Red Sox acquire Adalberto Mondesi from Royals in exchange for Josh Taylor

The Red Sox have acquired infielder Adalberto Mondesi and a player to be named later or cash considerations from the Royals in exchange for left-handed reliever Josh Taylor, the club announced earlier Tuesday afternoon.

This is the second trade the Red Sox and Royals have made this winter, as Boston previously sent pitching prospect Jacob Wallace to Kansas City for reliever Wyatt Mills last month.

Unlike that trade, though, Tuesday’s deal represents a swap of two major-league caliber players who are both coming off injury-plagued 2022 seasons. Mondesi was limited to just 15 games with the Royals last year before suffering a torn left ACL in late April that ultimately required season-ending surgery. Taylor, on the other hand, did not pitch at all for the Red Sox due to complications from a low back strain.

Mondesi, 27, is the son of former big-league outfielder Raul Mondesi. The Dominican Republic native originally signed with the Royals as an international free agent coming out of San Cristobal in July 2011. He was regarded as one of the top prospects in Kansas City’s farm system before becoming the first player in MLB history to make his debut during the World Series in 2015.

In parts of seven seasons with the Royals, Mondesi was limited to just 358 total games. He was handed down a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs as a rookie in 2016 and has since been hindered by injuries. In 2018, for instance, Mondesi missed time with a right shoulder impingement. The following year, he was sidelined with a groin strain and left shoulder subluxation. After avoiding the injured list completely during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, Mondesi was hampered by a left hamstring strain and strained left oblique.

When healthy, though, Mondesi has been able to put his tools on full display. The switch-hitter owns a career .244/.280/.408 slash line to go along with 54 doubles, 20 triples, 38 home runs, 157 RBIs, 180 runs scored, 133 stolen bases, 60 walks, and 412 strikeouts across 1,366 big-league plate appearances. As far as speed is concerned, he led all of baseball with 10 triples and stole a career-best 43 bases in 2019, then led the American League with 24 steals in 2020. Prior to tearing his left ACL last April, Mondesi went 7-for-50 (.140) at the plate with three RBIs, three runs scored, five stolen bases, four walks, and 20 strikeouts in his first 15 games of the year.

Defensively, Mondesi has past experience at every infield position besides first base. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder saw the majority of his playing time in Kansas City come at shortstop, where he accrued 23 outs above average and an ultimate zone rating of 13.3 over 2,126 career innings.

Mondesi, who turns 28 in July, will earn $3.045 million in 2023 after agreeing to a deal with the Royals to avoid arbitration last month. He is currently slated to become a free agent for the first time in his career next winter. In the meantime, Mondesi figures to provide the Red Sox with versatile infield depth since he can play all over the diamond and hits from both sides of the plate.

With Trevor Story expected to be sidelined well into the 2023 season after undergoing right elbow surgery, Enrique Hernandez will step in as the club’s starting shortstop while Christian Arroyo will handle things at second base. Mondesi, meanwhile, can handle both positions in place of Hernandez and Arroyo depending on other factors such as infield/outfield alignments and pitching matchups.

The Red Sox were able to clear a spot on their 40-man roster for Mondesi by trading away Taylor, who they originally acquired from the Diamondbacks as the player to be named later in the March 2018 trade that sent infielder Deven Marrero to Arizona.

Taylor first broke in with Boston in May 2019 and impressed as a rookie by forging a 3.04 ERA in 52 appearances (47 1/3 innings) out of the bullpen. The southpaw was then limited to just eight outings in 2020 due to a bout with COVID-19 and left shoulder tendinitis, but he bounced back in 2021 by posting a 3.40 ERA (2.83 FIP) with 60 strikeouts to 23 walks over 61 relief appearances spanning 47 2/3 innings of work.

Despite those strong results, Taylor first began experiencing back issues towards the tail end of the 2021 campaign. As a result, he began the 2022 season on the injured list and never got healthy enough to return to the Red Sox. He made a total of eight rehab outings between Triple-A Worcester and Double-A Portland, but was shut down from throwing in mid-July.

