Red Sox re-sign right-handed reliever Michael Feliz to minor-league deal for 2022 season, per report

The Red Sox have re-signed right-handed reliever Michael Feliz to a minor-league contract for the 2022 season, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. The deal includes an invite to major-league spring training.

Feliz, 28, spent the 2021 season with four different organizations. He began the year with the Pirates, was designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the Reds in May, was released by Cincinnati in late August, and signed a minors pact with Boston shortly thereafter.

After initially being assigned to Triple-A Worcester out of the gate, Feliz had his contract selected by the Red Sox on September 6 while the club was navigating its way through a COVID-19 outbreak.

In four relief appearances for Boston, the Dominican-born righty posted a 3.38 ERA and 6.73 FIP to go along with five strikeouts to one walk over 5 1/3 innings of work before being designated for assignment on Sept. 17.

Three days later, Feliz was claimed off waivers by the Athletics, but Oakland let him go after he made just one appearance with the club.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 250 pound hurler operates with a three-pitch mix that consists of a four-seam fastball that averaged 93.8 mph this year, a slider that opponents only hit .182 off of this year, and a changeup.

Feliz, who does not turn 29 until next June, is represented by Rep 1 Baseball, the same agency that represents Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers.

The hard-throwing right-hander becomes the third minor-league signing the Red Sox have made in the last two days, joining the likes of outfielders Christin Stewart and Rob Refsnyder. Boston has brought back right-handers Caleb Simpson, Zack Kelly and Michael Gettys on minor-league deals for the 2022 campaign as well.

(Picture of Michael Feliz: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘have expressed interest’ in free agent reliever Jeurys Familia, per report

The Red Sox have expressed interest in free agent reliever Jeurys Familia, according to WEEI’s Rob Bradford.

Familia, 32, became a free agent earlier this month after wrapping up a three-year, $30 million deal with the Mets he originally signed in December 2018.

First signed out of the Dominican Republic by New York as an international free agent in July 2007, Familia made his major-league debut in September 2012 and has since spent the vast majority of his 10-year career with the Mets.

Ahead of the 2018 trade deadline, the Mets dealt Familia to the Athletics, but quickly brought him back on that aforementioned three-year pact just a few months later.

This past season, the veteran right-hander posted a 3.94 ERA and 4.40 FIP to go along with 72 strikeouts to two walks over 65 relief appearances spanning 59 1/3 innings of work.

Per Baseball Savant, Familia operates with a four-pitch mix that consists of a sinker, slider, four-seam fastball, and split-finger fastball. His four-seamer, which averaged 97.2 mph this year, may just be his best pitch considering the fact that opposing hitters batted just .073 against it in 2021.

A one-time All-Star, Familia does have plenty of experience when it comes to closing out games, as he registered 43 saves for New York in 2015 and a major-league best 51 saves in 2016.

That said, the 6-foot-3, 240 pound righty has recorded a grand total of one save since re-joining the Mets behind Edwin Diaz in 2019, though he did hold opponents to a 3.83 ERA when pitching in the seventh inning or later this season.

As things stand currently, the Red Sox would benefit from making some additions to their bullpen that is at the moment without Adam Ottavino, Garrett Richards, and Hansel Robles — all of whom are free agents.

(Picture of Jeurys Familia: Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

If Red Sox are looking internationally for bullpen help, Hanshin Tigers closer Robert Suarez should be on their radar

Like most clubs, the Red Sox will be looking to upgrade their bullpen in various ways this winter.

Of the 29 non-position players who made at least one relief appearance for the Sox this past season, only 11 remain on the team’s 40-man roster as of this moment.

While The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote on Saturday that the Red Sox “are looking to upgrade their bullpen,” he also noted that they “likely won’t limit their search to familiar names” and are instead “expected to look internationally for help.”

As alluded to by Speier, the Sox have been active in the international market since Chaim Bloom took over as chief baseball officer two years ago. Most notably in this case, Boston signed veteran reliever Hirokazu Sawamura out of Japan to help fill out their bullpen for the 2021 season.

This off-season, the Red Sox seem primed to once again dip their toes into international waters — while also remaining active within the traditional free agent reliever pool — in order to upgrade their bullpen.

How will Bloom and Co. go about addressing this area of need? Well, this piece in particular will focus on one potential free agent target in Hanshin Tigers right-hander Robert Suarez.

Suarez, 30, began his professional baseball career in the Mexican League in 2015, but signed with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball that November and has spent the last six years in Japan.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2017, Suarez later signed with Hanshin in December 2019 and has enjoyed quite a bit of success in his two seasons there.

