Red Sox lose Ryan Weber on waivers to Brewers

Former Red Sox right-hander Ryan Weber has been claimed off waivers by the Brewers, the team announced earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Weber, 30, was designated for assignment by Boston on Monday, one day after getting lit up for 11 runs on 13 hits — four of which were home runs — two walks, and seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of relief in Sunday’s 18-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, which was also his 2021 debut.

Designating Weber for assignment allowed the Red Sox to both recall infielder Michael Chavis from Triple-A Worcester to take his spot on the 26-man roster as well as acquire righty reliever Yacksel Rios from the Mariners to take his spot on the 40-man roster.

Chavis has since been optioned back down to the WooSox, while Rios will be activated by Boston ahead of Wednesday’s series finale against the Braves in Atlanta.

In parts of three seasons with the Red Sox (2019-2021), Weber posted a 5.54 ERA, a 5.27 FIP, and strikeout-to-walk ratio of 63:24 over 36 appearances (eight starts) spanning 89 1/3 total innings of work.

He was certainly far more effective as a reliever than as a starter during his tenure with Boston, Sunday’s outing notwithstanding.

While he does join the Brewers’ 40-man roster, Weber has been assigned to Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville.

On that note, it should be added that the Red Sox now have full 26-man and 40-man rosters, as MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo pointed out here.

(Picture of Ryan Weber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Jackie Bradley Jr. reflects on time with Red Sox in heartfelt Players’ Tribune piece: ‘It was an honor’

Upon signing with the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this month, former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. did not rush to social media to bid farewell to the organization he had spent the first 10 years of his professional career with.

“I don’t want it to just be some short thing,” he said back on March 8. “The years that you invest and put in, I don’t think it would justice for me to just give a little tidbit over this. I will gather my thoughts and emotions and be able to put it into words soon.”

On Wednesday, the final day before the start of the 2021 regular season, Bradley Jr. put his thoughts and emotions into words via an essay, as the soon-to-be 31-year-old penned a heartfelt piece for The Players’ Tribune titled: ‘Dear Red Sox Nation.’

In 288 words, the former first-round draft pick-turned-top prospect-turned Gold Glove-caliber centerfielder reflected on the ups and downs he experienced in his time with the Sox and how special it was to make his first Opening Day roster in 2013.

“April 1, 2013 — eight years ago, tomorrow — was the beginning of a new chapter for my career,” Bradley Jr. wrote. “It’s one that would be filled with hardships and triumphs, but most importantly growth. From the Merloni Shuttle to the duck boat parades; from hitting slumps to hitting streaks; from All-Star Games to Gold Gloves; and from last-place finishes to World Series championships … my baseball career in New England has been one that’s challenged me to always be present in the moment. 

“And to always be better than the day before.”

Over the course of eight big-league seasons with the Red Sox, Bradley Jr.’s accolades include putting together a 29-game hitting streak and making his first All-Star team in 2016, winning ALCS MVP and his first World Series and Gold Glove award in 2018, and quite frankly establishing himself as one of, if not the best defensive outfielder in baseball.

“These memories and accomplishments would not have been possible without God, hard work, dedication, family, friends, teammates, coaches, and support staff,” he added. “The relationships I’ve made over the years, both on and off the field, have helped me to become the player and person I am today — and I’m so grateful for that.”

One relationship Bradley Jr. made while in Boston was with Alex Cora, who managed the Gold Glover in 2018 and 2019. And while Cora was not surprised by Bradley Jr. signing elsewhere, he will miss the player he had gotten to known in more than just an on-the-field capacity.

“Solid player, better person,” Cora said of Bradley Jr. earlier this month. “Very consistent at everything he did. It was a pleasure to have him in the clubhouse, to know him off the field and get to know his family. An outstanding kid. He did some great things while he was here. He was amazing in 2018.

“He has a fan from afar,” added the Sox skipper. “I’ll be paying attention. Off the field, we’re going to keep having a relationship.”

Bradley Jr.’s deal with the Brewers will net the Virginia native $13 million in 2021. It also includes a $11 million player option for a potential second year in 2022, though Bradley Jr. could hit the open market once again this winter if he so chooses.

As Bradley Jr. prepares to embark on a new journey in Milwaukee — playing alongside the likes of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Can — he will also be sure to cherish the memories he made in Boston from here on out.

