Red Sox, utilityman Kiké Hernández agree to multi-year deal, per report

The Red Sox and free-agent utilityman Enrique Hernandez have reached agreement on a multi-year deal, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal adds that Hernandez’s new contract with Boston is good for $14 million over two years. It also includes deferrals and is pending a physical.

Hernandez, 29, had spent the previous six seasons with the Dodgers, most recently slashing a modest .230/.270/.410 to go along with five home runs and 20 RBI over 48 games played in 2020.

He also put together a decent postseason for Los Angeles en route to their first World Series title since 1988 by posting a .755 OPS across 15 games and 31 plate appearances this past October.

A right-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, Hernandez has proven to be quite the versatile player in his tenure with the Dodgers, seeing playing time all around the infield, outfield, and even the pitcher’s mound (one appearance in 2018).

Going back to last season, Los Angeles deployed the Puerto Rican at second base 27 times, in right field seven times, in left field four times, in center field three times, and at first base and shortstop two times each.

Based off these totals, one might assume Hernandez’s best position defensively is second base, which in this case is true.

Per FanGraphs, the 5-foot-11, 190 lb. infielder/outfielder played 220 1/3 innings at second base in 2020. In those 220 1/3 innings, he was worth positive-8 defensive runs saved despite posting a negative-2.6 ultimate zone rating.

Going into the offseason, the Red Sox sought out to address their second base issues coming off a 2020 season in which that particular position group  put up an American League-worst .586 OPS and league-worst wRC+ of 55.

The addition of Hernandez, who by no means is an offensive superstar, might not be too appealing on the surface, but this is really a solid pickup for the Sox.

That being the case because when they don’t need him to play second base, the club could start him at a bevy of other positions, including all three spots in the outfield if necessary.

As an added bonus, which the Red Sox likely took into consideration here, Hernandez owns a lifetime wRC+ of 120 in 893 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching.

That attribute could very well come in handy if Hernandez was to be used a platoon option with Andrew Benintendi in left field, assuming Benintendi is still on the team by Opening Day.

Of course, given his connections to Puerto Rico, Hernandez should be familiar with Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who, as Team Puerto Rico’s general manager for the 2017 World Baseball Classic, picked the former sixth-round draft pick to play for his home island’s team.

In signing Hernandez to a two-year deal, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have now added four free-agents (Hernandez, Martin Perez, Matt Andriese, Hunter Renfroe) on major-league contracts so far this winter.

Of that group, Hernandez is the first to get a deal with a guaranteed second year as opposed to a club option.

(Picture of Enrique Hernandez: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Red Sox are ‘preparing for a series of moves’ in an effort to upgrade 2021 roster, per report

Despite having a relatively quiet offseason thus far, the Red Sox may be preparing to make a series of roster moves ahead of the start of spring training, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Per Olney, “the expectation [for the Sox] is that they will [make moves] in an effort to upgrade the ’21 team.”

Since ending the 2020 season with the fourth-worst record in baseball (24-36), Boston has made a handful of major-league caliber additions to its roster so far this offseason.

In November, right-hander Joel Payamps was claimed off waivers from the Diamondbacks, while the likes of Eduard Bazardo, Jay Groome, Bryan Mata, Hudson Potts, Jeisson Rosario, Connor Seabold, and Connor Wong were all added to the 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 deadline.

In December, righty Garrett Whitlock was selected from the Yankees in the major-league phase of the Rule 5 Draft, while a pair of former Rays — right-hander Matt Andriese and outfielder Hunter Renfroe — were signed to one-year deals for the 2021 season. Andriese’s contract includes a team option for 2022.

Outside of that, the Red Sox have jettisoned quite a few players — Tzu-Wei Lin, Yairo Munoz, Robert Stock, Kyle Hart, etc. — off its 40-man roster. They have also added (or re-signed) lesser-known players to minor-league deals for 2021.

Outfielder Cesar Puello, left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, and right-handers Daniel Gossett and Kevin McCarthy stand out among that group given the fact that all four have major-league experience.

Having laid that all out, it becomes quite apparent that the Sox have yet to make a huge splash either via trade or free agency pickup. And to be fair, not many teams except the Mets and Padres have to this point.

