Red Sox reinstate Christian Vázquez from COVID-19 related injured list, option Ronaldo Hernández to Triple-A Worcester

Before Wednesday’s contest against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park, the Red Sox reinstated Christian Vazquez from the COVID-19 related injured list. In a corresponding roster move, fellow backstop Ronaldo Hernandez was optioned to Triple-A Worcester.

The Red Sox originally placed Vazquez on the COVID IL on Tuesday after he tested positive for the virus. Because the 31-year-old is vaccinated, though, he was able to return as soon as he cleared Major League Baseball’s protocols, which include registering two negative PCR tests and not showing signs of a fever.

Even with Vazquez back in the fold and active, Connor Wong is still slated to start behind the plate for Boston and catch right-hander Nick Pivetta on Tuesday night.

By reinstating Vazquez on Wednesday, the Sox now have just two players on the COVID-19 related injured list in catcher Kevin Plawecki and infielder Jonathan Arauz.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Red Sox call up top catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández, place left-hander Rich Hill on bereavement list

In addition to the moves they made earlier Tuesday, the Red Sox also recalled catcher Ronaldo Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester and placed left-hander Rich Hill on the bereavement list before taking on the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

The move to call up Hernandez was expected and comes in the wake of fellow catchers Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki being placed on the COVID-19 related injured list within the last two days.

When Boston placed Plawecki on the COVID IL on Monday morning, they recalled Connor Wong from Worcester. Wong will start behind the plate and catch Nathan Eovaldi in Tuesday night’s series opener against the Jays. Hernandez, meanwhile, will serve as the Sox’ second catcher.

The two backstops will likely split time behind the plate in the absence of Vazquez and Plawecki. Since both Vazquez and Plawecki tested positive for the virus, they could be out for the next 10 days. That said, Major League Baseball’s health and safety policy for 2022 dictates that players who test positive can return to action sooner if they clear certain protocols.

As for Hernandez, the Colombian-born catcher was originally acquired by the Red Sox from the Rays in the February 2021 trade that sent pitchers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to Tampa Bay. He came into the 2022 season regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking first among backstops in the organization.

After spending the majority of the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland, Hernandez earned a late-season promotion to Worcester and posted an .844 OPS in seven games with the affiliate.

Coming off an off-season in which he played six games in the Dominican Winter League, Hernandez broke camp this spring with the WooSox and has batted .143/.143/.214 with two doubles, four RBIs, and three runs scored across seven games spanning 28 plate appearances.

The 24-year-old right-handed hitter was already on Boston’s 40-man roster and is now in line to become the first member of the 2022 Red Sox to make their major-league debut as he takes Hill’s roster spot for the time being.

Hill — who was placed on the bereavement list — lost his father, Lloyd, at the age of 94 last week. The veteran left-hander made his second start of the season just three days after his father’s passing on Monday and is still slated to make his next scheduled start against the Rays in St. Petersburg on Saturday.

That being said, Red Sox manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith) that he is not yet committing to Hill, who will be away from the team for the next few days while attending his father’s services in Milton.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox expected to call up top catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández from Triple-A Worcester, per report

The Red Sox are expected to call up catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez from Triple-A Worcester, reports Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. As noted by Cotillo, Hernandez has been active on Instagram, sharing stories of people congratulating him on getting promoted.

The timing of Hernandez’s call-up is certainly interesting, as the Red Sox just recalled fellow catcher Connor Wong from Worcester after placing Kevin Plawecki on the COVID-19 related injured list due to a positive test ahead of Monday afternoon’s loss to the Twins at Fenway Park.

With that, it seems likely that Hernandez — who is already on Boston’s 40-man roster — could be replacing either Wong or Christian Vazquez on the major-league squad before Tuesday’s series opener against the Blue Jays.

Hernandez, 24, is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system, ranking tops among catchers in the organization. The Red Sox originally acquired the native Colombian (and infielder Nick Sogard) from the Rays in exchange for right-handers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs last February.

After spending the majority of the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland, Hernandez was promoted to Worcester in late September. He played winter ball in the Domincan Republic and broke camp this spring with the WooSox.

