With additions of Kenley Jansen and Masataka Yoshida looming, Red Sox face possible roster crunch

The Red Sox will be facing a roster crunch of sorts in the coming days after a busy week at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

After officially signing veteran reliever Chris Martin to a two-year, $17.5 million contract on Thursday, Boston’s 40-man roster is now at full capacity. Earlier this week, the Sox reportedly agreed to a two-year, $32 million deal with closer Kenley Jansen and a record-setting five-year, $90 million deal with Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

Once the signings of Jansen and Yoshida become official, the Red Sox will need to create two spots on their 40-man roster in order to accommodate those two additions. How they plan on doing that remains unclear.

So far this month, Boston has already outrighted catcher Ronaldo Hernandez off the 40-man roster, which paved the way for Martin to be added on Thursday. It’s possible that other players towards the end of the 40-man — like Hernandez was — could be on the chopping block as well.

Bobby Dalbec, for instance, came up in trade talks this week. On Monday, Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam reported that the Red Sox “have told teams that Dalbec is available” and that the Rays were one of the teams “which has expressed some interest.”

That Dalbec has been made available is not all that surprising. The 27-year-old slugger struggled to the tune of a .215/.283/.369 slash line with 12 home runs and 39 RBIs in 117 games this season while grading as a poor defender at first base. He was sent down to Worcester when top prospect Triston Casas was called up in September and is squarely behind him and Eric Hosmer on Boston’s first-base depth chart.

Dalbec, who turns 28 next June, is just one year removed from a 25-homer season in which he produced a 106 wRC+. The former fourth-round draft pick also does not become eligible for salary arbitration until 2024 and has two minor-league options remaining. The Red Sox are probably not asking for much in return for Dalbec, who came up through the minor-leagues as a third baseman, though they could potentially land an unheralded prospect for him who is more of a lottery ticket than anything.

Boston recently parted ways with a similar type of prospect when it acquired infielder/outfielder Hoy Park from the Pirates late last month. Park, who had just been designated for assignment by Pittsburgh, cost the Red Sox right-hander Inmer Lobo, who was signed for $10,000 out of Venezuela back in January.

Park, 27 in April, could be in limbo with his new club the same way he was in with the Pirates. The South Korea native broke in with the Yankees last July and has since batted .201/.291/.346 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 68 games between New York and Pittsburgh. He, like Dalbec, has two minor-league options remaining but also comes with more years of control since he does not become arbitration-eligible until 2026.

Dalbec and Park represent just two possibilities for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when it comes to trimming down the size of the Sox’ 40-man roster. Relievers Ryan Brasier and Darwinzon Hernandez were each tendered contracts last month but are coming off disappointing 2022 seasons. Jeter Downs, the top prospect acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts trade, made his major-league debut in June but looked outmatched at times at the plate. The same can be said for outfielder Jarren Duran.

Hosmer opted in to the final three years and $39 million of his contract in early November. The Red Sox, however, only owe the 33-year-old the league minimum over the next three seasons after acquiring him from the Padres at the trade deadline. Since Hosmer has a no-trade clause and therefore has the right to reject a move to another team, Boston could elect to simply designate him for assignment or outright release him if all else fails.

All told, the Red Sox will have some interesting — and maybe even difficult — decisions to make in the coming days as they introduce Jansen and Yoshida to the organization.

(Picture of Chaim Bloom: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox sign lefty reliever Joely Rodriguez to one-year deal with club option for 2024

The Red Sox have signed left-handed reliever Joely Rodriguez to a one-year contract for the 2023 season, the club announced on Wednesday. The deal comes with a club option for 2024 as well.

Rodriguez, who turned 31 earlier this month, will make at least $2 million in guaranteed money with the Red Sox. His contract includes a base salary of $1.5 million in 2023 and up to $2 million in active roster bonuses, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo. The Red Sox then hold a $4.25 million option over Rodriguez for 2024. If they decline that, Rodriguez will receive $500,000 in the form of a buyout. When taking other performance bonuses into account, Rodriguez’s deal can max out at $8.25 million over the next two seasons.