With that in mind, as well as taking what Olney tweeted into consideration, it would appear that Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. are preparing to make some noise one way or the other this winter.

Outfielder Andrew Benintendi has been thrown out there in trade rumors with the Sox seeking young pitching or outfield help in return, two-time Cy Young Award winner and current free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber is slated to pitch in front of interested teams in Florida on Wednesday. These are just some of the avenues Boston could be exploring as spring training draws closer.

As for other specific players the Red Sox could be in pursuit of this winter, Bloom somewhat addressed that topic when asked about his ‘offseason check list’ during a radio interview on WEEI late last month.

“Right now, there’s a lot of players on it,” Bloom said in regards to his list. “Part of that is a function of where we are, where there’s a lot of different ways we can improve, and part of it is how we are looking to improve. In the short-term, we have touched base with so many different players who we think could help us, who could fit us. There’s pitching, obviously, but also on the position player side. I think there’s different ways we can improve and different profiles of players we can bring in to help us.

“We also don’t want to take our eye off the ball that at the end of the day, we’re not just looking to put a little plaster in here and patch some holes,” he added. “We’re looking to take this organization back to where we can compete for championships consistently, year in and year out. And that means we got to be open to different moves, different acquisitions that might not just be about 2021. But, it just speaks to [the fact] that there’s a lot of different ways that we can improve. The No. 1 question we ask ourselves on anybody is: Is this pushing us towards that goal of sustaining a championship contender here? If the answer is yes, then we can explore it further, we can figure out how it impacts us in the near-term, what it might mean for other players, and hopefully we check as many of those boxes as possible.”

On top of being open to different sorts of roster moves, Bloom also expressed confidence that the Red Sox would be able to add a few more new players to improve the team before pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers next month.

“I would hope that by the end of this offseason, there’s a number of different guys we’ve brought in here,” he said. “There’s certain possibilities on the trade market, creative things that could come together. They may not, because those things are harder to do — they take at least two to tango. But, different things that hopefully can impact us beyond just this year as well.”

And, again, for what it’s worth, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is still at full capacity. So, if in the next few days or weeks the club designates a player or multiple players for assignment, that could signal that another move could be coming, if that makes sense.

Then again, if a player of Benintendi’s status were to be traded, that kind of supplementary roster move might not be necessary. It really all depends on what Bloom and Co. have in store.

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

Red Sox showing ‘serious interest’ in free-agent right-hander Jake Odorizzi, per report

The Red Sox have serious interest in free-agent right-hander Jake Odorizzi, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

Odorizzi, who turns 31 in March, is coming off a 2020 campaign in which he posted a 6.59 ERA and 6.12 FIP, though he only made four starts and pitched 13 2/3 innings on account of three separate injured list stints.

The first of those three stints lasted from July 23 until August 8 due to a right intercostal strain, the second lasted from August 22 until September 16 due to a chest contusion, and the third lasted from September 18 through the end of the season due to a right middle finger blister.

Prior to this past season, Odorizzi earned himself his first career All-Star nod in 2019 thanks in part to putting up a 3.50 ERA and .671 OPS against over 30 starts and 159 innings of work. Minnesota went 21-9 in games started by the Illinois native.

As mentioned by Feinsand in the tweet above, Odorizzi first jumped on to the scene with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013 after being part of the trade that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals the previous winter.

Having said that, it’s likely that Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom played a role in the Rays acquiring Odorizzi, among others, when he was still working under Andrew Friedman in Tampa Bay.

In his five seasons with the Rays (2013-2017), Odorizzi made 127 appearances (124 starts) spanning 698 total frames pitched.

Over that rather large sample size, the former first-round draft pick of the Royals posted an ERA of 3.82, a SIERA of 4.13, and an xFIP of 4.33. He was traded by Tampa Bay to Minnesota in exchange for minor-league infielder Jermaine Palacios shortly before the start of the 2018 season.

Perhaps reuniting with a familiar face in Bloom would benefit Odorizzi as he looks to bounce back in 2021 and re-establish his value headed into next winter.