In seven games for the WooSox thus far, the right-handed hitter has gone 4-for-28 (.173) at the plate with two doubles, four RBIs, three runs scored, no walks, and eight strikeouts. He has also thrown out one of three base runners who have attempted to steal off him.

Listed at 6-foot-1 and 247 pounds, Hernandez is known more for his abilities as a slugger than a defensive stalwart behind the plate, though he does possess plus arm strength. Still, with just one minor-league option year remaining, this could prove to be a worthwhile opportunity for Hernandez, who is in line to become the first member of the 2022 Red Sox to make their big-league debut.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox make second round of spring roster cuts: Jarren Duran among 3 optioned to Triple-A Worcester; Ryan Fitzgerald among 10 reassigned to minor-league camp

Following Sunday afternoon’s 6-3 loss to the Twins, the Red Sox announced their second round of spring training roster cuts.

Three players on the club’s 40-man roster — catchers Ronaldo Hernandez and Connor Wong and outfielder Jarren Duran were all optioned to Triple-A Worcester.

Elsewhere, 10 non-roster invitees — catchers Roldani Baldwin and Kole Cottam, infielders Ryan Fitzgerald and Roberto Ramos, and right-handers Silvino Bracho, Taylor Cole, Michael Feliz, Darin Gillies, Geoff Hartlieb, and Zack Kelly — were all reassigned to minor-league camp, the club announced on Sunday.

Duran, the No. 4 prospect in Boston’s farm system according to Baseball America, will start the 2022 season in Worcester. The speedy 25-year-old has batted .333/.429/.389 in nine Grapefruit League games this spring. He also scored from second base on a sacrifice fly in Sunday’s loss to Minnesota.

Hernandez and Wong, on the other hand, figure to form the primary catching tandem for the WooSox as both backstops prepare to embark upon potentially pivotal 2021 seasons. Hernandez, 24, is Baseball America’s 27th-ranked Boston prospect. Wong, who turns 26 in May, is Baseball America’s 29th-ranked Boston prospect.

Of the 10 minor-leaguers who were cut from the Sox’ spring roster, it is worth mentioning that the likes of Bracho, Cole, Feliz, and Hartlieb all have prior big-league experience. That said, Fitzgerald being reassigned comes as somewhat of a surprise.

The versatile 27-year-old had an interesting case to make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster after hitting a stout .313/.450/1.063 with a team-leading four home runs and nine RBIs through his first 11 games of the spring. He, like Duran, will instead start the year out in Worcester.

Following Sunday’s series of transactions, Boston now has 30 players on their major-league roster. They will need to make a few more subtractions (not including an injured Chris Sale) before Opening Day against the Yankees on April 7.

(Picture of Ryan Fitzgerald: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Red Sox infield prospect Nick Sogard joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by Red Sox infield prospect Nick Sogard.

Sogard, 24, was traded from the Rays to the Red Sox last February alongside catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez. The switch-hitting infielder spent the 2021 season between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland and batted .276/.346/.461 with 13 home runs, 42 RBIs, and eight stolen bases over 80 games.

Among the topics Nick and I discussed are how he found about the trade and his initial reaction to it, his relationship with his older cousin Eric Sogard, what he thought of his 2021 season, his defensive versatility, the key differences in the level of competition between High-A and Double-A, going back-and-forth between the two levels, how he spent part of his off-season in Nashville, what he has made of spring training in Fort Myers so far, getting to work with Alex Cora a little bit, his expectations for the 2022 season, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

My thanks to Nick for taking some time out of his spring schedule to have a conversation with yours truly. You can follow Nick on Twitter (@NickSogard22) by clicking here and on Instagram (@Nick_Sogard) by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Nick Sogard: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox infield prospect Nick Sogard did a lot of traveling in 2021

It was one year ago Thursday when the Red Sox acquired catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard from the Rays for recently-designated relievers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs.

Hernandez, 24, had a solid 2021 season with Double-A Portland and wound up finishing the year with Triple-A Worcester. For the purposes of this article, though, we will strictly be focusing on the year Sogard had.

The younger cousin of veteran big-league infielder Eric Sogard, Nick was originally selected by the Rays in the 12th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

After the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out what would have been his first full season of pro ball in 2020, Sogard was traded from Tampa Bay to Boston and opened the 2021 minor-league campaign with High-A Greenville.

