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 Still Appear Interested in Acquiring Wil Myers, Prospects From Padres

Even after dealing Mookie Betts to the Dodgers last week, the Red Sox are still talking to the Padres about acquiring former All-Star outfielder Wil Myers, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee.

Per Acee, the Sox are also interested in Padres right-hander Cal Quantrill, in addition to top prospects Luis Campusano and Gabriel Arias, while San Diego is interested in offloading ‘about half’ of the $61 million owed to Myers over the next three seasons.

In initial trade talks revolving around Betts, it was reported that the Padres wanted Boston to assume more than half of Myers’ remaining salary due to the money San Diego would be taking on for the 2020 season.

Now, with Betts out of the equation, it seems as though Padres general manager A.J. Preller is more interested in ‘attaining the salary flexibility moving Myers would create.’

Because of that notion, any return the Pads would get in a potential trade with the Red Sox is ‘unclear’, according to Acee.

After shipping both Betts and left-hander David Price to Los Angeles, the Sox are a little more than $13 million below the $208 million luxury tax threshold, so they would be capable of assuming a portion of Myers’ 2020 salary without going over.

Speaking of that, the 29-year-old Myers is set to earn $20 million this coming season in the fourth year of the six-year, $83 million extension he signed with San Diego in 2017. But, since the average annual value of that deal comes out to about $13.8 million, that is the amount that will count towards the luxury tax in 2020.

Myers was coming off an All-Star season when he inked that extension with the Padres, but he has fallen off since, most recently slashing .239/.321/.418 with 18 home runs and 58 RBI over 155 games played in 2019.

The North Carolina native is capable of playing both first base and all three outfield positions, and he does have a history with Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when the two were with the Rays.

If this deal were to happen, it would be interesting to see who Boston parts ways with. Jackie Bradley Jr. comes to mind when considering the signing of Kevin Pillar, but he is owed $11 million in his final year of team control before reaching free agency in the winter.

Anyway you put it, it looks like Bloom and Co. are in pursuit of pitching, which is a positive development given the current questions surrounding the Red Sox’ starting rotation.

Red Sox Have Reportedly Had Discussions With Padres About Potential Mookie Betts Trade

The San Diego Padres have reportedly reached out to the Red Sox about trading for star outfielder Mookie Betts, according to The Athletic’s Dennis Lin.

Per Lin, “Recent talks between the teams have focused on sending a significant amount of prospect talent and outfielder Wil Myers to Boston, according to sources.” However, “Multiple people familiar with the discussions characterized an agreement as unlikely, and the industry consensus is that Betts will be in a Red Sox uniform on Opening Day.”

Before Thursday, it seemed as though things had gone quiet on the Betts trade front. Now, we have this, which is not really revealing anything we did not know before.

It was known that the Padres were one of the handful of teams that inquired about Betts’ services. It was also known that the Padres were looking to move the contract of former All-Star outfielder Wil Myers, whose recent on-field performance has made the remaining three years and $61 million he is owed look like a potential overpay.

Earlier in the offseason, Boston and San Diego talked about another trade that would require the 29-year-old Myers to swap coasts, but that involved the Sox moving the remaining three years and up to $96 million owed to left-hander David Price.

In regard to that scenario, the Padres have “little interest,” per Lin.

Because the Red Sox have made little progress towards their goal of getting under the $208 million luxury tax threshold for the upcoming season, swapping Betts and Myers would save the club at least $13 million towards the luxury tax this year. That is the case because the average annual value of the six-year, $83 million extension Myers signed in 2017 comes in at approximately $13.8 million, while Betts’ comes in at $27 million.

Of course, the Red Sox would require more than a return of Myers to part ways with their six-time All-Star, and it just so happens that the Padres have one of the best farm systems in baseball.

As nice as that sounds though, top prospects like MacKenzie Gore, Luis Patiño and CJ Abrams would most likely be off the table in any trade talks due to the fact that Betts will be a free agent for the first time next winter.

There is a chance he could sign a lucrative extension with any team he is dealt to, but the consensus seems to be that the 27-year-old is locked in on hitting the open market, which makes trading for just one year of team control all the more riskier.

The Padres, led by aggressive general manager AJ Preller, have not qualified for postseason baseball since 2007. They may just be desperate enough to take that risk and acquire the best right fielder in baseball, even if for just one season.

Former Red Sox Second Baseman Ian Kinsler Retires From Baseball

In case you missed it, former Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler retired from baseball on Friday night after spending the 2019 season with the San Diego Padres. He will however remain with the Padres in a front office capacity, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Kinsler, 37, finishes a 14-year big-league career between the Rangers, Tigers, Angels, Red Sox, and Padres with 1,999 career hits, 257 career home runs, 909 career RBI, four career All-Star nods, two career Gold Glove Awards, and one career World Series championship, which he won with Boston in 2018.

