Red Sox Make Second Round of Spring Roster Cuts

Four days after making their first round of spring roster cuts, the Red Sox cut 15 more players before taking on the Minnesota Twins earlier Sunday.

Out of those 15 players, eight were reassigned to minor-league camp, five were optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket, one was optioned to Double-A Portland, and one was optioned to High-A Salem.

The players who were reassigned to minor-league camp were cathcer Roldani Baldwin, catcher/infielder Connor Wong, infielder Jeter Downs, first baseman Josh Ockimey, right-handed pitchers R.J. Alvarez, Trevor Hildenberger, and Tanner Houck, and left-handed pitcher Mike Kickham.

The players optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket were infielders Bobby Dalbec and C.J. Chatham, right-handers Mike Shawaryn and Phillips Valdez, and left-hander Kyle Hart.

Outfielder Marcus Wilson was the lone player optioned to Double-A Portland, while right-hander Yoan Aybar was the lone player optioned to High-A Salem.

In total, seven players — Aybar, Chatham, Dalbec, Hart, Shawaryn, Valdez, Wilson — on Boston’s 40-man roster were cut from big-league camp on Sunday.

Out of the 14 non-roster invites still in major-league camp, the most notable are Brian Johnson, Jonathan Lucroy, Marco Hernandez, and Jarren Duran. Take away Duran and the other three are certainly vying for positions on Boston’s 26-man roster to open the season.

Some thoughts:

Seeing the two prospects the Red Sox acquired in the Mookie Betts and David Price trade get cut is not much of a surprise, but it is a bit surprising seeing names like Kyle Hart, Tanner Houck, and Mike Shawaryn be cut at this point in time.

At least in my mind, I thought Hart and Houck were candidates to fill the two vacant spots in the Sox’ starting rotation, while Shawaryn was competing for a bullpen role. Instead of beginning the year in the majors though, it looks like the trio of hurlers will start with the PawSox.

Guys like Chatham and Dalbec probably had an outside chance of making Boston’s Opening Day roster before Sunday, but if we do see them in the majors this season, it will have to come at a later date.

On a final note, I’m looking forward to seeing what Marcus Wilson does in his first full year in the Red Sox organization.

 

 

Red Sox Prospect Chih-Jung Liu Being Quarantined Due to Coronavirus Concerns

Red Sox Taiwanese pitching prospect Chih-Jung Liu is being quarantined in a hotel room by the team, according to The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham.

Per Abraham, Liu departed Taipei on a flight to San Francisco last week, where he, along with all international travelers, was screened for the virus.

Arriving in Fort Myers with the hopes of being ready for minor-league camp, the 20-year-old right-hander is instead “being quarantined in a hotel room by the Sox to guard against the coronavirus.”

The most recent reports from the Centers of Disease Control state that there have been 31 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Taiwan, and according to a team spokesman, the Red Sox are using “an over abundance of caution” with this international issue, as they also quarantined Taiwanese infielder Tzu-Wei Lin earlier in February.

“I had been here for a week and they said I needed to go back to my apartment,” Lin told Abraham. “I was fine. I stayed away for one day and that was it.”

While in quarantine, Liu is “being delivered three meals a day, doing some weight training, and going for an occasional run,” per his Facebook page.

The Red Sox signed Liu as a two-way international prospect out of Taiwan for $750,000 back in October, but according to vice president of player development Ben Crockett, the plan is to have Liu develop as a pitcher.

“We’re just really excited to get our hands on him,” Crockett said of Liu to The Athletic’s Chad Jennings. “This guy has good stuff, and we know he’s athletic, and we’ve heard really good things about him as a person, too.”

According to MLB Pipleine, Liu is ranked as the Sox’ No. 17 prospect. If he is healthy, which he says he is, he is expected to report to Fenway South on Saturday.

 

Red Sox Prospect C.J. Chatham Dealing With Right Shoulder Soreness

Red Sox infield prospect C.J. Chatham was slated to start at shortstop in Boston’s spring training opener against the Northeastern Huskies baseball team on Friday. Instead, the 25-year-old was a late scratch from the Sox’ lineup due to right shoulder soreness.

Jeter Downs, one of three players acquired in the trade that sent Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, got the start in Chatham’s place at short.

Ranked as Boston’s No. 10 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Chatham entered big-league camp with the chance to provide the Sox with some depth around the infield a few months after being added to the club’s 40-man roster for the first time back in November.

The former second-round pick out of Florida Atlantic University split time between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season, slashing .298/.333/.408 with five home runs, 46 RBI, and seven stolen bases over 110 total games in 2019.

Earlier in the week, Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett told The Athletic’s Chad Jennings that Chatham has “been exposed to the outfield and could ‘potentially’ get some third base reps in preparation for a utility role.”

Depending on the severity of the soreness he is dealing with, Chatham could be held out of action for the next few days. There will probably be more news about once Friday’s contest comes to a close.

As for Downs, MLB Pipeline’s No. 44 prospect got the start at his natural position and already collected his first hit in a Red Sox uniform on a first inning infield single. He has also committed a fielding error.

 

Red Sox Reportedly Seeking Another Top Prospect From Twins in Blockbuster Trade That Would Send Mookie Betts and David Price to Dodgers

The Red Sox are reportedly still seeking a top prospect from the Minnesota Twins in addition to right-handed pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol in order to complete the three-team trade that would send Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

At this point in time, per Heyman, Minnesota has yet to budge from their original offer.

