Red Sox among ‘most serious suitors’ for Mitch Haniger, per report

The Red Sox are among the most serious suitors for free agent outfielder Mitch Haniger, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported on Thursday.

Haniger, who turns 32 later this month, hit the open market for the first time earlier this winter after spending the last six years with the Mariners. The right-handed hitter was limited to just 57 games this past season due to a high right ankle sprain he sustained in late April. All told, he batted .246/.308/.429 with eight doubles, 11 home runs, 34 RBIs, 31 runs scored, 20 walks, and 65 strikeouts across 247 trips to the plate in 2022.

The Mariners did not extend a qualifying offer to Haniger in November, meaning the Red Sox could sign him without forfeiting their second- and fifth-highest picks in next year’s draft. The California native is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a three-year deal in the range of $39 million this offseason.

A former first-round pick of the Brewers out of Cal Poly in 2012, Haniger was dealt to the Diamondbacks as part of a package for fellow outfielder Gerardo Parra at the 2014 trade deadline. Haniger broke in with Arizona in August 2016, but was then traded to Seattle with left-hander Zac Curtis and infielder Jean Segura for Ketel Marte and Taijuan Walker three months later.

Haniger’s time with the Mariners was marred by injuries. He appeared in just 96 games in 2017 due to a strained right oblique and facial laceration. In 2019, he was limited to 63 games because of a ruptured testicle. He missed the entirety of the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign after undergoing lumbar microdiscectomy surgery on his lower back that February.

When healthy, though, Haniger has proven to be a capable big-league outfielder. He was named an All-Star for the first time and finished 11th in American League MVP voting in 2018 after clubbing 26 homers and collecting 93 RBIs over a career-high 157 games. Last year, he matched that total while mashing 39 home runs and reaching the century mark in runs driven in.

Per Baseball Savant, balls left Haniger’s bat at an average exit velocity of 91.9 mph in 2022. His 47.2 percent hard-hit rate would have ranked 38th among qualified hitters this year while his 11.8 percent barrel rate would have ranked 42nd.

Defensively, Haniger was used exclusively as a right fielder by the Mariners this season. The 6-foot-2, 214-pounder logged 396 innings at the position and posted three defensive runs saved and two outs above average. He also has past experience in left and center field and could almost certainly be used as designated hitter when needed.

After trading Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers last December, the Red Sox received minimal power production from their outfield group in 2022. Boston outfielders this year ranked 13th in the American League in home runs (44), 10th in isolated power (.135), and ninth in slugging percentage (.381), according to FanGraphs.

Haniger would provide the Sox with a power threat from the right side of the plate who could play both corner outfield spots and DH. That role — for the most part — belonged to J.D. Martinez (also a free agent) in recent years, but it does not appear as though chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. are all that interested in a reunion with the veteran slugger.

That being said, the Red Sox are not alone in their apparent pursuit of Haniger. Morosi reports that the Rangers have also been linked with the one-time All-Star while the Angels, Dodgers, and Giants have already checked in with his representatives from Apex Baseball. As the Winter Meetings get underway in San Diego on Sunday, Haniger’s market could heat up.

(Picture of Mitch Haniger: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Should the Red Sox be in the mix for Cody Bellinger?

The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported on Friday that free agent outfielder Cody Bellinger has drawn interest from up to 11 teams. Could the Red Sox be among this group? If not, should they be?

Bellinger, 27, was non-tendered by the Dodgers last week after spending six seasons with the club. The former fourth-round draft pick was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $18.1 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, which would represent a 6.5 percent increase from the $17 million salary he received in 2022.

Rather than give him a raise, the Dodgers elected to make Bellinger a free agent by not tendering him a contract. The left-handed hitter is coming off a disappointing season in which he batted just .210/.265/.389 with 27 doubles, three triples, 19 home runs, 68 RBIs, 70 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, 38 walks, and 150 strikeouts over 144 games (550 plate appearances). His 6.9 percent walk rate and 27.3 percent strikeout rate were the worst of his career.

When he first broke in with the Dodgers as a 21-year-old in 2017, Bellinger quickly established himself as one of the best young players in baseball. He took home National League Rookie of the Year honors in his debut season and was then named league MVP two years later. From 2017-2019, Bellinger slashed .278/.369/.559 with 111 homers and 288 runs driven in across 450 total games.