Taylor was still tendered a contract in November, but he clearly became expandable for the Red Sox on account of his inability to stay on the mound as of late. The 29-year-old will earn a salary of $1.025 million with the Royals in 2023 and will not be eligible for free agency until the end of the 2025 season.

(Picture of Adalberto Mondesi: Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox designate Eric Hosmer for assignment, likely ending first baseman’s time in Boston after just 14 games

After acquiring right-handed reliever Wyatt Mills from the Royals on Friday night, the Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster. They did so by designating veteran first baseman Eric Hosmer for assignment.

Hosmer was acquired from the Padres (with minor-leaguers Corey Rosier and Max Ferguson) in exchange for pitching prospect Jay Groome in early August. The 33-year-old was initially going to be traded to the Nationals as part of the package that netted the Padres Juan Soto and Josh Bell, but he exercised his limited no-trade clause and Luke Voit was sent in his place.

The Red Sox then jumped in on the opportunity to nab Hosmer, who signed off on the move. As part of the four-player swap, Boston would only owe Hosmer the league minimum while San Diego would be responsible for the rest of his contract.

To that point in the season, the Red Sox had gotten little production out of their first basemen, namely Bobby Dalbec and Franchy Cordero. Hosmer, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner, was brought in to provide some stability at the position. He made his Boston debut on Aug. 4 and batted .225/.311/.300 with three doubles, four RBIs, six runs scored, four walks, and nine strikeouts in his first 12 games (45 plate appearances) with the club before hitting the injured list with low back inflammation on Aug. 23.

While Hosmer was sidelined, the Red Sox called up top first-base prospect Triston Casas from Triple-A Worcester in early September. The 22-year-old impressed to some degree down the stretch, as he slashed .197/.358/.408 with one double, five home runs, 12 RBIs, 11 runs scored, one stolen base, 19 walks, and 23 strikeouts over 27 games (95 plate appearances). Hosmer, on the other hand, returned from the injured list in early October and went 2-for-5 (.400) in two games against the Rays before season’s end.

The Red Sox entered the offseason with four first basemen on their 40-man roster (or five if you include Christian Arroyo). Last month, they did not tender a contract to Cordero, who has since signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles. They have also made Dalbec available in trade talks. Hosmer unsurprisingly opted into the final three years and $39 million of the eight-year, $144 million deal he originally received from the Padres in February 2018. Casas injured himself in winter ball but projects to be the team’s Opening Day first baseman in 2023.

Both Casas and Hosmer hit from the left side of the plate and primarily play first base, so rostering the two of them would have been difficult due to their redundancy. The Red Sox clearly view Casas — who turns 23 in January — as their first baseman of the future while Hosmer was viewed as more of an insurance policy. Keeping Hosmer on the roster was not impossible, but the kind of offensive production he has provided of late does not make him an ideal designated hitter candidate, either.

“Our roster isn’t complete yet, but as we build our club, we feel it’s important to give Triston a clear lane, and that carrying two left-handed hitting first basemen would leave us short in other areas,” chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo on Friday night. “Given that, it’s important to do right by Eric and give him time to find his next opportunity. We knew when we first got him that this day would come at some point, and wanted to make sure we treated him right.”

Instead of holding onto Hosmer going into the spring, the Red Sox — as explained by Bloom— elected to cut bait now. Boston now has the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Hosmer, who can reject any move since he gained a full no-trade clause after being dealt by the Padres. Though Hosmer, who turns 34 in October, is slated to earn $13 million per year over the next three years, he can be had for the major-league minimum since San Diego remains on the hook for the bulk of the $39 million that is still owed to him. That in itself could make the former All-Star appealing to other teams in need of an experienced first baseman. If all else fails, Bloom and Co. could simply elect to release Hosmer, which would allow him to hit the open market and sign elsewhere as a free agent.

With Hosmer out of the picture, the Red Sox now seem poised to pursue a right-handed hitting corner infielder who could complement Casas at first base and would be an upgrade over Dalbec, who posted a .652 OPS in 117 games this past season.

