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)

Red Sox in ‘serious trade talks’ with other teams regarding Andrew Benintendi, per report

The Red Sox have reportedly been engaged in serious trade talks regarding outfielder Andrew Benintendi, per The Athletic’s Jim Bowden.

Per Bowden, the Sox are in serious talks with multiple teams and are looking for a prospect-centered return focused on young pitchers and outfielders. It is worth noting that nothing is imminent as of this moment.

Benintendi, 26, is coming off his worst season in the majors in 2020.

Over just 14 games played, the former first-round pick posted an abysmal .103/.314/.128 slash line to go along with just one extra-base hit and one RBI.

That lone extra-base hit, a double, came against the Rays on August 11, the same night Benintendi suffered a right rib cage strain on the base paths, which would place him on the injured list and wind up costing him the rest of the year.

Benintendi’s struggles in 2020 added on to an underwhelming 2019 campaign in which he yielded a wRC+ of 100 (league average), adding on to the notion that the Cincinnati native has been trending in the wrong direction recently.

Even with that concerning trend in mind, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom spoke quite highly of Benintendi during his end-of-the season presser back in September.

“I think talent-wise, I wouldn’t factor this year into an evaluation of his talent at all,” Bloom said of Benintendi’s performance in 2020. “I mean, this guy has great all-around ability. It’s just unfortunate how the year started. He actually looked great at Summer Camp, and then for whatever reason the season opened and he wasn’t operating on all cylinders. He had a couple bad weeks and then got hurt, so I wouldn’t let that change anyone’s mind.

“This is a guy who has shown the ability to perform at a really high level, including in some really critical situations,” added Bloom. Still young, still has all that ability. It’s just a shame that his year kind of got wiped out.”

Benintendi’s manager for the time being, Alex Cora, also appeared confident that the young outfielder could return to form in 2021 when speaking with reporters last month.

“The Andrew that we saw in October 2018, that’s the Andrew we want,” Cora said. “The swings-and-misses — we talked about it in ’19, we saw it in ’20 — we need to find a balance between driving the ball and not swinging and missing. I’ll take Andrew Benintendi, the complete player. I don’t want Andrew to hit 35-40 home runs. I want him to get on base, be fast in the base paths, steal bases, play better defense — the way he played in October [2018] — and if we get that guy back, we’re in a good position.”

Seeing how Benintendi has not lived up to his promising potential over the past few seasons, it would seem like if the Red Sox were to trade the former top prospect now, they would be selling relatively low on him.

There is still plenty of optimism that Benintendi can bounce back in 2021, which would lead to the belief that 2020 was a fluke.

With that in mind, “the Sox wouldn’t want to sell [Benintendi] at a low-value point. Given his potential upside and the likely modest return [he] would bring, the risk of dealing him likely exceeds the payoff,” as The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier noted back in November.

Benintendi, who does not turn 27 until July, is under team control for two more seasons. He is set to earn $6.6 million in 2021, which will mark his sixth season in the major-leagues.

UPDATE: WEEI’s Rob Bradford adds that “at least one interested team is more interested in what happened [for Benintendi] in ’19 rather than small sample ’20.”

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

Red Sox one of several teams interested in free-agent reliever Alex Colomé, per report

The Red Sox are among the teams reportedly interested in free-agent reliever Alex Colome, per FanSided’s Robert Murray.

Colome, who recently turned 32, is coming off a 2020 campaign with the White Sox in which he posted a superb 0.81 ERA and .460 OPS against over 21 appearances and 22 1/3 innings of work while converting 12 out of a possible 13 save opportunities.

The veteran right-hander is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to net himself a one-year deal worth somewhere around $6 million this offseason, though MLBTR does have him returning to the South Side.

That being said, Colome does have connections to the Red Sox, as the above tweet mentions, thanks to chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

Both Bloom and Colome spent plenty of time together with the Rays following the latter’s big-league debut in 2013, which came more than six years after he signed with Tampa Bay out of the Dominican Republic in March 2007.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 225 lbs., Colome works with just two pitches: a cut and four-seam fastball, per Baseball Savant. He posted a 15.3% whiff rate with those pitches last season.

