviously, he’s a good player. He’s a guy that can help any team at the big-league level to win ballgames. There’s more than just the manager and the player. There’s a relationship and I keep our conversations with that.”

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

Dustin Pedroia’s Red Sox career could be nearing its conclusion

Dustin Pedroia’s time on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster could be coming to an end relatively soon.

The 37-year-old second baseman was activated from the 60-day injured list along with five others late last month, which brought Boston’s 40-man roster up to 37 players.

Clubs have until this coming Friday, November 20, to protect Rule 5-eiligible minor-leaguers from this year’s Rule 5 Draft, or in other words, add them to their 40-man roster.

As currently constructed, the Sox have three open slots on their 40-man with upwards of 50 prospects in need of Rule-5 protection. Obviously, the math does not check out here, and the majority of those 50-plus minor-leaguers will be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft come December.

There are however a select handful of Red Sox prospects who will need to be protected, as they are regarded as some of the more promising young players in the club’s minor-league pipeline.

Left-hander Jay Groome, right-hander Bryan Mata, infielder Hudson Potts, outfielder Jeisson Rosario, right-hander Connor Seabold, and catcher Connor Wong are the six key prospects in this scenario.

Groome and Mata, both of whom signed with the Red Sox in 2016, are regarded by MLB Pipeline as the top two active pitching prospects in Boston’s farm system.

The other four — Potts, Rosario, Seabold, and Wong — have all been acquired by the Sox via trade(s) within the last 12 months, so it’s highly unlikely the club would want to risk losing any of them.

There could be other, lesser-known minor-leaguers the Sox consider worthy of a 40-man roster spot, as was the case with lefty Kyle Hart last year. But, for the sake of this exercise, let’s assume that the Red Sox have six players they would like to add to the 40-man with only three vacancies to work with.

This means that, in some capacity, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom will presumably look to reshuffle his team’s 40-man roster between now and Friday.

Players who are currently on the 40-man could either get traded, designated, or outrighted within the next five days, but those same players could also help another team if they wind up in the right situation.

There is plenty of risk involved in this process, but there is one route Bloom and Co. could take that could help mitigate that risk just a little bit. That being, take Pedroia, among others off the 40-man roster.

The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham reported last month that Pedroia and the Red Sox “are prepared to talk soon about a mutual understanding that would end his playing career.”

Though WEEI’s Rob Bradford later added on to that report by stating that “nothing” had yet to have been discussed between the two sides, a mutual agreement of some sorts here certainly makes sense from the Red Sox’ point of view.

Pedroia, a former MVP, has played in just nine total games over the last three seasons on account of issues with his left knee. He’s undergone three knee surgeries since 2017.

As he enters the final year of the eight-year, $110 million contract extension he signed with Boston back in 2013, it appears that the former second-round draft pick will be unable to play in 2021, or again, on account of how inactive he has been recently.

With that in mind, the Sox may look to reach some sort of settlement with Pedroia so that they can get out from some of the $12 million they owe him next year while also freeing up a 40-man roster spot for someone who can consistently contribute.

This is not exactly a fun scenario to consider, as Pedroia has proven to be one of the Red Sox’ undisputed leaders and all-time greats in his 15 or so years with the club, but it may be time to move on and have the four-time Gold Glover transition to a front office or coaching role within the organization, if possible.

Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran addressed this very issue in September, and he emphasized the notion that Pedroia will have a say in what the future holds for him as a Red Sox.

“I don’t think that any one particular roster spot is something I would focus on as a problem and certainly not when it’s Dustin Pedroia,” O’Halloran said. “We’re going to talk to Dustin and he’s obviously going to have the most say in where things go from here. No. 1 is making sure he’s as healthy as he can be for the rest of his life, really. And certainly we want to talk to him and see how he’s feeling and see where he wants to go from here.”

In short, Friday’s Rule 5 deadline will serve as a key indicator for where the Red Sox currently stand with Pedroia and the four-time All-Star’s status moving forward.

Other players are likely to get moved around, too, but Pedroia is without a doubt the most significant figure whose spot on Boston’s 40-man roster could be in jeopardy. We will have to wait and see what Bloom and Co. have in store.

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom Appears Confident Andrew Benintendi Can Bounce Back in 2021

On the night of August 11, it appeared as though Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi was on the verge of potentially turning his 2020 season around.

Entering the day with just two hits through his first 36 plate appearances of the year, the 26-year-old managed to double his hit total within the first three innings against the Rays that Tuesday with a pair of leadoff singles.

Fast forward to the eighth, and Benintendi again reached base after getting plunked by an Aaron Loup sinker.