Bellinger’s production began to fall during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, as he hit .239/.333/.455 with 12 home runs and 30 RBIs over 56 games. During the Dodgers’ run to the World Series that October, Bellinger dislocated his right shoulder in Game 7 of the NLCS against the Braves while celebrating a home run with former teammate and current Red Sox utility man Enrique Hernandez. He was able to play out the rest of the postseason, but underwent arthroscopic surgery that November.

Despite missing some time the following spring, Bellinger made Los Angeles’ 2021 Opening Day roster. But he fractured his left fibula in early April and was sidelined until late May as a result. He also missed time with left hamstring tightness and a left rib fracture. Those injuries played a role in Bellinger posting a career-worst .542 OPS in 95 games. The Dodgers were optimistic that Bellinger would be able to bounce back this season, but that never really happened.

“Obviously, it’s been a unique path for Cody as he’s battled through injuries and worked diligently over the past few years to return to his All-Star-caliber performance,” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters (including MLB.com’s Juan Toribio) earlier this month. “However, it hasn’t played out as well as we would’ve hoped or expected, and therefore we had to make a difficult decision of non-tendering.”

While the Dodgers opted to make Bellinger a free agent, Friedman and Co. remain interested in bringing him back at a cheaper price, which could prove to be difficult given the reported number of potential suitors. Heyman lists the Astros, Cubs, and Giants as three of the 11 teams who are in play for Bellinger’s services.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say this is the closing of the chapter of Cody and the Dodgers,” said Friedman. “We still very much believe in the talent of Cody and his competitive makeup, and we have interest in a reunion and will continue talks with Cody and his group. And he gets to discuss this on his end.”

Bellinger, who does not turn 28 until next July, is represented by super-agent Scott Boras. Last weekend, Boras told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that Bellinger has already received a number of multi-year deals, but he wants his client to take a one-year deal so that he can reset his value and hit the open market again next winter.

“I’ve already been offered multi-years,” Boras said. “Most likely, because of his age, we don’t want a multi-year.”

Going back to this month’s GM meetings in Las Vegas, Boras believes that Bellinger’s lack of production over the last two seasons has more to do with the lack of strength in his shoulder as opposed to his level of talent.

“Talents are so hard to find,” Boras said, via The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya. “You just don’t find talents like this. He’s 26, 27 years old. It’s really about getting his strength back so he can repeat his skill level.”

Even with the lackluster numbers at the plate in recent years, Bellinger has still proven to be one of the sport’s better defensive center fielders. This past season, the 6-foot-4, 203-pounder was worth seven outs above average at the position, which ranked 13th in Major League Baseball, per Statcast.

The Red Sox already have Hernandez in the fold as the everyday center fielder in 2023, but adding Bellinger to the mix would allow Alex Cora to move Hernandez back to the infield on occasion if necessary. If, for example, Xander Bogaerts were to leave Boston in free agency, Hernandez would provide the Sox with insurance at shortstop. Bellinger also has prior experience at first base and at both corner outfield spots, so he and Hernandez could always share the outfield grass.

As a former early draft pick and top prospect who grew up in the Dodgers organization, Bellinger — in certain respects — represents the kind of player the Red Sox have coveted under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom. If healthy, his potential is through the roof. And he has the versatility to play multiple positions — and one important one in particular — at a high level.

Bellinger’s 19 home runs this season would have ranked second on the 2022 Red Sox. His 14 stolen bases would have led the team. So, if Bloom and Co. are looking to inject more power and speed into their lineup heading into the spring, bringing in Bellinger on a one-year deal makes all the sense in the world.

(Picture of Cody Bellinger: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox avoid arbitration with all eligible players, including Rafael Devers

The Red Sox have avoided arbitration with all five of their arbitration-eligible players heading into the 2022 season, the club announced on Tuesday.

Boston was able to come to terms with pitchers Nick Pivetta and Josh Taylor, infielders Christian Arroyo and Rafael Devers, and outfielder Alex Verdugo on Tuesday, thus avoiding a possible hearing. They did the same with reliever Ryan Brasier and catcher Kevin Plawecki prior to last November’s non-tender deadline.

Pivetta, 29, was entering his first season of arbitration eligibility and was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $3.2 million in 2022. The right-hander will instead net $2.65 million this year, according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel.

Taylor, 29, was also entering his first season of arbitration eligibility and was projected by MLBTR to earn $1.1 million in 2022. The left-handed reliever may not be ready for the start of the season due to a back issue, but he will be making $1.025 million this year regardless, per McDaniel.

