Red Sox’ J.D. Martinez on MLB Season Being Put on Hold Due to Coronavirus Pandemic: ‘I’m 32. I’m an Antique. I Need to Be out There Playing’

Although he is confident that there will be a Major League Baseball season in some capacity in 2020, Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez is still anxiously awaiting to get back to doing what he’s used to doing this time of year.

Entering his third year with the Red Sox, Martinez can opt out of the final two years of the five-year, $110 million contract he signed with Boston in 2018 this winter. That is probably weighing on his mind as well, especially if he’s going to have fewer games to play in this year.

“I’m 32. I’m an antique. I need to be out there playing,” Martinez told The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham on Wednesday. “This sucks. Hopefully we’ll get a day and I can crank it up and get ready.”

Martinez believes that once baseball does return there should be strict policies in regards to testing just about everyone involved with the game for COVID-19. He told the MLB Players Association that much.

“Everyone would need to get tested,” Martinez told Abraham. “Players, coaches, the media, security guards. If you come in the ballpark, you get tested. I’m not an expert on this virus but you need daily testing.”

While waiting out this pandemic from his Fort Lauderdale home, Martinez has been using fellow south Florida native and Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer’s house, which has a batting cage, as a way to stay in shape. Hosmer is currently waiting things out himself in San Diego.

“He has a cage and I can hit there,” said Martinez of Hosmer’s Southwest Ranches residence. “It’s not ideal, but it’s fine. I’m in offseason mode.”

Based off a recent report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan among others, MLB is planning on sending the MLBPA a return-to-play proposal within the next week. This proposal appears to involve a spring training period starting in June and the regular season starting sometime in early July.

Of course, there are still plenty of hurdles to get over, but I can’t imagine players like Martinez, who comes off like a real creature of habit, enjoy being in “offseason mode” in early May.

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts Says It Would ‘Be Hard’ to Have All MLB Games Played in One City This Season If Baseball Does Return

With no baseball to be played for the time being while the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has had more time on his hands recently, and he spent some of that time talking to GQ’s Alex Shultz last week.

Discussing a wide range of topics, the two-time All-Star went into depth on what he’s been doing in his native Aruba since Red Sox players and staff went back to their homes last month.

“I don’t wake up at 8 AM doing workouts no more because we don’t have a timetable for returning,” he said when describing what the average day has looked for him recently. “I usually wake up and go to my PlayStation right away, playing lots of FIFA and Fortnite. Then I have breakfast, maybe some eggs or cereal, and do a workout afterwards in the afternoon. I don’t have much to do. If it’s not a workout or PlayStation, I’m playing dominoes with my buddies. Here in Aruba, they want you to social distance, so no more than four people in a group.”

Bogaerts emphasized how he is just trying to maintain right now, telling Shultz that “This is a crazy time and we don’t know if we’re even going to have a season. I don’t want to be the one who’s not doing anything, and then they tell you the season is starting and I’m so far behind. It’s really tough mentally to try and stay in shape.”

To stay in shape, Bogaerts said that he tries to throw with his twin brother Jair everyday in addition to going to the beach, but “in Aruba, you can only go [to the beach] if it’s for workouts. No one can go to chill. Makes the beach a little more boring. But I do some running drills that strengthen your legs and lower body.”

The 27-year-old is coming off a breakout campaign in 2019 in which he finished fifth in American League MVP voting. He accredited that breakout to gaining more experience last season, and how in “the year prior, we had some coaching changes that helped unpack some stuff that I had hidden. It made me become a much better player. All of my hitting coaches have had good, different philosophies, but this one kind of took me to another level.”

In regards to holding out hope for there to be a baseball season in 2020, Bogaerts added that it can be hard to focus at times while working out because there is no set date for a return yet.

Said Bogaerts, “In the offseason, you work out and look forward to February reporting day. You know you have to be ready for that specific day. Now, you don’t have anything like that. We’ll have to wait and see when the experts say it’s the right time to play.”

Another factor in all that uncertainty also includes where games will be played in 2020 if baseball does indeed return.

Several proposals–such as playing games in Arizona, Florida, or even Texas–have been thrown out there, but nothing is definite nor agreed upon at this point in time.

As an international player signed out of Aruba in August 2009, Bogaerts has grown accustomed to being away from his family back home for months at a time. However, he understands that it would be more challenging for American-born players to make such a sacrifice if teams play all their games in one city in 2020.