An Alex Verdugo single to shallow left field moments later allowed Benintendi to advance to second base, but as the University of Arkansas product rounded the bag to take off for third, he subsequently slipped while on the run and wound up getting caught in a rundown.

As he made one last effort to reach third base, Benintendi slid head first before getting tagged out, but appeared to get up rather slowly after said out was recorded.

On August 12, the Cincinnati native was placed on the injured list after getting diagnosed with a right rib cage strain, which would wind up costing him the rest of the season.

“It’s frustrating,” Benintendi said at the time he was placed on the IL. “I got a few hits. I was feeling good. Felt like I was about to get hot, so, I mean, I’m frustrated.”

With his 2020 season prematurely coming to a close, Benintendi has now seen his on-field performance continue to decline going back to the start of the 2019 campaign.

In his first full two seasons with Boston, the 2015 first-round draft pick got on base 36% of the time while posting an OPS+ of 113 over a 299-game span that saw him nearly win American League Rookie of the Year and become a first-time All-Star.

Since then, though, as previously mentioned, Benintendi has been rather underwhelming, as he slashed .266/.343/.431 with 13 home runs and 68 RBI in 138 games played last year before running into the buzz saw that was 2020.

Still, even as he trends ever so slightly in the wrong direction two years out from free agency, Benintendi is still viewed as a plus-player in the eyes of the Red Sox front office. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom made that much clear when speaking with reporters via Zoom on Tuesday.

“I think talent-wise, I wouldn’t factor this year into an evaluation of his talent at all,” Bloom said of Benintendi’s prospects. “I mean, this guy has great all-around ability. It’s just unfortunate how the year started. He actually looked great at Summer Camp, and then for whatever reason the season opened and he wasn’t operating on all cylinders. He had a couple bad weeks and then got hurt, so I wouldn’t let that change anyone’s mind.

“I thought he looked great coming in both in spring training and Summer Camp,” Bloom continued. “This is a guy who has shown the ability to perform at a really high level, including in some really critical situations. Still young, still has all that ability. It’s just a shame that his year kind of got wiped out.”

As he continues to recover from that rib cage strain, Benintendi is expected to undergo a typical offseason where he will not be limited in his activities.

“He’s not full-go at this moment if we were still playing,” said Bloom. “That shouldn’t be a surprise. But, substantively, his offseason should be pretty normal.”

From there, depending on what Bloom and Co. do between now and February, Benintendi should be in line to be a prime bounce-back candidate in 2021, especially with the potential he still brings to the table.

Red Sox Right-Hander Nathan Eovaldi Placed on Injured List Due To Mild Calf Strain

Before taking on the Nationals on Saturday, the Red Sox placed right-hander Nathan Eovaldi on the 10-day injured list retroactive to August 26 and recalled right-hander Chris Mazza from the alternate training site, manager Ron Roenicke announced.

Eovaldi was originally slated to start against Washington on Sunday, but Roenicke said Friday that the 30-year-old hurler would not be ready in time due to a right calf cramp suffered in Baltimore last weekend.

As it turns out, an MRI on Eovaldi’s calf revealed a mild strain, hence the move to place him on the IL Saturday.

“We feel like, to do it right, we want him to throw two bullpens before he pitches,” Roenicke said of Eovaldi’s status going forward. “He’ll be eligible [to return] Saturday. He’ll throw a bullpen tomorrow. He’ll throw an up-and-down bullpen Wednesday to try and make sure we don’t spike too much after his layoff, and then he’ll be eligible to pitch in Saturday’s game.”

That start on Saturday, September 5, would come against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

Prior to straining his calf, Eovaldi had posted a 4.98 ERA and 4.58 FIP through his first six starts and 34 1/3 innings pitched of the season. Other than lefty Martin Perez, the Houson native is just about the only starter the Red Sox can rely on to make it through at least five innings when he takes the mound. And even if he is only out for another week, the reliability that Eovaldi provides will surely be missed in the meantime.

“We’ve been kind of chasing this thing around with the calf,” Roenicke continued. “Yesterday’s bullpen was definitely the best we’ve had. I kind of felt like it was going to be a while anyway, being able to back-date it and have a plan for him, we feel really good about him being ready on Saturday. Even though we know we’re losing him, I know now with the MRI that it’s nothing serious and that we can get back on the mound and have him pitch games again. You always wonder what’s going on and how long is this going to last? We feel pretty good about what it is and when he’ll be back.”

With Eovaldi sidelined, Mazza will start against the Nationals on Saturday night, while right-hander Zack Godley will do the same on Sunday afternoon to close this three-game weekend series out.

Red Sox Activate Darwinzon Herndandez From COVID-19 Related Injured List, Designate Christian Arroyo for Assignment

Before taking on the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, the Red Sox made yet another roster move, activating left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez from the 10-day COVID-19 related injured list and designating infielder Christian Arroyo for assignment.

