Red Sox overpowered, swept by Rays as 7-run inning leads to 9-3 loss

Despite all the struggles they endured this week, the Red Sox had a chance to secure a winning road trip with a victory over the Rays on Thursday. Boston instead fell to Tampa Bay by a final score of 9-3 and were swept in four games as a result.

With the loss, their 13th straight at Tropicana Field, the Red Sox drop to 5-8 on the season. The unbeaten Rays, meanwhile, improve to a perfect 13-0, matching the 1982 Braves and 1987 Brewers for the best start to a season in major-league history.

Thursday’s series finale actually started in positive fashion for Boston. With old friend Jeffrey Springs starting for Tampa Bay, Rob Refsnyder gave the Red Sox an early 1-0 lead in the first inning by taking the lefty 409 feet deep to left field for his first home run of the year.

The Rays quickly responded, though, as Yandy Diaz crushed a leadoff home run off Red Sox starter Corey Kluber to begin things in the bottom of the first. Kluber would settle in, however, and Boston got back on the board in the top of the fourth.

After Springs was forced to exit with ulnar neuritis, Justin Turner greeted new Rays reliever Garrett Cleavinger by ripping a leadoff double to left field. Turner stole third base and then came into score on an Enrique Hernandez force out to put the Red Sox up 2-1. An inning later, Turner struck again, this time plating Christian Arroyo on an RBI single to make it a 3-1 game heading into the bottom of the fifth.

That is where things began to unravel for Boston. Kluber, who retired each of the last nine batters he had faced, yielded a leadoff double to Harold Ramirez. After issuing a one-out walk to Josh Lowe to put runners on the corners, Kluber gave up an RBI single to Francisco Mejia to cut the lead to one run at 3-2.

With two outs, Red Sox manager Alex Cora opted to pull Kluber for left-hander Richard Bleier. Bleier, in turn, allowed the then-game-tying run to cross the plate on an RBI single from Brandon Lowe that was just out of the reach of Arroyo. Randy Arozarena then gave the Rays their first lead of the afternoon with a groundball single of his own.

After plunking Wander Franco to fill the bases, the pinch-hitting Manuel Margot laid down a perfectly-executed bunt off Bleier to push across Lowe. Ramirez then broke it open with a bases-clearing, three-run double down the left field line to cap off a seven-run fifth inning and give the Rays a commanding 8-3 edge.

Kluber was charged with three of those seven runs. All together, the veteran right-hander surrendered four earned runs on four hits and one walk to go along with seven strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work. He was hit with the losing decision and is now 0-3 with a 6.92 ERA through three starts.

Bleier, on the other hand, was charged with the other four runs that crossed the plate in the fifth. Kutter Crawford, who was just recalled from Triple-A Worcester, took over the lefty and served up a solo homer to Brandon Lowe in the seventh. Besides that one blemish, the righty was effective in his three frames of relief.

Offensively, the Red Sox did not have a response for the Rays bullpen after the fifth inning. They went 1-2-3 against Kevin Kelly in the sixth, stranded a runner at scoring position in a hitless seventh inning, and then went down quietly against Braden Bristo in the eighth and ninth. In total, Boston had just four hits as a team while going 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

Casas’ 14-pitch walk

With one out and one runner on in the fourth inning, Triston Casas fouled off seven consecutive pitches in the process of working a 14-pitch walk off Rays reliever Garrett Cleavinger. Upon taking ball four, Casas flipped his bat and let out an emphatic yell towards the Red Sox dugout.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the last at-bat by a Red Sox hitter that lasted longer than 14 pitches came on April 25, 2012, when Adrian Gonzalez had a 15-pitch groundout against Liam Hendriks, who was then starting for the Twins.

Next up: Sandoval vs. Houck in first of four against Angels

On the heels of a 3-4 road trip, the Red Sox will head home and open a four-game weekend series against the Angels on Friday night. Right-hander Tanner Houck is slated to get the ball for Boston in the opener while left-hander Patrick Sandoval is expected to do the same for Los Angeles.

First pitch from Fenway Park on Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time. The game will be broadcasted exclusively on Apple TV+.