Hosmer, for what it’s worth, becomes the third player Boston has designated for assignment this week, joining the likes of infielder/outfielder Hoy Park (who has since been traded to the Braves) and infielder Jeter Downs, who will likely get traded to or be claimed by another team in the coming days.

(Picture of Eric Hosmer: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire Wyatt Mills from Royals, designate Eric Hosmer for assignment

The Red Sox have acquired right-hander Wyatt Mills from the Royals in exchange for relief prospect Jacob Wallace, the club announced on Friday. In order to make room for Mills on the 40-man roster, first baseman Eric Hosmer was designated for assignment.

Mills, who turns 28 next month, was designated for assignment himself earlier this week. The righty split the 2022 season between the Mariners and Royals and posted a 4.60 ERA — but much more respectable 3.62 FIP — with 26 strikeouts to 13 walks over 27 appearances spanning 29 1/3 innings of work.

A former third-round draft pick of the Mariners out of Gonzaga University in 2017, Mills first broke in with Seattle in May 2021. He pitched to a 9.95 ERA and 4.35 FIP with 11 strikeouts to seven walks across 11 outings (12 2/3 innings) last season and opened the 2022 campaign at Triple-A Tacoma.

The Mariners recalled Mills in late April and he proceeded to put up a 4.15 ERA (3.46 FIP) with six punchouts to three walks in his first eight appearances (8 2/3 innings) of the season before being traded to to the Royals with fellow righty William Fleming in exchange for Carlos Santana on June 27.

With Kansas City, Mills produced a 4.79 ERA and 3.69 FIP with twice as many strikeouts as walks (20-to-10) over two stints and 19 appearances (20 2/3 innings) out of the Royals bullpen down the stretch this season. The 27-year-old lost his spot on the Royals’ 40-man roster when the club signed left-hander Ryan Yarbrough to a one-year, $3 million contract on Tuesday.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 214 pounds, Mills possesses a sidearm delivery and operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a low-90s four-seam fastball, a low-80s slider, and a low-90s sinker, per Baseball Savant. The Washington state native held opposing hitters to a .167 batting average against with his four-seamer (his most frequently-used offering) this year.

Mills has one minor-league option remaining and is not arbitration-eligible until 2026. He owns a lifetime 2.60 ERA over 62 1/3 career innings at the Triple-A level and figures to provide the Red Sox with some additional bullpen depth in 2023, if not beyond.

Going back to Kansas City in exchange for Mills is Wallace, the 24-year-old relief prospect the Red Sox originally acquired from the Rockies as the player to be named later in the August 2020 trade that sent Kevin Pillar to Colorado.

Wallace, who hails from Methuen, Mass., spent the entirety of the 2022 season with Double-A Portland. The right-hander out of UConn. forged a 3.81 ERA and 5.81 FIP with 76 strikeouts to 49 walks over 47 relief outings (56 2/3 innings) for the Sea Dogs. He was a candidate to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster last month, but was left off and was passed over in last week’s Rule 5 Draft. SoxProspects.com had Wallace as the No. 45 prospect in the organization, noting that his command and control need significant refinement.

Finally, we arrive at Hosmer, who was designated for assignment in order to make room for Mills on the 40-man roster. The Red Sox acquired Hosmer (as well as minor-leaguers Corey Rosier and Max Ferguson) from the Padres for pitching prospect Jay Groome in early August.

Hosmer appeared in just 14 games for Boston and batted .244/.320/.311 with three doubles, four RBIs, and six runs scored. The 33-year-old was placed on the injured list with low back inflammation on Aug. 21 and did not return until the final series of the season against the Rays.

While Hosmer was sidelined, the Red Sox called up top prospect Triston Casas from Triple-A Worcester. Casas, a left-handed hitting first baseman, slashed .197/.358/.408 with five home runs and 12 RBIs across 27 games (95 plate appearances) to close out the season. Considering the fact that Casas and Hosmer both hit from the left side of the plate and primarily play first base, the latter became somewhat redundant this offseason thanks to the former’s emergence in the fall.