We will have to wait and see on that, but it is worth mentioning that the Red Sox were able to sign another former Rays hurler in Matt Andriese earlier last month partly due to the fact that he had already established a relationship with Bloom when the two were in Tampa Bay.

(Top picture of Odorizzi: Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Chaim Bloom says trading for Blake Snell would have put Red Sox ‘further behind in our goal to win as many championships as we can’ over the long-term

Even with starting pitching issues to address this offseason, the Red Sox were likely never close to trading for former Rays left-hander Blake Snell.

The Rays dealt Snell to the Padres earlier this week in exchange for right-handed pitchers Luis Patino and Cole Wilcox as well as catchers Francisco Mejia and Blake Hunt.

Besides Mejia, who at 25 years old has already graduated from his prospect status, the other three players acquired by Tampa Bay were regarded by MLB Pipeline as some of the best prospects in San Diego’s farm system, with the 21-year-old Patino even ranking as baseball’s No. 23 overall prospect.

Having said that, the Padres were able to acquire a player of Snell’s caliber because of the strength of their minor-league pipeline.

Dealing for a 28-year-old who won the American League Cy Young Award in 2018 and is under team control for three more seasons is no simple task, but the Pads, led by aggressive general manager A.J. Preller, were able to accomplish this.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, do not have the luxury of having one of the top farm systems in baseball, an honor they had enjoyed for a healthy portion of the 2010s.

Due to the recent decimation of their farm system and the urgency to build it back up to its once elite status, Boston felt as though it could not part with the pieces they would need in order to acquire a frontline starter such as Snell via trade. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom made that much clear when appearing on WEEI earlier Wednesday afternoon.

“That’s not something I would ever want to get into in detail, but I would just say, generally, that we try to be involved in everything,” Bloom told Rob Bradford and Jon Meterparel. “With a deal like that, what that deal amounted to was taking an enormous amount of long-term value and pushing it into the here and now. And pushing it into the short-term. When you look at the amount of talent that came back for Blake and the length of time over which that talent can impact the Rays, that’s exactly the sort of deal, given the cost and given the price tag, that would not make sense for where we’re positioned right now.

“I think it would put us further behind in our goal to win as many championships as we can over the course of the long-term,” he continued. “It’s our job to be involved in everything and we’re remiss if we don’t check in every player who might be available. When it comes to taking an enormous amount of value and consolidating it into a smaller amount that impacts us right now, I think that’s the opposite of what we need to do at the moment.”

While the Rays, led by general manager Erik Neander, received plenty of flak for parting ways with a homegrown star like Snell as they have become accustomed to doing in recent years — think David Price, Evan Longoria — Bloom, who served as one of Neander’s right-hands for a few years before taking charge of the Sox’ baseball operations department last fall, defended the club’s and his former boss’ decision.

“The reason that the Rays are as good as they are right now is because they have the guts to do these things even though they were painful,” he said. “Regardless of what your budget is — it’s certainly more critical to do it on a smaller budget — planning for the future and seeing around corners is important. The Rays have figured out how to win over time because they’ve placed an emphasis on that.

“As difficult as it is emotionally, I think it’s easy to look at that and say ‘Hey, look at the Rays. Look how they win despite the fact that they do these things,'” added Bloom. “I would argue that they win because they do these things. Because they recognize that in order to have a consistently bright future, they have to consistently place great emphasis on it. And when you do that relentlessly over time, you end up with a really good, really sustainable team despite the limited budget they have.”

Though it’s safe to assume that the Red Sox will be operating on a larger budget than the Rays this offseason and for the foreseeable future, there are certain measures that need to be taken in order to achieve sustained success over an extended period of time, as Bloom alluded to.

One way to do that is to ensure the right kind of players are added through a variety of methods such as trade, free agency, or even waiver claim. While it’s not exactly known what the Red Sox specifically look for in the players they target, Bloom did provide some insight into what his ‘offseason check list’ looks like at the moment.

“Right now, there’s a lot of players on it,” he stated. “Part of that is a function of where we are, where there’s a lot of different ways we can improve, and part of it is how we are looking to improve. In the short-term, we have touched base with so many different players who we think could help us, who could fit us. There’s pitching, obviously, but also on the position player side. I think there’s different ways we can improve and different profiles of players we can bring in to help us.