This news comes one day after it was reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that the Red Sox, upon reviewing his medical information, viewed Graterol more as a reliever than a future starter, leading to the club seeking additional compensation for parting ways with two of its marquee players.

As a result of this, any official movement between Boston, Los Angeles, and Minnesota has been at an impasse.

In the original trade proposal, the Sox would be receiving Graterol and outfielder Alex Verdugo, the Dodgers would be receiving Betts, Price, and cash considerations, and the Twins would be receiving right-hander Kenta Maeda.

Compared to the Red Sox and Dodgers, the Twins’ return in this scenario is minimal, so it is understandable why they would not want to throw in an additional top-10 prospect when it would not really benefit them.

Because Boston and Los Angeles appear to and should be motivated to complete this deal before pitchers and catchers report next week, there are a plethora of directions they could go with this.

First off, the Twins could remain on as the third team while the Dodgers throw in another prospect to satisfy the Sox’ needs. On the other hand, the Sox and Dodgers could either try and work out a trade themselves or find a completely different third team that would fill the gap left by the Twins.

Either way, this trade is still going to happen, probably. It just may not go down the way it was initially set up to.

Red Sox Have ‘Expressed Interest’ in Padres Catching Prospect Luis Campusano in Mookie Betts Trade Talks, per Report

In discussions with the San Diego Padres revolving around the idea of trading star outfielder Mookie Betts, the Red Sox have reportedly ‘expressed interest’ in acquiring Padres catching prospect Luis Campusano in any potential deal, per The Athletic’s Dennis Lin.

Campusano, who turned 21 last September, was listed as the fifth-best prospect in San Diego’s farm system and the seventh-best catching prospect in baseball at the end of the 2019 season, according to MLB.com.

The former 2017 second-round pick out of Cross Creek High School in Georgia put together an impressive campaign in his second full professional season last year, slashing .325/.396/.509 with 15 home runs and 81 RBI over 110 games played for the High-A Lake Elsinore Storm. He was named co-MVP of the California League for his efforts back in August.

In the Arizona Fall League, Campusano, along with other Padres prospects, played for the Peoria Javelinas, the same team the Red Sox were affiliated with.

In an organization that is full of quality prospects, Campusano might not garner the same attention that others such as MacKensie Gore or Luis Patino do, but he is an exciting player nonetheless.

“He’s really special,” Lake Elsinore hitting coach Doug Banks said of Campusano in an interview with Baseball America last June. “He does some special things. There’s things he can do because he’s just so talented. For him to do what he’s doing at his position, catching, being as young as he is, it really is incredible.”

Any deal that involves Betts heading to San Diego would most likely involve the Red Sox getting multiple pieces, prospects and major-league players alike, in return, such as 29-year-old outfielder Wil Myers, who is owed $61 million over the next three seasons.

Because Betts is set to become a free agent for the first time next winter, it is safe to say that Padres general manager AJ Preller would be unwilling to move a prized prospect like Gore for what could turn out to be just a one-year rental.

That’s where players like Campusano come in. The 79th-ranked prospect on Baseball America’s Top 100 list would easily become one of the three best prospects in the Sox’ system.

San Diego may value the young backstop highly, but with veteran catcher Austin Hedges and former top catching prospect Francisco Mejia already on the active roster, Campusano could be expandable. Especially for a player of Betts’ caliber.

On Thursday, Lin reported that an agreement between the Red Sox and Padres was viewed as ‘unlikely’ so there is still a possibility that nothing comes from all this speculation. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

 

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.

Red Sox No. 7 Prospect Gilberto Jimenez Identified as Potential Breakout Prospect for 2020 by MLB Pipeline

Red Sox outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez has been named a potential breakout candidate for the 2020 season, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, Jonathan Mayo and Mike Rosenbaum:

Red Sox: Gilberto Jimenez, OF (No. 7) — A $10,000 steal from the Dominican Republic in 2017, Jimenez skipped a level last season and led the short-season New York-Penn League in batting (.359) in his U.S. debut. The best center-field defender and one of the fastest runners in Boston’s system, he’ll make the jump to full-season ball in 2020.”

As the above excerpt from this article mentions, Jimenez enjoyed great success in his first professional season stateside, slashing .359/.393/.470 with three home runs, 19 RBI, and 16 RBI over 59 games with Short-Season Lowell in 2019.

In a span of less than two years, the 19-year-old out of the Dominican Republic has  worked his way up from unranked to the seventh-ranked prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Using the 20-80 scouting sale, Jimenez’s hit tool is graded as slightly above average, while his power tool is graded as slightly below average, his run tool is graded as well above average, and his fielding tool is graded as slightly below average. All in all, the young outfielder is graded as an average prospect, per MLB Pipeline.

Projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2020 minor-league season with Low-A Greenville, it will be interesting to see how Jimenez’s game translates to the next level in the South Atlantic League.

Among Red Sox minor-league center fielders, Jimenez currently sits fifth behind Marcus Wilson, Duran, Keith Curcio, and Cole Brannen on SoxProspects.com‘s depth charts.

Last year, MLB Pipeline predicted that left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez, then Boston’s seventh-ranked prospect, would be a breakout prospect in 2019. The 23-year-old only made his big league debut on April 23rd, made his impact felt as a reliever later in the season, and now looks poised to play a key role in the Sox’ bullpen in 2020.