In his first 47 games (208 plate appearances) with the Drive, the switch-hitter batted .262/.339/.473 (109 wRC+) with 10 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 24 RBIs, 32 runs scored, five stolen bases, 20 walks, and 36 strikeouts through July 22.

The following day, Sogard traveled from Greenville, S.C. to Portland, Maine to make his Double-A debut for the Portland Sea Dogs in their contest against the Harrisburg Senators at Hadlock Field. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI single and then remained with the Sea Dogs to fill in for players who left for the Summer Olympics. .

For the next two-plus weeks, Sogard appeared in a total of 15 games for Portland and hit .280/.345/.320 (84 wRC+). 13 of his 14 hits went for singles and he was sent back down to Greenville when Triston Casas returned from Tokyo on August 10.

Sogard’s second stint with the Drive began when he was inserted back into Iggy Suarez’s lineup on Aug. 11. This time around, the California native impressed to the tune of a .341/400/.568 (155 wRC+) over 11 games and exactly 50 trips to the plate. He clubbed three homers and collected 12 RBI during that stretch before receiving another call-up to Portland on the final day of August.

With the Sea Dogs for a second time, Sogard appeared in just two games and went 1-for-5 with a single during a doubleheader against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in Manchester on September 3. He was again sent down to Greenville and returned to the Drive’s lineup on Sept. 15.

From there, Sogard closed out his first season in the Red Sox organization on a solid note, going 4-for-13 (.308) with a pair of home runs and four RBI in four games against the Aberdeen IronBirds.

To summarize, Sogard — who turned 24 in September — posted a .279/.349/.500 (123 wRC+) slash line with 12 doubles, one triple, 13 homers, 40 RBI, 44 runs scored, seven stolen bases, 27 walks, and 48 strikeouts across 62 games (275 plate appearances) at the High-A level last year.

At the Double-A level, he slashed .263/.333/.298 (76 wRC+) to go along with one triple, two runs driven in, eight runs scored, one stolen base, five walks, and 11 strikeouts across 18 games spanning 63 plate appearances.

Defensively, Sogard saw playing time at three different infield positions between Greenville and Portland over the course of the 2021 campaign. In total, the 6-foot-1, 180 pounder logged 309 innings at second base, 192 innings at third base (all at High-A), and 138 innings at shortstop.

Per his SoxProspects.com scouting report, Sogard has an “advanced feel for the game and strong instincts.” It also notes that he has average arm strength, but still has the ability to make throws from all over the infield, thus allowing him to stick at shortstop and play second and third base.

As things currently stand, Sogard is not regarded by any major publication (like Baseball America or MLB Pipeline) as one of the top prospects in the Red Sox farm system.

That being said, Sogard is projected by SoxProspects.com to begin the 2022 season with Double-A Portland. The 24-year-old speedster can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career this winter, meaning he would need to be added to Boston’s 40-man roster by the November deadline if the club wants to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of Nick Sogard: Greenville Drive/Twitter)

Red Sox’ decision to pick up Christian Vázquez’s 2022 team option was ‘not a no-brainer’, per report

The Red Sox may have exercised Christian Vazquez’s club option for the 2022 season back in November, but it apparently was not a simple decision for the team to make.

As part of the three-year, $13.35 million contract extension Vazquez signed with the Sox before the 2018 season, there was a team option attached for a potential fourth year in 2022.

The value of that option was dependent on the number of plate appearances Vazquez accrued during the 2020 and 2021 campaigns. Since he fell short of the threshold he needed to reach, the veteran catcher’s option for 2022 decreased from $8 million to $7 million.

Coming off a season in which he batted .258/.308/.352 with 23 doubles, one triple, six home runs, 49 RBIs, 51 runs scored, eight stolen bases, 33 walks, and 84 strikeouts over 138 games (498 plate appearances) while leading all big-league backstops in innings caught (1,051 1/3), the Red Sox were put in a position where they had to decide if they wanted Vazquez back for $7 million.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. ultimately decided on having Vazquez return for 2022, but that resolution may not have been reached unanimously within the organization.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, “sources indicate the decision to pick up Vázquez’s $7 million option was not a no-brainer, and that there was internal debate over whether he was worth that salary after a down year in 2021.”