The Red Sox will now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Hosmer, who opted into the final three years and $39 million of his contract last month. As part of the deal that sent Hosmer from San Diego to Boston, though, the Padres agreed to pay the remainder of Hosmer’s salary down to the major-league minimum. That means that another club could claim Hosmer off waivers without needed to make much of a financial commitment to him moving forward.

Hosmer, who does not turn 34 until next October, did gain a full no-trade clause when he was dealt from the Padres to the Red Sox over the summer, so he would have to approve a move if Boston elects to trade him. The Red Sox could also elect to simply release Hosmer since the Padres remain on the hook for the bulk of his contract through 2025.

Following Friday’s series of moves, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is now at full capacity.

(Picture of Wyatt Mills: Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Red Sox bench coach Will Venable emerging as candidate for Royals’ managerial opening

Alex Cora could be at risk of losing one of his top lieutenants to an American League rival this winter.

According to The New York Post’s Jon Heyman, Red Sox bench coach Will Venable has emerged as a candidate for the Royals’ opening at manager. He is joined by the likes of Rays bench coach Matt Quatraro, Dodgers first base coach Clayton McCullough, Royals third base coach Vance Wilson, Omaha Storm Chasers manager Scott Thorman, and Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol.

Quatraro is currently viewed as the favorite for the job, per Heyman. It was previously reported that Phillies third base coach Dusty Wathan was in the running as well, but he has since agreed to a multi-year contract extension to remain on Rob Thomson’s staff in Philadelphia.

Venable, who turned 40 on Saturday, is no stranger when it comes to managerial interviews. After a nine-year playing career (2008-2016) that included stints with the Padres, Rangers, and Dodgers, the former outfielder joined the Cubs’ front office as a special assistant to Theo Epstein in September 2017. He then became Chicago’s first base coach under Joe Maddon from 2018-2019 before handling third base responsibilities under David Ross in 2020.

It was at that point that Venable first started to emerge as a managerial candidate across baseball. The Princeton University product interviewed for several openings during the 2020-2021 offseason, including with the Red Sox. Though Cora ultimately reassumed his post following a year-long suspension, Venable was brought on to serve as his right-hand man.

Venable got his first taste of being a big-league manager last May, when Cora traveled home to Puerto Rico to be with his daughter, Camila, for her high school graduation. In December, the Athletics interviewed Venable — a Bay Area native — for their vacancy at manager before deciding on Mark Kotsay.

This past season, Venable was responsible for coordinating Boston’s outfield instruction and helping out with lineup construction on occasion. He filled in at manager for six games in April while Cora was out with COVID-19.

At the Red Sox’ end-of-season press conference earlier this month, Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) that he expected every member of his coaching staff to be back next year.

Given that statement, it remains to be seen just how interested Kansas City is in Venable’s services. The Royals, under new general manager J.J. Picollo, elected to part ways with Mike Matheny three weeks ago. The White Sox are the only other team that currently has a managerial opening.

If Venable were to take either of those jobs, it would be interesting to see how Cora and the Red Sox would respond.

(Picture of Will Venable: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts reaches career milestone as Red Sox rack up 20 hits in 13-3 win over Royals

The Red Sox secured a series victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. After getting shut out on Saturday, Boston broke out for 20 hits in a 13-3 win over Kansas City to close out the weekend at Fenway Park.

Matched up against Kris Bubic to kick off Sunday’s series finale, the Sox got off to a quick start offensively. On the heels of back-to-back singles from Tommy Pham and Rafael Devers to lead off the first inning, Xander Bogaerts followed by ripping a game-tying double off the Green Monster to knot the score at 1-1.

An inning later, Enrique Hernandez drew a leadoff walk and immediately advanced to second base on a line-drive single off the bat of Yu Chang. Both runners moved up an additional 90 feet on a successful sacrifice bunt laid down by Reese McGuire. Pham then plated Hernandez from third on a sacrifice fly to center field.