After finishing with the fifth-worst bullpen ERA (4.59) this year, the Red Sox have elected to make Rodriguez their first free agent addition of the offseason. The Dominican-born southpaw spent the entirety of the 2022 campaign with the Mets and posted a 4.47 ERA and 3.23 FIP to go along with 57 strikeouts to 26 walks over 55 relief appearances spanning 50 1/3 innings of work.

Rodriguez was initially one of 12 pitchers to make the Mets’ Wild Card series roster last month, but he was removed from it following Game 1 due to an unspecified shoulder issue that ultimately required minor surgery after the season, per The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Listed at 6-foot-1, and 200 pounds, Rodriguez operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a sinker and changeup — his two most frequently-used offerings — as well as a four-seam fastball and slider. This past season, Rodriguez limited opposing hitters to an average exit velocity of 85.3 mph, a hard-hit rate of 31.8 percent, and a barrel rate of 3.8 percent, per Baseball Savant. His chase rate of 34.7 percent also ranked in the 94th percentile of the league.

The Red Sox, per Cotillo, are intrigued by Rodriguez’s pitch mix and his ability to induce ground balls, soft contact, and whiffs. They are optimistic that his performance will be more in line with his Statcast numbers as opposed to his 4.56 career ERA moving forward. They also believe in his ability to get both right-handed and left-handed hitters out, as he held righties to a .625 OPS against and lefties to a .645 OPS in 2022.

A native of Santo Domingo, Rodriguez first signed with the Pirates as an international free agent in March 2009. He was traded to the Phillies in 2014 and made his major-league debut two years later. In June 2017, Rodriguez was traded to the Rangers and became a free agent at the end of the season. He spent part of the 2018 campaign in the Orioles system before signing with the Chunichi Dragons of Nippon Professional Baseball.

After spending the remainder of 2018 and the entirety of 2019 in Japan, Rodriguez returned to the major-leagues in 2020 with the Rangers. Texas traded him and Joey Gallo to the Yankees at the 2021 trade deadline. New York then flipped him to the Mets for fellow reliever Miguel Castro back in April.

All told, Rodriguez owns a 4.56 ERA and 3.65 FIP across 157 career appearances (146 innings) in five seasons at the big-league level. The lefty will now join a Red Sox bullpen that at the moment includes the likes of Matt Barnes, John Schreiber, Tanner Houck, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, Josh Taylor, and Zack Kelly, among others.

While that group could still undergo a dramatic change between now and Opening Day, Rodriguez is line to provide Boston with a left-handed relief option in 2023. With the addition of Rodriguez, the Red Sox currently have 39 platers on their 40-man roster.

(Picture of Joely Rodriguez: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Which prospects did the Red Sox leave unprotected from next month’s Rule 5 Draft?

The Red Sox recently protected five of their prospects from the Rule 5 Draft. Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, Ceddanne Rafaela, Wilyer Abreu, and David Hamilton were all added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Tuesday, meaning they will not be available to other teams next month.

Murphy, Walter, Rafaela, Abreu, and Hamilton represent five of the 70 Red Sox minor-leaguers who had been eligible for the 2022 Rule 5 Draft ahead of Tuesday’s protection deadline. Below are some of the notable omissions from the reserve list Boston submitted to Major League Baseball:

Thad Ward, RHP

Ward, 25, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 15 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking fifth among pitchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally selected the right-hander in the fifth round of the 2018 amateur draft out of the University of Central Florida. He showed signs of promise during his first full professional season, but did not pitch at all in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and then underwent Tommy John surgery last June.

Upon returning from Tommy John this season, Ward made six rehab starts in the lower-minors before re-joining Double-A Portland’s starting rotation in August. The 6-foot-3, 192-pound righty posted a 2.43 ERA with 41 strikeouts to 14 walks in seven starts (33 1/3 innings) for the Sea Dogs. He also pitched for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League, but was limited to just four appearances (12 2/3 innings) after suffering a left oblique strain in October.

Ward, who turns 26 in January, primarily operates with a low-90s fastball, a mid-80s slider, and a high-80s changeup. There is a very real chance he gets scooped up by another club.

Christian Koss, INF

Koss, 24 is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 20 prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Red Sox originally acquired the infielder from the Rockies in December 2020 in exchange for left-hander Yoan Aybar. He spent the entirety of the 2022 season in Portland.