The Red Sox, coming off a 2020 campaign in which they ranked 27th in baseball in bullpen ERA (5.79), are in need of upgrades to their relief corps.

Colome, despite owning a lifetime 5.31 ERA at Fenway Park, certainly fits that mold and could even emerge as the club’s closer if he is indeed signed.

For the time being, though, that remains just a possibility since it is not yet known how aggressively the Red Sox are pursuing the experienced hurler.

Red Sox one of several teams interested in signing Korean sensation Ha-Seong Kim, per report

The Red Sox are reportedly one of several teams that are interested in signing free-agent Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim, according to ESPN’s Daniel Kim.

Per ESPN’s Kim, “Kim has several MLB offers in the five-plus year range.”

Kim, 25, has has yet to play at the major-league level, but has proven to be one of the more impressive players in the Korean Baseball Organization over the past seven seasons.

Going back to 2014, the South Korean-born, right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing infielder owns a career slash line of .294/.373/.493 to go along with 133 home runs, 575 RBI, and 134 stolen bases over 891 total games between the Nexen Heroes and Kiwoom Heroes.

He has also proven to be one of the better defensive shortstops in the KBO in recent years, picking up a pair of Gold Glove awards for his efforts at short in 2018 and 2019.

Kiwoom officially posted Kim on December 7, giving major-league clubs until the first of January to acquire his services.

Depending on how much Kim signs for, that club will owe Kiwoom 20% of the contract’s first $25 million in value, 17.5% of the next $25 million, and 15% of anything beyond the $50 million threshold, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors‘ Mark Polishuk.

MLBTR predicts that Kim will land a five-year deal worth somewhere around $40 million with whichever club he signs with. They also had him as their seventh-ranked free agent at the onset of the offseason.

All this being said, the Red Sox should be players for Kim, but only if they can convince him to move to second base, a position he has very little experience at, on a (just about) full-time basis.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier observed earlier this month that as a five-star phenom in Korea, Kim’s “age and performance would fit the Sox’ vision of upgrading their long-term talent base” — but only if he is open to playing second.

“In all likelihood, [Kim’s] the only open-market second base option this winter for whom the Sox would consider a deal of more than two years,” Speier wrote.

This may be the case because the Red Sox are coming off a season in which their second basemen struggled mightily, as has seemingly been the case the past few years.

Among American League teams in 2020, Red Sox second basemen ranked 14th in on-base (.273) and slugging percentage (.313), and 15th in OPS (.586) and wRC+ (55).

Those are truly dismal numbers from one position group, and they will likely need to improve if Boston intends on not being one of the worst team in baseball for a second consecutive year in 2021.

Identifying second base as a potential area of weakness headed into the spring, how do Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. go about addressing that area in order to improve their squad?

Well, besides the trade market, free agency is always an option, too. And Kim — at the ripe age of 25 years old, just entering his prime — might just be the best infielder not named D.J. LeMahieu available to sign at the moment.

“The international market is an intriguing one and a good one,” Sox manager Alex Cora said of international free agents such as Kim during his virtual winter meetings media availability last week. “Like the rest of the big-league organizations, everybody’s paying attention and doing their homework.

“They’re very talented, they’re guys that can impact the game sooner rather than later,” added Cora. “It will be interesting how it moves in the upcoming days or weeks. These guys, throughout their careers, they’ve been very solid, very consistent, and that’s something that intrigues not only the Red Sox, but the rest of the organizations at the big-league level.”

Why the Red Sox should not be counted out of a potential Carlos Correa trade

Late Monday night, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the Astros have been “floating” All-Star shortstop Carlos Correa in trade talks with other clubs due to the notion that it “is unlikely they will sign him befre he reaches free agency at the end of the season.”

Rosenthal has since updated his story though, and now reports that Houston “is not engaged in any active conversations on Correa.”

Whether someone within the Astros organization reached out to Rosenthal to provide an update or he simply corrected himself has yet to be determined, but one thing is for certain: Correa, as of now, will be a free agent this time next year.

The 26-year-old is coming off a rather underwhelming 2020 campaign in which he slashed .264/.326/.383 with five home runs and 25 RBI over 58 games played.

