Red Sox Acquire Reliever Austin Brice From Marlins, Designate Marco Hernandez for Assignment

The Red Sox have acquired right-handed reliever Austin Brice for the Miami Marlins in exchange for shortstop prospect Angeudis Santos. In a corresponding move, utility infielder Marco Hernandez was designated for assignment to make room for Brice on Boston’s 40-man roster. The club made the transactions official earlier Friday.

Brice, 27, was designated for assignment by the Marlins this past Tuesday after posting a 3.43 ERA and 4.79 xFIP over 36 relief appearances and 44 2/3 innings of work in 2019 in his second stint with Miami.

The former 2010 ninth-round pick was originally drafted by the Marlins and was part of the trade that sent Luis Castillo the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Dan Straily back in January 2017.

From that point, Brice spent a short amount of time with the Angels and Orioles before being claimed off waivers by Miami prior to the start of the 2019 campaign.

Per Statcast, Brice, who was the first player born in Hong Kong to appear in the majors, relies on a four-pitch arsenal that includes a curveball, four-seam fastball, sinker, and changeup. He averaged 93.1 MPH with his heater last year.

Since he is out of minor-league options, Brice will have to crack Boston’s Opening Day roster if he does not want to be exposed to waivers.

Brice now joins left-hander Josh Osich and right-hander Chris Mazza as bullpen additions chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have made either through trades or the waiver wire this offseason.

As for the minor-league shortstop the Red Sox parted ways with, Angeudis Santos is an 18-year-old out of the Dominican Republic who Boston signed for $110,000 in September 2018. He slashed just .184/.384/.218 with four extra-base hits and 13 RBI over 56 games with one of the Sox’ Dominican Summer League teams last year.

Turning to Hernandez now, it has probably been a frustrating offseason for the 27-year-old. Back on December 2nd, he was non-tendered by Boston, Two days later, the club brought him back on a split contract to save approximately $50,000.

Now that Hernandez has been designated for assignment, I am sure the Red Sox would like to bring him back as depth if he sneaks through waivers. We’ll have to wait and see on that though since he could be traded or claimed by another team in the next seven days.

Red Sox and Mookie Betts Avoid Arbitration With Record-Breaking $27 Million Deal for 2020

The Red Sox and outfielder Mookie Betts have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $27 million deal for the 2020 season, thus avoiding salary arbitration, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

https://twitter.com/JeffPassan/status/1215694968137883648?s=20

Headed into his final year of salary arbitration before becoming a free agent for the first time next winter, the 27-year-old Betts was projected to earn around $27.7 million by MLB Trade Rumors and now comes away with a record-breaking $27 million.

Last year, the Colorado Rockies and All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado settled on a then-record-breaking $26 million for Arenado’s final year of arbitration eligibility before the two sides ultimately reached agreement on an eight-year, $260 million extension that February.

The news of Betts and the Sox coming to an agreement Friday comes on the same day that all 30 clubs and their eligible players had until 12 PM eastern time to exchange arbitration figures.

Just because Betts is now under contract for the 2020 season does not mean that the groundwork has been laid for a potential contract extension. But, it now gives opposing teams such as the Braves, Cardinals, or Dodgers, a more specific idea of what one year of the All-Star outfielder would cost in any trade conversations.

As we all know, Betts still appears locked in on hitting the open market come this November. If no extension between him and Boston is agreed upon by that time, the Tennessee native will have earned approximately $59.5 million in six full seasons with the Sox before reaching free agency.

Red Sox Outright Sam Travis to Triple-A Pawtucket After He Clears Waivers

One week after he was designated for assignment Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier Thursday, meaning he is now off Boston’s 40-man roster.

The 26-year-old Travis was designated on January 2nd in order to make room on the Sox’ 40-man roster for former Mets and Indians catcher Kevin Plawecki, whom the club signed to a one-year major-league contract earlier that day.

That decision to drop Travis from the 40-man roster more than likely came from the fact that the Illinois native was out of minor-league options headed into the spring and would have had to fight for a spot on Boston’s Opening Day squad.

Now, with Travis neither being traded to or claimed by another club, he will have the chance to provide the Sox with depth at both corner outfield spots as well as first base while in Triple-A.

In a career-high 59 games in 2019, the former 2014 second-round pick slashed .215/.274/.382 with six home runs and 16 RBI.

As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes, Travis will likely still receive an invite to major league camp come February.

Looking Back at Adrian Beltre’s Time With the Red Sox

10 years ago Wednesday, the Red Sox formally introduced third baseman Adrian Beltre to the media at Fenway Park four days after agreeing to a one-year, $10 million deal with the then-30-year-old infielder.

In his brief stint donning a Sox uniform, Beltre was productive, slashing .321/.365/.553 with 28 home runs, 102 RBI, and an American League-leading 49 doubles over 154 games played. Impressive enough to earn his first All-Star nod, his second career Silver Slugger Award, and a top-nine finish in AL MVP voting.

The Red Sox, meanwhile, were not as impressive as a whole that season, as the club finished 89-73, good for third place in a competitive American League East, and failed to qualify for postseason play.

