That Time Justin Turner Nearly Signed Minor-League Deal With Red Sox

Justin Turner has been one of the best third basemen in the National League since joining the Dodgers in 2014.

Over the past six seasons, the 35-year-old owns a slash line of .302/.381/.506 with 112 home runs. 383 RBI, one All-Star nod, and three top-15 finishes in NL MVP voting.

As impressive as those numbers may be, Turner’s rise to stardom was far from expected prior to signing with Los Angeles.

A former seventh-round draft pick of the Reds in 2006 out of Cal State Fullerton, Turner’s stay in Cincinnati’s farm system did not last long, as he was part of the trade that sent veteran catcher Ramon Hernandez from Baltimore to the Reds in December 2008.

Making his major-league debut with the Orioles the following September, in a game against the Red Sox, Turner went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and did not do much in a limited role the remainder of the 2009 season.

The 2010 campaign marked a period of turbulence for Turner. He was called up and sent down by the Orioles on three separate occasions before being designated for assignment on May 21st of that year.

Four days later, the Long Beach native found himself a member of the New York Mets after the club had claimed him off waivers, and he reported to Triple-A Buffalo.

Turner got his first real crack with New York in April 2011, and he emerged as a solid utility player who could come off the bench and play multiple positions around the infield.

In terms of bWAR, Turner’s 2012 season was just about identical to what he did in 2011, albeit in 23 fewer games. His 2013 season, in which he was limited to 86 games due to a hamstring injury, was even better using that same metric, but the Mets made the ultimate decision to non-tender the infielder that December rather than pay him the $800,000 he was projected to earn in 2014.

“Don’t assume every non-tender is a function of money,” ex-Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said at the time when asked about Turner being released by New York. Apparently, there were reports that Mets brass questioned Turner’s motivation and lack of hustle.

Despite those reports, Turner was a coveted minor-league free agent in the months following his release. The Red Sox were one of those teams that were interested in his services.

Per WEEI’s John Tomase, who now covers the Red Sox for NBC Sports Boston, former Sox general manager Ben Cherington made a “hard push” to land Turner, and the two sides nearly agreed to a deal. That is, until the Dodgers and Ned Coletti came calling.

“I had to make a decision by midnight or the next morning and the Dodgers called that night,” Turner told Tomase prior to the start of the 2018 World Series. “At the time, it was between the Red Sox and the Twins. Obviously Boston was a world class organization with a lot of good young players and a general manager that expressed his interest in really wanting me to be here. There were a lot of good things coming out of it. I was honestly getting excited about it and looking forward to it.”

With that excitement for Turner also came concern in how the Red Sox utilized their role players under then-manager John Farrell. The Dodgers, meanwhile, showed more of a willingness to use bench players, as would be expected from most National League clubs.

“One of the deciding factors between Boston and L.A., Don Mattingly used his bench players a lot,” Turner said. “You look at Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker and Michael Young all having 300 at-bats the season before as utility players. And then you look at the Boston bench guys having 70 at-bats, 80 at-bats.”

The opportunity to play more, as well as the chance to remain in the National League, ultimately won Turner over, and he inked a minor-league pact with the Dodgers that February.

““Going into free agency that year, my main goal was to stay in the National League for the opportunity to be a utility guy and still get to play,” he said. “So when the Dodgers came into the picture, that kind of answered the question for me, made it not as difficult a choice, although I was excited and looking forward to possibly being a Red Sox.”

As previously mentioned, Turner went onto blossom into a star third baseman with Los Angeles and is now entering the final year of the four-year, $64 million extension he signed in December 2016.

Having failed to sign Turner in 2014, Cherington went out and made a big splash later that same calendar year by bringing in free-agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval on a five-year, $95 million contract.

Sandoval flopped with Boston, and was ultimately designated for assignment and later released on July 19th of the 2017 season. At that same time, Turner was fresh off making his first career All-Star team.