The idea that Boston would decline Vazquez’s option and allow the 31-year-old to become a free agent can be backed up by a recent report from the Miami Herlad which states that the Red Sox made an offer “and at one point thought they had a deal” to acquire Gold Glove Catcher Jacob Stallings from the Pirates.

Stallings, who was dealt from the Marlins to the Pirates in late November, is slightly older than Vazquez as he turns 32 next week. He was also the best catcher in baseball this season when it comes to Defensive Runs Saved (21) and is under team control through the end of the 2024 season.

Because of the Sox’ reported interest in a controllable backstop such as Stallings, Cotillo writes that it would not be surprising if “the Red Sox make a surprising move to upgrade at catcher — and add a controllable player — sooner rather than later.”

At present, the Red Sox have four catchers on their 40-man roster between Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, and prospects like Connor Wong and Ronaldo Hernandez.

Although Vazquez and Plawecki are seemingly locked in to begin 2022 as Boston’s top two catchers with Wong and Hernandez waiting in the wings at Triple-A Worcester, the expectation seems to be that Bloom and his staff are not done adding.

Once the Major League Baseball lockout ends and the transaction freeze is lifted, it appears as though the Red Sox will continue to explore upgrading at catcher. And while the free-agent market may be decimated in that department, the trade market certainly is not.

The Padres, as noted by Cotillo, also have four catchers on their 40-man roster in Jorge Alfaro, Luis Campusano, Victor Caratini, and Austin Nola. The Athletics, who are expected to tear down their roster once the lockout is lifted, represent another intriguing match since they could offer Sean Murphy.

Murphy, 27, won the Gold Glove Award for American League catchers this season and is not slated to hit free agency until after 2025. His asking price would presumably be high, but it could be something worth exploring for the Red Sox.

(Picture of Christian Vazquez: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Red Sox to promote top prospect Triston Casas, 2 others to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox are promoting top prospect Triston Casas to Triple-A Worcester for the final two weeks of the minor-league season, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Per Speier, right-handed pitching prospect Josh Wincowski and catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez will join Casas in Worcester, as all three had spent the entirety of the 2021 campaign with Double-A Portland, whose season concluded on Sunday.

Casas, 21, is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect in Boston’s farm system. He was originally selected by the Sox with the 26th overall pick in the 2018 amateur draft out of American Heritage High School (Plantation, Fla.).

After participating at the club’s alternate training site and fall instructional league last year, Casas opened the 2021 season with Portland and held his own there.

In 77 games with the Sea Dogs, the left-handed hitting first baseman slashed .284/.395/.484 (142 wRC+) to go along with 12 doubles, two triples, 13 home runs, 52 RBI, 57 runs scored, six stolen bases, 49 walks, and 63 strikeouts over 329 trips to the plate.

Back in July, Casas temporarily left the Sea Dogs to play for Team USA in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, where he helped the United States win a silver medal while being named the tournament’s best first baseman.

While with Portland, Casas — who does not turn 22 until January — was the second-youngest qualifying regular in the Double-A Northeast, per Speier. The 6-foot-4, 252 pounder will undoubtedly become one of the youngest players at the Triple-A level as well.

In addition to Casas, the WooSox will also be adding a pitcher in the form of Winckowski, who the Red Sox acquired from the Mets as part of the three-team trade that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Royals back in February.

The 23-year-old, in his debut season with a new organization, posted a 4.14 ERA and 4.02 FIP with 88 strikeouts to 30 walks over 21 appearances (20 starts) spanning exactly 100 innings of work for the Sea Dogs. He was named Portland’s Pitcher of the Year earlier this month for his efforts.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, Winckowski — the No. 16 prospect in Boston’s farm system — “has shown a potential starter’s mix, with a major league-quality fastball (usually 94-96 mph), a slider and a changeup that has the potential to emerge as a solid third pitch.”

Winckowski, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 202 pounds, will once again be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this winter, so the Sox would need to add the righty to their 40-man roster by the November 20 deadline in order to protect him from that.

Finally, we arrive at Hernandez, who the Red Sox acquired from the Rays alongside infield prospect Nick Sogard in exchange for right-hander Chris Mazza, left-hander Jeffrey Springs, and cash considerations in mid-February.

