Alex Verdugo (hamstring) returns to Red Sox lineup for finale against Jacob deGrom, Mets

After not starting each of his team’s last two games, Alex Verdugo is back in the Red Sox’ lineup for their series finale against the Mets at Citi Field on Wednesday night.

The 24-year-old gets the start in right field — alongside center fielder Kiké Hernández and left fielder J.D. Martinez — and will bat out of the two-hole, per usual.

Despite not starting Sunday’s game against the Mariners or Tuesday’s contest against the Mets, Verdugo was used as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning of Boston’s 2-1 win over New York.

Verdugo’s brief absence stems from a hamstring cramp he suffered in the fourth inning of Saturday’s loss to Seattle at Fenway Park.

On a line drive off the bat of Sam Haggerty, Verdugo ran in from center field to catch the ball on what looked like a pretty routine play.

Upon catching the ball, though, the young outfielder appeared to be in some discomfort as he gripped the back of his left leg while going back to his position.

He was able to finish Sunday’s game — and even went 2-for-4 with a double — but had not been able to return to Boston’s starting lineup until Wednesday.

“It was actually a very weird play,” Verdugo recalled over the weekend. “Just shuffled my feet, felt something grab a little bit, and just had to make sure that I kept that in mind and loosened it up throughout the game. But no problem.”

The Red Sox will be matched up against an extremely tough opponent in Verdugo’s return to the lineup in the form of Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom.

Through four starts this season, the two-time Cy Young Award winner has posted a miniscule 0.31 ERA and .426 OPS against to go along with a 50:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 29 innings pitched.

In three career starts against the Red Sox, deGrom owns a lifetime 3.32 ERA and .513 OPS against over 19 total innings of work. His most recent start against Boston came last July, an outing in which he yielded two runs over six innings in a game the Mets lost by a final score of 6-5.

Verdugo, meanwhile, has faced off against deGrom six times before in his young career and is 0-for-6 against him.

On the 2021 campaign as a whole, the left-handed hitter comes into play Wednesday sporting a .325/.371/.538 slash line to go along with three home runs and 13 RBI through 22 games and 89 plate appearances.

Here is how the rest of the 15-9 Red Sox will be lining up against deGrom and the 9-9 Mets:

First pitch Wednesday is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: David Berding/Getty Images)

Red Sox taxi squad getting opportunity to do more in second road trip of season

As the Red Sox are one game into their second road trip of the season, the club has five players traveling with them as part of their taxi squad.

These five players — right-handers Eduard Bazardo and Daniel Gossett, catcher Chris Herrmann, infielder Jonathan Arauz, and outfielder Cesar Puello — are not just working out with the major-league team.

To further explain, the Red Sox are currently in Queens for a two-game series against the Mets at Citi Field on Tuesday and Wednesday.

At the same time, Boston’s alternate training site roster is in Brooklyn to take on the Mets’ alternate training site team in a pair of scrimmages at MCU Park.

So, not only are Arauz, Bazardo, Gossett, Herrmann, and Puello working out with the Red Sox while they are at Citi Field, they are also getting to see live pitching in a somewhat-competitive environment across town.

“That’s good for them,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Boston’s taxi squad players on Tuesday. “Get big-league money and get at-bats. That’s awesome.”

After wrapping up their two-game set against the Mets Wednesday night, the Sox will head to Texas for a four-game weekend tilt against the Rangers in Arlington.

Once the Red Sox return to Boston on Sunday, the likes of Arauz, Bazardo, Gossett, Herrmann, and Puello will all return to the team’s alternate training site in Worcester, as Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols for the 2021 season dictate.

(Picture of Jonathan Arauz: Mark Brown Getty Images)

Garrett Richards fans 10 over 7 strong innings, Bobby Dalbec hits first home run of season as Red Sox top Mets, 2-1

Garrett Richards had said last week that his “delivery was off a little bit” following an erratic outing against the Blue Jays in which he walked six batters while only 48 of his 92 pitches went for strikes.

“I just think the delivery was off a little bit tonight,” he had said. “I was kind of fighting it the whole night. And then obviously, couldn’t get my release point under control. Just kind of a combination of things. Nothing that can’t be fixed.”