The Red Sox have since found their third baseman of the future in the form of 23-year-old Rafael Devers, but it’s still interesting to look back and wonder what ripple effects signing Turner could have had on the club in 2020 and beyond.

 

Red Sox Claim Chris Mazza off Waivers From Mets

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox claimed right-handed reliever Chris Mazza off waivers from the New York Mets.

Mazza, who was designated by New York last week, posted an ERA of 5.51 and xFIP of 5.47 over nine relief appearances and 16 1/3 innings of work this past season, his first in the majors.

The 30-year-old hurler was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 27th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Walnut Creek, Ca. and had to work his way through independent league ball in 2018 in order to make it back as a Rule 5 pick of the Mets that year.

While with the Mets’ Double- A and Triple-A clubs this season, Mazza allowed a total of 43 runs (40 earned) on 91 hits and 26 walks over 18 appearances, 17 of which were starts. That’s good for an ERA of 3.61 and batting average against of .247.

Per Statcast, Mazza relies on five pitches: a changeup, a cutter, a four-seam fastball, a sinker, and a slider. He averaged 90.6 MPH with his four-seamer in 2019.

Mazza joins left-hander Josh Osich as additions chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have made through waivers so far this offseason. As the above tweet mentions, the righty is the 40th player on the Red Sox’ current 40-man roster, which is subject to change.

Former Red Sox Right-Hander Rick Porcello Signs One-Year, $10 Million Deal with Mets

Former Red Sox right-hander has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with the New York Mets, per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

According to Heyman, Porcello had a three-year deal on the table as of Wednesday night but ultimately opted for the one-year pact to reset his value for next winter.

There were some rumors that the Sox and Porcello were interested in a reunion, but chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will now have to look elsewhere for starting rotation depth.

Originally acquired by Boston from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and relievers Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier back in December 2014, Porcello spent a total of five seasons with the Sox after inking a four-year, $82.5 million extension with the club under general manager Ben Cherington in April 2015.

In that time, the soon-to-be 31-year-old hurler posted a 4.43 ERA and 4.15 FIP over 159 total starts and 964 innings pitched. That includes a 5.52 ERA over 32 starts and 174 1/3 innings this past season.

In postseason play, the former first-round pick owned an ERA of 4.94 and batting average against of .277 in eight total October appearances (five starts) while with the Red Sox.

Porcello’s only start in the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers came in Game 3, the longest game in the history of the fall classic.

There were plenty of ups and downs in Porcello’s tenure with Boston, such as winning his first Cy Young Award in 2016 and following that up by leading the American League in losses (17) in 2017.  Still, he could be relied on to pitch deep into games when needed.

Outside of Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez, Porcello is the only Sox hurler to win a Cy Young Award in the last 50 years.

With the Mets, the New Jersey native will look to put himself in a better spot to cash in around next year’s Winter Meetings in Dallas.

Thanks for everything, Rick.

Red Sox ‘Actively’ Trying to Trade Jackie Bradley Jr., per Report

The Red Sox are actively trying to trade outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Abraham also notes that before last week, the Sox were engaged with the Mets regarding a potential deal before New York opted to trade for Astros outfielder Jake Marisnick instead.

Entering his final year of arbitration eligibility in 2020, Bradley Jr., who turns 30 in April, is projected to earn $11 million next season.

That price may be too high for a Chaim Bloom-led Red Sox team looking to trim down payroll to under the $208 million luxury tax threshold, especially when you consider that the majority of Bradley Jr.’s value comes from what he does with his glove compared to his bat.

The Virginia native slashed .225/.317/.421 to go along with 21 home runs and 62 RBI over 147 games played in 2019. He also finished just short of notching his second straight Gold Glove Award for American League center fielders this past season, finishing as the runner up behind Tampa Bay’s Kevin Kiermaier.

This is certainly not the first time Bradley Jr. has been on the trade block, and with teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks being linked to him, the former first-round pick out of the University of South Carolina’s days with the Sox may be numbered.

