New Podding the Red Sox episode: Previewing the trade deadline with MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox beat writer Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com.

Chris, who becomes the first recurring guest in Podding the Red Sox history, previews what the Red Sox could do before Friday afternoon’s trade deadline.

We also discussed the possibility of the Red Sox trading for Max Scherzer, Anthony Rizzo, and Craig Kimbrel, how Chaim Bloom weighs the club’s long-term goals with its short-term ones when it comes to making trades, what the trade deadline could mean for the likes of Bobby Dalbec and Michael Chavis — among others, what would happen if the Red Sox failed to sign second-round pick Jud Fabian, and much more!

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

Thanks to Chris for taking some time out of his busy late July schedule to have a conversation with me. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here, and you can check out his work for MassLive 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 Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: MassLive.com’s Chris Mason joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Chris Mason, who covers the New England Patriots for MassLive.com.

Among the topics Chris and I discussed were how how he got into sports journalism at a young age, how it was to go from covering the Red Sox for a newspaper to covering the Patriots for MassLive, his impressions of the 2021 Red Sox so far, his predictions for the 2021 Patriots, the key differences between the amenities at the Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium press boxes, and much more!

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

Thanks to Chris for taking some time out of his Friday to have a conversation with me.

You can follow Chris on Twitter (@ByChrisMason) by clicking here. You can check out his Patriots coverage for MassLive.com 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: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

As he continues to light it up in Worcester, Danny Santana could be on verge of getting called up by Red Sox

It would appear that Danny Santana is inching closer and closer to making his Red Sox debut.

Santana, who has been rehabbing with Triple-A Worcester since May 12, hit a home run and finished a triple shy of the cycle as part of a 3-for-4 day at the plate against the Buffalo Bisons at Polar Park on Tuesday night.

Since joining the WooSox last week, the 30-year-old utility man has slashed .438/.526/.875 with one double, two homers, four RBI, and four runs scored over four games played. This comes after he batted .400 (4-for-10) in three rehab games with High-A Greenville earlier this month.

In the seven games Santana has played in between Greenville and Worcester, the Dominican native has seen time at first base (most recently), second base, third base, shortstop, left field, and center field.

“Danny is the ultimate pro,” WooSox manager Billy McMillon said of Santana following Tuesday’s 9-4 win over Buffalo. “He goes about his business the right way. I think one of the things I’m happy about is some of the younger guys have looked and seen his routine and goes about his business, and I don’t think you can ask for much more than that.”

The Red Sox originally signed Santana to a minor-league contract in early March, a few months after the versatile veteran was non-tendered by the Rangers.

With Texas the previous two seasons, the switch-hitter enjoyed great success in 2019, clubbing 28 home runs, collecting 81 RBI, and stealing 21 bases over 130 games in the process of being named the Rangers’ Player of the Year for his efforts.

The 2020 campaign was a different story for Santana, though, as he was limited to just 15 games before suffering a season-ending right elbow injury in late August that would require a modified version of Tommy John surgery the following month.

Shortly after being let go by the Rangers in December, Santana joined the Sox on a minor-league pact in March “that included a prorated $1.75 million big-league salary,” per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Less than two weeks after signing with Boston, however, Santana sustained a right foot infection during spring training that not only landed him in the hospital, but also resulted in him and the Red Sox agreeing to push back the opt-out date in his contract from April 30 until the middle of May.

Now that he has reached the point where he is back to playing regularly, Santana could be on the verge of getting called up to the Red Sox sooner rather than later.

“I think he’s getting more and more ready to go to potentially help the big club,” said McMillon. “I think he’s just got to get some time under his belt. He missed spring training so in a way this is his build-up for the season. He’s done everything. He’s made good plays in the field, he’s stolen a bag, he’s hit from both sides of the plate. I think he’s just getting himself ready for that call.”

On Monday, Speier wrote that, as the Red Sox prepare for a three-game weekend series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park (where National League rules apply), they could be getting ready to deploy Santana for the first time given his value as a switch-hitter who can play multiple defensive positions.

When speaking with reporters before Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., Red Sox manager Alex Cora added on to this speculation by indicating that Santana was close to joining the big-league club.

“He didn’t play Sunday, he didn’t play yesterday. He’s playing today,” Cora said. “He feels good. He’s swinging the bat well. We’ve been using him all over the place. Where he’s at right now physically and baseball-wise, he’s in a good spot.”

