New York Yankees Agree to Three-Year Deal with LHP Zach Britton.

After losing out on David Robertson to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday, the New York Yankees have brought back left-handed reliever Zach Britton on a three-year contract, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Britton, 31, was acquired by New York from the Baltimore Orioles last July, and posted a 2.88 ERA and 7.6 K/9 over 25 relief appearances and exactly 25 innings pitched while manning the back-end of the Yankees bullpen.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported that Britton’s three-year contract will be worth approximately $40 million, meaning the southpaw will earn about $13 million per season.

Britton’s contract also includes a $14 million team option for a potential fourth year that would need to be activated after the second year, meaning he could earn more than $50 million over the life of his new deal. The Texas native could also opt out if the Yankees fail to pick up that option following the 2020 season.

From the perspective of the Red Sox, this acquisition marks the second time in the past week that intriguing free agent bullpen options have been taken off the board by teams intending to contend in 2019.

It is unclear how hard the club pushed for the services of the oft-injured Britton, but I would like to imagine this increases their chances of retaining Craig Kimbrel at the moment.

Former Colorado Rockie Adam Ottavino remains an option on the relief market as well, but Rosenthal did previously reported Saturday that it’s, “not out of the question [the Yankees] will sign [Britton and Ottavino],” so we’ll have to wait and see if anything picks up on that front.

 

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Philadelphia Phillies and RHP David Robertson Agree to Two-Year Deal.

The Philadelphia Phillies have reached an agreement with free agent reliever David Robertson on a two-year, $23 million dollar contract, per the team’s official Twitter account. As the tweet reads, the contract also includes a club option worth approximately $12 million for a potential third year.

Robertson, 33, had spent the past season and a half with the Yankees before signing his deal with Philadelphia on Thursday.

Back in November, it was reported that the right-hander was looking to sign on with a club near his home in Rhode Island, thus the Red Sox were viewed as legitimate suitors for Robertson’s services.

Instead, the University of Alabama alum more than likely chose the team that offered him the most money in the Phillies, while also not straying off too far from the Ocean State.

Known for providing quality work out of the bullpen in a variety of roles throughout his 11-year major league career, Robertson posted a 3.23 ERA and 11.8 K/9 over 69 relief appearances and 69.2 innings pitched with New York in 2018. He also recorded five saves.

With this news, one would have to assume that Philadelphia is out of the running for free agent closer Craig Kimbrel after adding Robertson to the back-end of the bullpen.

Whether or not that increases the chances of a reunion between the Red Sox and the seven-time All-Star remains to be seen, but President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski has essentially kept that door open for the time being. And as we near closer and closer to spring training, Kimbrel’s price is sure to go down.

The Red Sox have also remained interest in free agents Adam Ottavino and Zach Britton. If I were to guess on where each would be going, I would venture to say one signs with Boston, while the other winds up in the Bronx, best case scenario.

#RedSox Reportedly Sign Carson Smith to Minor League Deal.

The Boston Red Sox have brought back RHP Carson Smith on a minor league contract for the 2019 season, per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Smith, 29, originally elected free agency after being outrighted from Boston’s 40-man roster in November, but in a move that may surprise some, the Texas native is back with the organization.

Originally acquired from the Seattle Mariners along with LHP Roenis Elias in exhange for RHP Jonathan Aro and LHP Wade Miley back in December of 2015, Smith’s initial tenure with the Red Sox was riddled with injuries and several stints on the disabled list.

In parts of three different seasons with Boston, the former eighth round pick posted a 2.65 ERA and 10.3 K/9 over just 29 appearances out of the bullpen and 23.2 total innings pitched.

A recipient of Tommy John surgery in 2016, Smith made his first Opening Day Red Sox roster this past season, where he allowed six runs to cross the plate over 14.1 innings of work before his year ultimately came to an end on May 14th.

After serving up an eighth inning solo home run to the Oakland Athletics’ Khris Davis, the right-hander slammed his glove in the Red Sox dugout of frustration upon retiring the side in the frame, which resulted in the subluxation of his throwing shoulder. An injury that would eventually see Smith placed on the 60-day disabled list and miss the remainder of the season.

To make matters worse, Smith essentially threw his manager Alex Cora under the bus following his embarrassing injury, saying that, “I think fatigue played a factor. My shoulder just couldnā€™t handle it. I think my shoulder is tired in general just from pitching. Iā€™ve thrown a lot lately and I think my arm was just tired.”

That matter did not sit well with Red Sox fans back in the spring, but with the departure of Joe Kelly to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the probable departure of Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox have made adding pitching depth a priority this winter.

Already in the month of December alone the club has agreed to minor league deals with RHPs Erasmo Ramirez and Zach Putnam to go along with Sunday’s signing of Smith.

It remains to be seen if this latest deal with Smith includes an invite to major league spring training, but I’m going to go ahead and say it will.

#RedSox Bring Back Former Prospect Bryce Brentz on Minor League Deal.

