Red Sox Make Second Round of Spring Roster Cuts

Four days after making their first round of spring roster cuts, the Red Sox cut 15 more players before taking on the Minnesota Twins earlier Sunday.

Out of those 15 players, eight were reassigned to minor-league camp, five were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, one was optioned to Double-A Portland, and one was optioned to High-A Salem.

The players who were reassigned to minor-league camp were cathcer Roldani Baldwin, catcher/infielder Connor Wong, infielder Jeter Downs, first baseman Josh Ockimey, right-handed pitchers R.J. Alvarez, Trevor Hildenberger, and Tanner Houck, and left-handed pitcher Mike Kickham.

The players optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket were infielders Bobby Dalbec and C.J. Chatham, right-handers Mike Shawaryn and Phillips Valdez, and left-hander Kyle Hart.

Outfielder Marcus Wilson was the lone player optioned to Double-A Portland, while right-hander Yoan Aybar was the lone player optioned to High-A Salem.

In total, seven players — Aybar, Chatham, Dalbec, Hart, Shawaryn, Valdez, Wilson — on Boston’s 40-man roster were cut from big-league camp on Sunday.

Out of the 14 non-roster invites still in major-league camp, the most notable are Brian Johnson, Jonathan Lucroy, Marco Hernandez, and Jarren Duran. Take away Duran and the other three are certainly vying for positions on Boston’s 26-man roster to open the season.

Some thoughts:

Seeing the two prospects the Red Sox acquired in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade get cut is not much of a surprise, but it is a bit surprising seeing names like Kyle Hart, Tanner Houck, and Mike Shawaryn be cut at this point in time.

At least in my mind, I thought Hart and Houck were candidates to fill the two vacant spots in the Sox’ starting rotation, while Shawaryn was competing for a bullpen role. Instead of beginning the year in the majors though, it looks like the trio of hurlers will start with the PawSox.

Guys like Chatham and Dalbec probably had an outside chance of making Boston’s Opening Day roster before Sunday, but if we do see them in the majors this season, it will have to come at a later date.

On a final note, I’m looking forward to seeing what Marcus Wilson does in his first full year in the Red Sox organization.

 

 

Bryan Mata Hurls Two Scoreless Innings, Jonathan Arauz Homers as Red Sox Fall to Phillies

After powering themselves to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday, the Red Sox fell to 3-3-1 on Grapefruit League action on Thursday following a 12-5 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies at JetBlue Park.

Making his first start and second appearance of the spring was Bryan Mata, who is now ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 4 prospect in the Sox’ system headed into the 2020 season.

Working the first two innings Thursday, the 20-year-old right-hander kept the Phillies off the scoreboard while scattering two hits and one walk to go along with a pair of strikeouts on the afternoon. Those two punchouts came against the final two hitters he faced in the second.

In relief of Mata, Chris Mazza got hit hard for three runs on a two-run home run and RBI double in the third, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez allowed one run on two hits and a sacrifice fly in the fourth, newcomer Phillips Valdez fanned two in an impressive, scoreless fifth, Bobby Poyner yielded a two-run homer to Delvy Grullon in the sixth, Daniel McGrath surrendered one run on three singles and a walk in the seventh, R.J. Alvarez allowed six of the nine hitters he faced in the eighth to reach base, resulting in four more Phillies runs, Eduard Bazardo yielded another run while only being able to record the first out of the ninth, and Matthew Kent wrapped things up by retiring the only two hitters he faced.

All in all, Red Sox pitching on Thursday combined to give up 12 runs on 20(!) hits and six walks. It’s still only late February, but I would not call those numbers ideal.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup that featured Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland, Christian Vazquez, Kevin Pillar, Tzu-Wei Lin, Bobby Dalbec, and Jonathan Arauz was matched up against Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta to begin things in this one.

Moreland got the scoring started for Boston in the bottom half of the third, driving in Benintendi, who had walked, from second with two outs on an RBI single through the right side of the infield off new reliever Seth McGarry to make it a 3-1 contest.

An inning later, back-to-back one-out knocks from Lin and Dalbec against reliever Cole Irvin brought Arauz to the plate with runners at second and third.