Boston began to pull away in the third on a pair of sacrifice flies from Rob Refsnyder and Christian Arroyo. Hernandez and Chang each drew two-out walks before McGuire scored Hernandez on a groundball single through the right side of the infield.

That sequence of events gave the Red Sox a 5-2 lead going into the fourth. To that point, Nick Pivetta had already allowed two runs — both of which came within the first two innings.

Pivetta, making his 30th start of the season for Boston, managed to keep the Royals off the board in the third and fourth before serving up a solo shot to the dangerous Salvador Perez with one out in the fifth. The right-hander ended his day by retiring two of the final three batters he faced.

So, over five innings of work in total, Pivetta surrendered three earned runs on seven hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts on 97 pitches (66 strikes). The 29-year-old was able to pick up his 10th win of the season, though his ERA did rise to 4.35.

Shortly after Pivetta had recorded the final out in the top of the fifth, the Red Sox lineup got back to work in the bottom half. Arroyo, McGuire, and Pham each reached to fill the bases with two outs for Devers. Devers, in turn, greeted new Royals reliever Anthony Misiewicz by swatting a two-run single to right field to make it a four-run game at 7-3.

With two outs in the sixth inning, Boston plated four additional runs on back-to-back-to-back-to-back RBI knocks from Hernandez, Chang, McGuire, and Pham. Pham and Devers drove in two more runs in the eighth to give the Red Sox a commanding 13-3 lead.

Out of the Boston bullpen, four relievers combined for four scoreless frames. Kaleb Ort walked and struck out two in the sixth, John Schreiber walked and struck out in the seventh, Matt Strahm struck out the side in the eighth, and Matt Barnes stranded one base runner in the ninth to put the finishing touches on a blowout win.

In terms of offensive production, Pham went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk, Devers went 4-for-6 with three RBIs, Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run scored, J.D. Martinez went 2-for-4 with his 40th double of the season and two runs scored, Hernandez went 2-for-4 with an RBI, two walks, and four runs scored, Chang went 2-for-3 with an RBI, two walks, and one run scored, and McGuire went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

With his first-inning double, Bogaerts collected the 1,400th hit of his big-league career. The 29-year-old shortstop becomes just the fourth player in Red Sox history to reach 1,400 hits before turning 30, joining the likes of Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice.

Next up: On to Cincinnati

The Red Sox will enjoy an off-day on Monday as they prepare to travel to Cincinnati for a quick two-game series against the Reds. Rookie right-hander Brayan Bello is slated to start Tuesday’s opener opposite left-hander Nick Lodolo.

First pitch from Great American Ballpark is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox get shut out for second time this month in 9-0 loss to Royals

The Red Sox failed to score a run in their loss to the Royals on Saturday afternoon. Boston fell to Kansas City, 9-0, at Fenway Park to drop to 70-75 on the season.

Rich Hill, making his 23rd start of the year for the Sox, was tagged for nearly half of those runs. The veteran left-hander surrendered four earned runs on eight hits and zero walks to go along with four strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.

The Royals got the scoring started in the top of the third. After reaching base on a one-out single, Nate Eaton stole second and scored from there on an RBI single off the bat of MJ Melendez. Malendez also advanced to second before scoring on another RBI single from Salvadar Perez that gave Kansas City an early 2-0 lead.

Boston had a chance to respond right away in the latter half of the frame. Matched up against Royals starter Brady Singer, the bottom third of the Sox lineup filled the bases without recording an out. Despite getting that far, though, Tommy Pham popped out to the catcher, Rafael Devers struck out looking, and J.D. Martinez popped out into foul territory.

Hill, meanwhile, ran into more trouble in the fifth. After Bobby Witt Jr. drove in Melendez with an RBI single, Witt Jr. scored all the way from first on a Vinnie Pasquantino double that right fielder Alex Verdugo lost in the sun.