All of this information has come from a busy first full day of the Baseball Winter Meetings out in San Diego, so there is definitely going to be more to come in the next few days as well.

New York Mets’ Marcus Stroman Thought He May Have Been Headed to Red Sox Among Other Clubs, per Report

In case you missed it, the Toronto Blue Jays dealt right-hander Marcus Stroman to the New York Mets on Sunday in exchange for a pair of minor-league pitching prospects .

With that, reports broke out on Sunday that the former Blue Jay star caused some commotion within his own clubhouse and ‘bolted’ out of there, per The Athletic’s Blake Murphy.

Earlier Monday, The New York Post’s Mike Puma reported why Stroman may have reacted that way, saying that he was disappointed that he wasn’t traded to a contending team, and, “he thought he might be headed to the Red Sox, Yankees or Astros.”

The Red Sox were never really in on Stroman, per se, although they did send top advisor Frank Wren to a July 9th game between the Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers that the 2019 All-Star was starting in, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

On Monday, in a conference call with the New York media, Stroman clarified what went down in Toronto the day before, stating, “It had nothing to do with the Mets at all,” and stemmed more from voicing his frustrations in an exit interview with the Jays.

Stroman, 28, posted a 2.96 ERA and .248 batting average against over 21 starts and 124 2/3 innings pitched with Toronto this season.

He is also good friends with Red Sox’ left-hander David Price, who joined Stroman in the Blue Jays’ rotation when he was acquired from the Tigers back in 2015.

That could very well be a reason why Stroman may have been hopeful to join Boston this year despite the bad blood he seems to have with a few notable Red Sox players, staff, and Hall of Famers.

This is all just pure speculation, though. It’s not like Stroman has come out himself and said that he wished he got traded to the Red Sox. It just never seemed like the best of fits anyway.

Red Sox and Mets Engaged in ‘Early Trade Talks’ Regarding Right-Hander Zack Wheeler

On the same day rumors broke out that the Red Sox were looking to add to their starting rotation, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported on Tuesday that the Sox and New York Mets have had trade talks regarding right-hander Zack Wheeler.

Sherman cites that, “the [trade] talks were described as in the early stages and that Boston is not the only club with whom the Mets are discussing Wheeler.”

Wheeler, 29, is set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2019 season, a season in which the righty has posted a not-so-nice 4.69 ERA and 3.81 xFIP through 19 starts and 119 total innings pitched.

As things stand right now at the All-Star break, the Mets have the second-worst record in the National League at 40-50. They are 3-7 in their last 10 games, and are using their first three contests out of the break against the Miami Marlins to determine whether they should be sellers ahead of the July 31st trade deadline, per a club official.

During the 2018/19 offseason, the Mets added two Red Sox execs to their own executive staff, with former Sox senior vice president of player personnel Allard Baird coming on as vice president and assistant GM of scouting and player development, and former vice president of player personnel Jared Banner coming on as executive director of player development under general manager Brodie Van Wagenen.

With that, the Mets probably have a solid idea of what prospects Boston has to offer in any potential trade for Wheeler.

Sherman also notes that Wheeler was made availabe at last year’s deadline as well, and you have to figure that the clubs that miss out on names such as Madison Bumgarner or Marcus Stroman this year will be in on the Mets hurler.

Since these trade talks are only in the early stages, it seems likely that more information will become available if/when these rumors heat up, so stay tuned for that.

Eduardo Rodriguez Impresses in Four Innings as #RedSox Fall to Mets for Fourth Straight Loss

The Red Sox fell to a not so nice 6-9 in Grapefruit League play on Saturday afternoon following a blowout 10-2 loss at the hands of the New York Mets at JetBlue Park, marking their fourth straight defeat.

Eduardo Rodriguez got the start in this one and was impressive yet again, as the left-hander worked the first four frames and held New York to just one run on three hits and one walk to go along with a trio of strikeouts. He faced 15 hitters.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora said that he would like to see Rodriguez be more aggressive following his previous start this past Monday.