Come that following January, Beltre had done well to re-establish his value as one of the better third baseman in baseball after turbulent times in Los Angeles and Seattle, eventually cashing in by agreeing to a six-year deal with the Texas Rangers worth $96 million, or $16 million per season.

Because the Red Sox offered the Dominican Republic native a qualifying offer prior to his departure to Texas, the club was rewarded with two compensation picks in that year’s amateur draft. Two picks that fell in the top 40.

So, after selecting University of Connecticut right-hander Matt Barnes with their first and own pick at No. 19, Theo Epstein and Co. made the choice to go with a promising high school catcher out of Rio Rancho, New Mexico in Blake Swihart with their first of the two Beltre compensation picks at No. 26.

This move may have raised eyebrows at the time, as Swihart was locked in on playing college baseball at the University of Texas at Austin, but by offering a signing bonus of $2.5 million, they convinced the 19-year-old to sign.

Fast forward to later in the first round, with high school southpaw Henry Owens already drafted with the 36th overall pick, and the Sox made a statement with their second and final Beltre pick.

Yes, with the 40th overall selection, Boston selected University of South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr.

Both Bradley Jr. and Swihart experienced their growing pains upon their promotions to the majors in April 2013 and May 2015 respectively, but to land the quality of prospects the Red Sox did for losing to Beltre to free agency was quite the accomplishment.

Think about it like this: for one season of Beltre, the Red Sox in turn received one of the best catching prospects in the game in Swihart, and one of the best outfield prospects in Bradley Jr.

Currently, it’s more like Boston acquired one of the best defensive center fielders in the American League in Bradley Jr. and, after trading Swihart to Arizona last April, outfield prospect Marcus Wilson.

That may sound a bit confusing, but in short, it was not a terrible trade-off despite Beltre going on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Rangers.

Also, I highly recommend reading Homegrown by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier if you haven’t already. A quality read for any baseball fan.

Steve Cishek Signs One-Year Deal With White Sox

The Chicago White Sox have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with right-handed reliever Steve Cishek, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The contract includes a $6 million option for a second year as well.

Cishek, 33, is coming off a two-year, $13 million deal with the Cubs, where most recently he posted a 2.95 ERA and 4.95 xFIP over 70 relief appearances and 64 innings of work in 2019 for the North Siders.

The Falmouth, Ma. native was viewed as a potential fit for the Red Sox in 2020, as he could help supplement an already solid bullpen and he had a previous connection to Boston’s chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom when the two were in Tampa Bay.

Per MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, Cishek even had interest in signing with his hometown team as recently as last week, but because he earned $7.1 million with the Cubs in 209, he was believed to be out of the Red Sox’ pay range.

As it turns out, Cishek wound up taking just south of $7.1 million to remain in the same city he had spent the previous two years in.

I don’t have any inside information, but I would have to imagine this is how things went down before Cishek agreed to that deal with Chicago on Tuesday:

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn made his offer of one-year, $6 million to Cishek that included that aforementioned option for 2021. Cishek’s camp at Jet Sports Management makes one last call to Bloom and Co. to ask if they can go higher than that. Bloom responds by saying they can’t, and that’s that.

The fact that the Red Sox were unable to land a quality late-inning reliever, albeit one who does have injury concerns, for a mere $6 million just goes to show how handcuffed they are by the goal of getting below the $208 million luxury tax threshold ahead of the 2020 season.

Red Sox Used Video Room Illegally in 2018, per Report

The Red Sox reportedly used their video replay room illegally during the 2018 season, according to The Athletic’s Evan Drellich and Ken Rosenthal.

According to one source who was with the Red Sox during the 2018 season, the club, under new manager Alex Cora, employed a system where, “A staff member in the Red Sox’s video replay room would tell a player the current sign sequence. The player would return to the dugout, delivering the message on foot, rather than through a wearable device or a phone.” Then, “Someone in the [Red Sox’] dugout would relay the information to the baserunner, leaving the runner with two easy steps: Watch the catcher’s signs and, with body movements, tell the hitter what’s coming.”

The baserunner, either on first or second base in this case, would step off the bag with either his left or right foot to let the hitter at the plate know what type of pitch was coming.

If the opposition managed to change up their signs in the middle of a game, the Red Sox would send a player from the dugout to the video replay room to decipher the new signals. A process that surely did not take all that long, as Boston’s video room is just a few feet away from the dugout entrance.

Rosenthal does note that Major League Baseball began to implement in-game, in-person video security at the start of the 2018 postseason play, and club sources did say that, “this system did not appear to be effective or even viable,” that October, when the Red Sox went on to win the World Series over the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games.

Despite that though, one Red Sox source did tell The Athletic that the team had video monitors in their “back pocket,” meaning they could still act if they could still turn to the video if they felt inclined to do so.

This news comes nearly two months after Drellich and Rosenthal reported that three major-league managers, including Cora, were a part of the league’s investigation into the Astros stealing signs in 2017.

At that time, Cora served as Houston’s bench coach under AJ Hinch, and the third-year manager did not comment about the ongoing investigation at the Winter Meetings in San Diego last month.

As things stand right now, it seems as though this drama could drag out for quite some time. Stay tuned if more information becomes available in the meantime.

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.