Hernandez, 23, had been on the injured list since July 14 after testing positive for COVID-19 while at home in Venezuela.

Upon recovering from the virus, the southpaw reported to Fenway Park late last month for Summer Camp workouts and was subsequently shuttled down to the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket to continue to build up his stamina.

While in Pawtucket, Hernandez had been getting stretched out and most recently worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings in an intrasquad game this past Sunday.

Per Sox manager Ron Roenicke, Hernandez will likely be used as a bulk-inning reliever first before a potential move to the starting rotation is made towards the later stages of the 2020 season.

Because Hernandez was not counted towards Boston’s 40-man roster while he was on the IL, the Red Sox needed to clear a roster spot in order to activate the young hurler, hence the move, albeit a surprising one, to designate Arroyo.

Arroyo, who was claimed off waivers from the Indians last Thursday, was activated from the COVID-19 related injured list himself on Wednesday and appeared as if he would make his Red Sox debut in this series against the Orioles.

That outlook has since changed though, and I would have to imagine the Sox would like to see the 25-year-old former top prospect slip through waivers. If not, Arroyo’s tenure with the Red Sox was certainly a short one.

With this transaction made, the Sox’ 60-man player pool is now at 59, so the club has one open slot to work with there. Pretty solid breakdown from The Providence Journal’s Bill Koch on that matter here:

Red Sox Left-Hander Josh Taylor ‘Ready To Go’ After Getting Activated From COVID-19 Related Injured List

Going into the year, Josh Taylor would have never thought that he would be making his 2020 debut in the middle of August.

But, his testing positive for COVID-19 resulted in him being sidelined for about six weeks before he was finally  activated from the injured list prior to Monday’s game against the Yankees.

When speaking with reporters for the first time in a while on Monday, the left-hander admitted that he really did not know what to expect upon getting that positive test result back in the beginning of July.

“I was asymptomatic, so I had no idea [the test] would come back positive,” Taylor said. “I kept looking back and maybe I got it at a grocery store or something. I have no clue. I had two long weeks of sitting in a hotel room to figure it out and nothing really comes to mind.”

In Taylor’s absence, the Red Sox pitching staff endured their fair of struggles, which is something the 27-year-old may have helped with considering he posted a 3.11 ERA and .638 OPS against in 52 appearances out of the Boston bullpen as a rookie last year.

That possibility did not sit too well for Taylor while he was in self-isolation and watching his team getting off to a dreadful 6-16 start to the season.

“It sucks sitting in my hotel room and watching the game on TV,” he continued. “Seeing an inning go bad and saying ‘I could have been there to at least try to help limit the damage or get us through the inning.’ It’s tough, but I’m just happy I’m here know and can help the team contribute and hopefully we can turn things around.

Despite how much it must have gotten on Taylor to to be in that situation, he was at least able to stay in relatively good shape by using what was available to him in his room. That being his own laundry.

“I was throwing a ball into a sock, really,” the southpaw said of his self-isolation routine. “You tape a sock to your hand and throw [the ball] into the sock. That’s about as good as you get.”

Fortunately, Taylor can move on from that and look forward to appearing in a real game for the first time since last September. He is indeed ready for that to happen, as you may expect.

“I haven’t been put in a real-game scenario, but I definitely feel like I’m ready to go,” the Arizona native said. “I feel like my arm should be where it was last year and I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to go out and compete at the level I did last year.”

It’s been a frustrating last few weeks for Taylor, but he’s back in the majors and ready to build off what he accomplished in 2019, shortened season and all.

 

Red Sox’ Andrew Benintendi Could Miss Significant Amount of Time While Recovering From Rib Cage Strain

Before Wednesday’s eventual 9-5 loss to the Rays, the Red Sox placed outfielder Andrew Benintendi on the 10-day injured list due to a right rib cage strain.

At the time that move was announced, Sox manager Ron Roenicke appeared hopeful that Benintendi would only be out the minimum 10 days. But, after further testing, it seems more likely now that the 26-year-old could miss a significant amount of time.

“He did strain it so he’s going to be a while,” Roenicke said of Benintendi’s injury during his postgame media availability on Wednesday night. “It will probably be more than that 10 days that we talked about.”

Prior to straining his rib cage after tripping and falling down while rounding second base in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s loss to Tampa Bay, Benintendi had put together his best game of the season at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a pair of singles. It seemed like that could have gotten the slumping outfielder going offensively, but he will now have to wait a while to get back on the field.