When asked about the Venezuela native’s outing on Saturday, Cora seemed encouraged with what he saw.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes, Tyler Thornburg, Josh Taylor, and Domingo Tapia surrendered nine runs on 12 hits, one walk, and four strikeouts over the final five innings.

For Barnes, Saturday’s outing marked the right-hander’s 2019 spring debut. He allowed hits to four of the first five hitters he faced , which in turn resulted in three New York runs coming around to score in the fifth.

Thornburg, meanwhile, served up a monster solo home run to Mets first baseman Pete Alonso to lead off the sixth before allowing an additional two runs as well.

Through four appearances and four innings pitched this spring, the former Brewer owns a gargantuan 15.75 ERA and 3.00 WHIP.

When asked about Thronburg’s underwhelming performances so far in 2019, Cora implied that it’s now “go-time,” for the right-hander.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was held in check by Mets starter Zack Wheeler, as the 28-year-old hurler allowed just one hit and no walks while fanning three over four shutout innings of work.

As a matter of fact, the only inning Boston could put across any runs came in the first inning without Wheeler on the mound for New York in the bottom half of the fifth.

Blake Swihart got the scoring started with a two out RBI single off Kyle Dowdy to plate Sam Travis from second, and Andrew Benintendi drove in Swihart on another RBI single that also happened to end the inning with Christian Vazquez getting thrown out at home.

 

That made it a 4-2 game at the time, but the Mets would go on to score six unanswered, as the final score in this one was 10-2 in favor of New York.

Some notes from this loss:

Blake Swihart went 1/2 on Saturday with that RBI single. He started at catcher and played the first five innings.

Speaking of catchers, Christian Vazquez, who DH’d, went 2/3 on Saturday with a double and a strikeout.

Rafael Devers went 1/3 with a triple. He has yet to hit a three-bagger in a regular season game.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll look to put a stop to their four-game skid on the road against the Tampa Bay Ray in Port Charlotte on Sunday.

Right-hander Rick Porcello is set to make his first start of 2019 in this one, while fellow righty Casey Sadler will make the start for Tampa Bay.

First pitch at Charlotte Sports Park on Sunday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN will have it covered.

 

Gorkys Hernandez Mashes Homer, Makes Diving Catch in #RedSox Victory over Mets

The Red Sox improved to 5-5 in Grapefruit League play on Monday following a 9-3 win over a split New York Mets squad for their second consecutive victory.

Eduardo Rodriguez made the start for Boston in this one at First Data Field in Port St. Lucie, his second of the spring.

The left-hander looked solid against New York’s lineup this afternoon as he retired six of the nine hitters he faced while scattering three hits and striking out a pair over two scoreless innings en route to the eventual winning decision.

Through two outings this spring, the 25-year-old hurler has given up two earned runs in four total innings of work while also fanning five.

In relief of Rodriguez, Brandon Workman, Mike Shawaryn, Adam Lau, Denyi Reyes, Matthew Gorst, and Brian Ellington combined to surrender three runs on 10 hits, three walks, one HBP, and eight punch outs over the final seven frames on Monday.

Shawaryn was fairly impressive himself, as he was responsible for five of those strikeouts while shutting out New York in more than two innings of relief. He also walked one and hit another with a pitch.

On a side note, Tim Tebow was featured in the Mets’ starting lineup for the first time ever against the Red Sox.

The former Heisman Trophy winner went 2/3 with a pair of singles, his first two base knocks of the spring.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Mets left-hander Steven Matz, who struck out 152 batters with New York in 2018.

The southpaw did not have much going his way on Monday though, as Boston’s bats got to him for four runs on five hits before being chased in the top half of the third.

As it turns out, all four of those runs off of Matz came in the second inning, as Chad De Le Guerra got the scoring started with a one out RBI single to score Sam Travis and advance Tony Renda to third.