“That’s going to be hard,” Bogaerts said of the proposed neutral location plan. “I don’t know how they would do that.”

Since signing a six-year, $120 million extension with Boston last April, Bogaerts has emerged as a veteran presence and a leader in the Red Sox clubhouse. It would be nice to see him build on a successful 2019 season sometime this year. We’ll have to wait and see on that, though.

To read Bogaerts’ full interview with GQ, click here.

To follow Bogaerts on Instagram, click here.

Revisiting Christian Vazquez’s Contract Extension and Looking Ahead to J.T. Realmuto’s Upcoming Free Agency

Two years ago last month, the Red Sox and catcher Christian Vazquez reached agreement on a three-year, $13.35 million contract extension that included a club option for 2022.

Since that time, Vazquez, now 29 years old, has had the worst and best seasons of his major-league career in several categories, including OPS, wRC+, and fWAR.

In an injury-riddled 2018 campaign, Vazquez slashed a measly .207/.257/.283 with three home runs and 24 runs driven in in just 80 games played. He missed most of July and all of August due to a right pinky fracture.

That led many skeptics to believe that giving the Puerto Rican backstop an extension may have been a mistake, but he rebounded in a tremendous way in 2019.

Emerging as the everyday catcher, Vazquez posted a .276/.320/.477 slash line to go along with a career-high 23 home runs and career-high 72 RBI over 138 games played.

Among the 14 major-league catchers who accrued at least 400 plate appearances last year, Vazquez ranked third in fWAR (3.5). Defensively, he also ranked third among qualified catchers in FanGraphs’ Defense metric (22.2) while throwing out 38% of the 58 base runners who tried to steal against him. That effort behind the plate was good enough for Vazquez to be named a Gold Glove Award finalist, although Indians backstop Roberto Perez was the won that received the honor in the end.

Still, a three-win season in the official first year of that aforementioned three-year extension is nothing to hang your head on.

Vazquez is set to earn approximately $4.2 million this year headed into his age-29 season. Although he’ll likely make less than that in the event of a shortened or cancelled season, that amount currently ranks 16th among salaried catchers, per Spotrac. In other words, if Vazquez continues to make strides offensively and stays consistent as a defender, that could be a bargain.

However, in the event that Vazquez takes a step back if baseball is played in 2020, would it be out of the realm of possibilities for the Red Sox to look to upgrade at catcher this winter?

The 2020-2021 free agency class includes names such as Mookie Betts, George Springer, Marcus Semien, Marcus Stroman, Trevor Bauer, and maybe most importantly in this scenario, All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto.

Realmuto is set to become a free agent for the first time this winter after spending the 2019 and 2020 seasons with the Phillies.

Coming off a year in which he finished 14th in National League MVP voting while picking up his first Gold Glove and second Silver Slugger Awards, Realmuto is without a doubt one of, if not the best backstop in baseball at the moment.

A client of CAA Sports, Realmuto, who is a little more than five months younger than Vazquez, is likely to demand a lucrative contract if he does indeed hit the open market later this year.

The Phillies, led by general manager and Medfield native Matt Klentak, are probably going to be intent on retaining his services. But, if the Red Sox, led by another Ivy League graduate in the form of Chaim Bloom, want to make a splash this winter, which they should have the ability to do now that they got under the luxury tax threshold, Realmuto could be an appealing option.

As noted great Twitter follow @RedSoxStats points out, Realmuto “forms a great long-term catcher situation with [prospect] Connor Wong. You get the best catcher in the game [who] won’t be a contract monstrosity, [and you] can auction off two years of Vazquez.”

If another club views the remaining two years on Vazquez’s deal after 2020 as a relative bargain for a quality starting catcher, the plan for the Sox could then pertain to “bringing in an elite player and limiting the spread of mediocrity across the team” in a potential trade for Vazquez.

As unlikely as it looks now, the idea of Bloom and Co. pursuing Realmuto and shopping Vazquez this winter is certainly something to think about. If he performs in 2020 as he did in 2019, Vazquez may just be the safe way to go thanks to his relatively cheap salary, but if you have the chance to acquire the services of one of the best players at their respective positions, you at least have to do your due diligence, right?

Looking at How the Red Sox’ World Series Odds Changed Over the Course of a Hectic Offseason

If Major League Baseball is to be played in 2020, the Red Sox currently stand as long-shots to capture their 10th World Series title this fall, or perhaps winter.