“We also don’t want to take our eye off the ball that at the end of the day, we’re not just looking to put a little plaster in here and patch some holes,” said Bloom. “We’re looking to take this organization back to where we can compete for championships consistently, year in and year out. And that means we got to be open to different moves, different acquisitions that might not just be about 2021. But, it just speaks to [the fact] that there’s a lot of different ways that we can improve. The No. 1 question we ask ourselves on anybody is: Is this pushing us towards that goal of sustaining a championship contender here? If the answer is yes, then we can explore it further, we can figure out how it impacts us in the near-term, what it might mean for other players, and hopefully we check as many of those boxes as possible.”

So far this winter, the Red Sox have only added two major-league players via free agency in the forms of outfielder Hunter Renfroe and right-hander Matt Andriese, both of whom agreed to one-year contracts with the club earlier this month.

24-year-old righty Garrett Whitlock was also added to the major-league roster via the Rule 5 Draft, but Bloom and Co. are still hoping to add more pieces as the offseason ensues and the calendar flips to January.

“I would hope that by the end of this offseason, there’s a number of different guys we’ve brought in here,” Bloom said. “There’s certain possibilities on the trade market, creative things that could come together. They may not, because those things are harder to do — they take at least two to tango. But, different things that hopefully can impact us beyond just this year as well.”

For what it’s worth, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is currently at full capacity following the Andriese signing, so that should give you a good idea of where things stand right now in terms of potential, upcoming movement.

Red Sox gain flexibility, versatility in signing right-hander Matt Andriese

In signing right-hander Matt Andriese to a one-year deal on Wednesday, the Red Sox acquired a versatile pitcher who is both capable and willing to do whatever is asked of him.

Whether that means working as a starter or reliever has yet to be determined, but the 31-year-old is ready for whichever role is thrown his way next season.

“I signed with the Red Sox for the opportunity to [work out of the bullpen and start],” Andriese said when speaking with reporters via Zoom. “I have a lot of flexibility in my career. I’ve started lots of games and I’ve come out of the bullpen more recently but can be given the opportunity to start. The Red Sox are obviously trying to get more starters, too. But, I think my flexibility and my role will be: I’m going to compete for a starting spot but I know that being in the bullpen is also an option to help the team.”

While with the Angels this past season, Andriese was used strictly as a reliever (his one start lasted 1 2/3 innings). In 15 appearances out of the Los Angeles bullpen, the California native proved to be effective by posting a 3.56 ERA and .559 against over 30 1/3 innings of work. The lengths of his outings ranged from 2/3 of an inning all the way to 5 2/3 innings.

The year prior, Andriese was again used strictly out of the bullpen by the Diamondbacks. But, even though it has been a while since he has operated as a starter, the former third-round draft pick has not wavered in his approach.

“I haven’t really changed much. I’ve kind of fine-tuned different pitches,” said Andriese. “I think using all my pitches in a starting role probably benefits me more. The last two, three years when I was strictly a reliever, I relied heavily on my fastball and changeup — my best pitch is my changeup — but I think getting back to using all four of my pitches, my curveball, slider, cutter, two-seam. [By] just mixing and matching better, I’ll be able to go deeper into games, throw more innings.

“Every spring trainer, I build up as a starter,” he continued. “I build up to five, six innings. Even this year in Anaheim, I was locked in to be the fifth starter and then we had some bullpen issues over there and we needed some coverage in the bullpen. I think just my flexibility allows a lot of teams to mix and match my types of roles.”

The flexibility mentioned by Andriese here was perhaps on display best during his tenure with the Rays from Opening Day 2015 through July 2018. Of the 99 appearances he made with Tampa Bay over that span, the UC Riverside product was used as a starter more than 48% of the time.

While he did spend a good chunk of his career to this point with the Rays after getting dealt from the Padres in 2014, Andriese formed a relationship with Chaim Bloom, who is now chief baseball officer for the Red Sox. The two got along well and that connection aided in the process that saw the veteran righty land with Boston on Wednesday.