In 125 games with the Sea Dogs, the right-handed hitting Koss batted .260/.309/.430 with 22 doubles, five triples, 17 home runs, 84 RBIs, 69 runs scored, 16 stolen bases, 25 walks, and 137 strikeouts en route to being named the team’s Most Valuable Player. He saw playing time at five different positions, including both outfield corner spots for the first time in his professional career.

Koss, who also has a birthday in January, is now in Puerto Rico playing winter ball for the Criollos de Caguas. MLB Pipeline had identified the versatile 6-foot-1, 182-pounder as the Red Sox’ toughest Rule 5 decision, but the club ultimately decided on leaving him off the 40-man roster.

A trio of right-handed relievers

Ryan Fernandez — The 24-year-old hurler burst onto the scene to some degree this season. After compiling a 6.48 ERA with High-A Greenville through the end of May, Fernandez did not allow a run in his next nine outings and earned a promotion to Portland in early July. Unfortunately, elbow soreness limited him to just 10 outings with the Sea Dogs before his season ended in August. Prior to getting hurt, Fernandez had upped his fastball velocity from 92-95 mph to 96-98 mph while also mixing in a plus cutter, per SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall.

A.J. Politi — The 26-year-old righty made it to Triple-A Worcester in May after pitching to a 2.03 ERA to begin the season in Portland. With the WooSox, Politi posted a 2.41 ERA with 63 strikeouts to 19 walks over 38 appearances (two starts) spanning 56 innings of work. He held opponents to a .194 batting average against while operating with a fastball, cutter, and curveball.

Jacob Wallace — The 24-year-old was acquired from the Rockies as the player to be named later in the August 2020 trade that sent Kevin Pillar to Colorado. He spent all of this season in Portland and pitched to a 1.38 ERA in 19 relief appearances (26 innings) following the All-Star break. The Methuen, Mass. native possesses tantalizing stuff — including a high-octane fastball and a quality breaking ball — but his inability to command the strike zone can be concerning at times. Since he was left unprotected, a rebuilding team in need of bullpen help could look to pick Wallace up given the potential he has.

A young pitching prospect named Wikelman Gonzalez

Gonzalez, 20, is currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as the No. 14 prospect in Boston’s farm system, which ranks fourth among pitchers. The Red Sox originally signed the Venezuelan-born righty for $250,000 in July 2015. He posted a 4.21 ERA in 25 starts (98 1/3 innings) between Low-A Salem and Greenville this season. Only four of those 25 starts came with the Drive, so Gonzalez is still a ways away from garnering big-league consideration.

A pair of infielders in Eddinson Paulino and Brainer Bonaci

Paulino, 20, is currently ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 13 prospect in the Red Sox farm system. The left-handed hitter out of the Dominican Republic batted .266/.359/.469 with 35 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs, 66 RBIs, 96 runs scored, 27 stolen bases, 64 walks, and 105 strikeouts over 114 games (539 plate appearances) for Salem this season. He put up those numbers while seeing playing time at second base, shortstop, third base, center field, and left field.

Bonaci, also 20, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s No. 16 prospect. The switch-hitting Venezuelan slashed .262/.397/.385 with 19 doubles, six triples, six homers, 50 runs driven in, 86 runs scored, 28 stolen bases, 88 walks, and 89 strikeouts across 108 games (494 plate appearances) with Salem. He, too, played second base, shortstop, third base, and right field.

Both Paulino and Bonaci are similar in that they were both signed by the Red Sox during the 2018 international signing period. They both have intriguing potential, but would probably struggle to stick on a big-league roster right now.

Other notable minor-leaguers left off: Cam Cannon, Brendan Cellucci, Kole Cottam, Nick Decker, Durbin Feltman, Ryan Fitzgerald, Devlin Granberg, Gilberto Jimenez, Victor Santos, Stephen Scott, Chase Shugart, and Ryan Zeferjahn.

The 2022 Rule 5 Draft will take place during the final day of the Winter Meetings in San Diego on December 7. A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft must carry that player on their active roster for the entirety of the 2023 season (barring an injury) or would otherwise have to offer him back to his previous club for $50,000.