Pasquantino was the final batter Hill faced. The 42-year-old southpaw finished with a final pitch count of 81 (58 strikes) and was charged with his seventh loss of the season as his ERA rose to 4.70. He was given the hook in favor of Ryan Brasier, who needed just three pitches to record the final out of the fifth.

The sixth inning marked the major-league debut of relief prospect Franklin German. The right-hander failed to retire any of the four batters he faced, as he loaded the bases with no outs before yielding an RBI single to Nate Eaton. Eduard Bazardo was called upon to extinguish the flames, but he allowed all three runners he inherited to score on a Melendez force out and singles from Witt Jr. and Pasquantino.

German was tagged for four runs on two hits and two walks. Bazardo, on the other hand, worked his way around a leadoff double in the seventh before handing things over to Tyler Danish, who served up a leadoff double to Melendez and a two-out RBI single to Pasquantino to make it a 9-0 game in favor of Kansas City.

Following a 1-2-3 top of the ninth from Danish, the Red Sox went down quietly in the bottom half to seal their fifth shutout loss of the season and their second in the last 10 days.

Next up: Pivetta vs. Bubic in rubber match

The Red Sox will look to secure a series victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. Righty Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston opposite lefty Kris Bubic for Kansas City.

First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Yankees acquire former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi from Royals

The Yankees have acquired former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi from the Royals in exchange for three pitching prospects, the clubs announced late Wednesday night.

Benintendi, 28, was viewed as an appealing target ahead of the August 2 trade deadline given the fact that he is slated to become a free-agent at the end of the season and was playing for a 39-59 Royals team that is not contending for anything.

A first-time All-Star in his second year in Kansas City, the left-handed hitting Benintendi is currently batting .320/.387/.398 with 14 doubles, two triples, three home runs, 39 RBIs, 40 runs scored, four stolen bases, 39 walks, and 52 strikeouts over 93 games (390 plate appearances) this season.

Defensively, Benintendi is coming off a 2021 campaign in which he took home the Gold Glove Award for American League left fielders. The 5-foot-9, 180-pounder has yet to commit an error at the position this season while posting an ultimate zone rating of 7.1 across 766 innings.

While Benintendi’s on-field performance has been solid, there were some concerns about his unwillingness to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after missing the Royals’ four-game series in Toronto earlier this month. It remains to be seen if he has changed his stance and will get vaccinated now that he is on a contender, but the Yankees only have to play three more regular season games north of the border (from September 26-28), anyway.

In return for Benintendi, the Royals are receiving right-handers Chandler Champlain and Beck Way and left-hander T.J. Sikkema from the Yankees. Champlain, selected in the ninth round of last year’s draft, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 29 prospect in New York’s farm system. Way, selected in the fourth round of the 2020 draft, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 13 prospect in New York’s farm system. Sikkema, selected in the first round of the 2019 draft, was regarded by Baseball America as the No. 23 prospect in New York’s farm system.

Interestingly enough, the Royals are slated to open a four-game series against the first-place Yankees in the Bronx on Thursday, so Benintendi will not need to travel far to join his new team.

Benintendi, who spent the first five years of his major-league career (and won a World Series title with) the Red Sox, will get to experience baseball’s greatest rivalry from the other side when the Yankees come to Boston for a three-game series at Fenway park next month.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images)

In Brian Keller, Red Sox add intriguing right-hander who found success out of the bullpen at Triple-A in 2021

The Red Sox have seemingly made an annual tradition of poaching prospects away from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, and they did so again on Wednesday.

After selecting Royals left-hander Austin Lambright with their top pick, the Sox took Yankees right-hander Brian Keller with their second and final pick of the day.

Keller, 27, was originally selected by New York in the 39th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has been used as both a starter and reliever throughout his professional career, but what he did out of the bullpen in 2021 stands out.

On the heels of the 2020 minor-league season getting cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Keller opened the 2021 campaign at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre as a member of the RailRiders’ starting rotation.

Out of the gate, Keller managed to keep runs off the board as evidenced by his 2.57 ERA through his first six starts. However, the Wisconsin native did so while walking as many batters as he struck out (21) and putting up a sky-high 6.36 FIP over 21 innings of work.