The Sox acquired Kinsler from the Angels in exchange for pitching prospects Ty Buttrey and Williams Jerez the day before the trade deadline in 2018.

Brought in to stabilize Boston’s infield defense at second base, the Arizona native slashed .242/.294/.311 with one homer and 16 RBI over 37 games while ranking 11th among American League second baseman in FanGraphs’ Defense metric (0.8) in that span.

Appearing in 11 of the Sox’ 14 postseason contests that October, Kinsler went 7-for-34 (.206) with three runs driven in.

“Obviously, Detroit was a great experience for me,” Kinsler told The Athletic. “Dave Dombrowski traded for me twice. He traded for me in Detroit, then for that magical run in Boston. I was able to be a part of a world-championship team. Those are the two things that really stand out in my head.”

Kinsler also added that, “The run in Boston, being just a small part of that was incredible.”

After winning his first World Series title with the Red Sox, Kinsler inked a two-year, $8 million deal with San Diego prior to the start of the 2019 campaign, but a herniated cervical disk held him out from August 12th on and was the ultimate deciding factor in his deciison to step away from playing baseball.

Kinsler may have only been with the Red Sox for a brief three months, but he definitely made his time in Boston worth it.

Brock Holt Comes Through with Game-Winning Homer in Ninth Inning as Red Sox Take Series from Padres with 5-4 Victory

After blowing the doors off the San Diego Padres to open up a three-game weekend series on Friday, the Red Sox needed some late-inning magic to win their second straight on Saturday, as they topped the Pads by a final score of 5-4 to improve to 70-61 on the season.

Making his sixth start of the season for Boston and second since returning from the injured list on July 20th was Nathan Eovaldi, who came into the weekend having yielded five runs in just two innings in his last time out against the Baltimore Orioles this past Sunday.

Working into the fourth inning this time around, the right-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were earned, on four hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

Both of those Padres runs charged to Eovaldi came in the bottom half of the fourth, when after retiring eight of the first 11 hitters he faced, Manny Machado led things off with single back up the middle to put a runner on for Eric Hosmer.

On the fourth pitch of his second at-bat against the Sox starter, Hosmer unloaded on a 2-1, 94 MPH heater on the inner half of the plate and sent it 409 feet into the right field seats to cut his side’s deficit in half at 4-2.

With his velocity dwindling as that Padres rally was formulating, Eovaldi’s evening came to a quick close following that two-run homer from Hosmer.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 64 (36 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 53% of the time he was on the mound Saturday, inducing two swings and misses and topping out at 100.1 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with the no-decision while lowering his ERA on the year down to 6.64, “Nitro” will be expected to pitch deeper into his next outing, which should come against the Los Angeles Angels next weekend.

In relief of Eovaldi, Marcus Walden entered the bottom of the fourth with the bases empty and still three outs to get.

The right-hander did eventually get those three outs, but not before allowing the third run of the inning for San Diego to score on a Hunter Renfroe double and run-scoring groundout off the bat of Luis Urias.

From there, left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez punched out one in a scoreless fifth, Ryan Brasier fanned two in a scoreless sixth before allowing two of the first three Padres he faced in the seventh to reach on a leadoff walk and one-out HBP.

Those signs of struggle led to another Boston pitching change, and in came left-hander Josh Taylor with the tying run in scoring position at second.

A one-out RBI single from the first man who greeted him in Ty France did knot things up at four runs a piece as the Red Sox blew their 24th save of the year, but Taylor did come through in a huge spot with two outs and the bases loaded by striking out Hosmer on four pitches to extenguish the threat.

Matt Barnes maneuvered his way around a two-out single in the eighth to eventually earn his fourth winning decision.

And after his side took the lead in their half of the ninth, Brandon Workman wrapped things up, stranded the tying run at second, and notched his eighth save of 2019 on a three-out punchout of Hosmer to lock down the 5-4 victory.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Padres right-hander Dinelson Lamet, someone they had never seen before going into the weekend.

Kicking off the scoring in the top half of the third, a Mitch Moreland leadoff single and Brock Holt HBP, followed by a Nathan Eovaldi forceout at third on a failed sacrifice bunt attempt, put runners at first and second for Mookie Betts as the lineup turned over for the first time.

Perhaps taking into account what he learned in his first trip to the plate Saturday, Betts laced an RBI single through the right side of the infield to plate Holt from second and give his side their first lead of the evening.

An inning later, with J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi leading off the fourth by both reaching base, back-to-back run-scoring knocks from Christian Vazquez and Mitch Moreland off of Lamet upped the Sox’ advantage to four runs, as Vazquez drove in two and Moreland one.

