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)

Red Sox trade involving Andrew Benintendi ‘could happen soon,’ per report

UPDATE: Per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, Benintendi could be traded before the end of the weekend.

The Red Sox trading Andrew Benintendi is a legitimate possibility, and it could “happen soon,” according to the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam.

Per McAdam, the Marlins, who were previously linked to Benintendi, are not viewed as the favorites to land the 26-year-old outfielder.

Instead, the Rangers, Astros, and Athletics have all checked in with the Sox, while the Pirates, led by former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, are seen as a “potential fit.”

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reported over the weekend that Boston “is open” to discussing Benintendi in trade talks this winter, “though that’s not a guarantee that he’ll be dealt.”

Benintendi, who is about to embark upon the second year of a two-year, $10 million extension he signed last February, is coming off a 2020 season in which he posted a dismal wRC+ of 43 while being limited to just 14 games due to a right rib cage strain that prematurely ended his year in August.

That being said, the former first-round pick’s trade value could be at an all-time low given the fact the has not lived up to his once-promising potential in recent years.

Still, considering that he is set to earn $6.6 million this coming season while being under team control through the 2022 campaign, it may be in the Red Sox’ best interest to hold on to Benintendi for the time being.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. were to deal Benintendi, though, they would likely be seeking an outfielder and/or young pitching in return, as noted by WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Bradford also mentions that the Rangers are NOT involved in trade talks regarding Benintendi, and “another American League team not mentioned has had deeper discussions” with the Red Sox involving the Cincinnati native.

Having written all that, it goes without saying that this situation is fluid, so stay tuned for more as additional information becomes available.

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

Marlins one of several teams engaged with Red Sox regarding potential Andrew Benintendi trade, per report

The Miami Marlins are one of the teams that have been engaged with the Red Sox in trade talks involving outfielder Andrew Benintendi, according to The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

The two sides have not been able to reach an agreement to this point, though, and other teams have also been involved.

Bowden was the first to report on Saturday that the Red Sox “have been in serious trade talks with multiple teams” regarding Benintendi, citing that Boston was “looking for prospect(s) type return with [an] emphasis on pitchers and outfielders.”

Benintendi, who is coming off a disastrous 2020 season (.442 OPS over 52 PAs) in which he was limited to just 14 games due to a right rib cage strain, is under team control for two more years and can become eligible for free agency at the conclusion of the 2022 campaign.

The 26-year-old is slated to earn $6.6 million in the second year of a two-year, $10 million extension he signed with Boston last February. 2022 would serve as his third and final season of arbitration eligibility.

The Marlins, meanwhile, are coming off a year in which their outfielders ranked 12th in the National League in wRC+ (86) and 14th in fWAR (0.3), so it would appear that they are attempting to upgrade their outfield corps.

On that note, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported earlier this month that Miami is looking for a “corner outfielder, preferably a right fielder and left-handed hitter.”

Though Heyman did not specify if the Marlins were looking for this particular player via trade or free agency, Benintendi certainly fits that mold seeing how he is a corner outfielder who hits from the left side of the plate.

Of course, the former first-round draft pick has never played an inning in right field as a professional, but he did log some time there during his freshman season at the University of Arkansas.

As for who the Marlins would give up in this potential trade, that much is unclear, and it’s likely to remain that way seeing how Boston and Miami “have not been able to agree on a return” yet.

Given the knowledge we have of this ongoing situation, the Sox and Fish could just be in the opening stages of trade talks here.

As a matter of fact, The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote on Sunday that “[one] major league source characterized the Red Sox’ conversations about Benintendi as ‘due diligence’ and ‘nothing out of the ordinary,’ at a time when teams often gauge the value of virtually all of their players.”

That much is understandable, especially at a point in time where Benintendi’s trade value is presumably at an all-time low on account of how much he has underperformed these past two seasons.

2021 could prove to be a ‘revenge tour’ of sorts for the Cincinnati native, so the Red Sox may want to hold on to Benintendi for a little longer at the risk of dealing him and potentially seeing him thrive with a new organization given his track record.

At the moment, per Speier, Benintendi has been working out in Nashville, and he was scheduled to meet with Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers on Monday.

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

Red Sox have yet to talk to Rafael Devers about long-term contract extension, third baseman’s agent says

The Red Sox have yet to engage Rafael Devers about a potential long-term extension, the third baseman’s agent, Nelson Montes de Oca of REP1 Baseball, told The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Devers, who turned 24 in October, is about to enter his first season of arbitration eligibility and is on track to reach free agency at the conclusion of the 2023 season.

After he was tendered a contract last month, Devers’ camp and the Red Sox have until this coming Friday to exchange arbitration figures, meaning there is still time — before and after the end of this week — for the two sides to reach agreement on an appropriate salary for the 2021 campaign.

“We haven’t talked about 2021 or a multiyear deal right now,” Montes de Oca told Speier. “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.”

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.5 million in 2013, Devers is coming off a rather underwhelming 2020 season — his fourth (third full) in the majors — after finishing 12th in American League MVP voting the year before.

Over a team-leading 57 games played, the left-handed hitting infielder slashed .263/.310/.483 with 11 home runs, 16 doubles, and 43 RBI over 57 games and 248 plate appearances. He also committed 14 errors while posting negative-6 defensive runs saved in 475 innings patrolling the hot corner, as noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Some of those defensive struggles can be linked to a left ankle injury Devers suffered in August, which resulted in him missing a few games.

“That affected his range and throwing mechanics,” writes Speier. “He committed three throwing errors in a game shortly after his return to the field and made nine in total after returning. While there was no structural damage serious enough to keep him out of the lineup, Devers nonetheless struggled through the end of the year.”

Despite dealing with those aforementioned ankle issues towards the latter half of the 2020 season, Devers is apparently on track to be ready for spring training come February. He’s even headed to Tampa Bay later this month to get some work in with a personal trainer.

“He’s 100% now,” Montas de Oca said of his client. “He’s getting ready to have a really good 2021 season. He takes pride on helping the team win and hopefully bringing another championship. He loves that team. He loves the city and loves the fans.”

Back in October, MLB Trade Rumors projected that Devers would earn approximately $3.4 million in his first season of arbitration eligibility. We will have to wait and see if that projection comes to fruition in the coming weeks.

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