“So before each of us officially turns the page to our next chapter, I just wanted to say: Red Sox Nation, thank you,” Bradley Jr. wrote. “It was an honor.”

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. officially signs with Brewers

Former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. finally saw his free agency come to a close on Monday as his two-year, $24 million deal with the Brewers was made official.

The 30-year-old had been on the open market for a little more than four months, eventually reaching the point where he was the best position player still available by the time clubs reported for spring training in February.

A client of super-agent Scott Boras, Bradley Jr. never wavered while being in a situation others in his position might have considering the fact it was early March and he was still without a job.

Speaking with reporters via Zoom from Phoenix, Ariz. on Monday, the Gold Glover explained what led to him landing with Milwaukee after a long winter.

“This was an unprecedented offseason,” Bradley Jr. said. “This is my first free agency, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. I personally enjoyed it, because I focused on the things that were going on around me. I was able to spend a lot of quality time with my family and kind of let all that figure it out itself. I was just relaxing, and waiting for the opportunity. I was continuously staying ready, working hard.”

Coming off a successful 2020 season in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games while providing his usual superb defense in centerfield, the former first-round pick had multiple offers to consider, but he ultimately wound up signing a two-year pact with the Brewers that also includes an opt out after the first year.

“With the offer now, I just wanted to trust myself,” he added. “I believe in my ability and my talent and I feel like this particular deal offers me a lot of flexibility.”

Throughout the course of the offseason, Bradley Jr. seemingly had one definitive suitor in the form of his old club in Boston.

It never seemed all that likely that the two sides would come to terms on a new deal, but whenever he was asked, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom would say something along the lines of: ‘We love Jackie. We’re going to remain involved on that front until his free agency resolves.’

Bradley Jr.’s free agency ultimately resolved itself without the Sox getting overly involved, but the All-Star centerfielder did confirm that there were talks about a potential reuinion.

“I think, as a whole, you want to stay open-minded about it all,” he said when asked if there was a point this winter when he thought he might stay with the Red Sox. “Anytime you’re already closing off different avenues, then you’re limiting yourself. So I think as long as you’re pretty open-minded about listening and gathering all the information, that’s going to give you the best opportunity to make the decision that you feel is best for you and your family.”

Bradley Jr., who turns 31 next month, is slated to earn $13 million with the Brewers this season with the chance to earn an additional $11 million in 2022 if he declines to opt out of his deal.

That decision is a longways away, though, and the University of South Carolina product is just looking forward to familiarizing himself with his new organization for the time being. This is after all his first time reporting to a team whose spring training headquarters are not in Fort Myers.

And for what it’s worth, Bradley Jr. will wear the No. 41 for the Brewers. That number signifies the birth dates of himself, his wife Erin, his daughter Emerson, and his son Jackie III.

“It was a breath of fresh air,” Bradley Jr. said when describing what it was like to put on a Brewers uniform on for the first time. “To be able to finally be out here and moving around, I’m glad to be here. I’m really excited for the opportunity and I’m going to have a lot of fun with these guys.”

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox free agency: Jackie Bradley Jr. in agreement with Brewers on two-year deal, per report

In case you missed it, now-former Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is reportedly in agreement with the Milwaukee Brewers on a two-year, $24 million contract, according to The Boston Globe’s Julain McWilliams.

Per McWilliams, Bradley Jr.’s deal with Milwaukee includes a player option after the first year.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal adds that Bradley Jr. will net $13 million in 2021 with the chance to earn an additional $11 million in 2022 if he decides to not opt out. Some of the money will also be deferred.

Bradley Jr., who turns 31 next month, was the top position player free-agent on the market leading up to Thursday morning’s news.

The former first-round pick spent the first eight seasons — and first 10 years of his professional career — with the Red Sox, most recently posting a .283/.364/.450 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games in 2020.

Despite putting up those impressive offensive numbers in addition to his usual superb defense in center field, it took a little while for Bradley Jr. to find a job this winter.

One reason behind that likely had to do with the fact that the Scott Boras client was reportedly seeking a “significant contract, perhaps beyond four years” as recently as February 3, according to The New York Post’s Mike Puma.

With the number of potential suitors dwindling down, the Brewers jumped in on the Bradley Jr. sweepstakes in late February and ultimately wound up acquiring his services with just weeks to go until Opening Day.