(Picture of Thad Ward: Jill Weisleder/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Red Sox designate Jake Reed, Caleb Hamilton for assignment

The Red Sox have designated right-hander Jake Reed and catcher Caleb Hamilton for assignment, the club announced earlier Tuesday evening.

Boston came into the day with 37 players on its 40-man roster. Ahead of Tuesday’s Rule 5 protection deadline, the club needed to clear two spots in order to add the prospect quintet of Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, Ceddanne Rafaela, Wilyer Abreu and David Hamilton. They did so by designating two recently-acquired players in Reed and Hamilton.

Reed, 30, was claimed off waivers from the Orioles on October 13. The righty had posted a 6.35 ERA in eight relief appearances (5 2/3 innings) with Baltimore after the O’s claimed him off waivers from the Dodgers in early September.

Up until that point in the year, Reed had split the 2022 season with the Dodgers and Mets, pitching to a 7.36 ERA with eight strikeouts to seven walks over 10 appearances (11 innings pitched) between the two clubs through the end of August.

A native of Arizona, Reed was originally selected by the Twins in the fifth round of the 2014 amateur draft out of the University of Oregon. He reached minor-league free agency at the end of the 2020 season and signed a minors pact with the Angels that November.

After appearing in eight games for the Halos’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City to begin the 2021 campaign, Reed was released last May. He inked a minors pact with the Dodgers shortly thereafter and made his major-league debut for Los Angeles in July.

Since then, Reed has been designated for assignment by the Dodgers, claimed and designated for assignment by the Rays, claimed and designated for assignment by the Mets, claimed and designated for assignment by the Dodgers, claimed and designated for assignment by the Orioles, and claimed and designated for assignment by the Red Sox.

It has certainly been an interesting journey for Reed, who now owns a lifetime 5.47 ERA and 4.33 FIP with 23 strikeouts to 10 walks across 26 2/3 innings at the big-league level. The fact that he possesses a unique delivery and has one minor-league option remaining could make him appealing to other teams.

Hamilton, meanwhile, was claimed off waivers from the Twins on Oct. 11. The 27-year-old backstop was originally selected by Minnesota in the 23rd round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Oregon State University. He spent six years in the minors before making his major-league debut in July.

In 22 games with the Twins this season, the right-handed hitting Hamilton went just 1-for-18 (.056) with one home run, one RBI, five runs scored, four walks, and 14 strikeouts. He also logged 38 innings behind the plate and 19 innings at first base.

At the Triple-A level this year, Hamilton batted .233/.367/.442 with 10 doubles, 11 homers, 43 runs driven in, 34 runs scored, one stolen base, 43 walks, and 67 strikeouts in 62 games (251 plate appearances) with the St. Paul Saints. Though catcher is his primary position, the 6-foot, 185-pounder has past experience at every other defensive position.

Hamilton, who turns 28 in February, has two minor-league option years remaining. So, he, too, could be of interest to opposing clubs. The Red Sox will have the next seven days to either trade, waive, or release Hamilton and Reed.

Neither Hamilton nor Reed has been outrighted before in their careers, so the Red Sox could look to retain both as non 40-man roster players if they clear waivers in the coming days.

By adding Murphy, Walter, Rafaela, Abreu, and Hamilton and subtracting (Caleb) Hamilton and Reed, Boston’s 40-man roster is back at full capacity. With the non-tender deadline looming on Friday, though, that status could soon change.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the likes of Franchy Cordero, Ryan Brasier, Josh Taylor, and Darwinzon Hernandez are all candidates to be let go before Friday’s deadline. Cotillo notes that the Red Sox are “considering options” when it comes to Cordero, so he could be on the immediate chopping block.

(Picture of Jake Reed: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi reject Red Sox’ qualifying offers

Last Thursday, the Red Sox extended qualifying offers to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi and shortstop Xander Bogaerts. They learned on Tuesday that both free agents rejected the one-year, $19.65 million deal to return to Boston for the 2023 season.

Bogaerts’ decision is hardly a surprising one. The 30-year-old infielder has earned $20 million in each of the last three seasons and would therefore be taking a pay cut if he were to accept the qualifying offer after opting out of his contract last week. He is instead expected to receive a long-term deal that exceeds $30 million in average annual value at some point this winter.