Arroyo is another first-year arbitration-eligible player. The 26-year-old second baseman was projected by MLBTR to also earn $1.1 million in 2022. He has instead avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $1.2 million salary for the upcoming season, according to the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam.

Devers is undoubtedly the most notable name on this list and the most expensive as well. As a second-year arbitration-eligible player, the 25-year-old All-Star was projected by MLBTR to earn $11.1 million in 2022 — representing a 143% raise from the $4.575 million he made in 2021.

There were some rumblings that Devers and the Red Sox were not going to come to an agreement on a salary figure for the 2022 season ahead of Tuesday’s 1 p.m. eastern time deadline and would instead be going to an arbitration hearing. Those concerns turned out to be premature, though, as the two sides have since settled on a $11.2 million salary for the year, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

Finally, we arrive at Verdugo, who is also embarking upon his first season of arbitration eligibility. The 25-year-old was projected by MLBTR to earn $3.2 million in 2022 but will actually make a little more than that at $3.55 million, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

These agreements do not preclude the Red Sox from engaging in contract extension talks with any of the aforementioned players leading up to Opening Day on April 7. This is particularly prevalent for Devers, who can become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2023 season.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Red Sox among teams interested in free agent utility man Chris Taylor, per report

The Red Sox are among a handful of teams interested in free agent utility man Chris Taylor, according to MLB.com’s Juan Toribio.

Per Torobio, Taylor is drawing interest from the likes of the Sox, Cardinals, Rangers, Giants, Marlins, and others including the Dodgers, who originally acquired him from the Mariners in June 2016.

After spending the last six seasons with the Dodgers, Taylor is now officially a free agent in the wake of rejecting Los Angeles’ one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer for 2022 on Wednesday.

Taylor, 31, was a first-time All-Star in 2021. The versatile right-handed hitter batted .254/.344/.438 (113 wRC+) with 25 doubles, four triples, 20 home runs, 73 RBIs, 92 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 63 walks, and 167 strikeouts over 148 games and 582 plate appearances.

In those 148 games, Taylor made 46 appearances at second base, 11 at third base, 23 at shortstop, 30 in left field, 62 in center field, and eight in right field. For his career, the University of Virginia product’s best position has been left field (+13 defensive runs saved), though he saw the majority of his playing time come in center field (423 innings) this past season.

Under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox have clearly placed an emphasis on versatile players who are capable of playing multiple positions.

Taylor obviously fits this mold, as does his former Dodgers teammate and current Sox utility man Enrique Hernandez. As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Boston originally signed Hernandez last year to serve as their everyday second baseman, but he ultimately wound up taking over the day-to-day responsibilities in center field.

So, if the Red Sox were to pursue a starting outfielder such as Taylor, they would have the ability to move Hernandez back to the infield thanks to the flexibility of the 30-year-old.

Because the Dodgers extended a qualifying offer to Taylor, there is now draft pick compensation attached to the Virginia Beach native if another club were to sign him away from Los Angeles.

The Red Sox, for instance, would forfeit their second-highest unprotected pick in next year’s draft as well as $500,000 in international signing bonus pool space if they manage to sign a qualified free agent like Taylor. Boston did, however, gain a compensatory pick in the 2022 draft earlier this week when Eduardo Rodriguez signed a five-year deal with the Tigers.

After staying away from qualified free agents last off-season, Bloom and Co. have expressed an interest in pursuing those free agents with qualifying offers attached to them this time around.

With that being said, Taylor — a client of Meister Sports Management — is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to net himself a four-year, $64 million contract in free agency this season.

FanGraphs, on the other hand, projects that Taylor will land a four-year deal worth approximately $60 million. A steep price to pay for someone who turns 32 in August.

(Picture of Chris Taylor: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘among many teams showing interest’ in free agent infielder Javier Báez, per report

The Red Sox are among the many teams showing interest in free agent infielder Javier Baez, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Baez, who turns 29 next month, became a free agent in early November after spending the 2021 season with both the Cubs and Mets. He began the year in Chicago, batting .248/.292/.484 with nine doubles, two triples, 22 home runs, 65 RBIs, 48 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 15 walks, and 131 strikeouts over 91 games spanning 361 plate appearances.