Last season, the Brewers outfielder ranked 25th in baseball in terms of Defensive Runs Saved (-11) and 17th in Ultimate Zone Rating (0.1), which translates to an Ultimate Zone Rating of -0.1 over 150 games.

Bradley Jr., who figures to slide into center while Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich patrol the corners, should help improve Milwaukee’s overall defensive numbers in 2021.

Now that his time with the Red Sox is likely over, here is a brief list of what the Virginia native accomplished in his time in Boston:

  • Two-time World Series champion (2013, 2018)
  • One-time American League Championship Series MVP (2018)
  • One-time All-Star (2016)
  • One-time Gold Glove Award winner (2018)

Assuming he does not return to the Sox anytime soon, Bradley Jr. will likely go down as one of, if not the best defensive centerfielder in franchise history. He will be missed and we wish him all the best with the Brewers.

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr.: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox have expressed interest in free-agent infielder Travis Shaw, per report

The Red Sox have reportedly expressed interest in free-agent infielder Travis Shaw, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Shaw, who turns 31 in April, is coming off a 2020 season with the Blue Jays in which he slashed .239/.306/.411 to go along with six home runs and 17 RBI over 50 games played and 180 plate appearances.

Over the course of those 50 games with Toronto, the Ohio native saw the majority of his playing time come at third base with a little bit of first base, designated hitter, and pinch-hitting duties mixed in there as well.

Earlier this week, MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo reported that the Sox are “hoping to sign a left-handed hitter who can complement Bobby Dalbec at first base.” And although Cotillo did not specifically mention Shaw in this report, the left-handed hitting infielder certainly fits that mold.

Against right-handed pitching last year, Shaw posted a .710 OPS while clubbing all six of his homers off righties.

For his career, the Kent State product owns a lifetime .247/.338/.465 slash line to go along with 88 home runs and 253 RBI in 1,836 total plate appearances against right-handed pitching.

Shaw, a former 32nd and ninth-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 2008 and 2011, spent the first two seasons of his major-league career in Boston before getting dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers in December 2016.

In addition to Shaw, the Sox have also expressed interest in a reunion with another familiar face in free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland, per Cotillo.

More versatile free-agent options, such as the switch-hitting Marwin Gonzalez and left-handed hitting Brad Miller, may be in the mix as well as Boston looks to solidify its bench in the weeks leading up to the start of spring training.

(Picture of Travis Shaw: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Nationals Sign Former Red Sox Utilityman Brock Holt To One-Year Deal

The Nationals have signed former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt to a one-year deal, the club announced Saturday.

Holt, who turned 32 in June, was designated for assignment and subsequently released by the Brewers on August 26, just over six months after signing a one-year, $3.25 million contract with Milwaukee at the onset of spring training in February.

With the Brewers, Holt suffered a sprained ankle after stepping on a baseball right before Opening Day and got his 2020 season off to a slow start. In 16 games, the Texas native accrued just three hits in 30 plate appearances (.100) with one run scored, one RBI, and four walks prior to getting designated.

Even while Holt was on the open market for a few days, it never seemed like the Red Sox were too interested in a reunion with the 2015 All-Star seeing how the likes of Jose Peraza, Michael Chavis, Jonathan Arauz, and Tzu-Wei Lin are already on Boston’s active roster and can all play multiple positions.

As it turns out though, Holt, who will wear No. 27 for the Nationals, has already been added to Washington’s 28-man squad, meaning he could very well see some playing time against the Sox at Fenway Park before weekend’s end.

According to Nats manager Dave Martinez, Holt will get a chance to “play everywhere” with his new club, so there’s that.

Brewers Designate Former Red Sox Utiltyman Brock Holt for Assignment

The Brewers have designated former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt for assignment, the club announced Saturday.

After signing a one-year deal with Milwaukee back in February, Holt had gotten off to a tough start with his new club.

Through his first 16 games with the Brewers, the 32-year-old was 3-for-30 (.100) at the plate with one run scored and one RBI over 36 plate appearances while playing third base and both corner outfield positions.

Holt’s struggles thus far could be linked to the fact he sprained his ankle after stepping on a baseball before Opening Day. The Texas native has still been able to make a handful of fine defensive plays despite that ailment, but it was not enough to remain on Milwaukee’s 40-man roster moving forward.