The Padres responded with a three-run rally of their own in their half of the fourth though, and eventually tied things up at four in their half of the seventh as well.

At 4-4, the stalemate led to San Diego turning to their All-Star closer Kirby Yates in the ninth.

Leading off the final frame for Boston was Brock Holt, who was 0-for-2 headed on the night headed into his first career at-bat against Yates.

That unfamiliarity may have played in Holt’s favor though, as the 31-year-old took the first pitch he saw from Yates, a 93 MPH four-seamer down and in, and belted a 372-foot, go-ahead solo shot just over the wall in right field.

“BH’s” third big fly of the season put the Red Sox up 5-4 late, and that would go on to be Saturday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

Andrew Benintendi departed from this game in the sixth inning due to tightness in his left side, per Sox manager Alex Cora. He will not play on Sunday.

From The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham:

From MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

Mitch Moreland’s last seven games: .360/.385/.440 with four runs scored and four runs driven in.

Before Saturday, Kirby Yates had served up one home run to the first 201 hitters he faced this season.

With the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland Athletics both falling on Saturday, the Red Sox move to six games behind Tampa Bay for the second American League Wild Card spot.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the Players’ Weekend series finale on Sunday afternoon.

Left-hander Brian Johnson gets the ball for Boston, while fellow southpaw Joey Lucchesi will do the same for San Diego.

Since being activated off the injured list earlier in the month, Johnson has posted a 6.75 ERA and .358 batting average against over his last four starts and 12 innings pitched.

In eight career interleague appearances (five starts), the 28-year-old owns a lifetime 5.40 ERA and .306 batting average against over 30 total innings of work. He has never faced the Padres nor pitched at Petco Park before in his career.

Johnson is also a lifetime .167 (1-for-6) hitter with two runs scored.

Lucchesi, meanwhile, owns an ERA of 4.86 in seven starts and 37 innings since the All-Star break. The Padres are 1-6 in those games.

The 26-year-old has never faced the Red Sox before in his two-year career, but he does own an ERA of 4.24 and batting average against of .227 in seven career interleague starts spanning over 34 innings of work.

First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 4:10 PM EDT on NESN. Red Sox going for the three-game sweep before heading off to Denver.

J.D. Martinez Batting Cleanup, Starting in Right Field for Red Sox in Players’ Weekend Opener Against Padres

After walking off the Kansas City Royals on Thursday, the Red Sox open up an eight-game, three-city west coast trip on Friday night, beginning with the first of three against the 59-67 San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

So far this season, the Sox are an underwhelming 3-7 in interleague play, with two of those losses coming this past week at the hands of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Since these three games will be played at a National League ballpark, Boston loses the designated hitter, meaning J.D. Martinez will slide over to right field and bat out of the cleanup spot for the series opener against the Pads on Friday.

In 17 games as a right fielder so far this year, the recently turned 32-year-old slugger is slashing .319/.397/.638 with six home runs and 12 RBI over 78 plate appearances.

With that move to the outfield for Martinez, Mookie Betts slides over to center and Andrew Benintendi remains in left, while Jackie Bradley Jr. gets the night off.

As the above tweet indicates, Friday is also the opening night of Players’ Weekend 2019, a weekend where the Red Sox have yet to win a single game since its inception in 2017.

Yup, they were swept by the Baltimore Orioles at home in 2017, and swept on the road by the Tampa Bay Rays last year, which marked the only time they were swept over the course of a dominant 2018 campaign.

The Red Sox are 4-2 all-time against the Padres at Petco Park, winning series’ there in both 2007 and 2016.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 10:10 PM EDT on NESN. Eduardo Rodriguez going against Chris Paddack.

Also, here are some of the cleats different Red Sox will be sporting this weekend.

Red Sox Unveil 2019 Players’ Weekend Nicknames, Uniforms

Major League Baseball unveiled all uniforms and nicknames more than two weeks ahead of the third installment of Players’ Weekend, which will take place from August 23rd through the 25th.

All 30 clubs will be wearing all-black or all-white uniforms, per Chris Creamer of SportsLogos.net.

The Red Sox will be spending Players’ Weekend in Sunny southern California, taking on the San Diego Padres at Petco Park for the first time since late in the 2016 season.

As indicated by Creamer, the Sox will be the team wearing all-black, while the Padres will be wearing all-white.

Given how a white cap might affect how a hitter picks up the ball from the pitcher’s hand, “pitchers on Team White will be wearing a black cap with their uniform to avoid any issues with hitters seeing the ball,” per Creamer.

Despite being the road team for this series, the Red Sox will not be wearing uniforms that sport the word ‘BOSTON’ across the chest and will instead wear uniforms that resemble the ones they wear at Fenway Park.