“It was very important,” Andriese said when asked about how important Bloom’s role was in his signing with the Sox. “The familiarity with him and everything like that. It was easy to talk to him and we kind of cut right to the chase, didn’t have to deal with any other stuff. He knows me well and I think that will help us going forward.”

Even with his and Bloom’s relationship in mind, Andriese’s role with the Red Sox for 2021 has yet to be clearly defined. More will likely become clear at the onset of spring training come February.

In the meantime, the 6-foot-2, 215 lb. right-hander certainly looks like a fine addition as a potential swingman for the price the Red Sox paid.

The contract Andriese signed on Wednesday includes a club option for 2022 and is worth $2.1 million in guaranteed money, though different incentives and escalators based off number of innings pitched could increase that sum up to $7.35 million through 2022.

Former Red Sox catcher Deivy Grullón claimed off waivers by Reds

Before signing right-hander Matt Andriese to a one-year deal on Wednesday, the Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster, which at the time was at full capacity.

Well, it turns out they accomplished this by placing catcher Deivy Grullon on waivers recently, and he was claimed off waivers by the Reds on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old backstop appeared in just one game for Boston this past season after getting picked up off waivers from the Phillies in early September.

In that one game, which came against Philadelphia in the nightcap of a day-night doubleheader on September 8, the Dominican national went 1-for-3 at the plate with one walk, one RBI, and one strikeout while catching all seven innings.

Grullon was subsequently optioned back down to the alternate training site the following day, where he spent the rest of the season before returning to the Dominican Republic to play for Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican winter league.

Since reporting back home, Grullon has struggled a bit on both sides of the ball, as noted by SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield.

With the Reds, Grullon will presumably slide behind Tucker Barnhart and Tyler Stephenson in terms of catching depth. He has two minor-league options remaining on his current contract.

As for how this affects the Red Sox, catching prospect Connor Wong is now without a doubt the No. 3 backstop on Boston’s 40-man roster behind Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki.

The 24-year-old was added to the 40-man in late November and is projected to begin the 2021 season with Triple-A Worcester.

Red Sox sign veteran right-hander Matt Andriese to one-year deal that includes a club option for 2022

The Red Sox have signed free-agent right-hander Matt Andriese to a one-year contract, the club announced Wednesday afternoon. The deal also includes a club option for 2022.

Andriese, 31, spent the 2020 season with the Angels, posting a 4.50 ERA and 4.06 xFIP over 16 appearances (one start) and 32 innings of work. He was non-tendered by Los Angeles on December 2, effectively making him a free agent.

Prior to his time with the Halos, Andriese spent a season and a half with the Diamondbacks as well as three and a half seasons with the Rays.

With Tampa Bay, whom acquired him from the Padres in January 2014, the former third-round draft selection appeared in a total of 99 games from the start of the 2015 season until July 2018, at which point he was dealt to Arizona.

In those 99 outings, 48 of which were starts, as a member of the Rays for nearly four seasons, Andriese yielded 176 runs (162 earned) over 339 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 4.30 and a FIP of 4.13.

Now, Andriese is once again reunited with former Rays executive and current Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom in Boston. It’s likely Bloom played a role in the trade that sent Andriese from San Diego to Tampa Bay in the first place nearly seven years ago.

With the Sox, Andriese could provide value as a swingman capable of both starting and pitching out of the bullpen when needed. Given the current state of Boston’s starting rotation, the addition of the California native comes at a sound time.

Per Baseball Savant, the UC Riverside product operates with a five pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball, a changeup, a curveball, a cutter, and a sinker. He relied on his four-seamer and changeup the most this past season

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Andriese, who is entering his third year of arbitration eligibility, will earn a base salary of $1.85 million in 2021. The club option for 2022 is worth $3.5 million and includes a $250,000 buyout.

All in all, Andriese will make $2.1 in guaranteed money, though incentives and escalators, which will be based on number of innings pitched, could bring the total value of this contract up to $7.35 million over two years.

On another note, the Red Sox were able to sign Andriese to a major-league deal in the first place because the club placed catcher Deivy Grullon on waivers.

The 24-year-old backstop has since been claimed by the Reds, meaning the Sox’ 40-man roster is currently at full capacity.