Most recently, the native Venezuelan posted a miniscule 1.16 ERA and 0.77 WHIP to go along with 58 strikeouts to just eight walks over 62 relief appearances spanning 62 1/3 innings of work in 2021.

Operating as Hanshin’s closer, Suarez led NPB’s Central Division in saves (42) while also striking out 25.3% of the batters he faced and walking just 3.5% of them.

When he first joined the Tigers in 2019, Suarez became a free agent at the conclusion of the 2020 campaign. He then re-signed with the club on a two-year deal that included a player option for 2022, which would allow him to become a free agent again this winter.

Earlier this month, Yahoo! Japan reported (and Sung Min Kim, formerly of FanGraphs and The Athletic, relayed) that Suarez was ‘garnering interest’ from multiple Major League Baseball teams.

At present, it’s unclear if the Red Sox are one of the teams inquiring about Suarez, who turns 31 in March. However, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, the 6-foot-2, 210 pound hurler “is still not technically a free agent just yet.”

If and when the time comes that Suarez does become a free agent this off-season, one would have to think that more information regarding potential suitors and such will become available.

In the interim, the Red Sox will undoubtedly be exploring all options available to them when it comes to improving their bullpen and the rest of their roster.

(Picture of Robert Suarez: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

Red Sox designate veteran reliever Brandon Workman for assignment

After acquiring All-Star outfielder Kyle Schwarber from the Washington Nationals on Thursday night, the Red Sox needed to create space on both their major-league and 40-man rosters.

They did so by designating reliever Brandon Workman for assignment.

Workman, who turns 33 next month, sees his second stint with the Red Sox come to a potential end in rather disappointing fashion.

After signing a one-year, $1 million deal with the Cubs in February, Workman opened the 2021 season in Chicago’s bullpen, but got off to a dreadful start in which he posted a 6.75 ERA and 6.28 FIP over 10 relief appearances spanning eight innings of work before being designated for assignment in late April.

Ultimately released by the Cubs, Workman inked a minor-league pact to return to the Red Sox in early May before appearing in seven games with Triple-A Worcester.

In those nine outings, the veteran right-hander pitched to the tune of a miniscule 1.29 ERA over seven innings of work, which led to his contract being selected by Boston on June 3.

From that point, the struggles Workman endured in Chicago picked up once again in Boston, as he put up an unsightly 4.95 ERA, 2.04 WHIP, and .313 batting average against in 21 appearances and 28 innings pitched.

That includes his outing in Thursday’s 13-1 loss to the Blue Jays at Fenway Park in which he surrendered four runs on seven hits and one walk over two innings of mop-up duty. Four of the seven hits he allowed had exit velocities of 105 mph or higher.

The Red Sox originally selected Workman in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft out of the University of Texas. The Texas-born righty spent the first 11 years of his professional career and first 5 1/2 seasons of his major-league career with Boston — ultimately emerging as the club’s closer in 2019 and the early stages of 2020 prior to getting traded to the Phillies last August.

In exchange for both Workman and fellow reliever Heath Hembree, the Sox acquired right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold from the Phillies.

In the midst of his final season before hitting free agency, Workman struggled mightily with Philadelphia, as he produced a 6.92 ERA and 1.146 OPS against while blowing three of a possible eight save opportunities over the latter half of the pandemic-shortened campaigned.

With that dreary performance as a member of the Phillies in mind, it goes without saying that Workman hit free agency at the wrong time, as he has bounced around since then and could be on the verge of playing for his third team this season alone.

On that note, the Red Sox will have between now and Friday’s trade deadline to trade Workman to another club. If the 6-foot-5 hurler is not traded and instead clears waivers (seems likey), he would then have the right to elect free agency if he so chose.

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox outright Austin Brice to Triple-A Worcester after reliever clears waivers

Four days after being designated for assignment, Red Sox reliever Austin Brice has cleared waivers and has subsequently been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced Tuesday afternoon.

Brice, who turns 29 next month, was designated by Boston last Friday when utility man Danny Santana was called up from the WooSox ahead of this past weekend’s series against the Phillies in Philadelphia.

Originally acquired in a January 2020 trade from the Marlins, the veteran right-hander struggled to find his footing in his second season with the Sox, posting an unsightly 6.94 ERA, 6.40 FIP, and 9:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 12 appearances (11 2/3 innings pitched) this year.