Hernandez, who turns 24 in November, is already on Boston’s 40-man roster and is primarily viewed as the No. 2 catching prospect in the organization behind only Connor Wong.

With the Sea Dogs this season, the 23-year-old backstop out of Colombia batted an impressive .280/.319/.506 (121 wRC+) with 26 doubles, one triple, 16 home runs, 53 RBI, 44 runs scored, 11 walks, and 70 strikeouts over 92 games and 357 plate appearances. He also threw out 28% of the runners who attempted to steal against him.

Following Monday’s series of moves, the WooSox’ roster just got a bit more crowded for the final stretch of their season, which is slated to end on October 3.

(Picture of Triston Casas: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernández has been red-hot at the plate for Double-A Portland

After a torrid month of July, Red Sox catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez got his August off to a solid start for Double-A Portland on Sunday.

Though the Sea Dogs ultimately fell to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats by a final score of 7-6 at Hadlock Field, Hernandez certainly did his part to prevent that from happening.

Starting at designated hitter and batting out of the six-hole, the 23-year-old went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and two runs scored on the afternoon.

The tw0-run homer, which came off Fisher Cats reliever Graham Spraker, was Hernandez’s 11th big fly of the year and it cut Portland’s deficit down to two runs at 7-5. Tanner Nishikoa followed with a solo shot of his own to make it a one-run game, but New Hampshire was ultimately able to hold and take the series finale in a close contest.

Hernandez’s two-hit outing raised his batting line on the season to a respectable .252/.296/.467 (103 wRC+) to go along with 12 doubles, 11 home runs, 25 RBI, 24 runs scored, eight strikeouts across 59 games (223 plate appearances) on the year.

The Red Sox originally acquired Hernandez — as well as infield prospect Nick Sogard — from the Rays back in February in exchange for relievers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs as well as cash considerations.

Hernandez, who does not turn 24 until November, signed with Tampa Bay for $225,000 as an international free agent out of Colombia during the 2014 signing period.

After five years in the organization, the Rays added Hernandez to their 40-man roster in November 2019 in order to protect him from that winter’s Rule 5 Draft, though he did not play another game in their system after that (but spent time on the club’s taxi squad and postseason player pool) with the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since he was a member of Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster at the time of the four-player trade from this past February, Hernandez immediately joined Boston’s 40-man roster and received an invite to major-league spring training as a result.

The right-handed hitting backstop was optioned to the Sox’ alternate training site in early March and later began the 2021 minor-league campaign with Portland.

Through his first several weeks as a member of the Sea Dogs, Hernandez — for the most part struggled — as he hit just .210/.248/.384 (67 wRC+) over 138 trips to the plate from the beginning of May until the end of June.

As soon as the calendar flipped to July, however, Hernandez seemed to turn a corner offensively, and it started with a three-hit performance against the Fisher Cats in Manchester on July 4.

Over the next four weeks, Hernandez simply lit it up at the plate. In five games between the Reading Fightin Phils from July 13-18, he amassed a total of eight hits while boasting an OPS of 1.318 thanks to putting together three multi-hit outings.

By the time the month of July came to a close over the weekend, not only had Hernandez not been traded, but he also posted a stellar .324/.378/.588 slash line (158 wRC+) in addition to clubbing four homers, driving in 13 runs, and scoring 11 of his own over his last 22 games and 68 plate appearances dating back to July 1.

Among Double-A Northeast catchers with at least 50 at-bats over the course of July, Hernandez ranked first in batting average, first in on-base percentage, first in slugging percentage, first in OPS, tied-first in hits (22), second in doubles (6), tied-second in home runs, and second in RBI.

On the other side of the ball, it appears as though Hernandez still has room to develop when it comes to what he does defensively. So far this season, the 6-foot-1, 237 pound backstop has committed six errors while allowing 10 passed balls to elude him while behind the plate. He has also thrown out 13 of 49 (26.5%) runners attempting to steal off him.

Per his Baseball America scouting report, “Hernandez has a plus arm behind the plate and moves well for a big catcher, but his receiving is fringe-average and needs to continue to improve.”