On Tuesday, Richards put the adjustments he made over the past six days into action and had his best start as a member of the Red Sox to this point as a result.

Over seven strong innings of work against the Mets at Citi Field, the veteran right-hander yielded just one earned run on seven hits and no walks to go along with a season-high 10 strikeouts on the night.

The lone run Richards gave up came in the bottom of the second, when with two outs he served up a solo home run to Jeff McNeil on a heater down the heart of the plate.

Outside of that, Richards was thoroughly impressive in spite of dealing with a fair amount of traffic on the base paths. He did wrap up his evening by retiring the final three Mets he faced in a scoreless seventh inning.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 93 — 70 of which were strikes — the 23-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 35% of the time he was on the mound Tuesday, inducing 11 swings-and-misses and topping out at 95.8 mph with the pitch.

Able to pick up his first winning decision as a member of the Sox, Richards will go for win No. 2 in his next time out, which should come against the the Rangers in Arlington on Sunday.

Martinez records outfield assist, Vazquez thwarts steal attempt

While Richards was in the process of tossing seven innings of one-run ball Tuesday, he got a boost from his defense on two occasions in his fifth frame of work.

There, Mets catcher James McCann led things off by ripping a line drive to left field.

J.D. Martinez, starting in place of Alex Verdugo (hamstring) in left, fielded the ball on a run and with a quick throw to second base, snuffed out McCann while he was trying to extend a leadoff single into a leadoff double. Marwin Gonzalez, Boston’s second baseman on Tuesday, also made a nice effort to get the tag on McCann in the first place.

After punching out Mets starting pitcher David Peterson for the second out of the inning, Richards surrendered a single to old friend Kevin Pillar. But like McCann, Pillar did not last long on the base paths thanks to Christian Vazquez throwing him out attempting to steal second base.

Andriese and Barnes close it out

In relief of Richards, Matt Andriese — not Adam Ottavino — got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the eighth, and he needed all of 16 pitches to sit down Pillar, Francisco Lindor, and Dominic Smith in order.

From there, Matt Barnes came on for the ninth and fanned two of the three hitters he faced in a perfect inning of relief to notch his fifth save of the year and preserve the 2-1 victory for his side.

Dalbec hits long-awaited first home run of season

While Richards and Co. did an effective job of keeping the Mets off the board, the Red Sox did not find themselves in many scoring situations on Tuesday, but they took advantage of the opportunities they had.

One of those opportunities arose in the top half of the third inning, when Bobby Dalbec led things off by crushing his first home run of the season 390 feet to right-center field off Peterson.

Fast forward to the sixth, and the top of the lineup got the job done this time when Enrique Hernandez led the inning off with a double and came in to score on a Rafael Devers bloop RBI single moments later.

Devers’ 19th RBI of the season gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead, which would go on to be Tuesday’s final score.

Next up: Pivetta vs. deGrom

Things will not get any easier for the 15-9 Red Sox on Wednesday, as they will be matched up against two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, who struck out 15 in a two-hit, complete game shutout bid in his last time out for the Mets against the Nationals.

Nick Pivetta will be tasked with opposing deGrom for Boston. The 28-year-old righty took a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his last start against the Blue Jays, but wound up allowing two runs in a game the Red Sox lost 7-3.

First pitch for Wednesday’s series finale is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Bobby Dalbec: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski wraps up solid spring with 3 strong innings of work against Twins

In what was undoubtedly be his last start of the spring, Red Sox pitching prospect Josh Winckowski impressed against the Twins at JetBlue Park on Sunday afternoon.

Making his first start of the Grapefruit League campaign, the 22-year-old right-hander held Minnesota’s lineup — which included the likes of Josh Donaldson, Nelson Cruz, and Byron Buxton — to one earned run on two hits and one walk to go along with one strikeout over three solid innings of work.

That lone Twins tally came on an RBI groundout off the bat of Donaldson in the top half of the third after Willians Astudillo led off the frame with a double and advanced to third on a flyout.

Other than that, Winckowski wrapped up his day by getting Cruz to ground out to short to retire the side in the third.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 51, 33 of which went for strikes, the Ohio native finishes his first spring with the Sox having posted a 3.68 ERA and .154 batting average against over five total appearances spanning 7 1/3 innings pitched.