Because he went unclaimed on waivers, Brice will report to Worcester, where — as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — he will join a WooSox bullpen that includes the likes of Brandon Brennan, Colten Brewer, Matt Hall, Kevin McCarthy, John Schreiber, Marcus Walden, and Brandon Workman, all of whom have big-league experience with the Red Sox or elsewhere.

Cotillo also adds that if the Red Sox found themselves in need of bullpen help at the minor-league level, they would likely turn to Brewer since he is one of two names above who are currently on Boston’s 40-man roster.

(Picture of Austin Brice: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Josh Taylor among baseball’s best left-handed relievers since calendar flipped to May; ‘This is the guy we envisioned,’ Alex Cora says

Junior welterweight Josh Taylor, who became just the sixth men’s boxer since 1988 to claim undisputed champion status over the weekend, is not the only professional athlete named Josh Taylor who is having a strong month of May.

Going from the world of boxing to the world of Major League Baseball, Red Sox left-hander Josh Taylor has also put together an impressive month of work for himself over the last three-plus weeks.

In three relief appearances against the Blue Jays and Phillies during the Sox’ most recent road trip, Taylor tossed a total of two scoreless, no-hit innings while yielding just one walk to go along with two strikeouts. He retired six of the seven batters he faced in that three-game stretch in which Boston went 3-0.

Going back to April 30, the 28-year-old has strung together 10 consecutive scoreless outings (7 1/3 shutout innings) while limiting opponents to a .087/.192/.087 slash line.

Among 56 left-handed major-league relievers who have pitched at least seven innings since April 30, Taylor ranks first in ERA (0.00), first in weighted on-base average (.148), second in batting average against, second in on-base percentage against, second in slugging percentage against, second in WHIP (0.68), and 11th in FIP (2.47), per FanGraphs.

In the process of looking as sharp as ever out of the bullpen lately, not only has Taylor trimmed his ERA down by more than three runs (8.68 on April 30, 5.17 now), but he is also dominating against left-handed hitters, which has not always been the case throughout his career.

“This month of May, he has been throwing the ball well,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Taylor on Saturday. “Overall, amazing against lefties, which is a big difference from ’19. In ’19, he was a reverse-split guy. Now, you can mix and match with the [three-batter] rule. You’ve seen him. We’ve got two outs and there’s a lefty coming up, we use him there, then depending on where we’re at in the lineup with the opposition, we’ll push him out there or we shut him down. We’re very pleased with what he’s done.

“He’s done an amazing job also taking care of himself,” Cora added. “His routine in the weight room, in the training room. It’s a lot better than in ’19, and you can see the results… He has to keep pushing. It’s a long season. Last year, obviously was a struggle with the virus and everything. But so far, he’s been amazing in May. This is the guy we envisioned.”

(Picture of Josh Taylor: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Red Sox bring back Brandon Workman on minor-league deal: ‘Hopefully he becomes a factor this season,’ Alex Cora says

Over the winter, Red Sox manager Alex Cora attempted to recruit then-free agent reliever Brandon Workman back to the team he began his professional career with.

Cora ultimately came up short in his recruitment pitch, as Workman inked a one-year deal with the Cubs in February.

“My last conversation was Super Bowl Sunday with him,” Cora said. “And it was recruiting, actually, at that time. It didn’t work out.”

Workman was designated for assignment and subsequently released by Chicago last week less than a full month into his tenure there. The right-hander had posted a 6.76 ERA over 10 outings (eight innings pitched).

Upon hitting the open market again, Workman was available for any club to pursue. The Red Sox were one of this interested teams, but Cora did not take part in any recruiting this time around.

“I didn’t recruit him,” said Cora. “I gave up in the offseason. I wasn’t a good one.”

Workman ultimately chose to reunite with the team that selected him in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft out of the University of Texas, as he signed a minor-league pact with the Sox on Thursday and was assigned to Triple-A Worcester.

In his first stint with the Sox, the 32-year-old proved to be a valuable bullpen arm capable of getting big outs — especially in 2019.

Over 73 appearances that year, Workman put up a dazzling 1.88 ERA and .433 OPS against while recording 104 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings of work.

The following season, Workman made just seven appearances out of the Boston bullpen before getting traded (along with Heath Hembree) to the Phillies in exchange for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.

With Philadelphia, Workman struggled immensely to the tune of a 6.92 ERA in the process of blowing three of a possible eight save opportunities from late August through the end of September.