Arauz took full advantage of the scoring opportunity on the third pitch he saw from Irvin, as the 21-year-old laced a three-run homer over the wall in left field to pull his team back even with Philadelphia at four runs apiece.

Fast forward all the way to the seventh though, and the Phillies had jumped out to a three-run advantage at 7-4. Marcus Wilson reached base on a one-out single off Deolis Guerra, advanced to second on a Jonathan Lucroy two-out double, and scored on a wild pitch with Tommy Joseph at the plate.

That mishap brought the Sox back to within two runs, but the Phillies again jumped out to another commanding lead to eventually take this Grapefruit League contest by a final score of 12-5.

Some observations from this loss:

This game was not televised, but I do believe that it is important to note that Andrew Benintendi went 1-for-1 with a single, walk, and run scored out of the leadoff spot, and as I just mentioned, Jonathan Lucroy came off the bench in the seventh and ripped a double to left. He also struck out in the ninth.

Not that it means much this early in the year, but Jeter Downs, the team’s new top prospect according to MLB Pipleine, did commit another fielding error at second base in the sixth inning.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll head down the road to Hammond Stadium to take on the Twins on Friday afternoon.

Left-hander Kyle Hart will get the start for Boston, while veteran right-hander Homer Bailey will do the same for Minnesota.

Hart is one of several hurlers competing for a spot in the Sox’ starting rotation, and there may even be two openings now that Chris Sale will start the season on the injured list.

The 27-year-old left plenty to be desired in his most recent outing against the Twins on Monday, as he surrendered three runs on three hits and a walk in the third inning of an eventual 3-2 loss.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EST. This game will not be televised.

 

 

Red Sox Top Northeastern 3-0 in Spring Training Opener

For the first time since September 29th, 2019, the Boston Red Sox have won a baseball game, as they opened up exhibition play on Friday afternoon with a 3-0 victory over the Northeastern Huskies in a seven-inning contest.

The plan for the Sox was to use one pitcher per inning on Friday, and that’s exactly what they stuck to.

25-year-old Australian left-hander Daniel McGrath got things started by walking the first two hitters he faced, but settled down with the help of his catcher Connor Wong in addition to striking out a pair to keep things scoreless.

From there, recently-acquired right-handed reliever Austin Brice fanned two more hitters and got more help from Wong in a scoreless second, righty Robinson Leyer struck out two and stranded two runners in a scoreless third, Trevor Hildenberger scattered one hit in an otherwise clean fourth frame, Denyi Reyes retired three of the four he faced in a shutout fifth, and Adam Lau maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk thanks to Roldani Baldwin in a scoreless top half of the sixth.

After his side finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth, 24-year-old righty Eduardo Bazardo closed things out for Boston by sitting down the only three hitters he faced in order in the seventh to secure the 3-0 victory over the Huskies.

In total, Sox pitching combined for seven scoreless innings while yielding just four hits and three walks to go along with 11 total strikeouts on the afternoon.

On the other side of things, the Northeastern pitching staff held their own for a while against the Boston bats, albeit without any regulars in the lineup.

It wasn’t until the bottom half of the sixth inning when the Red Sox offense finally woke up.

There, with right-hander Rick Burroni on the mound for Northeastern, Sox prospect Marcus Wilson led things off by drawing a walk in his first and only plate appearance.

The 23-year-old then proceeded to steal second base to put the go-ahead run in scoring position with no outs for Josh Ockimey, who fanned for the first out of the frame.

A Jagger Rusconi groundout back to the pitcher meant that the Red Sox were just an out away from coming away with nothing, but Ryan Fitzgerald made sure that did not happen.

Yes, the 2019 Carolina League All-Star lined an RBI single to right-center field deep enough to plate Wilson from second and put his side on the board first.

Two more walks drawn by Baldwin and Tyler Esplin ended the day for Burroni and filled the bases for longtime PawSox mainstay Jantzen Witte.

Facing off against Huskies right-hander Henry Ennen, the 30-year-old veteran laced a two-run single through the middle of the infield to score both Fitzgerald and Baldwin from second and third.