On July 30, the Cubs traded Baez — as well as right-hander Trevor Williams and cash considerations — to the Mets for outfield prospect and 2020 first-round pick Pete Crow-Armstrong.

Remaining in the National League with New York, the right-handed hitting Baez slashed a much-improved .299/.371/.515 to go along with nine doubles, nine homers, 22 RBIs, 32 runs scored, five stolen bases, 13 walks, and 53 strikeouts in 47 games (186 plate appearances) as a Met.

Upon arriving in New York, Baez had primarily served as the Cubs’ everyday shortstop. The Mets, however, moved the 28-year-old over to second base to accommodate their own star infielder in Francisco Lindor.

In total, Baez appeared in 100 games as a shortstop and in 35 games games as a second baseman in his time with the Cubs and Mets in 2021. He posted three defensive runs saved while logging 285 2/3 innings at second and another three defensive runs saved while logging 834 2/3 innings at short.

Because he was acquired mid-season, the Mets were unable to extend Baez — a client of Wasserman — an $18.4 million qualifying offer for 2022, meaning the 6-foot, 190 pounder does not come with any draft pick compensation attached to him.

A native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, Baez is close with Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who hails from nearby Caguas. Together, the two helped Team Puerto Rico win silver in 2017 World Baseball Classic, with the former playing for his island and the latter serving as general manager.

If Boston were to bring in Baez, they would acquire a very smooth defender who is capable of playing all around the infield if needed. He also represents another option at shortstop if Xander Bogaerts were to shift over to second base or exercise his opt-out after the 2022 campaign.

That said, MLB Trade Rumors predicted earlier this month that Baez would land himself a five-year, $100 million deal in free agency. FanGraphs, on the other hand, projects him to get a four-year pact worth north of $80 million.

(Picture of Javier Baez: Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

Where do things stand between Red Sox and Eduardo Rodriguez as qualifying offer decision looms?

The Red Sox extended a qualifying offer to Eduardo Rodriguez on November 7, giving the left-hander 10 days to either accept or reject the one-year, $18.4 million deal for 2022.

A full week has passed since Rodriguez received Boston’s qualifying offer, which means he has just three more days, or until Nov. 17 at 5 p.m. eastern time, to make his decision.

If accepted, Rodriguez would return to the Sox on that aforementioned one-year deal for the 2022 campaign. If rejected, the ISE Baseball client would remain a free agent, though any other club that signs him would then owe Boston compensation in the form of a draft pick.

In the time that has gone by since the Red Sox extended a qualifying offer in Rodriguez’s direction, the Venezuelan southpaw has also received a multi-year contract offer from Boston, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

Rodriguez, 28, is just two years removed from finishing sixth in American League Cy Young voting in 2019, but missed all of the compressed 2020 season after contracting myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) as a result of a bout with COVID-19.

This past season, the 6-foot-2, 231 pound hurler posted a 4.74 ERA and 3.32 FIP to go along with 185 strikeouts to 47 walks over 32 appearances (31 starts) spanning 157 2/3 total innings of work.

On the surface, Rodriguez’s 4.74 ERA may seem deterring. However, among the 18 left-handers who accrued at least 150 innings this season, he ranked second in strikeout rate (27.4%), third in FIP, and second in xFIP (3.43), per FanGraphs.

Because of those improved peripherals, Rodriguez is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to net himself a five-year, $70 million contract in free agency this winter. FanGraphs‘ Ben Clemens also projects he could land a four-year, $80 million pact if the opportunity presents itself.

To that end, Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) during last week’s GM meetings that the club was engaged in contract talks with Rodriguez and that they “would love to bring him back.”

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom added on to that, indicating that the Sox were indeed interested in bringing Rodriguez back on some sort of multi-year deal.

“I think when there’s mutual interest in some kind of longer-term deal, it makes sense to talk as much as you can and to keep that line of communication open,” Bloom said. “So I expect that will happen.”

The Red Sox originally acquired Rodriguez, then a 21-year-old pitching prospect, from the Orioles in exchange for fellow lefty Andrew Miller at the 2014 trade deadline. As an impending free agent, Miller remained in Baltimore for just a few months before signing a lucrative four-year deal with the Yankees that winter.

Rodriguez, on the other hand, has for the most part established himself as a key cog in Boston’s starting rotation since making his major-league debut in May 2015. As O’Halloran alluded to, he is clearly someone the Red Sox would like to bring back for 2022 and beyond.