(Picture of Corey Kluber: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)


Chris Sale’s struggles continue as Red Sox fall short of comeback in 9-7 loss to Rays

They made it interesting in the late stages on Wednesday night, but the Red Sox could not come back to knock off the unbeaten Rays. Boston fell to Tampa Bay a final score of 9-7 to drop to 5-7 on the season.

Chris Sale, making his third start of the year for the Sox, surrendered six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks to go along with six strikeouts over four innings of work.

The Rays got to Sale right away in the bottom of the first, but the left-hander was not fully responsible for what happened. That being the case because with one out, starting shortstop Bobby Dalbec — a natural corner infielder — mishandled a groundball off the bat of Wander Franco, which allowed Franco to reach base safely.

Franco promptly stole second base off Reese McGuire before Isaac Paredes drew a four-pitch walk off Sale to put runners at first and second. Moments later, Randy Arozarena made the Red Sox pay by clubbing a three-run opposite field home run to give the Rays an early 3-0 lead.

The Red Sox lineup, meanwhile, could do nothing against Rays starter Taj Bradley early on. Bradley, making his major-league debut for Tampa Bay took a no-hit bid into the fourth inning before giving up a leadoff double to Alex Verdugo. Following a Rafael Devers strikeout, Justin Turner pushed across Boston’s first run of the night by plating Verdugo from second on a one-out RBI single to left field.

Sale appeared to have settled in to that point by putting up a pair of zeroes in the second and third, but the lefty ran into more trouble in the latter half of the fourth. There, a Taylor Walls leadoff double and back-to-back singles from Christian Bethancourt and Vidal Brujan filled the bases with no outs. Yandy Diaz drove in Walls with a sacrifice fly before Franco ripped a two-run double into the gap in left-center to make it a 6-1 contest in favor of Tampa Bay.

The fourth inning would prove to be Sale’s last. The 34-year-old finished with 81 pitches (55 stirkes), but he only managed to induce eight swings-and-misses. He was ultimately hit with the losing decision an now owns an ERA of 11.25 through three starts.

With Sale’s day done, the Red Sox went back to chipping away at the deficit in the top of the fifth. Enrique Hernandez broke out of a lengthy 0-for-28 skid by driving in McGuire on a two-out RBI double. Verdugo followed with a run-scoring hit of his own to trim the Rays’ lead down to three runs at 6-3.

Tampa Bay did not back down, however. In the bottom of the fifth, Zack Kelly issued a leadoff walk to Harold Ramirez and surrendered back-to-back RBI hits to Bethancourt (double) and Brujan (single) before coming out of the game with an elbow injury. Boston got one of those runs back in the sixth when Turner scored from third on a Raimel Tapia groundout.

Still trailing by four after Ryan Brasier worked his way around a leadoff single in the bottom half of the sixth, the Red Sox added some intrigue to this one in the seventh. After McGuire singled and Hernandez doubled to put runners at second and third with two outs, the Rays replaced Ryan Thompson with Colin Poche to set up a lefty-on-lefty matchup against Devers.

After fouling off the first pitch he saw, Devers won the battle by crushing a 366-foot three-run blast down the left field line for his first home run of the season. Devers’ homer, which left his bat at 100.8 mph, suddenly brought the Sox back to within one run of the Rays at 8-7.

Unfortunately, that is where the scoring would stop for Boston. After John Schreiber tossed a scoreless seventh inning, Justin Adam made quick work of the three Red Sox hitters he faced in the top half of the eighth before Chris Martin allowed a very important insurance run to score in the bottom half on a sacrifice fly from Arozarena.

Down by two runs heading into the ninth, McGuire reached base yet again with a leadoff single off Pete Fairbanks. Connor Wong, who pinch-ran for McGuire, moved up to second on a Yu Chang sacrifice bunt but did not advance any further as Hernandez flew out and Verdugo grounded out to end it.

Wednesday’s 9-7 loss, which took two hours and 44 minutes to complete, marks the Red Sox’ 12th straight defeat at Tropicana Field. The Rays, on the other hand, are now the first team to start a season 12-0 since the 1987 Brewers.