Boston acquired Winckowski — as well as outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later — in the three-team trade with the Mets and Royals that saw outfielder Andrew Benintendi land in Kansas City last month.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds, Winckowski was originally selected by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Estero (Fla.) High School.

He signed with Toronto for $125,000 later that summer and proceeded to put up a 3.35 ERA over 54 appearances (50 starts) and 263 innings of work between rookie-league, Low-A, Class-A, and High-A over the next 3 1/2 seasons.

By that time, Winckowski had emerged as an intriguing prospect within the Jays’ minor-league pipeline, and even after not seeing any in-game at action at all (besides Toronto’s fall instructional league) on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he was one of three pitchers the Blue Jays traded to the Mets in January in exchange for left-hander Steven Matz.

Emerging as New York’s 26th-ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline in the wake of that trade, Winckowski’s time with the Mets did not last all that long.

As previously mentioned, he, again, was traded — this time to the Red Sox — on February 10, prompting him to jokingly change his Instagram bio to ‘I guess Red Sox.’

Given that he grew up and still resides in the Fort Myers-area, Winckowski going from the Mets to the Sox meant being within closer proximity to his new team’s spring training complex, which led to him captioning his Instagram post reacting to the trade with: ‘Spring training drive won’t be too bad.’

(For what it’s worth, his Instagram bio now reads: ‘Crazy few weeks but I’m pumped to be a Sox.’)

Winckowski arrived at the Red Sox’ Fenway South complex last month as one of 30 initial non-roster invitees at big-league camp. He was ultimately reassigned to the minor-leagues on March 9, but not before leaving a positive first impression on some of his new teammates, like fellow right-hander Matt Barnes.

“I was standing right next to him as he was warming up,” Barnes said about Winckowski following his scoreless outing against the Braves on March 7. “The ball was coming out good. Obviously he had a really good inning. Commanded the ball in the zone. Got ahead of guys, attacked hitters. It looks like he’s got firm, good stuff. It looks like the ball jumps out of his hand — really heavy fastball. That’s what it looks like to me. Obviously I’m not on the other end of it. But watching him from behind in the bullpen warming up and obviously the results speak for themselves in the game today, it looks like he’s got really good stuff.”

Winckowski, who does not turn 23 until June 28, is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as Boston’s No. 33 prospect, ranking 17th among pitchers in the organization.

FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen wrote this about Winckowski back in January, “Winckowski has a chance to pop in 2021 because he was pitching hurt in 2019 and still got guys out. He looked rusty during instructs but was also up to 97 and added a new splitter to an already decent slider.”

Equipped with a fastball, slider, changeup, and slider in total, Winckowski is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season with Double-A Portland, though he could earn a promotion to Triple-A Worcester later in the year depending on how he progresses.

The 2021 campaign could prove to be a pivotal one for Winckowski, as he becomes eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career later on this winter.

The Red Sox will need to add the righty to their 40-man roster on or before November 20 of this year if they do not want to risk losing him to another club in the December draft.

(Picture of Josh Winckowski: Billie Weiss/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: The Athletic’s Alec Lewis joins the show to discuss the Andrew Benintendi trade

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by The Athletic’s Alec Lewis, who covers the Kansas City Royals for the site.

Alec and I mostly talked about the trade between the Red Sox and Royals last week that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City and Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later from K.C. to Boston.

We also discussed how Benintendi will have to adjust to the dimensions at Kauffman Stadium, how Cordero needs to stay healthy as a member of the Sox, and much more.

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

Thanks to Alec for taking some time out of his busy schedule to have a conversation with me. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here, and you can check out his work for The Athletic 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 Andrew Benintendi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox were originally going to acquire outfield prospect Khalil Lee in Andrew Benintendi trade, flip him to Mets, Royals assistant GM J.J. Picollo says

In the three-team trade that sent former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals on Wednesday, Kansas City ended up trading outfield prospect Khalil Lee to the Mets.

As it turns out, though, New York was not originally involved in trade conversations between the Sox and Royals, meaning Boston was going to acquire Lee from Kansas City before flipping him to another team.