Regarded by Baseball America as the No. 13 prospect in Boston’s farm system — which ranks tops among catchers in the system, Hernandez is currently one of four backstops on the Sox’ 40-man roster alongside veterans like Christian Vazquez and Kevin Plawecki and fellow prospect Connor Wong.

Given his standing on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, one has to wonder if Hernandez could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A Worcester before season’s end if he continues to produce at a consistent level.

Not only would promoting Hernandez to the WooSox give the Red Sox a chance to evaluate how the young backstop adjusts to a new level of competition and new pitching staff, it would also grant them the opportunity to see if Hernandez is worthy of his 40-man spot, or if it would be better suited for another prospect in need of protection from December’s Rule 5 Draft.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Rays GM Erik Neander explains reasoning behind acquiring Chris Mazza, Jeffrey Springs from Red Sox

On Wednesday morning, the Red Sox traded left-hander Jeffrey Springs, right-hander Chris Mazza, and $100,000 in cash considerations to the Rays in exchange for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard.

Both Springs and Mazza had just been designated for assignment by the Sox, so it came as somewhat of a surprise that Boston was able to acquire a highly-touted prospect such as Hernandez — formerly Tampa Bay’s No. 13 prospect according to Baseball America — for two pitchers they were surely prepared to outright or part ways with for nothing in return.

Having said that, why would the Rays strike a deal with their division rival that seemingly strengthens that rival’s minor-league pipeline in exchange for Springs and Mazza, who combined to yield 36 runs (32 earned) in 50 1/3 innings pitched a season ago?

Tampa Bay’s general manager, and Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s friend and former colleague, Erik Neander explained the process behind that decision recently.

“This guy is a really talented player and a great person,” Neander said of Hernandez when speaking with reporters via video conference Wednesday night. “I think for us, it’s a situation where it was probably more about the two guys that we’re bringing in. It’s safe to say that in Mazza and Springs, both are talented, we have more optimism than their 2020 ERA’s would suggest. We think they are players that — Mazza in more of a length capacity, Springs in a shorter relief capacity, but can get stretched a little bit — we think are going to be additive to our group and help us win.

“Ultimately, the track records underneath those guys is not extensive by any means, obviously,” he continued. “But, forward-looking on both of them, we’re optimistic that they are better than they’ve been and are players that are going to help us. And with respect to Ronaldo, he’s a good, young talent, and we wish him nothing but the best, certainly. He’s gone about his business with us the right way and is going to continue to develop into being a major-league player one day.”

Mazza, 31, owns a lifetime 5.05 ERA and 4.00 FIP over 18 appearances (six starts) and 46 1/3 major-league innings between the Red Sox and Mets since 2019.

Last season with Boston, the California native ranked in the 83rd percentile among qualified big-league pitchers in regards to exit velocity and ranked in the 8th percentile in regards to hard-hit percentage, so that ability to limit hard contact must be a part of Mazza’s game the Rays find appealing.

Springs, meanwhile, owns a lifetime 5.42 ERA and 4.66 FIP over 59 appearances (two starts) and 84 2/3 innings pitched between the Red Sox and Rangers since 2018.

Last season with Boston, the 28-year-old southpaw ranked also ranked in the 83rd percentile among qualified big-league pitchers in regards to exit velocity while ranking in the 95th percentile in regards to whiff rate.

On top of that, both Mazza and Springs have at least one minor-league option remaining, so Tampa Bay would have the ability to send each of them down this coming season without worry if necessary.

This is the first trade the Red Sox have completed with the Rays since Bloom took over Boston’s baseball operations department a little less than 16 months ago.

“It was different. I think this was our first one, so I told him, ‘You’re making this one easy. Trying to throw you a softball the way it’s perceived. So go ahead, enjoy it,'” Neander said jokingly of his conversations leading up to the trade with Bloom. “It is what it is. We have a good relationship. There’s a lot of trust there. I think that helps cut through a lot of the negotiations that usually take place…. It was different, but it’s been over a year. We’ve grown used to these roles we’re in, and it was nice to work with each other to agree to a trade.”

(Thank you to the Tampa Bay Rays for providing BloggingtheRedSox.com with Erik Neander’s full video conference from Wednesday)

(Picture of Erik Neander: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)