Knowing that he was going to reject it, the Red Sox still issued Bogaerts a qualifying offer anyway. If the Boras Corp. client signs elsewhere in free agency, Boston would receive a compensatory pick following the fourth round of next year’s draft.

The same applies to Eovaldi, who could have gone either way with his decision. A $19.65 million salary in 2023 would have represented a 15.6 percent raise from the $17 million the 32-year-old hurler earned in 2022.

Eovaldi posted a 3.87 ERA and 4.30 FIP with 103 strikeouts to 20 walks in 20 starts (109 1/3 innings) for the Red Sox this past season. He was sidelined from June 9-July 15 with low back inflammation and from August 19-September 29 with right shoulder inflammation, which had led to diminished fastball velocity.

Despite those concerns, Eovaldi — who turns 33 in February — elected to hit the open market as opposed to taking the qualifying offer. The ACES client has said in the past that he enjoys pitching for the Red Sox and that his family has loved their time in Boston. The feeling appears to be mutual.

On Sunday, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that the Red Sox had made Eovaldi a multi-year contract offer. The fact that Eovaldi is now attached to draft pick compensation may lessen his market, making a reunion between the two sides all the more likely.

With that being said, though, it remains to be seen how close the Red Sox and Eovaldi are to a potential agreement. Starting pitching is always a hot commodity, and another team could jump on a veteran starter like Eovaldi if given the chance to do so.

Fourteen players in total were extended qualifying offers by their respective clubs last week. Of those 14, only Giants outfielder Joc Pederson and Rangers left-hander Martin Perez accepted it.

Besides Bogaerts and Eovaldi, the other 10 players who rejected the qualifying offer were the Dodgers’ Tyler Anderson and Trea Turner, the Mets’ Chris Bassitt, Jacob deGrom, and Brandon Nimmo, the Cubs’ Wilson Contreras, the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, the Giants’ Carlos Rodon, and the Braves’ Dansby Swanson.

It has since been reported that Anderson has agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Angels while Rizzo has agreed to return to the Bronx on a two-year deal that comes with $40 million in guaranteed money.

If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and the Red Sox were to sign a qualified free agent (outside of Bogaerts and Eovaldi) this winter, they would be forced to forfeit their second- and fifth-highest selections in the 2023 draft. Additionally, they would see their international signing bonus pool be reduced by $1 million after exceeding the $230 million competitive balance tax threshold this year.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Could Red Sox explore a trade for Padres catcher Austin Nola?

Could the Red Sox explore a trade for Padres catcher Austin Nola this offseason?

In Reese McGuire and Connor Wong, the Sox already have two big-league caliber catchers under club control for 2023. But that should not stop them from looking into external additions at the position. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said as much when speaking with reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier) at the ongoing GM Meetings in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

“It’s a hard spot to find one guy you can trust, much less more than one,” Bloom said. “In any given winter, there’s only a handful of players on the free agent market who you see as really good fits at that position. So the trade market is another avenue. I would say that we don’t think we’ll be looking at a huge group of possibilities there, but there are some possibilities through both avenues.”

According to Speier, the Sox “have cast a wide net in trade talks about catchers” over the last two years. They had conversations with the Athletics pertaining to Sean Murphy ahead of this year’s trade deadline that did not pan out. They “also have discussed other catchers who are heralded for their defense,” such as Nola.

Like Murphy, Nola is under team control for three more years. He is also nearly five years older than Murphy and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn significantly less than him in 2023. Murphy is slated to receive $3.5 million in his first year of arbitration while Nola is projected for $2.2 million.

Nola, who turns 33 in December, appeared in a career-high 110 games for the Padres this season. The right-handed hitter batted .251/.321/.329 with 15 doubles, four home runs, 40 RBIs, 40 runs scored, two stolen bases, 34 walks, and 60 strikeouts across 397 trips to the plate.