As it goes with all players who get designated, Holt will either be claimed, traded, or clear waivers entirely within the next seven days. Because the former All-Star has more than three years of service time, he can reject an outright assignment and opt for free agency if he so chooses.

That possibility could open up a potential pathway for Holt to reunite with the Red Sox, the club he had spent the previous nine seasons with. Of course, that would likely only happen if he clears waivers and becomes a free agent, for I could not see Chaim Bloom and Co. using a 40-man roster spot on this version of Holt right now.

That Time Hank Aaron Nearly Began His Major-League Career When the Braves Were Still in Boston

Over the course of his 23-year major-league career, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron is most notoriously known for his contributions to the game of baseball in the cities of Milwaukee, Atlanta, and Milwaukee again.

Despite being a legend in those two cities though, it’s worth mentioning that the 25-time All-Star begin his professional career with the city of Boston more than likely on his mind.

That being the case because as an 18-year-old who had just led the Indianapolis Clowns to a Negro League World Series title in 1952, Aaron had two major-league offers on the table from two northeast teams in the Boston Braves and New York Giants.

Since the Braves were offering a larger monthly salary than the Giants were, Aaron decided to sign with Boston and his contract was immediately purchased from Indianapolis in June 1952.

The Alabama native was assigned to Boston’s Class-C minor-league affiliate in Eau Claire, Wisc. shortly thereafter, where he promptly posted a .336 batting average and .493 slugging percentage to go along with nine home runs and 19 doubles over 87 games with the Bears.

As it turned out though, 1952 wound wind up being the last year the Braves called the city of Boston home.

At the major-league level, the Braves had struggled significantly since reaching the World Series in 1948. And that overall poor performance was met with dwindling attendance numbers at Braves Field.

Those two factors, along with the fact that the neighboring Red Sox had been gaining more and more popularity in the city, led club owner Lou Perini to make the decision to move the team to Milwaukee, the home of the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate at the time.

After Perini’s proposal was met with unanimous approval from the other National League owners, the Braves’ move to Milwaukee was made official on March 18th, 1953 while the club was still in spring training, much to the dismay of fans in Boston.

That April, the Braves opened the home portion of their 1953 schedule with a 3-2 walk-off win over the St. Louis Cardinals at brand-new Milwaukee County Stadium.

The newly-anointed Milwaukee Braves would go on to finish their first season in Wisconsin with a final record of 92-62, all while Aaron was still developing at the Class-A level in Jacksonville, where he mashed 22 home runs in 137 games for the Braves.

The following spring, Aaron broke camp by making his first career major-league Opening Day roster as Milwaukee’s starting left fielder.

At just 20 years old, he slashed .280/.322/.447 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI over his first 122 games in the majors and later finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year voting. The Braves’ win total went down from the season prior, yet they led the NL in attendance for a second straight year.

Aaron would go on to have a superb career, winning his first and only MVP award and World Series trophy in 1957, winning two batting titles, three Gold Glove awards, and probably most significantly, breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record with his 715th career homer on April 8th, 1974.

Just five years after retiring from the game in 1975, Aaron was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982 after receiving 406 of 421 votes in his first year on the ballot.

Looking at things from a broader perspective, Aaron is without a doubt one of the best outfielders to ever play Major League Baseball. He’s most well-known in Atlanta and Milwaukee, but he was only a few years off from embarking on a legendary career in the city of Boston.

In 12 career games at Fenway Park, Hammerin’ Hank posted a .745 OPS to go along with one home run and three RBI over 49 total plate appearances.

 

New Red Sox Catcher Jonathan Lucroy: ‘I Feel a Lot Better Than I Have in a Long Time’

New Red Sox catcher Jonathan Lucroy is entering uncharted territory as he enters his 13th season in professional baseball. That being a veteran on a minor-league deal when just a few years ago you could argue he was one of the top catchers in the game.

When speaking to reporters at JetBlue Park for the first time on Thursday, the 33-year-old backstop did not make light of how he ended up in his current predicament.

“It’s a little strange,” Lucroy said on attending big league camp as a non-roster invite. “This is the first time I have had to do this. But, it’s OK. It’s just a part of the business side of baseball. Honestly, it’s what I deserve. I haven’t played good. So, it’s kind of where we’re at. You make your bed, you got to sleep in it. It’s just something I have to deal with and that’s OK. It’s a part of life.”