As recently as this past Tuesday, March 31st, the Red Sox’ odds to win the World Series this year stood at +3667, according to SportsBettingDime.com. In other words, if you bet $100 on the Sox to win the Fall Classic and they do, your total payout would be $3,767.

Compare that to the reigning American League East champion New York Yankees’ most recent odds of winning the 2020 World Series (+367), and it’s clear to see that the Red Sox are underdogs coming off a turbulent offseason to say the least.

Right around the time the offseason began after the Washington Nationals won their first World Series title, Boston’s odds of winning in 2020 stood at +1200 as of November 1st, which were good for the third-best in the American League.

Since that time though, the Sox’ chances of winning have gotten significantly worse, as one might expect with the trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers in February, as well as the recent news that ace left-hander Chris Sale needed and underwent successful Tommy John surgery last month that will sideline the 31-year-old for the rest of 2020 and into 2021.

With Betts at the top of the lineup and Price maintaining a top spot in the rotation, the Red Sox looked like a team that could still at least compete for a Wild Card spot this coming season even with injury concerns surrounding Sale.

Instead of Betts and Price, who served as important clubhouse leaders in recent years, reporting to Red Sox camp, the two were instead dealt to the Dodgers as part of an earlier-set goal put in place by Sox ownership to get under the $208 million luxury tax threshold.

In his first offseason as Boston’s chief baseball officer, Chaim Bloom did just that by packaging Price, who is owed $96 million over the next three years, and Betts, who will earn $27 million in his final year of salary arbitration, in the same deal.

The Red Sox will pay about half of what is owed to Price over the next three seasons, while Betts was already viewed as a potential trade candidate anyway since he seemed and still seems locked in on becoming a free agent for the fist time this winter.

Despite the financial flexibility gained in parting ways with Betts and Price, the competitive state of the club certainly didn’t get any better even with three controllable players coming back from Los Angeles.

Take these numbers for what they’re worth. On February 3rd, the day before the first, now-voided three-team trade between Boston, Los Angeles, and the Minnesota Twins was reported, the Red Sox’ odds to win the World Series stood at +2067.

Fast forward to February 10th, one day after Boston and Los Angeles agreed to terms on a new trade between just themselves, the Sox’ odds to win the World Series fell to +3433. They have only gotten worse since then, as previously mentioned.

Bloom was dealt a difficult hand as soon as he took over as the head of the Red Sox’ baseball operations department last October. As he said himself at the time the trade was made official in February, “Our biggest goal…is to put ourselves in position to compete and win sustainably for as many years as we can.”

The club will never admit it publicly, but as the oddsmakers and sportsbooks have indicated, trading two of their better players in Mookie Betts and David Price certainly hurt the Red Sox’ chances of competing in 2020 once baseball does finally return.

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts Set to Make Spring Debut Against Tigers

For the first time this spring, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is set to make a Grapefruit League start.

Yes, after being sidelined with a sore left ankle since reporting to camp last month, the 27-year-old will serve as designated hitter and bat out of the three-hole for Boston against the Tigers at JetBlue Park on Wednesday.

Bogaerts initially suffered the injury while partaking in offseason workouts in his home country of Aruba back in early February, but he has progressed nicely over the past week or so.

“He’s pretty close to getting in a game,” interim manager Ron Roenicke said of Bogaerts Tuesday. “We’ll probably start him at DH. I guess he’s made a lot of progress over the last couple days.”

Lo and behold, Bogaerts is starting at DH for the Sox on Wednesday. He’ll probably get anywhere between two to three plate appearances.

And despite this setback, Bogaerts is still expected to be ready for Opening Day on March 26th.

Red Sox Nearly Traded Mookie Betts to Dodgers Before Last Year’s Trade Deadline

The Red Sox may have just traded Mookie Betts to the Dodgers last week, but according to Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, the two sides had discussions regarding the starting outfielder going back to last July before the trading deadline.

At that point, under then-president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, the Sox found themselves at 54-46 entering the week of July 22rd having just dropped two out of three to the lowly Orioles on the road.

Falling back to 11 games off the pace for the American League East and 3 1/2 games back of the second wild card spot, it seemed as though Dombrowski at least entertained the idea of selling off some assets.

With 1 1/2 years of team control remaining, Betts, in the midst of a solid followup season to his American League MVP campaign in 2018, could have fetched a serious return on the trade market.