As uninspiring as those numbers may be, Correa made up for it in October by posting a 1.221 OPS and driving in a team-leading 17 runs en route to Houston coming up one game short of a second consecutive World Series appearance.

Given how well he performed this most recent postseason, the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year could entice a great many a club looking to upgrade their infield and make a deep run into the playoffs next year.

The Red Sox, having missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year in 2020, will certainly be one of those teams attempting to bolster their roster in many areas this offseason.

On the surface, dealing for Correa does not make all that much sense for Boston given the fact that Xander Bogaerts is the club’s everyday shortstop and is one of the best in the American League at what he does. The 28-year-old can opt out of his contract after the 2022 season, though.

Even with that in mind, a potential positional logjam has not stopped Chaim Bloom from at least exploring trades for high-caliber players thus far in his brief tenure as Boston’s chief baseball officer.

Just this week, it was reported by The Chicago Tribune that the Sox and Cubs talked about a potential Kris Bryant trade over the summer. Before that, it appeared as though the Red Sox had/have at least some interest in Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, who like Correa is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility.

That leads us to this next point: the connection Correa and Lindor share with Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

All three of Cora, Correa, Lindor hail from Puerto Rico and Cora, by all accounts, is very close with both infielders.

In Correa’s case, Cora served as his bench coach in Houston during the Astros’ march to a controversial World Series victory over the Dodgers in 2017. Cora was also Correa and Lindor’s general manager for Team Puerto Rico during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Cora’s relationship with players such as Correa and Lindor could provide the Red Sox with the inside track on acquiring their services, as Rosenthal noted last March.

At the end of the day, the chances of the Sox acquiring Correa or Lindor before next July’s trade deadline are likely slim to none, but as was the case before his first tenure as manager ended, Cora can prove to be a selling point for players who are contemplating getting traded to or signing with Boston for years to come.

Also, for what it’s worth, Correa is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $10.2 million in his final season of arbitration eligibility in 2021.

Red Sox and Cubs talked Kris Bryant trade over the summer, per report

The Red Sox and Cubs engaged in trade talks centered around All-Star third baseman Kris Bryant over the summer, according to The Chicago Tribune’s Mark Gonzales.

Per Gonzales, “two sources confirmed the Red Sox and Cubs discussed Bryant this summer, but those talks faded.”

Bryant, who turns 29 in January, is under team control with the Cubs for one more season. He is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $18.6 million in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility in 2021.

Because he is on the verge of free agency, Bryant, like Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, seems likely to get dealt at some point this winter.

The Las Vegas native is nearly two months removed from an uncharacteristic 2020 campaign in which he slashed .206/.293/.351 with just four home runs and 11 RBI over 34 games played.

In those 34 games, Bryant saw the majority of his playing time come at the hot corner, but he also logged 29 innings in left field. Because of the experience he has in the outfield, as well as the fact that Rafael Devers appears to be the third baseman of the future, “the Red Sox would envision Bryant as a left fielder,” per Gonzales.

As currently constructed, the Red Sox’ outfield picture is somewhat shorthanded in the wake of Jackie Bradley Jr. declaring for free agency last month.

Without an everyday centerfielder on the roster, either Andrew Benintendi or Alex Verdugo could make the switch to patrol center on a regular basis, which would therefore create an opening for someone like Bryant.

For as disappointing as his 2020 season may have been, Bryant still has the potential to bounce back in a tremendous way in 2021, especially since it would be a contract year for him.

In 740 games spanning six big-league seasons with Chicago, the former first-round pick, who is a Boras Corp. client, has clubbed 142 homers and collected 414 RBI. He won National League Rookie of the Year in 2015, National League MVP in 2016, and has been named to three National League All-Star teams.

On top of that, Bryant’s father, Mike, hails from Medford, Mass. and was selected by the Red Sox in the ninth round of the 1980 amateur draft out of UMASS Lowell.

It remains to be seen how likely a Bryant-to-Boston trade is at the moment considering talks between the Cubs and Sox faded over the summer, but dealing for a player of Bryant’s caliber with only one guaranteed year of team control would certainly be an aggressive move for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

Also, as MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith notes, “it’s not uncommon for teams to lay groundwork at the trade deadline, then resume trade talks during the offseason.” We will have to wait and see if those trade talks do indeed resume.