Next up: Kluber vs. Springs

The Red Sox will look to avoid a sweep while simultaneously handing the Rays their first loss of the year in the finale of this four-game set on Thursday afternoon. Right-hander Corey Kluber is slated to start for Boston while left-hander Jeffrey Springs is expected to do the same for Tampa Bay.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Masataka Yoshida scratched from Red Sox lineup due to right hamstring tightness

Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida has been scratched from Wednesday’s starting lineup against the Rays due to right hamstring tightness, manager Alex Cora told reporters (including Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe) at Tropicana Field.

Yoshida was originally starting in left field and batting cleanup for Boston in the second game of this four-game series in St. Petersburg. Now that he has been taken out of the lineup on account of a tight hamstring, Raimel Tapia will move from center to left field while Enrique Hernandez will shift from shortstop to center field and play there for the first time this season.

Bobby Dalbec was not in the original lineup. He will now start at short in Hernandez’s place and bat sixth as the Red Sox go up against Rays rookie right-hander Taj Bradley, who will be making his major-league debut. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

“We had to make some arrangements,” Cora said, per’s Chris Cotillo.

According to Cora, the Red Sox do not believe Yoshida’s hamstring tightness is a serious issue. The 29-year-old is unlikely to play on Thursday as well, but the hope is he will be able to return to the lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Angels at Fenway Park.

“He showed up here, tried to run,” said Cora. “Obviously, if it’s later in the season, we’d push him to do it and he’d be OK to do it, but it doesn’t make sense to play him tonight.”

Yoshida, who signed a five-year, $90 million contract with Boston in December after spending the first seven years of his professional career in Japan, has started 10 of the Red Sox’ first 11 games this season. The left-handed hitter is currently batting .216/.356/.324 with one double, one home run, six RBIs, eight runs scored, two stolen bases, seven walks, and three strikeouts in 45 plate appearances.

(Picture of Masataka Yoshida: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Despite strong start from Nick Pivetta, Red Sox squander late scoring opportunity and fall to unbeaten Rays, 1-0

The Red Sox battled in an effort to hand the Rays their first loss of the season on Monday night, but ultimately came up short. Boston fell to Tampa Bay by a final score of 1-0 in the opener of this four-game series at Tropicana Field.

Nick Pivetta put forth a valiant effort in his second start of the season for the Sox. The right-hander scattered just three hits and two walks to go along with six strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work.

The Rays threatened by putting one runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings, but Pivetta did not falter. With one out and runners at first and second the bottom of the third, center fielder Rob Refsnyder robbed Randy Arozarena of extra bases by making a fantastic sliding grab on the warning track to snag a 99.1 mph line drive.

Pivetta got through the rest of the third unscathed by getting Wander Franco to ground out. He then proceeded to retire six of the last seven batters he faced from the middle of the fourth through the end of the fifth. The 30-year-old hurler finished with 83 pitches (53 strikes) and induced 14 swings-and-misses while lowering his ERA on the season to 0.90.

In relief of Pivetta, Josh Winckowski got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen from manager Alex Cora. Winckowski made quick work of the Rays’ 3-4-5 hitters in the sixth and put up another zero in the seventh.

Heading into the eighth still deadlocked in a 0-0 tie, the Red Sox put together their best scoring opportunity of the night. Having already been held in check by Jalen Beeks, Josh Fleming, and Garrett Cleavinger, Alex Verdugo led off the inning by drawing a five-pitch walk off Rays lefty Colin Poche. A pinch-hit single from Bobby Dalbec and two-out walk from Enrique Hernandez loaded the bases for Rafael Devers.

Devers, in turn, fouled off two of the first three pitches he saw before Poche froze him on an 0-2, 93 mph four-seamer down and away to end the inning and extinguish the threat.

Chris Martin, who had yet to give up a run through his first five appearances of the season, was responsible for the latter half of the eighth. He got the first out of the inning before serving up a go-ahead solo home run to Brandon Lowe on a 3-2, 96 mph heater at the top of the zone.

Lowe’s homer, which came on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, had an exit velocity of 107.9 mph and travelled 404 feet into the right field seats. It also put Tampa Bay up, 1-0, going into the ninth. Pete Fairbanks, the first righty the Rays used all night, struck out Justin Turner before getting both Masataka Yoshida and the pinch-hitting Raimel Tapia to ground out to end it.