The Dodgers already owned the National League’s top record at that point, butting a bona fide star such as the 26-year-old Betts certainly would not have hurt their chances of going back to the World Series for a third consecutive year.

However in-depth conversations between Dombrowski and Friedman got during that penultimate week of July, the Red Sox began to rattle off some wins.

Yes, the club proceeded to win five of its next seven games against the Rays and Yankees to storm back to 1 1/2 games out of a wild card spot. That seemed to put a halt on all talks revolving around the idea of dealing Betts.

Alas, the trade deadline came and went, the Sox did not make any significant additions or subtractions, and they proceeded to drop their next seven contests in a row to all but fall out of contention for a wild card spot.

Knowing what we know, trading Betts to the Dodgers back in July might not have been the worst thing to do. But since it did not happen, at least we got this moment out of it later on during the final game of the 2019 season and perhaps Betts’ last in a Red Sox uniform.

 

 

Red Sox Officially Name Ron Roenicke Interim Manager

The Red Sox have officially named Ron Roenicke as their interim manager, per the club’s official Twitter account.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the ‘interim’ tag in Roenicke’s new title could be dropped as soon as Major League Baseball completes its investigation into the 2018 Red Sox. That all depends on the results, though.

Roenicke, 63, had spent the previous two years as bench coach under Alex Cora and was viewed as one of, if not the top internal candidate for the position upon Cora’s dismissal from the post last month.

The California native was the only internal candidate interviewed by the Sox who had previous big-league managing experience, as he manned the helm for the Milwaukee Brewers from November 2010 until May 2015.

Roenicke denied any wrongdoing during his tenure as bench coach last month, saying that, “It would be concerning if something happened — that I knew I wasn’t part of — that I was brought into as part of that. I know what I do. I always try to do things the right way.”

If the ‘interim tag’ is removed from his title, Roenicke would become the 48th manager in Red Sox history. And with his promotion, the Sox find themselves without a bench coach for the time being. Perhaps Jason Varitek could fill that void.

Chaim Bloom Says Red Sox Have ‘a Lot of Time’ to Find Replacement for David Price

Mookie Betts and David Price have officially been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While the Red Sox are getting a serviceable replacement for Betts in the form of 23-year-old outfielder Alex Verdugo, they were unable to compensate for their pitching needs in this five-player deal.

As things stand right now, the Red Sox’ starting rotation is composed of Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and newcomer Martin Perez. That’s about it now that Price is out of the picture.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was asked at Monday’s press conference about who could replace the veteran left-hander this coming season.

“As strange as it is to say this right before pitchers and catchers report, obviously we have a lot of time to figure that out,” Bloom said. “We have spent a lot of the winter adding starting depth to our 40-man [roster]. We have some good options off-roster as well.”

Prior to shipping Betts and Price off to Los Angeles, Bloom and Co. kept plenty busy by making a number of smaller transactions. Some of the players who will serve as starting depth that are currently on the 40-man roster include Matt Hall, Kyle Hart, Chris Mazza, Mike Shawaryn, Hector Velazquez, and Ryan Weber.

In terms of pitchers that are not currently on the 40-man roster, Tanner Houck and Brian Johnson immediately come to mind as hurlers who could start in the majors this season if necessary.

“Because of the shoes David leaves behind, we’re going to continue to look outside the organization as well,” Bloom added.

Just because pitchers and catchers report to Fenway South on Tuesday does not mean that additional roster shakeups will be made. Players will be traded, waived, maybe even released.

With the six-plus weeks remaining until the start of the 2020 regular seasons, it would be foolish to think that the Red Sox’ roster won’t look different come March 25th.

David Price will be missed, both on the field and in the Sox’ clubhouse, but despite what you may be led to believe, there is time to implement an adequate replacement or replacements.

Red Sox Reach New Agreement With Dodgers to Send Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles

It took five days longer than expected, but the Red Sox and Dodgers have reportedly agreed to a trade that would send outfielder Mookie Betts and left-hander David Price to Los Angeles, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Going back to Tuesday night, the original deal that would have shipped Betts and Price to southern California involved a third team in the Twins. In this three-team swap, Los Angeles would have received Betts, Price, and cash considerations, Minnesota would have received right-hander Kenta Maeda, and Boston would have received outfielder Alex Verdugo and right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol.

Upon reviewing Graterol’s medical information though, the Sox became worried over how the 21-year-old flamethrower projected to be more of a reliever than a starter, and thus sought out additional compensation from the Twins.