Beginning June 15, Keller was moved to Scranton’s bullpen on a near-full-time basis, as 15 of his 20 appearances from that point forward came as a reliever. As a result of that switch, the righty proceeded to post a 2.88 ERA and 3.16 FIP to go along with 44 strikeouts to 25 walks across 34 1/3 innings pitched to close out the season.

All told, Keller pitched to the tune of a 3.56 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, and .781 OPS against in 11 starts spanning 30 1/3 innings in 2021. Out of the bullpen, he produced a much lower 1.80 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and .535 OPS against in 15 outings spanning 25 innings in 2021.

Not only that, but Keller’s strikeout rate increased from 19.7% as a starter to 34% as a reliever, while his walk rate slightly decreased from 19.7% as a starter to 16% as a reliever.

Per a recent report from Baseball America, Keller “gave up very little hard contact as a reliever” this year. He also “works up and down in the strike zone with a four-seam 91-95 mph fastball and a downer curveball, but he also can mix in a slider and cutter.”

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Keller — who does not turn 28 until next June — was identified by Baseball America as someone who could provide a team with pitching depth given his experience in the minors.

Since Chaim Bloom took over as Boston’s chief baseball officer in 2019, the Red Sox have made a habit of combing the Yankees’ farm system for both major- and minor-league pitching depth.

In 2019, the Sox selected right-hander Raynel Espinal from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft and did the very same thing with fellow righty Kaleb Ort the following winter.

Both Espinal and Ort made their big-league debuts this past season, but Boston’s biggest discovery was undoubtedly Garrett Whitlock, who they poached from New York in the major-league portion of last year’s Rule 5 Draft.

On that note, it is worth mentioning that the big-league phase of the 2021 Rule 5 Draft has been postponed indefinitely while Major League Baseball remains in a lockout.

(Picture of Brian Keller: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Hunter Renfroe comes up short, but former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi wins first career Gold Glove Award with Royals

Red Sox right fielder Hunter Renfroe was unable to win his first career Gold Glove Award on Sunday night.

Renfroe was named one of three finalists for the award among all American League right fielders late last month alongside Houston’s Kyle Tucker, but the honors on Sunday instead fell to Yankees outfielder Joey Gallo.

The winners were announced by Rawlings and Major League Baseball on ESPN.

While Renfroe outpaced Gallo in terms of both defensive innings (1,166 to 764 2/3) and outfield assists (16 to 9) from right field this season, Gallo led the way in fielding percentage (.980 to .956), defensive runs saved (11 to 0), ultimate zone rating (2.8 to -1.6), and ultimate zone rating per 150 games (3.8 to -2.1), according to FanGraphs.

It also did not help that Renfroe led all major-league outfielders in errors with 12 while registering negative-one outs above average in right field this year, per FanGraphs.

Renfroe, who turns 30 in January, was Boston’s lone finalist for a Gold Glove Award, though Christian Vazquez and Enrique Hernandez are among those on the team who may have had a case to be made at their respective primary positions (catcher and center field) but wound up getting snubbed.

Despite the fact that Renfroe came up short on Sunday, it should be mentioned that former Red Sox left fielder won his first career Gold Glove Award as a member of the Royals.

Benintendi, who the Red Sox dealt to the Royals as part of a three-team, seven-player trade back in February, logged 1,116 defensive innings over 129 games in left field in his first season with Kansas City.

The 27-year-old was named a finalist for the Gold Glove Award for American League left fielders alongside the likes of Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena and Toronto’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

All three of Benintendi, Arozarena, and Gurriel Jr. finished the 2021 campaign having put up seven defensive runs saved in left field, but Benintendi ultimately led the pack in ultimate zone rating (4.9), ultimate zone rating per 150 games (5.5), and outs above average (1).

By winning his first Gold Glove Award, Benintendi joins former teammates Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. as now-former Red Sox outfielders to win at least one Gold Glove in their respective careers.