Immediately following that, Gorkys Hernandez had his first signature spring moment, as the former Giants outfielder belted a three-run home run to deep left field for his first of 2019.

Fast forward to the fifth, and Travis and Renda struck again, this time driving in a pair of runs on an RBI single and RBI groundout respectively off of Justin Wilson.

An inning later, the Red Sox tacked on another two runs to pad their lead, with Juan Centeno and 2018 seventh round draft selection Jarren Duran picking up a run driven in each.

Finally, in the ninth, a Bobby Dalbec leadoff double would later result in Boston’s final run of the afternoon crossing the plate on a two out RBI single off the bat of Danny Mars.

That run-scoring knock put the Red Sox up 9-3, which would go on to be the final score of this contest.

Some notes from this win:

Rafael Devers, batting second, went 2/3 on Monday. JD Martinez, batting right after Devers, finished the day 0/3 with a strikeout.

In addition to his first home run of the spring, Gorkys Hernandez flashed the leather a bit as well to rob Amed Rosario in the first inning.

Tate Matheny also robbed Michael Conforto of a hit.

Next up for the Red Sox, they head to the FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to take on the Washington Nationals on Tuesday.

As it was the last time these two clubs matched up, it will be Hector Velazquez vs. Max Scherzer for your starting pitching matchup.

First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET. This one will not be on NESN, but if you have MLB.TV, MASN is the way to go.

#RedSox Agree to Minor League Deal with Once Banned from Baseball RHP Jenrry Mejia.

The Boston Red Sox have reached an agreement on a minor league contract with former New York Mets reliever Jenrry Mejia. Fancred’s Jon Heyman was first with the report.

Mejia, 29, has not appeared in a big league game since 2015 and has quite the chequered past.

Once an important member of the Mets pitching staff, the Dominican Republic native has since fallen off the map following three violation of Major League Baseball’s performance-enhancing drug policy, which subsequently led to a since-lifted lifetime ban from baseball in 2016.

Before that, Mejia posted a 3.68 ERA over 113 appearances (18 starts) and 183.1 innings pitched with New York from 2010 to 2015. He also recorded 28 saves as the team’s closer in 2014.

Reinstated by commissioner Rob Manfred this past August with eligibility to play in 2019, Mejia was ultimately released by the Mets on November 20th after appearing in two minor league rehab games in the Dominican Summer League.

With his new deal with the Red Sox, the right-hander did not receive an invite to major league spring training, but he will earn $625,000 if he cracks Boston’s 25-man roster at any point this season.

This move comes just days after president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski suggested on ESPN’s Buster Olney’s podcast that the club would be pursuing, “more big league roster invites and see if they could make the club. ”

The addition of Mejia certainly comes with a fair amount of risk. I mean, we are talking about the only player to be banned for life because of multiple PED offenses. But at the same time, it’s a minor league contract. The Red Sox do not have a lot invested in this particular pitcher. If either side feels as if things are not working out, there won’t be too many complications in working out a feasible solution.

Regardless of what happens there, it should be interesting to watch, read, and listen to what sort of reputation Mejia builds once spring training starts in Fort Myers in just a few weeks.

Image result for jenrry mejia gif

RECAP: Chris Sale Tosses Three Scoreless Innings and Brock Holt Stays Hot as #RedSox Take Series from Mets with 4-3 Win.

After splitting the first two games of this three-game series against the New York Mets over the last two days, the Red Sox looked to head into an off day with their second consecutive series victory and 103rd win of the season on Sunday.

Making his 25th start of the season and second since returning from the disabled list on Tuesday, Chris Sale took the mound at Fenway Park for his second ever appearance against the Mets.

Pitching three full innings in this one as planned, the left-hander held New York scoreless while allowing just one hit and zero walks to go along with a single strikeout on the afternoon.

Facing the minimum nine batters thanks to a caught stealing in the top of the second, Sale needed 42 pitches (27 strikes) to complete the three frames of work.