Speaking with Quinn Riley of BostonSportsWave.com on Saturday, Royals assistant general manager A.J. Picollo detailed how the three-team swap between his club, the Mets, and Red Sox came to be.

“That was something that the Red Sox had orchestrated themselves, and informed us about a day before the trade that they were probably going to trade Khalil Lee to another team,” Picollo said. “And then as we got down to the last hours before the trade was finalized, they told us that he was going to be going to the New York Mets. Sometimes those three-team deals, all three teams are involved to make it work and in this case, it was really just us and the Red Sox, and then the Red Sox trying to be creative and improve their system. They had the idea that we could maybe trade Khalil Lee and get something else we need and they flipped him to the Mets. So, those deals are always interesting and they come together in different ways.”

Given the information provided by Picollo here, it seems more like the Red Sox traded Benintendi (and $2.8 million of his 2021 salary) to the Royals in exchange for Lee, Franchy Cordero, and two players to be named later, then traded Lee to the Mets in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and one player to be named later.

Just this past Friday, Mets acting general manager — and former Red Sox assistant GM — Zack Scott told reporters that New York acquiring Lee in the first place was more capitalizing on an opportunity as opposed to something that came together more formally.

“It was an opportunity. We didn’t have direct conversations with Kansas City on that,” Scott said. “They were obviously looking for a major-league player to add to their roster, so that wasn’t going to be necessarily where we were going to match up. With my connections to Boston, quite frankly they know that I like Khalil Lee as a prospect from when I was there. He was someone we had talked about, and I knew they liked Khalil Lee as well.

“Just they reached out and asked if there would be interest here, and we were excited and I know our pro scouts here really like the player,” he continued.”[Lee’s] got a lot to like, a lot of tools and athleticism. We like a lot of things about his performance as well. That was how that came about, just that kind of conversation. I believe in being pretty active in talking to other teams because you never know what ideas might come up in those conversations, especially the informal ones. And that was one of those cases.”

Lee, 22, was regarded by MLB Pipeline as the Royals No. 8 prospect.

The former 2016 third-round draft pick spent the entirety of the 2020 season at Kansas City’s alternate training site. In his most recent organized minor-league action, Lee slashed .264/.363/.372 with eight home runs, 51 RBI, and 53 stolen bases over 129 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2019.

Rather than take on Lee in a straight swap with the Royals, the Red Sox, as previously mentioned, opted to flip the speedy outfielder to the Mets in exchange for Winckowski and two additional players to be named later.

Winckowski, 22, posted a 2.69 ERA and .231 batting average against over 24 appearances (23 starts) and 127 1/3 innings pitched between Class-A Lansing and High-A Dunedin in 2019, when he was still a member of the Blue Jays’ organization.

Since that time, the 6-foot-4 righty was not added to Toronto’s 60-man player pool at any point last year and was promptly traded to the Mets along with two other pitchers in exchange for veteran southpaw Steven Matz in late January.

Prior to his being traded to Boston earlier this week, Winckowski had been regarded by MLB Pipeline as New York’s No. 26 prospect.

Because they essentially traded Lee to the Mets for Winckowski and a player to be named later, it seems like there’s a solid chance that PTBNL could be someone significant given Lee’s standing as a sought-after prospect.

That being said, it will likely be a while before the Red Sox decide on which two PTBNLs from the Royals and one PTBNL from the Mets they will be acquiring.

“I don’t want to get into too many specifics on it, but the specific identities of the players are still to be determined,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said late Wednesday night. “We have frameworks in place with the clubs as to how and when we are going to do that. But, there’s not names of the players that we are getting that we are involved with right now.”

The process for trades involving players to be named later can take as long as six months to play out, so it is not like Bloom and Co. will be in a rush to get this done.

As a matter of fact, according to The Athletic’s Peter Gammons, the Red Sox have a list of four Royals minor-leaguers to choose from as their players to be named later from Kansas City. After the first month of the minor-league season, they can then choose any two players from that list.

Who will those two players from the Royals — and one from the Mets — be? Only time will tell.

(Picture of Khalil Lee: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi ready to ‘get going’ with Royals, begin next chapter of career

Former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi did not find out he was going to be traded to the Royals until relatively late Tuesday night, but he at least got some heads up about it.