That being said, Rodriguez does not turn 29 until next April, so his earning window would still be pretty wide open even if he were to accept the Sox’ qualifying offer and set himself up to hit the open market again at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

If he elects to become a free agent now by rejecting the qualifying offer, it does appear as though Rodriguez already has a number of suitors. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported on Sunday that the Angels, Blue Jays, and Tigers were among the teams interested in Rodriguez’s services.

Interest from the Red Sox and other clubs aside, Rodriguez is technically still on the clock as those involved anxiously await the result of his decision, which is due no later than Wednesday evening.

(Picture of Eduardo Rodriguez: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox have ‘thoroughly’ scouted Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who is expected to be posted soon

Could the Red Sox be interested in signing Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki this winter? According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, the Sox have “thoroughly” scouted the international star.

Suzuki is expected to be posted by the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball at some point this off-season, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported last Friday.

Per Morosi, Hiroshima has yet to formally announce that Suzuki will be posted, but the club is slated to do so once the Japan Series — which was pushed back because of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo — concludes later this month.

Assuming that Suzuki is posted by the Carp by the end of November, major-league teams would then have 30 days from the date of posting to negotiate a contract with the 27-year-old, who would not be subject to international signing bonus limitations since he is over the age of 25 and has more than six seasons of professional experience.

This past season with Hiroshima, Suzuki slashed an impressive .319/.436/.644 to go along with 26 doubles, 38 home runs, 88 RBIs, 77 runs scored, nine stolen bases, 88 walks, and 87 strikeouts over 133 games and 535 plate appearances.

When the 2021 NPB season was paused on account of the Olympics, the right-handed hitter helped Samurai Japan win a gold medal in their home country that was capped off by a dramatic 2-0 victory over Team USA on August 7.

In addition to what he has done at the plate, Suzuki is well renowned for his defense, as the five-time NPB All-Star is also a four-time recipient of NPB’s Gold Glove Award for his work as a right fielder.

Listed at 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, Suzuki does not turn 28 until next August. Morosi notes that he has drawn comparisons to Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. because of his “patience, power and base-stealing acumen.”

On the flip side of that, FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen analyzed that Suzuki “has plus power that comes from a dip-and-rip style of hitting, where he just sort of collapses his back side and tries to pull the ball with power as often as possible.

“Suzuki is at his best when he’s getting his arms extended on pitches well out over the plate,” Longenhagen continued, “but he tends to foul off or swing under fastballs creeping in on him.”

As far as contract projections go, FanGraphs has Suzuki netting himself anywhere between $40 million to $45.2 million over the span of a four-year deal. MLB Trade Rumors, on the other hand, projects that the Tokyo native will receive a five-year, $55 million contract on the open market.

Any deal Suzuki signs with a major-league team would have to include a posting fee as a way to compensate the Carp. As noted by Morosi, Hiroshima “would receive a release fee equal to 20% of the first $25 million in guaranteed contract value, plus 17.5% of the next $25 million, plus 15% of any amount beyond $50 million” under the current agreement between Major League Baseball and NPB.

It is unclear at this point just how serious the Red Sox are about pursuing Suzuki as a free agent. Boston’s outfield picture for 2022 already appears crowded with Alex Verdugo, Enrique Hernandez, Hunter Renfroe, J.D. Martinez, and Tim Locastro under club control heading into next season.

That said, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has made it a point of emphasis in his tenure with the Red Sox to cast a wide net when it comes to constructing a big-league roster, so Suzuki should at the very least be on Boston’s radar for the time being.

(Picture of Seiya Suzuki: Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)

Red Sox free agency rumors: Jackie Bradley Jr. seeking ‘significant contract, perhaps beyond four years,’ per report

Potential Red Sox free-agent target Jackie Bradley Jr. remains unsigned as major-league camps in Arizona and Florida are set to begin in just a matter of weeks.

There have not been too many recent rumblings as to where Bradley Jr. could land, but on Wednesday evening, The New York Post’s Mike Puma reported that the 30-year-old outfielder “has been seeking a significant contract, perhaps beyond four years.”

Bradley Jr., who turns 31 in April, is a client of super-agent Scott Boras.

The one-time All-Star and one-time Gold Glove award winner is coming off a 2020 campaign in which he slashed .283/.364/.450 with seven home runs and 22 RBI over 55 games played (217 plate appearances) for the Sox.