Out of those 42 pitches, the Florida native threw 20 four-seam fastballs, 11 sliders, seven changeups, and four two-seam fastballs, which resulted in a total of six swinging and eight called strikes.

He also topped out at 96.8 MPH with that four-seamer in the first inning.

Lowering his ERA on the season down to an American League best 1.92 with this solid performance to wrap up the weekend, Sale will look to ramp it up to four innings in his next time out, which will come against the Cleveland Indians in Cleveland this upcoming Friday.

In relief of Sale, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for the final six innings of Sunday’s win, but nothing certainly came easy for them.

Entering this contest first with a fresh three-run lead to protect, Hector Velazquez, who was scratched from his previous start with illness on Friday, tossed a scoreless fourth inning.

Drew Pomeranz was next up, and after retiring all three batters he faced in the fifth, surrendered the first two Mets runs of the day in the sixth while recording the first two outs of the inning.

Heath Hembree cleaned up Pomeranz’s mess in that top half of the sixth, but failed to record an out in the seventh by walking one and hitting another.

Joe Kelly, like Hembree, did manage to clean up a bit of a sticky situation in his 69th relief appearance of the year, but not before allowing one of the inherited runners to score on a two out Amed Rosario RBI single.

From that point on, Brandon Workman worked a scoreless eighth inning to keep this thing tied at three runs a piece, and after his team jumped out to a 4-3 advantage in their half of the eighth, Steven Wright came in and picked up his first career save with a clean ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against arguably the best pitcher in the National League in the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, who entered Sunday with a miniscule 1.71 ERA over 29 starts this season.

After failing to reach base once through the first two-plus innings of this one, it was Rafael Devers who got a huge bottom of the third started by ripping a one out single back up the middle to center field.

One Christian Vazquez single later that allowed Devers to advance all the way to third thanks to a little hit-and-run action, Mookie Betts drove in the first run of the afternoon with a 380 foot sacrifice fly to center field that plated Devers and made it a 1-0 game.

With one out and one runner on, the red-hot Brock Holt came to the plate, batting in the two-hole for a change, and came through with yet another game-changing hit, a two-run home run sent 402 feet to the Red Sox bullpen.

For Holt, just his fifth big fly of the season, and for deGrom, just the 10th homer he has given up all season.

A las, that was all the Red Sox could get off of New York’s ace, and it was not until the eighth when they would get on the scoreboard again.

Tied at 3-3 now, Andrew Benintendi came to the plate with one out, Tzu-Wei Lin at third following a leadoff double, and Seth Lugo on the hill for the Mets.

On the second pitch he saw from Lugo, Benintendi al but sealed the deal in this one with an RBI sac fly to center that was more than good enough to plate Lin from third for what would end up being the game-winning run.

Some notes from this 4-3 win: 

Injury-related: Mookie Betts had to leave this game in the sixth inning with left side soreness after making an awkward throw home in right field, but he should be good to DH in New York on Tuesday, per Alex Cora.

Through 150 games, the Red Sox have a winning percentage of .687.

Brock Holt is hitting .400 with two home runs and seven RBI in his last five games.

Chris Sale has not surrendered an earned run in his last 25 innings pitched, which dates back to July 11th.

The magic number for the Red Sox to clinch their third consecutive American League East title now stands at two games, meaning they could be crowned division champs at Yankee Stadium for the second time in the last three seasons.

All that is needed for that to happen is one win in the team’s next three games against the Yankees, which will take place after an off day on Monday.

Starting pitching matchups for that upcoming series go as follows:

9/18: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-7 4.22 ERA) vs. LHP JA Happ (16-6 3.75 ERA)

9/19: LHP David Price (15-6 3.42 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Severino (17-8 3.46 ERA)

9/20: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (13-4 3.53 ERA) vs. RHP Masahiro Tanaka (12-5 3.47 ERA)

The Yankees have lost six of their last ten games.

First pitch of the series opener in the Bronx is scheduled for 1:05 PM ET Tuesday, weather permitting.