“This is really unfortunate that it happened,” Roenicke said earlier Wednesday. “what [Benintendi] did yesterday could [have gotten] him going. So I think it’s a tough break and hopefully that he’s not out too long to where he loses that feeling of his swing that he’s been working so hard on.”

In the meantime, Alex Verdugo, Kevin Pillar, J.D. Martinez, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Jose Peraza could all see an uptick in playing time patrolling the outfield while Benintendi is on the mend.

Through the club’s first 18 games this season, Red Sox outfielders rank 25th in baseball in collective OPS (.650) and 25th in collective wRC+ (80).

Red Sox Place Andrew Benintendi on Injured List Due to Rib Cage Strain, Recall Ryan Weber From Pawtucket

Prior to taking on the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, the Red Sox have placed outfielder Andrew Benintendi on the 10-day injured list due to a right rib cage strain and in a corresponding move recalled right-hander Ryan Weber from the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket.

Per Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke, Benintendi suffered the strain when he tripped and fell down after rounding second base in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s loss to Tampa Bay.

The hope is that the 26-year-old will only miss the minimum 10 days on the shelf while J.D. Martinez and Jose Peraza will play more outfield in his place. In the meantime, Alex Verdugo will see the majority of his playing time come in left field and Kevin Pillar will see the majority of his come in right.

Prior to straining the right side of his rib cage on Tuesday night, Benintendi had put together his first two-hit game of the 2020 season, so this news comes at a less than ideal time for the struggling outfielder.

“I think it’s a tough break,” Roenicke said of Benintendi being placed on the injured list. “Hopefully he’s not out too long where he loses that feeling of his swing that he’s been working on.”

As for the guy who will be called up in Benintendi’s place, Ryan Weber is back with the big-league club just four days after he was optioned to the alternate training site.

The 30-year-old hurler struggled as the Sox’ No. 3 starter to begin the season, posting a 9.90 ERA over his first three starts. He will be available to pitch in relief of Zack Godley on Wednesday and would otherwise be a “full go” to pitch in relief of Kyle Hart in Thursday’s series finale against Tampa Bay.

With this transaction made, the Red Sox now have 15 pitchers and 13 position players on their active roster. Expect another move to be made on Thursday in lieu of Hart needing to be added before making his first career major-league start.

Red Sox’ Brian Johnson Reportedly Leaves Club’s Alternate Training Site in Pawtucket for Undisclosed Reason

Red Sox left-hander Brian Johnson has left the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket to return home to Florida, according to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Per Smith, the reason Johnson departed from Pawtucket is not yet known, but the “speculation is he could opt out of the rest of the 2020 season.”

The 29-year-old hurler was originally added to Boston’s 60-man player pool last month as a non-roster invitee and most recently worked 5 1/3 one-run innings in a simulated game at McCoy Stadium this past Friday.

This all comes as Johnson, who was outrighted to Pawtucket last November after clearing waivers, looked like a legitimate candidate to start once again for the Red Sox seeing how the club’s starting rotation is not in the best of shape.

Of course, the Florida native would have had to been added back to Boston’s 40-man roster in order to make that happen, but that now appears unlikely at least for the time being given this recent news.

Last year, Johnson missed significant time on the injured list due to left elbow inflammation and a non-baseball related medical matter. He’s also been very open about his past battles with depression and anxiety. I’m not trying to speculate on anything by bringing that up, but given this report, I sincerely hope Johnson is in a good place right now. That’s it.

 

Red Sox Top Prospect Bobby Dalbec Joins Club’s Taxi Squad in Tampa Bay for Series Against Rays

Top prospect Bobby Dalbec has joined the Red Sox for the final leg of their seven-game road trip in Tampa Bay this week, although the 25-year-old will be part of the club’s taxi squad, not their active roster, according to ABC6’s Ian Steele and The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

This news comes as Dalbec was not present at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket on Monday, as he was likely on a flight to St. Petersburg instead.

Regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 3 prospect, the 6-foot-4, 227 lb. corner infielder was cleared to return to baseball activities last month after a bout with COVID-19 in which he never experienced any symptoms. He was added to the Sox’ 60-man player pool on July 17 and unlike Darwinzon Hernandez, Eduardo Rodriguez, or Josh Taylor, avoided a stint on the injured list.

Originally taken by the Sox in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of The University of Arizona, Dalbec, a native of Washington state, has emerged as one of the top power-hitting prospects in the organization. Just last season, he slugged 27 home runs in 135 total games between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Already a member of Boston’s 40-man roster, Dalbec will not accrue any service time while he is “up” with the club’s taxi squad, but as was the case last September, the right-handed hitter will be able to familiarize himself with the big-league environment once more.

He’ll have to wait a little bit longer to make his major-league debut, but I would have to think Dalbec’s time is coming relatively soon.