Because Santana is not currently on the Sox’ 40-man roster, there will be some hurdles to cross to ensure that the 5-foot-11, 203 pounder can be added to Boston’s major-league squad when the time is right.

As of this moment, the Red Sox are currently carrying 14 pitchers and 12 position players on their 26-man active roster, so they would need to clear a spot in order to accommodate Santana.

From there, it seems likely that one of Michael Chavis or Franchy Cordero would be optioned down to Worcester once Santana is ready to be added to the 26-man roster.

All that being said, we will just have to wait and see what the Red Sox do in the coming days if they are indeed preparing to make some roster moves.

(Picture of Danny Santana: Katie Morrison/MassLive)

Rule 5 picks Tyreque Reed (1.166 OPS at High-A), Kaleb Ort (0.00 ERA at Triple-A) among early Red Sox minor-league standouts

Back in December, the Red Sox selected right-hander Garrett Whitlock from the Yankees in the major-league phase of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft.

Since arriving in Fort Myers for the start of spring training in February, Whitlock has done nothing but impress in his time in a Red Sox uniform to this point.

Through his first 10 appearances out of Boston’s bullpen this season, the 24-year-old rookie owns an ERA of 1.77 and an xFIP of 2.92 in addition to 21 strikeouts to just three walks over 20 1/3 innings of work.

To say that Whitlock — who had not pitched above Double-A and underwent Tommy John surgery in July 2019 before joining the Red Sox — has been one of the club’s biggest and brightest surprises this year would be an understatement.

Having said that, though, Whitlock is not the only player the Sox selected in last December’s Rule 5 Draft that has gotten his 2021 campaign off to an impressive start.

In addition to taking Whitlock, Boston also selected first baseman Tyreque Reed from the Rangers and right-hander Kaleb Ort from the Yankees in the minor-league phase of the draft.

Reed, who turns 24 next month, is a former 2017 eighth-round draft pick who played for three Texas affiliates over three seasons before joining the Red Sox organization over the winter.

Known for his power, Reed — listed at 6-foot-1 and 250 pounds — has been crushing the ball with High-A Greenville so far this spring.

Over his first eight games with the Drive, the right-handed hitter is slashing .240/.406/760 with four home runs, nine RBI, nine runs scored, and five walks in 32 trips to the plate.

His latest home run was a walk-off piece that gave Greenville a 10-9 win over the Brooklyn Cyclones at Fluor Field on Sunday.

Among the top hitters in the High-A East (formerly the South Atlantic League), Reed ranks second in homers, 10th in RBI, 11th in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, and second in OPS (1.166).

The Mississippi native has also struck out in 25% of his plate appearances, which he has shown the tendency to do. But by getting on-base at a solid .406 clip, Reed has proven to be effective at the plate thus far, as evidenced by his early 207 wRC+.

“Power bat,” Red Sox vice president of pro scouting Gus Quattlebaum said of Reed this past December. “Big, physical right-handed hitting first baseman with big, big power that you see not only with the scout’s naked eye but also with the batted ball data. There’s a propensity from some strikeouts. We know he’s not immune to that. We really believe in the power potential. We’re really excited to bring him into the organization.”

Kaleb Ort, meanwhile, was selected by the Red Sox in the minor-league portion of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft after spending the previous four seasons as a member of the Yankees organization.

Unlike Reed, Ort was not drafted out of college and instead began his professional career in the Frontier League (independent) before signing as an undrafted free-agent with the Diamondbacks in 2016.

After being cut by Arizona the following spring, the Michigan native returned to the Frontier League before signing with New York in May 2017.

While with the Yankees, Ort appeared in a total of 90 games across five levels between 2017-2019 prior to getting scooped up by the Red Sox in December.

After receiving an invite to big-league camp in February, the 6-foot-4, 233 pound hurler opened the 2021 season at the Sox’ alternate training site and later Triple-A Worcester.

In six appearances out of the WooSox’ bullpen thus far, the 29-year-old has been lights out, as he has allowed just one unearned run on three hits and no walks to go along with nine strikeouts over six innings pitched. He has also converted four of a possible four save opportunities in the process of emerging as Worcester’s primary closer.