From behind the plate, Nola logged 834 2/3 innings at catcher and threw out eight of 64 base stealers. Among the 15 catchers who caught at least 800 innings, Nola ranked 13th in Defensive Runs Saved (-6), 14th in Catcher Framing (-8.3), and 14th in Defense (-5.2), per FanGraphs. While those metrics are not all that encouraging, the 6-foot, 197-pounder has proven to be a better defender in the past, especially when it comes to pitch framing.

Originally selected by the Marlins in the fifth round of the 2012 draft out of Louisiana State University, Nola initially came up through Miami’s farm system as a shortstop not begin catching at the professional level until he was in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

The Marlins outrighted and released Nola at the conclusion of the 2018 season. The Baton Rouge native then inked a minor-league deal with the Mariners and finally made his major-league debut in 2019 at the age of 27. The following August, Nola was dealt to the Padres in a trade that involved six other players.

After an array of injuries limited him to just 56 games in his first full season with San Diego, Nola emerged as the Padres’ starting catcher in 2022 thanks in part to the way he handled their pitching staff in a run to the National League Championship Series.

The Padres ultimately came up short against Nola’s younger brother, Aaron, and the rest of the Phillies. Under the direction of president of baseball operations A.J. Preller, the Friars could elect to shake things up at catcher this winter.

In addition to Nola, San Diego has two other major-league caliber catchers on its roster in Jorge Alfaro and Luis Campusano. Alfaro posted a .667 OPS this season and is a non-tender candidate. Campusano, on the other hand, was ranked by Baseball America as the sport’s No. 53 prospect coming into the 2022 season. But the 24-year-old only received 48 at-bats this season, so the Padres may feel like it is time to give him an extended look beginning next spring.

From the Red Sox’ end, it would likely not take much to pry Nola away from the Padres as far as prospect capital is concerned. Nola himself represents an inexpensive addition at catcher who could platoon with the left-handed hitting McGuire if Wong winds up being the odd man out.

When it comes to what the Red Sox are looking from out of their catchers next year, Bloom emphasized the importance of handling a pitching staff.

“Now, that doesn’t mean there’s only one way to get value at the position, but it’s certainly something we value,” he said. “And I think we have a staff that can really take advantage of somebody who’s invested in that aspect of the game, specifically with [catching instructor Jason Varitek].”

Nola represents just one direction Bloom and Co. could lean if they intend on adding another catcher to the mix this winter. While Murphy is the top trade target, the Sox could also pursue the likes of Wilson Contreras, Mike Zunino, Omar Narvaez, Gary Sanchez, or even old friend Christian Vazquez in free agency.

(Picture of Austin Nola: Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Red Sox decline Tommy Pham’s option, making outfielder a free agent

The Red Sox have declined their end of Tommy Pham’s $12 million mutual option for the 2023 season, according to The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams. The veteran outfielder will receive a $1.5 million buyout as he heads for free agency.

Pham, 34, was acquired from the Reds in exchange for minor-league infielder Nick Northcut on August 1. The right-handed hitter initially got off to a promising start with the Red Sox but ended his season in an 0-for-18 slump at the plate.

All told, Pham batted just .234/.298/.374 with 12 doubles, six home runs, 24 RBIs, 32 runs scored, one stolen base, 14 walks, and 67 strikeouts over 53 games (235 plate appearances) with the Sox. He was used exclusively as a left fielder and finished tied for the team lead in outfield assists with eight.

A former 16th-round draft pick of the Cardinals out of Durango High School in 2006, Pham first broke in with St. Louis towards the end of the 2014 season. The Las Vegas-area native then put himself on the map when he finished 11th in National League MVP voting in 2017.

The following July, the Cardinals traded Pham to the Rays. After 1 1/2 years in Tampa Bay, where he got to know current Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, Pham was dealt to the Padres in December 2019. He spent two seasons with San Diego before hitting free agency for the first time last November.

It took until March because of the lockout, but Pham ultimately signed a one-year, $7.5 million contract with the Reds that came with the aforementioned mutual option for 2023. Prior to being traded over the summer, Pham made headlines in late May when he slapped Giants outfielder Joc Pederson across the face during batting practice at Great American Ballpark because of a dispute centered around fantasy football.

Between Cincinnati and Boston, Pham slashed .236/.312/.374 with 23 doubles, one triple, 17 homers, 63 runs driven in, 89 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 56 walks, and 67 strikeouts across 144 total games (622 plate appearances). His 15 outfield assists were the most in all of baseball.