All told, the Red Sox went just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left five runners on base as a team in Monday’s loss. At two hours and six minutes, the game was Boston’s fastest of the season by 26 minutes

With the loss, Boston falls back to .500 at 5-5. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, remains unbeaten and improves to 10-0 to start the year, becoming the first team to accomplish that feat since the 1987 Brewers.

Next up: Whitlock’s 2023 debut on tap

The Red Sox will look to bounce back against the Rays on Tuesday night. Right-hander Garrett Whitlock will come off the injured list and make his season debut for Boston. Tampa Bay will counter with left-hander Shane McClanahan.

In order to activate Whitlock, the Red Sox will need to send someone down to make room on the 26-man roster.

First pitch from Tropicana Field is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. eastern time on NESN+.

(Picture of Nick Pivetta: Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Corey Kluber tosses 4 innings in final tune-up before Opening Day as Red Sox fall to Rays, 4-2

The Red Sox were held to just four hits in a loss to the Rays on Saturday afternoon. Boston fell to Tampa Bay by a final score of 4-2 at Tropicana Field to drop to 14-11-4 in Grapefruit League play.

More important than the offensive numbers was Corey Kluber making his final start of the spring for the Sox. The veteran right-hander allowed three earned runs on four hits and two walks to go along with one strikeout over four innings of work.

The Rays got to Kluber right away in the top of the first, with Tristan Gray belting a one-out solo shot 379 feet down the right field line to give Tampa Bay an early 1-0 lead.

Three innings later, the Red Sox responded with a big fly of their own. After Ceddanne Rafaela led off the top of the fourth with an infield single, Enmanuel Valdez followed by crushing a 396-foot two-run home run to right field off Rays starter Yonny Chirinos. Valdez’s second homer of the spring had an exit velocity of 101.1 mph and put Boston up, 2-1.

Kluber had settled down to that point but ran into more trouble in the latter half of the fourth. There, he allowed two of the first four batters he faced to reach base, which put runners at second and third with two outs for Taylor Walls. Walls, in turn, came through with a two-run double that landed in front of right fielder Wilyer Abreu and scored both Harold Ramirez and Christian Bethancourt.

With the Rays retaking the lead at 3-2, Kluber stranded Walls at second base by getting the final batter he would face in Jose Siri to line out to left field. All told, the 36-year-old hurler finished with a final pitch count of 62 (38 strikes). He induced nine total swings-and-misses and averaged 85.6 mph with his cutter (his most-frequently used pitch), per Baseball Savant.

Kluber finishes the spring having posted a 3.24 ERA with 15 strikeouts to seven walks over five starts (16 2/3 innings). The two-time Cy Young Award winner will next take the mound when the Red Sox host the Orioles on Opening Day (March 30) at Fenway Park.

In relief of Kluber, Zack Kelly received the first call out of the Boston bullpen in the middle of the fifth. The righty fanned a pair over two scoreless frames before making way for Durbin Feltman, who issued a leadoff walk to Siri to begin things in the seventh.

The quick-footed Siri put his speed on full display by stealing second base and moving up to third on a wild pitch while Feltman was busy recording the first two outs of the inning. With runners on the corners and the pinch-hitting Daniel Robertson at the plate, Feltman was caught napping as Siri took off for home and scored rather easily thanks to a poor throw back to the plate.

Siri’s successful steal of home extended the Rays’ lead to two runs at 4-2. After Feltman worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning, the Red Sox were suddenly down to their final three outs. With Pete Fairbanks on the mound for Tampa Bay, Stephen Scott, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Narciso Crook all went down quietly to end it.

Other worthwhile observations:

Top prospect Marcelo Mayer replaced David Hamilton at shortstop in the sixth inning. The 20-year-old made his only trip to the plate in the eighth and ripped a single off old friend Heath Hembree before stealing his first base of the spring.

Niko Kavadas, another prospect who made the trip to St. Petersburg, accounted for Boston’s only double in the top of the fifth inning. Enmanuel Valdez was the only other member of the starting lineup to register an extra-base hit in Saturday’s contest, which took all of two hours and six minutes to complete.