“Kaleb Ort is a guy who has really stood out to me, he took the closer role and ran with it,” WooSox pitching coach Paul Abbott recently told MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison. “He’s come in and slammed the door without really any threat of a hiccup at all. He’s throwing strikes, aggressive, and he’s been impressive.”

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Ort works with a two-pitch mix that consists of a mid-90s fastball that can top out at 98 mph and a slider.

That two-pitch mix has proven to be a potent combination for the righty reliever thus far, as he is holding opponents to a .150 batting average against while boasting a 40.9% strikeout rate, a 0.89 FIP, and a 2.20 xFIP.

What Ort has been doing in Worcester has caught the attention of Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who got to first know him earlier this year during spring training.

“He’s a good one,” Cora said before Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jays . “His stuff plays. I really like what I saw. Velocity got better in spring training and he was throwing the ball well down there. He’s a guy we’re looking at, obviously, for the right reasons. We’re very excited with what he’s doing, what he did in spring training and what he can do, probably, in the future.”

With that, it sounds as though Ort could garner big-league consideration at some point this season if he continues to turn heads while closing out games for the WooSox.

Because the 2021 minor-league season is less than two full weeks old, it’s no sure thing that either one of Reed or Ort will be able to keep up with the level at which they are performing at at the moment.

Still, what these two Red Sox minor-league Rule 5 picks have done in their first month with their new organization has been eye-opening to say the least. If they can keep it up over the course of the summer will be something worth monitoring for sure.

(Picture of Kaleb Ort: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Katie Morrison, who covers the Worcester Red Sox for MassLive.com.

Among the topics Katie and I discussed were how she got into writing about baseball and her background in photojournalism, what she has made of brand-new Polar Park and the overall fan experience there, which Red Sox prospects (like Jarren Duran and Jeter Downs) and minor-leaguers (like Kaleb Ort) have stood out to her in Worcester so far, how she believes the 2021 WooSox will perform the rest of the season, and much more!

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

Thanks to Katie for taking some time out of her busy schedule to have a conversation with me.

You can follow Katie on Twitter (@KatieMo61) by clicking here. You can check out her WooSox coverage for MassLive.com 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 Polar Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Talking 2021 predictions with MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox beat writer Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com.

Chris and I mainly discussed the 10 predictions he made for the 2021 Red Sox in his weekly notes column for MassLive last Friday. We also talked about the moves the Sox made this offseason, what Chaim Bloom could have in store for 2022 and beyond, and much more!

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

Thanks to Chris for taking some time out of his busy spring training schedule to have a conversation with me. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here, and you can check out his work for MassLive 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 JetBlue Park: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Might Red Sox consider adding George Springer if free-agent outfielder remains unsigned going into spring training?

Alongside the likes of Trevor Bauer and J.T. Realmuto, outfielder George Springer remains one of the top free-agents still on the market.

The 31-year-old is coming off a 2020 season with the Astros in which he posted a .265/.359/.540 slash to go along with 14 home runs and 32 RBI over 51 games played, which was enough to finish 13th in American League MVP voting.

While there have not been too many definitive rumblings as to where Springer could land this offseason, it is apparent that the Blue Jays and the Mets are pursuing the three-time All-Star the hardest.

That being the case because according to The Athletic’s Jayson Stark, “indications are [Toronto’s] No. 1 free-agent priority is still center fielder George Springer.”

MLB Network’s Jon Paul Morosi, meanwhile, notes that Springer “has drawn the most significant interest from the Blue Jays and Mets” and “the 31-year-old is said to have a preference to play near his home state of Connecticut.”

Given that reported preference, Springer — a UCONN product — would seem more likely to lean towards signing with the Mets, although New York might be limited in what they can do now in order to stay under the $210 million luxury tax threshold.

As SNY’s Andy Martino wrote on Friday, “Once the Mets traded for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco last week, their pursuit of Springer downshifted significantly, according to people involved in the talks.”

Martino also reports that Springer, who does not turn 32 until September, has a five-year deal on the table from the Blue Jays worth anywhere from $115 million to $125 million.

Assuming what has already been reported is true, it does not seem like the two-time Silver Slugger will remain on the open market for too much longer.

That being said, the possibility still remains that Springer could remain unsigned going into the start of spring training, as has been the case with past coveted free-agents such as Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in 2019.