Since parting ways with another top prospect really would not have been to their benefit, Minnesota ultimately decided to back out of the three-team trade on Saturday and now have their own deal in place with the Dodgers that would net them Maeda and cash considerations in exchange for Graterol and the 67th pick in this year’s amateur draft, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

So, with the Twins out of the picture, the Red Sox and Dodgers were able to work things out themselves without needing another third team to step in.

In this now-agreed-upon trade, Boston will be receiving Verdugo as initially anticipated, as well as 21-year-old infield prospect Jeter Downs and 23-year-old catching prospect Connor Wong from the Dodgers.

As already mentioned, Los Angeles will be receiving Betts, Price, and $48 million from the Sox, which were all part of the original agreement.

Betts, 27, is set to earn $27 million this coming season before becoming a free agent for the first time in the winter. Price, meanwhile, has three years and $96 million remaining on the seven-year, $217 million deal he signed with Boston back in December 2015. The Red Sox will be paying half of that remaining amount.

Turning to the return Chaim Bloom got in his first blockbuster trade as Boston’s chief baseball officer, Verdugo is a former top prospect in his own right.

The 23-year-old out of Arizona slashed .294/.342/.475 with 12 home runs and 44 RBI over 106 games for the Dodgers last year. He did not play a major-league game after August 4th due to a plethora of issues involving his lower back, core, and right oblique.

As for Downs, the 21-year-old was not part of the original deal but he will be heading to the Red Sox this time around.

Ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 5 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Downs, a former Competitive Balance Round A pick out of Miami, played in 119 games between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa last year.

In those contests, the native of Colombia slashed .276/.362/.526 with 24 home runs, 86 RBI, and 24 stolen bases while primarily playing shortstop.

Downs was named after former Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, and he is the younger brother of current Red Sox minor-league outfielder Jerry Downs.

Finally, Wong was ranked as Los Angeles’ No. 28 prospect by MLB.com and, like Downs, was drafted by the Dodgers in 2017.

Playing in 111 games between High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Tulsa in 2019, the Houston native posted a .281/.336/.541 slash line to go along with 24 home runs and 82 RBI.

This five-player trade is no longer pending medical reviews but nothing has been made official quite yet. All that is left is approval from Major League Baseball on the transfer of the $48 million going to the Dodgers, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

At the end of the day, it still stinks that the Red Sox are trading a player like Mookie Betts, a homegrown superstar who should spend his entire career wearing one uniform.

I understand that you can’t force Betts to sign a contract extension and you don’t want him to leave for nothing outside of a compensatory draft pick in the winter, but still, this stings.

It also stinks, although to a lesser extent, to lose David Price, because without him another hole opens in an already questionable Red Sox starting rotation.

Pitchers and catchers are set to report to Fenway South in Fort Myers on Tuesday. Looking forward to it!

Twins Reportedly Pull out of Three-Team Trade That Would Send Mookie Betts and David Price to Dodgers and Brusdar Graterol to Red Sox

UPDATE: Apparently the Twins have not pulled out and are willing to “renegotiate” with the Red Sox and Dodgers, according to ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez.

The Minnesota Twins are pulling out of the three-team trade that would send Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, according to the Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal III.

This means that Minnesota will be holding on to right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol, who was supposed to go to Boston in the original trade, and will not be getting right-hander Kenta Maeda from Los Angeles.

The original proposal that would have sent Betts, Price, and cash considerations to the Dodgers, Maeda to the Twins, and Graterol and outfielder Alex Verdugo to the Sox was reportedly agreed upon by all three clubs Tuesday night, but talks have since fallen off.

That is mainly the case because upon reviewing Graterol’s medical review, Boston felt that the 21-year-old flamethrower projected to be a reliever rather than a starter as originally thought, which led to the Sox seeking additional compensation in the form of another top-10 prospect from Minnesota.

If the Red Sox and Dodgers want to see this trade through, they will either have to find a different third team or work things out between themselves.

The Dodgers may be even more motivated to get this done, as they have another trade lined up where they would send outfielder Joc Pederson and right-hander Ross Stripling to the Angels in exchange for infielder Luis Rengifo.

It’s been a hellish last few days for all parties involved, and with pitchers and catchers due to report to Fenway South on Wednesday, there’s a real chance David Price and Mookie Betts are still members of the Red Sox by then.