Next up: Chairman’s Cup finale

The Red Sox will wrap up the final weekend of the Grapefruit League campaign by hosting the Twins in Fort Myers on Sunday afternoon. Since the two sides split the first four games of the series, Sunday’s bout will determine who takes home the 2023 Chairman’s Cup.

Boston will be sending left-hander Chris Sale to the hill while Minnesota will roll with right-hander Sonny Gray. First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Corey Kluber: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox outfield prospect Gilberto Jiménez homers off Rays ace Shane McClanahan

Red Sox outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez made his first official hit of the spring count on Saturday afternoon.

As part of a split-squad doubleheader, Jimenez made the trip to St. Petersburg with several other minor-leaguers to take on the Rays at Tropicana Field in some Grapefruit League action.

Starting in right field and batting ninth, Jimenez was tasked with going up against left-hander Shane McClanahan, who finished sixth in American League Cy Young Award voting last year, to begin things on Monday.

McClanahan, making his third start of the spring for the Rays, took a no-hitter into the third inning by retiring seven of the first eight Red Sox batters he faced. With one out in the third, Jimenez stepped up to the plate for the first time. Hitting from the right side, the switch-hitter fouled off a first-pitch slider but did not extend the at-bat any further.

On the very next pitch he saw, Jimenez took an 87 mph changeup on the outer half of the plate and promptly deposited it 367 feet over the left field fence. The solo shot left his bat at 100.9 mph and later proved to be the only offense the Red Sox could muster off McClanahan and four different Rays relievers.

Jimenez, who went 1-for-2 in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay, is now batting .143 in Grapefruit League play with one RBI, one run scored, one stolen base, and four strikeouts across seven trips to the plate this spring.

The Red Sox originally signed the 22-year-old Jimenez for just $10,000 as an international free agent coming out of the Dominican Republic in August 2017. After bursting onto the scene and rising through the ranks as a teenager, the San Cristobal native has seen his prospect stock take a hit recently.

Coming into the 2023 campaign, for instance, Jimenez is no longer regarded by Baseball America as one of the top 30 prospects in Boston’s farm system. After peaking at No. 7 in 2021, Jimenez fell all the way to No. 23 last year after slashing just .268/.306/.366 (84 wRC+) with 18 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 34 RBIs, 49 runs scored, 20 stolen bases, 18 walks, and 100 strikeouts over 99 games (407 plate appearances) with High-A Greenville.

Among the 54 hitters who qualified as league leaders in the South Atlantic League last season, Jimenez posted the lowest walk rate (4.4 percent) and the 26th-worst strikeout rate (24.4 percent). He also ranked 45th in on-base percentage, 37th in slugging percentage, 40th in OPS (.672), 49th in isolated power (.097), 53rd in swinging-strike rate (18.4 percent), 53rd in groundball rate (58.7 percent), and 50th in line-drive rate (15.9 percent), per FanGraphs.

On the other side of the ball, Jimenez saw playing time at all three outfield positions while with the Drive in 2022. The 5-foot-11, 212-pounder logged 70 innings in left field, 336 innings in center field, and 403 2/3 innings in right field while leading the team in both outfield assists (11) and errors (10).

Jimenez’s 20 stolen bases (in 29 attempts) ranked second on the Drive behind only Tyler McDonough, who swiped 21 bags. Speed remains one of Jimenez’s top tools, as indicated by his above-average speed score of 6.0 last year. He is also still considered by Baseball America to have the best arm of any Red Sox outfield prospect.

Jimenez, who turns 23 in July, is expected to make the jump to Double-A Portland for the start of the 2023 minor-league season, which begins on April 6 for the Sea Dogs. In certain respects, these next few months could be important for Jimenez when you consider the fact that he can once again become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter.

If Jimenez can show signs of improvement both at the plate and in the outfield in Portland, he could emerge as a potential trade candidate or even a candidate to be added to the Red Sox’ 40-man roster by the end of the year.

(Picture of Gilberto Jimenez: Kelly O’Connor/

Former Red Sox lefty Jeffrey Springs signs lucrative extension with Rays

Former Red Sox left-hander Jeffrey Springs has signed a four-year, $31 million contract extension with the Rays, the club announced on Wednesday. The deal, which runs through the 2026 season and includes a club option for 2027, can max out at $65.75 million over five years if incentives are reached and the option is exercised.