Spending last season with the Angels and Cubs, Lucroy posted an unimpressive .232/.305/.355 slash line to go along with eight home runs and 36 RBI over 101 total games played. He also ranked as one of the worst defensive catchers who caught at least 500 innings, according to FanGraphs.

The Florida native did miss time last year due to a broken nose and concussion, and he underwent major neck surgery earlier in the offseason to replace a cervical disc that he discussed in detail on Thursday.

“I had a herniated disc in my neck the past three years,” said Lucroy. “I’d like to sit here and make excuses to say that was the reason I haven’t played good, but I’m not going to. It did effect me, but I got it taken care of and I feel a lot better than I have in a long time.”

Going back to his days with the Brewers, Lucroy does have some familiarity with Red Sox interim manager Ron Roenicke, who served as Lucroy’s skipper from 2011 until May 2015.

“I’ve known Ron for a long time,” Lucroy said. “We had a lot of good times together. He’s a really good guy, a really good manager. He’s a quality pickup for the Red Sox. Speaking from experience with him, he’s a huge positive for the Red Sox for sure.”

Lucroy also said that before signing with Boston, he received a call from Roenicke to essentially recruit him.

“He called me and wanted me to come,” Lucroy said of Roenicke. “He was like ‘Look, you got an opportunity here. You come here and you got an opportunity to make a team’ and right now, that’s all you can ask for as a guy in my position.”

The two-time All-Star also mentioned how enticing it was to get the chance to work with Jason Varitek, as the former Sox captain “is very respected in the catching world.”

The road for Lucroy to break camp on Boston’s Opening Day roster is not an easy one, with the club already having former Mets and Indians backstop Kevin Plawecki on its 40-man roster and on a guaranteed deal for the 2020 season, albeit for only $900,000.

Lucroy did not sound all that concerned about playing time in the majors for the time being though, as he emphasized how he has to “make the team first and contribute where he can to help the [Red Sox] win.”

For someone who has the kind of résumé Lucroy does, you might think he would be one to feel disrespected by the notion of not receiving a major-league contract offer, but as previously mentioned, he was brutally honest about his recent performance over the last few years.

“Analytically, I’ve been terrible,” he said. “Seriously, I’m not trying to make excuses. So, I’m not surprised I didn’t get a big league offer. Not at all.”

If he is able to regain some of the form he put on display during the middle parts of the previous decade, Lucroy could be an intriguing addition to a Red Sox team that dealt Sandy Leon to the Indians back in December.

According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Lucroy would earn $1.5 million if he plays in the majors this season. He will be wearing the No. 12.

Brock Holt Bids Farewell to Red Sox in Touching Instagram Post

In case you missed it, former Red Sox utilityman Brock Holt officially inked a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers earlier Wednesday, meaning he will no longer be part of the organization he had spent the previous seven years with.

For both his work on and off the field, Holt emerged as a fan favorite in Boston, and he expressed his gratitude towards the city in a touching farewell Instagram post Wednesday.

“Boston. You turned a Texas boy into one of your own,” Holt wrote in the above caption. “It has been my absolute honor to play for your team and be a part of your city. Baseball is just that. Baseball. It doesn’t last forever. The relationships I’ve built will. I became a husband, a father, and a champion while playing for you.”

While with the Red Sox, the Texas native married his wife Lakyn in November 2013 and the two welcomed their first child, Griffin, in December 2016. He also played an integral role for the Sox during their historic run to a World Series title in 2018.

“I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has been a part of this chapter with us,” Holt added. “And thank you for letting me be a part of yours. It was a damn good time!”

Since the start of the 2015 season, Holt had served as the Red Sox’ Jimmy Fund captain and was the club’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award on four separate occasions because of it.

The 31-year-old had become a steady veteran presence in Boston’s clubhouse over the last few years and seemed to have close relationships with several of his teammates, including Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez.

“He was a character in here,” Martinez said of Holt’s departure. “He was fun to be around. You wish him the best, but that’s the business side of it.”

As Holt wrote in his Instagram post, “Baseball is just that. Baseball. It doesn’t last forever. The relationships I’ve built will.” He will be missed and I am already looking forward to the Brewers’ trip to Fenway Park in early June.