Boston has expressed interest in a reunion with Bradley Jr. since the closing stages of last season, but the two sides do not appear to be anywhere close to an agreement on a new contract at the moment.

“As far as Jackie, as it’s been all offseason, we continue to stay in touch with him,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told reporters late last month. “We have been this entire time. And I expect we’ll continue to until his free agency resolves.”

Although it’s out there that Bradley Jr. may be seeking a four-plus year deal from interested clubs, it would be interested to see how much he is looking for in terms of average annual value.

The former first-round draft selection may be the top centerfielder on the open market now that George Springer has signed with the Blue Jays, but the fact of the matter is that Bradley Jr., while superb in the outfield, has proven to be inconsistent at the plate over the course of eight-year major-league career.

With that in mind, it seems unlikely that a team such as the Mets would be willing to invest that much in a practically defense-first outfielder who is now on the other side of 30, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors’ Jeff Todd.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, are inching towards towards the $210 million luxury tax threshold with their 2021 payroll following the signings of Enrique Hernandez and Garrett Richards being made official, so they would probably prefer to avoid that much of an investment as well.

Given those circumstances, Boston could stand put and roll with an everyday outfield of Andrew Benintendi in left, Alex Verdugo in center, and Hunter Renfroe in right to open the 2021 season if they so choose.

Jarren Duran, one of the club’s top outfield prospects, also appears to be on the cusp of getting big-league consideration sometime this summer.

The 24-year-old, who played winter ball for Criollos de Caguas of the Puerto Rican Winter League, is currently representing Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Series.

If not Verdugo or Duran, the Red Sox could look at other free-agents still available who have experience playing center field, such as Jake Marisnick and old friend Kevin Pillar.

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

Red Sox, Rafael Devers avoid arbitration with $4.575 million deal for 2021

The Red Sox and third baseman Rafael Devers have avoided salary arbitration, as the two sides reached agreement on a $4.575 million contract for the 2021 season, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand

UPDATE: It’s official now.

Devers, 24, was entering his first season of arbitration eligibility. He was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn approximately $6.3 million in 2021.

Had Devers and the Red Sox not settled on a dollar figure by Friday’s deadline, the two sides would have had to appear in front of an arbitrator sometime next month in order to determine the infielder’s salary for the upcoming season.

Prior to Friday’s deadline, Devers had been the only arbitration-eligible player the Sox had yet to come to terms with, as the club signed the likes of Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Austin Brice, Kevin Plawecki, and Eduardo Rodriguez to contracts in December.

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, neither Boston nor Devers’ camp talked about a potential long-term contract extension leading up to Friday’s agreement. The Dominican national’s agent, Nelson Montes de Oca of REP1 Baseball, said as much when speaking with The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier last week.

“We haven’t talked about 2021 or a multiyear deal right now,” Montes de Oca said. “Right now he’s just concentrated on getting in shape for 2021 and put in the best season and helping the team win. We haven’t talked or thought about any multiyear deal at this point.”

Despite the notion that there have been no talks about an extension to this point, the two sides are free to explore that possibility in the meantime. Though, as noted by Cotillo, “conversations about those types of contracts usually take place before or during spring training and are tabled before the beginning of the season.”

As of this writing, Devers is eligible to become a free agent at the conclusion of the 2023 campaign.

For now, the former top prospect will prepare to embark on his fifth big-league season (fourth full) as he reunites with manager Alex Cora.

According to Speier, Devers is currently working out in Tampa to prepare for the season. The start of spring training is just a few short weeks away, after all.

By reaching an agreement with Devers, the Red Sox — or any players on the team for that matter — won’t have to attend any arbitration hearings this spring for the first time since 2019.

(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Andrew Benintendi trade rumors, Corey Kluber’s market, and missing Winter Weekend this year

After debuting with a short, two-minute trailer last week, Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast is back with its first full official episode on Friday.

In said episode, which is available on iTunes and Spotify among other platforms, I discuss recent topics surrounding the Red Sox and their offseason thus far, such as trade rumors involving Andrew Benintendi, free-agency rumors surrounding Corey Kluber, Marcus Semien, and others.

Finally, I wrapped this episode up by taking a moment to highlight Red Sox Winter Weekend, the club’s signature offseason fan fest that likely would have commenced at MGM Springfield on Friday night were it not for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Apologies for this being another relatively short podcast due to the fact I was doing it solo. I’m still trying to line up some guests in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)