Springs spent one season with the Red Sox after being acquired from the Rangers for first baseman Sam Travis in January 2020. The former 30th-round draft selection posted a 7.08 ERA and 4.81 FIP with 28 strikeouts to seven walks over 16 relief appearances (20 1/3 innings) for Boston during the COVID-shortened campaign.

While those numbers were far from encouraging, Springs did pitch better in the second half. From August 31 through the end of the season, the lefty pitched to a 3.86 ERA (3.62 FIP) with a 35 percent strikeout rate and a 9.8 percent walk rate across 10 outings spanning 11 2/3 innings of relief.

Despite the improved results down the stretch, Springs lost his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster the following February. He and right-hander Chris Mazza were then traded to Tampa Bay for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and minor-league infielder Nick Sogard.

In his first season with the Rays, Springs forged a 3.43 ERA (3.91 FIP) with 63 strikeouts to 14 walks over 43 relief appearances (44 2/3 innings) before suffering a season-ending right knee injury against the Red Sox in late July. Last year, the 6-foot-3, 218-pound southpaw worked primarily as a starter for the first time in his big-league career. He produced a 2.46 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 135 1/3 innings over 33 appearances, 25 of which were starts.

Springs, who turned 30 in September, was under club control for two more seasons heading into the winter. He now figures to be a key member of the Rays’ starting rotation for the foreseeable future since he could feasibly remain in Tampa Bay through 2027.

(Picture of Jeffrey Springs: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Red Sox agree to one-year deal with two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber

The Red Sox have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent right-hander Corey Kluber, as was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The deal, which is pending a physical, comes with a club option for 2024 as well.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Kluber will earn $10 million in 2023. Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that the option is worth $11 million and the deal includes additional incentive bonuses.

Per’s Chris Cotillo, Kluber’s 2023 salary can increase to $10.5 million if he makes 20 starts, $11.25 million if he makes 25 starts, and $12 million if he makes 30 or more starts next season. The value of his option for 2024, which does not come with a buyout, increases to $11.5 million if he makes 20 starts, $12.25 million if he makes 25 starts, and $13 million if he makes 30 starts.

“The contract then stipulates that those bonuses carry over to 2024 if the option is exercised,” Cotillo wrote on Wednesday. “Kluber would be due the same bonuses based on games started in 2024 (maxing out at $2 million).”

All told, Kluber’s deal with the Red Sox can max out at $27 million over two years ($12 million in 2023 and $15 million in 2024) if he makes 30-plus starts in 2023, has his option picked up, and then makes 30 or more starts again in 2024.

Kluber, who turns 37 in April, spent the 2022 season with the Rays after signing a one-year, $8 million pact with the club last December. In 31 starts for Tampa Bay, the veteran righty posted a 4.34 ERA — but much more respectable 3.57 FIP — with 139 strikeouts to 21 walks over 164 innings of work.

The Red Sox have been interested in signing Kluber in each of the last two offseasons but were ultimately unable to secure his services. Prior to his one season with the Rays, Kluber spent the 2021 campaign with the Yankees. This time around, however, Boston was able to land one of its top targets one day after fellow starters Nathan Eovaldi and Rich Hill agreed to deals with the Rangers and Pirates, respectively.

Kluber, who lives in Winchester, Mass. (where his wife, Amanda, is from) during the winter, is now slated to join a starting rotation mix in Boston that already consists of Brayan Bello, Chris Sale, Garrett Whitlock, James Paxton, Nick Pivetta, and possibly even Tanner Houck heading into the 2023 season. While the Red Sox were unable to bring back Eovaldi, they were previously interested in a reunion with Michael Wacha, though the addition of Kluber may have altered those plans.

A former fourth-round draft pick of the Padres coming out of Stetson University (DeLand, Fla.) in 2007, Kluber was traded to the Guardians in 2010 and first broke in with Cleveland the following September. As part of a nine-year tenure with that franchise, Kluber made three All-Star teams and won the American League Cy Young Award in 2014 and 2017.