The 26-year-old had been mired in trade rumors for much of the offseason, yet he was able to shut out most of that noise. Tuesday night, however, was a different story.

“I got a call last night from Chaim Bloom, and he said, ‘There’s a good chance you’re going to get traded tonight, so I’ll let you know,’” Benintendi recounted when speaking with the Kansas City media via Zoom earlier Wednesday. “I didn’t know the team, and then I find out it’s the Royals and I’m extremely excited — I’m from the Midwest — going to a Midwest team. So, I’m excited. I’m ready to get there, ready to meet people, build those relationships, and get going.”

Boston officially dealt Benintendi, as well as $2.8 million of his $6.6 million salary for 2021, to Kansas City in exchange for outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later as well as right-handed pitching prospect Josh Wincowski and one player to be named later from the New York Mets.

For Benintendi, the trade comes at an interesting point in his career.

The former 2015 first-round draft pick of the Red Sox has seen his once promising potential dip as of late. Most recently, he managed to collect just four hits in 14 games last year before suffering a season-ending rib injury in August.

“Last year, obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Benintendi said in regards to the pandemic shortened 2020 season. “It was the first time we had ever experienced something like that. I played 13 or 14 games and I broke my ribs, which is unfortunate. Obviously, it’s tough to swing with some broken ribs. But, I’m feeling good now and ready to get going.”

Expanding upon that, Benintendi’s injury, which occurred while he was rounding second base during an August 11 game against the Rays, was originally announced by the Red Sox as a right rib cage strain.

“I tripped around my own feet going around second base,” he said. “It was a rib strain, but there were a couple fractures. But, I’m feeling great now. Feel back to 100%.”

In being moved to a market like Kansas City, there is a level of comfort involved here for Benintendi, and it’s not just because of the city’s proximity to Nashville and his home state of Ohio or its quality barbecue.

For one, the former Arkansas Razorback is already quite familiar with Royals manager Mike Matheny. That being the case because Matheny’s son, Tate, was also drafted by the Red Sox in 2015, so the two played their rookie ball together with the Lowell Spinners.

“I’m extremely excited to be playing for him,” Benintendi said of the ex-Cardinals skipper. “I’ve known Tate since I was drafted. In 2015, we were in Lowell together in rookie ball for the Red Sox. And I also lived in St. Louis for a number of offseasons, so I got to know them pretty well. I’m excited going into this that I have somewhat of a relationship with Mike and having some familiarity. So, I’m excited to play for him.”

Adding on to that, Kauffman Stadium is a ballpark Benintendi has enjoyed success at in his time with the Red Sox. For his career, the left-handed hitter owns a lifetime .485/.564/.848 slash line to go go along with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, and three RBI at ‘The K.’

“Obviously it’s a lot different than Fenway,” Benintendi said of the Royals’ ballpark. “Left field, you have a lot more room to run out there, which I’m excited about. I always love playing there and something about it, I feel like I see the ball well. So, it’s exciting. It’s a big field. I feel like I’m a gap-to-gap kind of hitter and obviously those gaps there are pretty big, so we’ll see if we can run a little bit.”

While getting the chance to “run a little bit” for a new team, Benintendi is also hoping to show that the Royals made a smart decision in trading for him and the Red Sox made an unwise decision in letting him go.

“It’s nice to be wanted,” the 5-foot-9, 180 lb. outfielder said. “I feel like there’s a sense of pride for me. I want to go perform well, obviously, and show them it was worth the trade. I want to go play well for the fans and the organization. I’m excited and it’s nice to be wanted.”

Even while saying that, Benintendi will still cherish what he did with the Red Sox, highlighted by winning the World Series in 2018, for the rest of his career.

“They drafted me, and I’ll always have that connection with Boston,” he eloquently stated. “2018 is a tough one not to mention. That year was unbelievable. Most of all, it’s the relationships I’ve had with teammates, coaches, things like that. You get to meet a lot of people in this game and some of the relationships I had there, I’ll have forever. It’s something I’ll take with me.”

Taking those experiences with the Red Sox and what he learned from them to Kansas City, Benintendi is certainly open to the idea of becoming a player his new teammates can lean on for information if the occasion arises.