Despite those hardships, the 6-foot-3 righty still netted himself a big-league deal this past offseason, though the struggles he experienced with the Phillies carried over to his brief stint with the Cubs as well.

“He was excellent, right? Those numbers were amazing,” Cora said of Workman’s 2019 campaign earlier Friday. “I texted him a few days ago, just thanking him for giving us a chance. And just get to work. He feels good about it. Obviously it didn’t go well in the second part of the season last year, and it didn’t go well the Cubs. There’s a few things that we recognized with our information department that hopefully we can regain, and he can become a factor.”

One thing the Red Sox will be hoping to regain from Workman is his fastball velocity. The hurler has averaged just 91.5 mph with his four-seamer this season after averaging 92.5 and 92.9 mph with the pitch over the last two years, respectively.

To put that into perspective, opponents hit a measly .134 against Workman’s heater in 2019. They are hitting .556 against it so far this season, per Baseball Savant.

“When his velocity’s a tick up, it helps everything else,” said Cora. “Teams make adjustments. I saw his last one against the Braves and he threw a lot of breaking balls. And he threw some good ones and some bad ones. But I think with him, velocity is very important because the shape of the breaking ball and the spin, it’s usually the same. It’s still a good breaking ball. But if he doesn’t have something else to separate, he becomes a one-pitch pitcher. And like I said, game-planning comes into play. His cutter, too, is part of the equation. We’ve just got to get him back to gain his confidence, too.”

Considering the fact that he turns 33 in August, Workman adding a few more miles per hour to his fastball velocity seems like somewhat of a tall task. That being said, Cora appeared fairly confident that the former closer would be able to do it since he is back in a familiar setting with the Red Sox.

“Sometimes it mechanical. Sometimes it’s just go out there and get repetitions,” said Cora. “I don’t know how it went in spring training as far as his build-up and all that. But that was something we always talk about here — about his velocity… The velocity needs to be at a certain level and if that happens, then the other stuff is good, too. I know he’s happy. There’s a comfort level that hopefully can help him out to regain that confidence. And like I said, hopefully he can become a factor.”

When asked if he viewed the Workman signing as a gamble, Cora responded by saying that it could turn out to be a win-win situation if Workman returns to his old form.

“I don’t see it as a gamble,” he said. “I think it’s as a good opportunity for both of us. For him to get right and for us to have a good pitcher. Like Chaim [Bloom] has been saying since he got here: the deeper the better as far as the roster and the organization. This guy, he’s done it before, he’s done it in this market, and hopefully — like I said — he becomes a factor this season.”

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox bring back reliever Brandon Workman on minor-league deal, assign him to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have brought back Brandon Workman on a minor-league deal and have assigned him to Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Thursday.

Workman, who turns 33 in August, spent the first 11 years of his professional career with the Red Sox after being selected in the second round of the 2010 amateur draft out of the University of Texas.

In parts of six seasons with Boston, the right-hander put together his best campaign in 2019 when he emerged as the team’s closer in the process of posting a dazzling 1.88 ERA and 2.46 FIP over 73 relief appearances spanning 71 2/3 innings of work.

Opening the 2020 season with the Sox, Workman — along with fellow reliever Heath Hembree — was dealt to the Phillies in late August in exchange for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.

With free agency looming, Workman struggled mightily in Philadelphia, as he put up a dismal 6.92 ERA and 1.146 OPS against while blowing three of a possible eight save opportunities over his final 14 outings (13 innings pitched) of the year.

Despite those struggles, Workman did manage to land a one-year, $1 million major-league deal with the Cubs in February and made the club’s Opening Day roster out of spring training.

Workman’s time in Chicago did not go as planned, however, as the Texas native surrendered  nine runs (six earned) on 12 hits, seven walks, and 11 strikeouts over 10 appearances out of the Cubs bullpen before being designated for assignment a day later.

Ultimately released by the Cubs a day later, Workman’s second go-around on the free-agent market did not last nearly as long as the first.

The Red Sox had been interested in a reunion with the 6-foot-5 hurler over the winter, and they were eventually able to bring him back — albeit on a minor-league pact.

Per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Workman “will join the WooSox in the near future.”

Cotillo also notes that if the the likes of Josh Taylor and Austin Brice continue to struggle out of the Red Sox bullpen, the Sox could look to Workman given the familiarity there.

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox claim reliever Brandon Brennan off waivers from Mariners, place Ryan Brasier on 60-day injured list

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Brandon Brennan off waivers from the Seattle Mariners and optioned him to Triple-A Worcester, the team announced Monday afternoon.