The Guardians traded Kluber to the Rangers in Dec. 2019. He was limited to just one start with Texas during the COVID-shortened 2020 season due to a tear in his right teres muscle. Kluber left the Rangers for the Yankees last January and has since forged a 4.17 ERA (3.66 FIP) over 47 starts (244 innings) in his short stays in the Bronx and St. Petersburg.

For his big-league career, which spans 12 seasons and four teams (Cleveland, Texas, New York, and Tampa Bay), Kluber owns a lifetime 3.31 ERA and 3.09 FIP to go along with 1,683 strikeouts to 347 walks across 256 appearances (251 starts) spanning 1,586 2/3 innings pitched. He has also produced a 4.02 ERA in 47 career postseason innings.

Listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Kluber operates with a five-pitch mix that consists of a mid-80s cutter, a low-80s curveball, a high-80s sinker, a low-80s changeup, and a high-80s four-seam fastball. This past season, he ranked in the 99th percentile of the league in walk rate (3.1 percent) and the 96th percentile in chase rate (35.7 percent), per Baseball Savant.

Kluber becomes the sixth major-league free agent the Red Sox have signed so far this winter, joining the likes of relievers Kenley Jansen, Chris Martin, and Joely Rodriguez, outfielder Masataka Yoshida, and infielder/designated hitter Justin Turner. As noted by Cotillo, Kluber, Jansen, Martin, and Turner are all 35 years of age or older.

As things stand now, Boston’s 40-man roster is currently at full capacity. The signings of Kluber and Turner have yet to be made official, so chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will need to clear at least two spots before those announcements can be made.

(Picture of Corey Kluber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox reportedly made attempt to sign Zach Eflin before right-hander agreed to three-year, $40 million deal with Rays

The Red Sox reportedly made an attempt to sign Zach Eflin before the free agent right-hander agreed to terms on a three-year contract with the division rival Rays on Thursday.

According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Boston offered Eflin the same three-year, $40 million deal he received from Tampa Bay. But Eflin — a native of nearby Orlando — ultimately decided to sign closer to home.

On that note, The Athletic’s Chad Jennings reports that the Red Sox were actually the highest bidder for Eflin, but the Rays were given the opportunity to match the offer and that is exactly what they did.

“The Red Sox were not given an opportunity to raise their bid,” Jennings wrote late Thursday. “They also didn’t know until the deal was done that the Rays were going to have the final opportunity to match.”

Eflin, who turns 29 in April, is slated to earn $11 million in each of the next two seasons and will then see his salary increase to $18 million in 2025, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. The $40 million in guaranteed money represents the largest free agent contract the Rays have ever given out.

A former first-round draft pick of the Padres out of high school in 2012, Eflin was dealt to the Dodgers — who then traded him to the Phillies — in December 2014. The righty broke in with Philadelphia in 2016 and spent the last seven seasons with the club before becoming a free agent for the first time last month.

Eflin has traditionally been used as a starter throughout his big-league career and that was once again the case to kick off the 2022 campaign. He posted a 4.37 ERA and 3.83 FIP with 56 strikeouts to 15 walks in his first 13 starts (68 innings) of the season before suffering a right knee contusion towards the end of May. That led to him being sidelined nor nearly two months, and so the Phillies elected to bring Eflin back as a reliever once he was healthy to pitch again in September.

In that role, Eflin pitched to a 1.17 ERA with nine punchouts to zero walks over seven appearances (7 2/3 innings) out of the bullpen. He was also the Phillies’ second-most used reliever (10 outings) in the postseason and walked just two of the 45 batters he faced during their run to the National League pennant.

While he may have enjoyed some success as a reliever, Eflin is expected to join a Rays starting rotation that includes the likes of Tyler Glasnow, Shane McClanahan, Jeffrey Springs, and Drew Rasmussen, among others. The Red Sox, meanwhile, have been in the market for starting pitching this offseason. They remain engaged with Nathan Eovaldi and have had conversations with Corey Kluber, who made 31 starts for Tampa Bay this past season.

With that being said, the Red Sox being interested in and making a contract offer to Eflin should come as no surprise. While his strikeout numbers and whiff rates do not jump off the page, Eflin was extremely effective this year when it came to limiting both hard contact and walks. Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound hurler ranked in the 96th percentile in the league in average exit velocity (85.3 mph), the 94th percentile in hard-hit rate (31.3 percent), and the 91st percentile in walk rate (4.8 percent).