That clutch two-RBI knock gave the Red Sox a 3-0 advantage, which would go on to be Friday’s final score in the spring training opener.

Some notes from this win:

Top prospect Jeter Downs reached base on an infield single in his first at-bat in a Red Sox uniform. He also committed a fielding error in the top half of the third and grounded into an inning-ending double play in the bottom half.

Downs was not originally slated to start for Boston on Friday, but because infielder C.J. Chatham was scratched from the lineup due to right shoulder soreness, the 21-year-old got the call instead.

Marcus Wilson will presumably begin the 2020 campaign in Double-A Portland alongside fellow outfield prospect Jarren Duran, who went 1-for-2 with a third-inning single on Friday.

The only players with big-league experience who played in this contest were Marco Hernandez, Rusney Castillo, John Andreoli, Juan Centeno, Austin Brice, and Trevor Hildenberger.

Next up for the Red Sox, Grapefruit League play begins on Saturday with an afternoon contest against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park.

Left-hander Brian Johnson is scheduled to get the start for Boston, while Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter.

It had to have been a tough offseason for Johnson, as the 29-year-old was essentially demoted off the Sox’ 40-man roster back in November.

Still, Johnson snuck through waivers and remains with Boston in a lesser capacity than he had been the previous three or so seasons. He’ll have a chance to prove himself and perhaps open some eyes on Saturday afternoon.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN.

Red Sox Prospect C.J. Chatham Dealing With Right Shoulder Soreness

Red Sox infield prospect C.J. Chatham was slated to start at shortstop in Boston’s spring training opener against the Northeastern Huskies baseball team on Friday. Instead, the 25-year-old was a late scratch from the Sox’ lineup due to right shoulder soreness.

Jeter Downs, one of three players acquired in the trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, got the start in Chatham’s place at short.

Ranked as Boston’s No. 10 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Chatham entered big-league camp with the chance to provide the Sox with some depth around the infield a few months after being added to the club’s 40-man roster for the first time back in November.

The former second-round pick out of Florida Atlantic University split time between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season, slashing .298/.333/.408 with five home runs, 46 RBI, and seven stolen bases over 110 total games in 2019.

Earlier in the week, Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings that Chatham has “been exposed to the outfield and could ‘potentially’ get some third base reps in preparation for a utility role.”

Depending on the severity of the soreness he is dealing with, Chatham could be held out of action for the next few days. There will probably be more news about once Friday’s contest comes to a close.

As for Downs, MLB Pipeline’s No. 44 prospect got the start at his natural position and already collected his first hit in a Red Sox uniform on a first inning infield single. He has also committed a fielding error.

 

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 Close to Trading Mookie Betts, per Report

The Red Sox are close to trading star outfielder Mookie Betts, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who said on Monday’s installment of MLB Network’s Hot Stove that, “This is going to happen, Mookie Betts is getting traded. The only question is when and where.”

The Dodgers and Padres appear to be the favorites to land the 27-year-old Betts, who will make $27 million this upcoming season before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter.

Per Rosenthal, Los Angeles has “the ability to do this a little bit cleaner” since San Diego would be looking to include outfielder Wil Myers, who is owed $61 million over the next three years, in any trade.

Any deal involving the Dodgers would most likely be headlined by 23-year-old outfielder Alex Verdugo and 21-year-old infield prospect Jeter Downs coming back to Boston.

Of course, any return the Red Sox get could depend on whether or not David Price is packaged with Betts in any potential trade.

Price, 34, is set to make $96 million over the final three years of the seven-year, $217 million deal he signed with the Sox back in December 2015. If he were dealt, Boston would probably be responsible for a majority of that $96 million.

Bundling Betts and Price in the same deal could help the Red Sox reach their goal of getting under the $208 million luxury tax threshold for the 2020 season, but it could also hinder the compensation for giving up an elite talent like Betts.

On Sunday, MLB Network’s Peter Gammons tweeted that he spoke to three different National League executives who said that Betts going to the Dodgers is “inevitable” at this point, with Verdugo, Downs, and a pitching prospect going to the Red Sox.