“If guys have questions or anything like that, I’m an open book about it,” he said. “If they want to bounce questions or anything like that off me, I’d be more than happy to share those experiences and whatever it takes.”

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox officially trade Andrew Benintendi to Royals as part of three-team deal with Mets that sends Franchy Cordero, Josh Winckowski to Boston

The Red Sox have officially dealt Andrew Benintendi as well as cash considerations to the Royals as part of a three-team trade that also involves the Mets, the club announced Wednesday night.

In return for Benintendi and those cash considerations, Boston will be getting back outfielder Franchy Cordero as well as two players to be named later from Kansas City.

On top of that, the Mets are sending right-handed pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and a player to be named later to the Sox, as they receive outfield prospect Khalil Lee from the Royals.

According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, the Red Sox will be sending approximately $2.6 million in cash considerations to the Royals.

Benintendi, 26, was set to earn $6.6 million in 2021, so as Feinsand puts it, the $2.6 million Boston is sending Kansas City will help cover for that.

A veteran of five major-league seasons, Benintendi is coming off a dismal 2020 campaign in which he went 4-for-39 (.103 batting average) at the plate with one extra-base hit and one RBI over 14 games before a right rib cage strain prematurely ended his year in August.

The Cincinnati native had been mired in trade rumors as recently as last month, but those talks died down some and it appeared as though Benintendi would make it to spring training still a member of the Red Sox.

As it turns out, though, Benintendi has indeed been traded to the Royals, a team that ranked 11th in the American League in outfield WAR (2.1) last season, per FanGraphs.

Since the time he was selected with the seventh overall pick by Boston out of the University of Arkansas in 2015, there were instances where it seemed like Benintendi could emerge as a ‘face of the franchise’ type of player.

The left-handed hitting outfielder breezed through the minors, made his major-league debut in August 2016, finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2017, and was nearly an All-Star in 2018.

From that point on, though, it’s fair to say Benintendi has been trending in the wrong direction and not living up to his former top prospect potential, which presumably played a role leading up to Wednesday’s decision despite the fact he is still under team control for two more seasons.

Perhaps a change of scenery will do Benintendi well. He does own a lifetime .485/.564/.848 slash line in eight career games (39 plate appearances) at Kauffman Stadium, after all.

As for the five players the Sox got in return for Benintendi (and cash), only two — Cordero, Winckowski — of them are known at this point, while the other three are players to be named later.

Cordero, 26, is a left-handed hitter like Benintendi.

The Dominican native has spent the past four seasons with the Royals and Padres, most recently accruing a .211/.286/.447 slash to go along with two home runs and seven RBI over 16 games for Kansas City in 2020.

A former top prospect of the Friars, Cordero is known for his power and speed, an interesting combination that leads the outfielder to best be described as “toolsy as hell,” as ESPN’s Jeff Passan put it.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 226 lbs, Cordero has experience playing all three outfield positions, though he has played in just 95 games since making his major-league debut in May 2017.

Given his lack of experience, it should be interesting to see how the Sox plan on rolling out Cordero to begin the 2021 season. He joins an outfield mix that currently consists of Alex Verdugo and Hunter Renfroe. One of the organization’s top outfield prospects, Jarren Duran, could get some consideration as well.

Turning to Winckowski now, the 22-year-old righty was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the 15th round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Estero High School, which is not terribly far away from Fort Myers, in Florida.

The 6-foot-4, 202 lb. hurler compiled a 2.69 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 24 outings (23 starts) and 127 1/3 innings pitched between Class-A Lansing and High-A Dunedin in 2019.

Winckowski was not included in the Jays’ 60-man player pool at any point last year, but he was part of the trade package that sent southpaw Steven Matz from New York to Toronto in late January.

Following that trade, which involved four players in total, Winckowski had been regarded by MLB Pipeline as the Mets’ No. 26 prospect.

Per FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen, Winckowski “has a chance to pop in 2021 because he was pitching hurt in 2019 and still got guys out. He looked rusty during instructs but was also up to 97 and added a new splitter to an already decent slider.”