Even with a somewhat concerning injury history, the Rays opted to take a gamble on Eflin in order to fortify their starting rotation depth heading into 2023. The Red Sox, on the other hand, will have to look elsewhere if they are keen on addressing that area of need in free agency.

This is not the first time this offseason Boston has lost out on a free agent they were interested in. Earlier this week, veteran slugger Jose Abreu inked a three-year, $58.5 million deal with the reigning World Series champion Houston Astros. Shortly after that news broke, The New York Post’s Jon Heyman reported that Abreu was the Sox’ “No. 1 outside target” and relayed that the club met with him as soon as free agency opened.

In similar fashion to Abreu choosing the Astros, the Rays may have represented a more attractive destination for Eflin. Pitching closer to home is one thing, but Eflin will also be able to see more of his record-setting salary than he would in other places since there is no state income tax in Florida.

Either way, the Red Sox failed to sign a free agent who would have helped in filling an area of need for a team coming off a last-place finish in the American League East. For team president and CEO Sam Kennedy, who spoke with reporters (including’s Chris Cotillo) at Fenway Park on Wednesday, what takes place between now and Opening Day will go a long way in improving for 2023.

“There’s a lot of different irons in the fire,” said Kennedy, who acknowledged that things could pick up when the Winter Meetings begin in San Diego next week. “It’s Chaim [Bloom] and [Brian O’Halloran] and their team’s job to uncover every opportunity. That’s what’s great about hot stove season. Things could go in any number of directions.

“I think we’re going to build a club this city is going to be proud of,” he added. “There’s definitely a chip on everybody’s shoulder. Last year was disappointing and frustrating. People are fired up.”

(Picture of Zach Eflin: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox open roster spot by trading Easton McGee to Mariners for cash considerations

The Red Sox have traded right-hander Easton McGee to the Mariners in exchange for cash considerations, the club announced earlier Wednesday afternoon.

McGee, who turns 25 next month, was claimed off waivers from the Rays on the final day of the regular season. The 24-year-old righty had just made his major-league debut against the Astros on October 2, but was designated for assignment the following day.

In his lone big-league relief appearance of the year, McGee allowed one unearned run on four hits and zero walks to go along with one strikeout over three innings of work in a losing effort at Minute Maid Park. He threw 46 pitches (31 strikes) while mixing in 19 sliders, 15 sinkers, six cutters, three changeups, two curveballs, and one 91.5 mph four-seam fastball, per Baseball Savant.

The Rays originally selected McGee in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Hopkinsville High School in Kentucky. The 6-foot-6, 205-pound hurler posted a 5.43 ERA and 5.72 FIP with 82 strikeouts to 20 walks across 27 appearances (22 starts) and 107 2/3 innings pitched at Triple-A Durham this season. His 4.3 percent walk rate ranked second among International League pitchers who threw at least 100 innings this year and he was recognized by Triple-A managers for having the best control in that league as a result.

In McGee, the Mariners acquire a controllable pitcher who is not arbitration-eligible until 2026 and has three minor-league options remaining. By trading McGee away to Seattle, the Red Sox have cleared a spot on their 40-man roster, which now sits at 32 players officially.

Tommy Pham, who reportedly had his mutual option declined on Monday, still counts towards that total. If you take him away, Boston has 31 players on its 40-man roster. That does not include the five players (Tanner Houck, James Paxton, Chris Sale, Josh Taylor, and Franchy Cordero) who are currently listed on the 60-day injured list.

The Red Sox have until next Tuesday to activate these players, at which point they will count against the 40-man roster. November 15 is also the deadline for clubs to protect eligible minor-leaguers from the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to the 40-man.

In theory, the Sox could create additional space on their 40-man roster by exploring more trades. They also have the option of not tendering contracts to certain arbitration and pre-arbitration eligible players by next Friday’s non-tender deadline. Those players would then become free agents and would therefore not count against Boston’s big-league roster.

To put it simply, the Red Sox have some interesting decisions to make in the coming days and weeks. Dealing McGee to the Mariners could just be the tip of the iceberg in that regard.

(Picture of Easton McGee: Tim Warner/Getty Images)