Betts has taken home five Gold Glove Awards in his time with the Red Sox and Dodgers, while Bradley Jr. and Benintendi have each won it once.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

J.D. Martinez and Hunter Renfroe homer, Kiké Hernández makes jaw-dropping diving catch as Red Sox top Royals, 6-2, on rain-filled night at Fenway Park

It took more than five hours to complete on account of two lengthy rain delays, but the Red Sox were able to come away with a 6-2 win over the Royals on a stormy Wednesday night/early Thursday morning at Fenway Park.

With the victory, Boston reaches the halfway point of their season having improved to 50-31 on the year. They also extended their winning streak to six consecutive games while increasing their lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East to three full games.

Martin Perez made his 16th start of the season for the Sox on Wednesday (at 7:40 p.m. as opposed to 7:10 p.m. thanks to a 30-minute delay), facing off against Kansas City for the second time in as many weeks.

The left-hander stumbled out of the gate a bit by serving up a solo home run to Salvador Perez in the second inning, but then managed to settle in nicely from there.

Over 5 1/3 innings of work, Perez wound up surrendering just two runs — both of which were earned — on seven hits and zero walks to go along with two strikeouts on the night.

In the top of the fifth, Perez received some help from his center fielder, as Enrique Hernandez made a fantastic sprawling catch on a Hanser Alberto fly ball to both prevent the Royals from scoring and end the inning since it came with two outs.

The only other run Perez gave up came in the top half of the sixth, when he yielded an RBI groundout to Carlos Santana, and his outing came to a close shortly after that.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 86 (54 strikes), the 30-year-old hurler was ultimately hit with the no-decision in this one, though he did lower his ERA on the year to 4.04. His next start should come against the Angels in Anaheim next Monday.

In relief of Perez, Brandon Workman came on and escaped the sixth by inducing an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play off the bat of Hunter Dozier.

At that point, the skies opened up in the Fenway-area, the tarp came on the field, and another rain delay commenced, with this one lasting nearly two hours.

By the time the game resumed and a Red Sox pitcher took the mound again, it was nearly midnight. That long layoff did not seem to affect the Boston bullpen, though, as Darwinzon Hernandez tossed a 1-2-3 top of the seventh, Josh Taylor extended his consecutive scoreless appearance streak to 24 games with a perfect eighth inning, and Matt Barnes shut the door on the Royals in the ninth to preserve a 6-2 win for his side.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Royals left-hander Mike Minor, who they also saw last week in Kansas City.

Despite falling behind early on Wednesday, J.D. Martinez did not mess around in taking that lead back, as he belted a 420-foot three-run home run to deep center field off Minor to get his side on the board in the third inning.

Martinez’s 16th homer of the year had an exit velocity of more than 108 mph, and it also gave the Sox a 3-1 lead.

Fast forward to the fifth, and a leadoff single from Alex Verdugo proved to be the catalyst for another multi-run inning, with Xander Bogaerts plating him on an RBI base hit off the Green Monster and Hunter Renfroe driving in another run (Martinez) on a force out.

Renfroe’s productive night at the plate would not end there, however, as the right-handed hitting slugger came out of the in-game delay and cranked a 427-foot solo shot over everything in left field with one out in the eighth inning.

Capping off his month of June with a bang, Renfroe’s 12th big fly of the season (and fifth of the month) left his bat at 106.9 mph on a hanging slider from Royals reliever Anthony Swarzak.

The towering blast also gave the Red Sox a 6-2 lead over the Royals, and that would go on to be Wednesday’s final score, though the final out was technically recorded on Thursday morning.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

Next up: Bubic vs. Eovaldi

The Red Sox will wrap up their four-game series against the Royals while simultaneously opening up the second half of their season (Game No. 82) on Thursday afternoon.

Left-hander Kris Bubic is slated to get the ball for Kansas City, while Nathan Eovaldi will be doing the same for Boston. Also expect Connor Wong to get the start behind the plate.

First pitch Thursday (weather permitting) is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN. Final game of the homestand in which the Red Sox are a perfect 6-0.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)