On Saturday, the Boston Red Sox reached an agreement on a minor league contract with free agent outfielder and former Red Sox prospect Bryce Brentz, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Brentz, 29, was selected with the 36th overall pick in the first-year player draft by Boston back in 2010 and was ranked as high as fifth among the club’s top prospects on SoxProspects.com in his tenure with the organization.

A native of Tennessee, Brentz has already appeared in 716 minor league games with the Red Sox across six different levels.

Heading into spring training this past season, it looked as though Brentz had a legitimate chance to break camp as the Red Sox’s fourth outfielder given his power production, but the 29-year-old was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for cash considerationsĀ  in February.

Later placed on waivers and claimed by the New York Mets in March, Brentz slashed .264/.332/.580 to go along with 15 home runs and 49 RBI in 55 games played with Triple A Las Vegas before electing to become a free agent in October.

In his only big league experience in a limited role with the Red Sox in 2014 and 2016, the Middle Tennessee State alum posted a .690 OPS while mashing one home run and collecting seven RBI over 90 total plate appearances.

Now, Brentz will look to provide the team that drafted him eight years ago with solid outfield depth in Pawtucket in 2019 and will return to an organization he is presumably already familiar with.

#RedSox Sign Former Tampa Bay Rays Right-Hander Ryan Weber to Minor League Deal.

On Friday night, the Boston Red Sox reached an agreement with free agent right-handed pitcher Ryan Weber on a minor league contract for the 2019 season that also includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Weber, 28, becomes the third right-hander to ink a minor league deal with Boston in the past week alone, as the club announced the signings of Erasmo Ramirez and Zach Putnam this past Tuesday.

Spending last season up and down in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, the Florida native only appeared in two games at the big league level while posting a 2.73 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 25 outings (18 starts) and 115.1 innings pitched with Triple A Durham.

A former 22nd round pick of the Atlanta Braves back in 2009, Weber is without a doubt a sinkerball pitcher, as he relied on the pitch 73% of the time he was on a major league mound in 2018, per Statcast. Compare that to just one fastball thrown while up with Tampa Bay last year.

More pitching depth never seems to be a bad thing, and as things stand right now, the Red Sox have plenty of it heading into 2019.

Cincinnati Reds Designate Robby Scott for Assignment.

Just 11 days after claiming him off of waivers from the Boston Red Sox, the Cincinnati Reds announced on Friday that they had designated LHP Robby Scott for assignment.

This move by Cincinnati comes in correspondence to the blockbuster trade made with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as the club acquired outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, catcher Kyle Farmer, left-handed pitcher Alex Wood, and cash from LA in exchange for right-handed pitcher Homer Bailey and prospects Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray.

Needing to make room on their 40-man roster, the Reds went ahead and essentially parted ways with one of their more recent pick ups.

If left unclaimed seven days from now, Scott, 29, will more than likely either be outrighted to Cincinnati’s Triple A team or straight up released.

In his three-year tenure with the Red Sox, the left-hander posted a 3.91 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 48.1 total frames of relief work from 2016 to 2018.

This past year though, Scott found himself in Triple A for the majority of the season, as he surrendered just 10 earned runs in 45 appearances out of the bullpen with the Pawtucket Red Sox.

Seen mostly as a lefty specialist at this point in his career, it will be interesting to see if the Florida native can catch on with anotherĀ club and serve in a LOOGY (Left-handed One Out Guy) role.

Left-handed relievers always seem to be in necessity across baseball, so it would be nice to see this one time indy leaguerĀ make his way back to a big league ‘pen.

#RedSox and Heath Hembree Avoid Arbitration with One-Year Deal for 2019 Season.

On Friday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox announced that they had agreed to terms on a one-year contract with RHP Heath Hembree.

According to Fancred’s Jon Heyman, the two sides will avoid salary arbitration with a deal worth approximately $1.312 million for the 2019 season.

Hembree, 29, posted a 4.20 ERA and 1.33 WHIP over 67 relief apperances and 60 innings pitched in his fourth full season with Boston in 2018.

The right-hander also held left-handed hitters to a .186 batting average against to go along with a career-high 11.4 K/9 for a whole campaign.

A former fifth round pick of the San Francisco Giants in 2010, Hembree took Steven Wright’s spot on the Red Sox’ ALDS roster prior to Game Two against the New York Yankees and did not surrender a single run in any of the four postseason appearances he made on the way to a World Series championship.

With the departure of Joe Kelly and the somewhat probable departure of Craig Kimbrel, it’s quite likely that the South Carolina native will see an increase in usage in 2019 depending on what the Red Sox’ plans are for the remainder of the offseason.

Hembree found success early in the 2018 season by stranding inherited runners on base on a consistent basis, but the ability to do that seemed to fade as the year progressed, and the reliever’s numbers inflated as a result of that.

Per the Red Sox themselves, this signing now leaves 10 players, Matt Barnes, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Brock Holt, Sandy Leon, Eduardo Rodriguez, Blake Swihart, Brandon Workman, and Steven Wright, who remained unsigned and eligible for arbitration.