As for the nicknames on the back of the uniforms, MLB.com lists 27 different Red Sox players with their nicknames. Here they are in alphabetical order, courtesy of MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Notables on this list include rookie Michael Chavis going with “Chief” instead of “Ice Horse”, Nathan Eovaldi going with “Nitro” instead of “Evo”, Brock Holt going with “BH” instead of “Brock Star”, David Price going with “X’, presumably for his son, Xavier, Chris Sale going with “The Conductor”, and Sam Travis going with “Dr. Chill.”

Since its inception in 2017, the Red Sox are 0-6 all-time in Players’ Weekend games. They were swept in three games at home by the Baltimore Orioles two years ago and were swept by the Tampa Bay Rays on the road last August, which turned out to be the only time they got swept in 2018.

Mookie Betts was named as the Sox’ ambassador for Players’ Weekend 2019. He will be going with “Mookie” as his nickname once again.

 

 

Red Sox Reportedly ‘Showing Active Interest’ in Blue Jays’ Ken Giles and Padres’ Kirby Yates

The Red Sox are ‘showing active interest’ in San Diego Padres closer Kirby Yates and Toronto Blue Jays closer Ken Giles, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.

Giles, 28, has posted a 1.64 ERA and .205 batting average against over 33 appearances and 33 innings pitched for Toronto this season. He has converted 14 out of a possible 15 save opportunities.

Set to become a free agent at the end of the 2020 season, Giles’ asking price could be quite high. In fact, it’s already been reported by TSN’s Scott Mitchell that other clubs such as the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees have reached out to the Blue Jays about a potential package deal including both Giles and All-Star right-hander Marcus Stroman.

Yates, on the other hand, also does not become a free agent until the winter of 2020/2021.

The 32-year-old All-Star owns a minuscule ERA of 1.07 and a nice batting average against of .169 over 40 appearances and 42 innings of work to go along with a National League-leading 31 saves in 33 opportunities so far in 2019.

Originally drafted by the Sox out of Kauai High School in Lihue, Hawaii back in 2005, Yates has experienced a career renaissance while with the Padres after bouncing around between the Tampa Bay Rays, Yankees, and Los Angeles Angels.

Similar to Giles, Yates is likely to come with a hefty asking price, and given the lack of quality prospects Boston has to offer, it’s not hard to imagine that other teams may be able to put together a better proposal.

According to MLB.com, the Red Sox have one top-100 prospect in the form of 19-year-old first baseman Triston Casas, who the club selected with their first pitck in last year’s amateur draft.

When Boston acquired right-hander Andrew Cashner from the Baltimore Orioles on July 13th, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said that, “We’re trying to win. We have a chance to win. We know we have to play better. But also we’re trying to rebuild our system. And I think we’re getting to the point where we’re starting to get to that.”

With that, if Dombrowski has the chance to acquire either of these aforementioned relievers without Boston’s farm system taking a major hit, expect a move to be made.

Manny Machado and San Diego Padres Reportedly Agree to 10-Year, $300 Million Contract

The San Diego Padres have reportedly agreed to a record-breaking 10-year, $300 million contract with free agent infielder Manny Machado. ESPN’s Jeff Passan was the first with the report of the signing while MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand was the first with the figures.

Additionally, per Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown, Machado’s new contract with San Diego comes with an opt-out after the fifth year. Exactly halfway through what looks to be a historic deal for baseball.

Machado, who will turn 27 in July, slashed .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs and a career-high 107 RBI in 162 games between the Baltimore Orioles and Los Angeles Dodgers this past season.

A client of Dan Lozano of MVP Sports Group, the Miami-area resident is set to earn an AAV of approximately $30 million per season before taxes and what not.

Although teams in a better position to compete now such as the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies appeared to show some level of interest in Machado, the third baseman turned shortstop ultimately decided to remain out on the west coast and in the National League West as well.

This news comes days after Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts told media that he would not mind staying with Boston for the forseeable future, as his contract is set to expire following the 2019 season. But, given the circumstances of what has reportedly gone down Tuesday, the likelihood of the two sides coming to an extension now probably shrinks. Remember, Bogaerts is represented by super agent Scott Boras.

Since the start of the 2015 season, Machado and Bogaerts have been the second and third most valuable shortstops in all of baseball according to FanGraphs, with Machado worth a total of 21.7 fWAR and Bogaerts worth 17.4 fWAR over the last four seasons.

It’s a significant difference, but one would have to expect that Bogaerts will be demanding a contract with an AAV north of $20 million now that Machado’s deal is set.

Retaining the native of Aruba will be no simple task for the Red Sox front office and that’s probably why the two sides are engaged in extension talks as we speak, possibly.

If Bogaerts is willing to take a more team-friendly deal now, great. If not, well, that’s tough to say.