Pham, who turns 35 next March, has expressed interest in returning to the Red Sox as he enjoyed playing in Boston. For their part, the Red Sox could also be interested in a reunion since they are expected to bolster their outfield depth this winter.

With the Pham decision made, the Red Sox still have two more option calls due this week. While Chris Sale has opted in and Xander Bogaerts has opted out, Boston is still waiting on Eric Hosmer, who is expected to opt in. James Paxton, meanwhile has the ability to exercise a $4 million player option for 2023 if his two-year, $26 million club optioned is declined. Those decisions are due by Thursday.

(Picture of Tommy Pham: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Xander Bogaerts officially becomes free agent after opting out of Red Sox contract

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has officially opted out of his contract and is now a free agent, the Major League Baseball Players Association announced earlier Monday morning.

Bogaerts had until Tuesday to decide if he would opt out of the remaining three years and $60 million of the six-year, $120 million extension he originally signed in April 2019. The Boras Corp. client was expected to opt out and the Red Sox will now extend him a $19.65 million qualifying offer within the next three days.

In the same way that he declined to opt in to his deal, Bogaerts is also expected to turn down Boston’s qualifying offer by the November 20 deadline. Since they exceeded the $230 million luxury tax threshold this season, the Red Sox would receive a compensatory 2023 draft pick that falls after the fourth round if Bogaerts were to sign elsewhere this winter.

With that being said, the Red Sox can negotiate exclusively with Bogaerts until Thursday. The right-handed hitting infielder is coming off an impressive 2022 campaign in which he batted .307/.377/.456 with 38 doubles, 15 home runs, 73 RBIs, 84 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 57 walks, and 118 strikeouts over 150 games (557 plate appearances). He finished third in the American League batting race and was named a Gold Glove Award finalist for just the second time in his 10-year career.

On the heels of such a productive season, Bogaerts has put himself in position for a promising payday that would far exceed the $60 million left on his original deal. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman projects that the 30-year-old All-Star net an eight-year, $225 million deal in free agency this offseason. MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo adds that Bogaerts could seek a shorter-term deal with a higher average annual value.

Either way, Bogaerts has joined a talented free agent class at shortstop that includes the likes of Carlos Correa, Dansby Swanson, and Trea Turner. He also joined Nathan Eovaldi, Rich Hill, Michael Wacha, Matt Strahm, and J.D. Martinez as members of the 2022 Red Sox to elect free agency.

Since their season ended last month, the Red Sox have made it clear that they would like to have Bogaerts back in 2023 and beyond. Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom described re-signing Bogaerts as a top priority during the club’s end-of-season press conference at Fenway Park. They are now on the clock to prove as much.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Barring last-minute extension, Xander Bogaerts will opt out of Red Sox contract; what happens after that?

Depending on when the World Series ends, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is expected to opt out of the remainder of his contract and become a free agent by next Wednesday at the latest.

Bogaerts initially signed a six-year, $120 million extension to remain with the Sox ahead of his age-26 season in 2019. The deal went into effect in 2020 and afforded the Boras Corp. client the opportunity to opt out after three years if he wanted to test the open market at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

Now 30 years old, Bogaerts has put himself in position for a promising payday this winter that would far exceed the $60 million remaining on his current deal. In 150 games this season, the right-handed hitter batted .307/.377/.456 with 38 doubles, 15 home runs, 73 RBIs, 84 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 57 walks, and 118 strikeouts over 557 plate appearances.

Though the power numbers were down from where they usually are, Bogaerts still finished third in the American League Batting race behind the Twins’ Luis Arraez and the Yankees’ Aaron Judge. He also had a stellar year defensively and was named a Gold Glove Award finalist for just the second time in his 10-year career.

Even before Opening Day in April, the Red Sox — knowing full well that Bogaerts was likely to opt out — made it known that they wanted to keep their All-Star shortstop in Boston long-term. Whether it came from manager Alex Cora, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, or president and CEO Sam Kennedy, it seemed as though the club was intent on bringing Bogaerts back for 2023 and beyond.