In order to make room for Brennan on the 40-man roster, fellow right-hander Ryan Brasier was placed on the 60-day injured list.

Brennan, 29, was designated for assignment by the Mariners last Wednesday after starting the season at the team’s alternate training site in Tacoma.

In two big-league seasons with Seattle (2019-2020), the California native posted a 4.45 ERA, a 4.73 FIP, and a 54:29 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 49 total relief appearances spanning 54 2/3 innings of work.

He was however limited to just five outings last year on account of suffering a left oblique strain in late July.

A former fourth-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox out of Orange Coast College, Brennan originally joined the Mariners via the 2018 Rule 5 Draft.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-4, 207 pound hurler works with a changeup, a sinker, a four-seam fastball, and a slider.

Among the 198 major-league relievers who compiled at least 50 innings pitched over the last two seasons, Brennan ranked 26th in terms of swinging strike percentage (15.3%), per FanGraphs.

Now that he has been added to Boston’s 40-man roster, Brennan — who has three minor-league options remaining — will look to provide right-handed bullpen depth for the Sox in Worcester. He will join the likes of Eduard Bazardo and Colten Brewer as WooSox relievers currently on the Sox’ 40-man.

Brasier, meanwhile, opened the 2021 season on the 10-day injured list for the Red Sox, so transferring him to the 60-day IL is more of a formality than anything.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the 33-year-old “has dealt with two significant injured since the end of last season, as he fractured his pinky finger during an off-season workout and then strained his calf during a ‘B’ game during the last week of spring training.”

The earliest Brasier can be activated from the injured list now is May 28 after the start of his initial IL stint was backdated to March 29.

(Picture of Brandon Brennan: Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Darwinzon Hernandez has struck out 6 of the last 7 hitters he has faced: ‘The fastball up in the zone is hard to hit,’ Alex Cora says

There was a stretch between April 16-28 where Darwinzon Hernandez appeared in a grand total of one game for the Red Sox.

In that one game, which came against the Mariners on April 22, the left-handed reliever gave up four runs (three earned) on two hits, two walks, and one strikeout in the 10th inning of what would go down as a 7-3 loss for Boston. Three of those runs came on a three-run home run off the bat of Mitch Haniger.

“That home run he gave up against Seattle, I don’t want to say it was a wake-up call,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Friday. “But it was kind of like, ‘I need to attack hitters differently.'”

For a full week after that implosion, which raised his ERA on the year to an unsightly 5.14, Hernandez was not used for the remainder of the Sox’ series against the Mariners, nor was he used in their two-game set against the Mets in New York.

It was not until this past Thursday night that the 24-year-old was called upon again, as he took responsibility for the eighth inning in a game the Red Sox were trailing by three runs to the Rangers.

Matched up against Texas’ 3,4, and 5 hitters — Joey Gallo, Adolis Garcia, and Nate Lowe — Hernandez needed just 13 pitches (nine strikes) to punch out the side in order. He induced seven swings-and-misses in the process of getting all three of Gallo, Garcia, and Lowe to strike out swinging.

On Friday, Hernandez was once again deployed in the eighth inning against the Rangers, though this time his side had a five-run lead to work with.

Even with that lofty cushion, the Venezuelan hurler stayed on the aggressive side of things by thoroughly attacking the strike zone in the process of punching out three more batters.

He very well could have struck out the side in yet another perfect inning of relief, but an 0-2 fastball to Lowe with two outs that was very clearly a strike was ruled a ball by home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn. Lowe wound up reaching base on an infield single moments later.

So although he could not notch the 1-2-3 inning, Hernandez punched out the very next hitter he faced in Garcia on three straight strikes to retire the side.

“We talk about his fastball up in the zone,” Cora said. “Yesterday, he did it. He did it again today. He made a great pitch to the lefty that got a hit at the end (Lowe). It was a good pitch in the zone. It was called a ball. But, he’s slowing down now. The slider is playing. The fastball up in the zone is hard to hit.”

Following Friday’s showing, Hernandez lowered his ERA on the season to 4.00 through his first 10 outings and nine innings pitches of 2021.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-2, 244 pound southpaw currently ranks in the 99th percentile in whiff rate (44.8%). And as noted by Red Sox Stats, he is getting hitters to swing-and-miss at his fastball a major-league-best 50% of the time.

“If that guy throws the ball the way he did,” said Cora, “it’s going to put us in a great place with the bullpen.”

(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)