The three players to be named later the Red Sox acquired from the Royals and Mets in this deal will, obviously, be revealed at a later date. The clubs have six months to agree upon which players will be sent to Boston.

With that in mind, @RedSoxStats makes a good point in that the Sox may want to scout players from the Royals’ and Mets’ system before making up their minds regarding who those three PTBNLs will be.

Also, for what it’s worth, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. made this transaction on the one-year anniversary of the Mookie Betts trade being made official, so there’s that.

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have inquired on’ free-agent outfielder Jake Marisnick, per report

The Red Sox might not be considered favorites to land George Springer at this point, but there is another former Astros outfielder the club could pursue in free agency.

That particular outfielder’s name? Jake Marisnick.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox are looking at a number of outfield options in the event that they are unable to re-sign Jackie Bradley Jr., who they are “still in on” as of this moment.

“If the Red Sox aren’t able to bring back Bradley Jr., they’ll start considering other options,” Cotillo wrote Friday. “One name they’ve inquired on — at least primarily — is Jake Marisnick.”

Marisnick, who turns 30 in March, was limited to just 16 games with the Mets this past season due to issues related to both his left and right hamstrings.

Over that small sample size, the California native was impressive, going 11-for-33 at the plate (.333) to go along with two home runs, three doubles, and five RBI. He declared for free agency in late October.

Prior to getting traded to the Mets from the Astros in December 2019, Marisnick was somewhat of a mainstay in the Houston outfield more so for what he could do with the glove in his hand as opposed to the bat, with the majority of his playing time coming in center.

From the start of the 2015 season until the end of the 2019 season, the 6-foot-4, 220 lb. outfielder played a total of 3,676 2/3 innings in the outfield for Houston.

While doing so, he posted a positive-53 defensive runs saved as well as an ultimate zone rating (UZR) of 19.7, per FanGraphs.

Marisnick’s best year defensively might have come in 2016, but Baseball Savant does not go that far back with its outs above average (OAA) leaderboards.

Going back to 2019 though, the former third-round draft pick was worth eight outs above average, placing ninth among qualified major-league centerfielders that year, per Statcast.

In summary, Marisnick may be approaching 30, but he still has the makings to be a quality defensive center field option for whichever club he signs with.

In the Red Sox’ case, the ex-Astro may serve as a solid replacement for Bradley Jr. if the Gold Glover were to sign with another team in the coming weeks. He’s another free-agent who has a connection to Alex Cora (former bench coach in Houston as well.”

On top of his ability to potentially fill the hypothetical void left by Bradley Jr., Marisnick would presumably command a shorter-term deal on the open market, meaning he could serve as a bridge of sorts for Boston as Jarren Duran inches closer to the majors.

Duran, currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the organization’s top outfield prospect, is projected to start 2021 with Triple-A Worcester and could very well make his big-league debut for the Sox later on in the summer.

FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen wrote last week that “Duran’s instincts in center field are still not good (though they’ve improved), and he relies on his speed to make up for what he lacks in off-the-bat feel and anticipation,” but it’s clear that the organization has high hopes for the 24-year-old.

That being said, under the assumption that Bradley Jr. does not return, Marisnick could be brought in to patrol center field to start the 2021 season. And if the timing is right, Duran could be called up to learn the ropes at the major-league level sometime in July, August, or even September.

This, of course, all depends on what Chaim Bloom and Co. have in mind for the puzzle that is the Red Sox outfield picture moving forward.

Boston’s chief baseball officer said back in November that he believes all three of Andrew Benintendi, Alex Verdugo, and Hunter Renfroe could play center field if needed, but he would not be opposed to adding another outfielder, either.

“I think we have guys on this club who are capable of playing center field,” Bloom said during a Zoom call with reporters. “But we certainly would like to be in as strong of a defensive position as you can. We know we play in a ballpark where you basically have two center fields here in Fenway Park. So we want to be mindful of that.

“We’d certainly like to have as strong of a defensive outfield as possible,” he added. “And a lot of that is contingent on having multiple guys who can play center field.”

Bringing on someone as capable of playing center field as Marisnick would certainly seem to fit the mantra of “having multiple guys” who can play that position when asked to.

(Picture of Jake Marisnick: Sarah Stier/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)