During the team’s end-of-season press conference at Fenway Park on October 6, Bloom emphasized that extension talks with Bogaerts were the top priority and were “going to start right away.” That same day, Sean McAdam of the Boston Sports Journal reported that Bogaerts had met with Red Sox principal owner John Henry and team chairman Tom Werner several times before heading home to Aruba.

Since then, however, it does not appear that talks between the two sides have gained much traction. The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier reported on Thursday that “barring an 11th-hour extension — which a source familiar with the talks considered unlikely as of last week — Bogaerts will opt out.”

On Friday, The New York Post’s Jon Heyman projected that Bogaerts would net an eight-year, $225 million deal in free agency this offseason. The average annual value on that hypothetical contract comes out to $28.125 million, which represents a 42.5 percent raise from the $20 million he would earn over the next three seasons if he were to opt in.

An eight-year deal would take Bogaerts through his age-37 season. As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, though, Bogaerts could elect to pursue a shorter-term deal that would exceed $30 million in average annual value.

Given that Bogaerts’ is slated to make more than $20 million per year moving forward, he is unlikely to accept the $19.65 million qualifying offer the Red Sox will extend to him within the next seven days. If Bogaerts were to sign elsewhere this winter, Boston would receive a compensatory 2023 draft pick that falls after the fourth round since it exceeded the luxury tax threshold this year.

With all that being said, Bogaerts is slated to be part of a loaded free agent class at shortstop that includes the likes of Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, and Dansby Swanson.

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox offseason: Abraham Almonte, Jaylin Davis elect free agency

Two veterans who provided the Red Sox with outfield depth this season have recently opted for free agency.

Abraham Almonte, who was designated for assignment on Tuesday, cleared waivers on Saturday and was outrighted off Boston’s major-league roster. Rather than accept an assignment to Triple-A Worcester, the 33-year-old elected to become a free agent.

Fellow outfielder Jaylin Davis was designated for assignment in September and spent the rest of the 2022 campaign with the WooSox after clearing waivers. The 28-year-old became a minor-league free agent last Thursday.

Almonte was acquired from the Brewers in exchange for cash considerations in late July. The switch-hitter appeared in 32 games for Worcester before being selected to the major-league roster on September 7. He then proceeded to bat .257/.297/.400 with one home run, two RBIs, seven runs scored, one stolen base, one walk, and 12 strikeouts in 15 games (37 plate appearances) with Boston while seeing playing time at all three outfield positions.

Now a veteran of 10 big-league seasons, Almonte was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $900,000 in arbitration next year. The native Dominican is now free to sign with whichever team he chooses. Considering that he posted a .951 OPS in 80 Triple-A contests last season, Almonte could be of interest to clubs looking to add experienced outfielders on minor-league deals this winter.

Davis, meanwhile, was originally claimed off waivers from the Giants in late April. He appeared in two games for the Red Sox right out of the gate before being optioned to Worcester when rosters shrunk from 28 to 26 players in size. Less than two weeks later, he was designated for assignment.

After going unclaimed, Davis spent the next two months with the WooSox. The North Carolina native had his contract selected from Worcester on July 23 and remained with the big-league club before being optioned again on August 15.

Exactly four weeks later, the Red Sox claimed infielder Yu Chang off waivers from the Rays. They needed to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Chang, and they did so by designating Davis, who yet again cleared waivers.

All told, Davis went 8-for-24 (.333) with one double, two RBIs, four runs scored, three walks, and 11 strikeouts in 12 games with the Sox this season. Like Almonte, he played all three outfield positions during his two stints in Boston. With the WooSox, the right-handed hitter slashed .203/.312/.335 with 12 doubles, three triples, seven homers, 24 runs driven in, 43 runs scored, one stolen base, 43 walks, and 107 strikeouts across 88 games spanning 346 trips to the plate.

Almonte and Davis will soon be joined on the open market by other minor-leaguers who spent the 2022 season in the Red Sox organization. Johan Mieses, Christin Stewart, and Izzy Wilson are among the outfielders who are expected to become free agents.

With that being said, it should be interesting to see how the Sox go about addressing their upper-minors outfield depth in the coming weeks and months.

(Picture of Abraham Almonte: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images0