In that scenario, it might not be too crazy for a team that has not been seriously linked to the right-handed hitting, 6-foot-3, 221 lb. outfielder to this point, like the Red Sox for instance, to explore a potential deal there.

Of course, any team outside of the Astros that signs Springer would have to forfeit a second-round draft pick as well as $500,000 in international signing bonus pool money due to the fact that Houston extended a qualifying offer, which was later rejected, to its former first-round draft pick in November.

Even with that caveat in mind, though, the Sox could at least consider negotiating with Springer if he is still a free agent come mid to late-February.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo discussed that possibility with MLB.com’s Ian Browne and The Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam on the latest installment of the Fenway Rundown podcast.

“I think if the bottom falls out of this George Springer market, and he is unsigned into spring training, which it feels like the Mets aren’t going there, the Blue Jays are a lot of talk and not a lot of action like another team we know… If the bottom really falls out of that, I think [the Red Sox] will legitimately consider whether it’s worth giving up a second-round pick for him. He might be the one exception to that rule there,” Cotillo said.

“He has the talent of somebody you would give up a second-round pick for. That would justify cheaping out on some of these other guys if they go out and get George Springer,” Browne added.

“He solves a ton of problems. He gives you an above-average defender in center — I don’t think he’s equal to [Jackie Bradley Jr.] but he’s good — but more importantly…he’s a terrific leadoff option. So you don’t have to worry about, in the event that [Andrew] Benintendi somehow stayed, putting [Benintendi] there since he’s not crazy about it. [Alex] Verdugo, I think, has made it well known that while he’ll do it, he’d prefer to hit lower. So it takes care of your leadoff guy.

“And as we know, Springer has shown himself to be a fabulous October player. He’s had a ton of experience on the big stage with Houston the last four years. So, presumably, if someone can do that in the big moment in October, then playing in Boston with expectations would not be anything that would rattle him. Of course, he’s got a New England background having gone to UCONN,” said McAdam.

“And Alex Cora. There are some damaged relationships from all the fallout of the Astros’ scandal. That’s not one of them. Alex has said that he communicates with Springer pretty frequently, so that won’t be an issue,” concluded Cotillo.

So, even though Queens may be slightly closer to New Britain, Conn. — Springer’s hometown — than Boston, it’s probably fair to say that the Red Sox, with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom at the helm, cannot be ruled out of the Springer sweepstakes at this point in time.

If push were to come to shove within the next few weeks, then perhaps former UCONN right-hander turned Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes, who was teammates with Springer on the Huskies baseball team from 2009-2011, would be willing to do some recruiting as well.

(Picture of George Springer: Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign Matt Barnes, 6 others to one-year deals, tender contract to Rafael Devers

UPDATE: As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Red Sox also signed right-hander Chris Mazza and outfielder Yairo Munoz to one-year deals on Wednesday.

The non-tender deadline came and went Wednesday night without the Red Sox cutting a single arbitration or pre-arbitration eligible player from its 40-man roster.

Per a team release, the Sox agreed to one-year contracts with the likes of right-handers Austin Brice, Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, and Chris Mazza, left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, and catcher Kevin Plawecki.

Additionally, Boston will tender one-year contracts for the 2021 season to 25 players who remain unsigned, with third baseman Rafael Devers being the most notable of those individuals after the two sides failed to reach agreement on a deal.

The 24-year-old will have until January 15 to come to terms on a contract with the Sox or he will otherwise be headed for salary arbitration for the first time in his career come February.

As for the other players involved here, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo has the details on how much Barnes, Brasier, Brice, Mazza, Munoz, Plawecki, and Rodriguez will be earning next season:

Barnes: $4.5 million salary for 2021
Brasier: $1.25 million salary for 2021
Brice: $870,000 salary for 2021
Mazza: $576,000
Munoz: $582,500
Plawecki: $1.6 million salary for 2021
Rodriguez $8.3 million salary for 2021

All in all, the Red Sox owe this group listed above more than $17.5 million headed into the upcoming season.

Barnes, 30, and Rodriguez, 27, are the only two players who were entering their final year of arbitration eligibility, meaning they will become free agents for the first time in their respective careers next winter barring any extension talks.

On account of them not making any sort of cuts or subtractions on Wednesday, Boston’s 40-man roster is still at full capacity. That is likely to change now that this offseason’s free agency class has increased in size due to other clubs non-tendering a staggering amount of their eligible players in order to save money.