Red Sox taxi squad: Michael Chavis among 5 players traveling with team for first road trip of season

As the Red Sox prepare to begin their first road trip of the season, the club will be carrying five additional players with them as part of their taxi squad.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the five players that comprise Boston’s first taxi squad of the year are catcher Chris Herrmann, infielder Michael Chavis, outfielder Cesar Puello, and right-handers Colten Brewer and Ryan Weber.

These players, as Cotillo notes, “would be the first ones activated if someone on the 26-man active roster” gets hurt.

Per Major League Baseball’s health and safety protocols for the 2021 season, clubs are allowed to carry up to five taxi squad players for each road trip this season. One of these players must be a catcher, which is where Herrmann comes in.

Additionally, players on a club’s taxi squad are allowed to work out with the major-league team before games, but are not allowed to be in uniform or in the dugout during games.

When the Red Sox return to Boston after completing their seven-game road trip against the Orioles and Twins next Thursday, the likes of Herrmann, Chavis, Puello, Brewer, and Weber will all return to the team’s alternate training site in Worcester, which is where they were to begin the year.

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

Red Sox’ Michael Chavis upset about demotion to Worcester, but Alex Cora has no problem with that: ‘Nobody’s happy when they send you down’

Michael Chavis was informed on Tuesday that he would not be making the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster. He was instead optioned to the club’s alternate training site in Worcester, where he will be for the start of the 2021 season.

As it turns out, the 25-year-old was not exactly thrilled with that decision, especially after he put together a solid spring in which he slashed .250/.292/.600 with six home runs and 11 RBI over 25 games and 65 plate appearances.

Chavis had been competing with fellow infielder Christian Arroyo for one of the final spots on Boston’s Opening Day bench. Earlier in the spring, it looked like both Chavis and Arroyo had a chance to make the team, but outfielder Franchy Cordero being activated from the COVID-19 related injured list on Tuesday squashed any chance of that happening.

On top of that, Arroyo — who himself had a decent spring (.771 OPS in 55 PAs) — is out of minor-league options, while Chavis still has options remaining.

Taking those points into consideration, as well as the fact that the Sox like Arroyo’s versatility, Chavis did not stand much of a chance since he, too, is a right-handed hitting infielder.

“Both of them did an amazing job,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about the pair of 25-year-olds on Tuesday. “They did a good job. Coming into the spring, I knew a little bit about Christian. I knew a lot about Michael. There’s a lot of circumstances that go into the decision. But one thing that we like about Christian, he can play short. We saw it throughout spring. He can do that.

“Michael, he made some strides, and we talked about it,” added Cora. “I’m glad that he was upset, because that’s part of it. Nobody’s happy when they send you down. But we talked about a few things that he needs to do to be the complete hitter that we know he can be.”

Despite putting up decent numbers on the Grapefruit League campaign as a whole, Chavis had been struggling at the plate as of late. In fact, he finishes his spring having gone 2-for-his-last-17 with no homers, one RBI, no walks, and eight strikeouts over his last eight games and 57 plate appearances.

In total, the Georgia native struck out 20 times in his 65 trips to the plate this spring. That translates to a strikeout rate of 30.8%, which is something that has plagued Chavis since making his big-league debut with the Sox in April 2019.

“I think at the end [of spring training], he didn’t control the strike zone,” Cora said. “He was very aggressive chasing pitches out of the zone. So now with his swing — he knows the boundaries of the strike zone up — now we have to make sure, ‘Hey, we’re going to drive pitches in the zone.’ So he’ll work on that.”

Cora, as he has over the course of the spring, emphasized that it takes more than 26 players to win a World Series and that making the Opening Day roster does not ensure any one player will remain on the team throughout the year.

He also pointed out how unexpected circumstances — such as ones caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic — can change things in a hurry.

“We never know. We never know what can happen,” said the Sox skipper. “So [Chavis] needs to be ready. Not only him, all those kids down there. We know they can play and I think it will be good for him to go down and play everyday. That’s going to make him a better player.”

Players at the Red Sox’ alternate training site will make their way to Worcester this week before workouts at Polar Park begin on Thursday. From there, the Worcester Red Sox’ (Triple-A) season is slated to begin on May 4.

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox option right-hander Tanner Houck to alternate training site

Following their 9-1 victory over the Twins on Wednesday, the Red Sox made their fifth round of spring roster cuts and, perhaps most significantly, optioned right-hander Tanner Houck to their alternate training site in Worcester.

The lone member of Boston’s 40-man roster involved in these moves, Houck was seen as a potential candidate to crack the team’s Opening Day starting rotation, but that no longer appears to be the case.

The 24-year-old righty impressed upon getting called up by the Sox last September, posting a 0.53 ERA and 3.25 FIP over his first three starts and 17 innings pitched in the majors.

Spring training thus far has been a different story for Houck, though, as the former first-round draft pick has struggled with his command to the tune of a 4:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

He has also yielded six earned runs in just 6 1/3 innings of work through his first three appearances of the spring.

Given those struggles, as well as the fact that the club has adequate, upper-level rotation depth in the form of Matt Andriese and Garrett Whitlock, the Sox will let Houck continue to develop at the alternate site to start the new season.

This does not mean that Houck — currently regarded by Baseball America as the Red Sox’ No. 7 prospect — won’t pitch in Boston this year; it just means that his 2021 debut may come later than some may have expected.

In addition to Houck being optioned, the Sox also reassigned seven players — right-hander Daniel Gossett, left-hander Stephen Gonsalves, catcher Kole Cottam, first basemen Triston Casas and Josh Ockimey, and outfielders Jarren Duran and Yairo Munoz — to minor-league camp.

This flurry of transactions leaves the Red Sox with 35 players on their major-league spring training roster. That number does not include Chris Sale or Franchy Cordero, who both remain on the injured list.

(Picture of Tanner Houck: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Eduard Bazardo, John Schreiber, Connor Wong optioned to alternate training site

Following their 5-3 victory over the Braves at JetBlue Park on Tuesday afternoon, the Red Sox made their fourth round of spring roster cuts, as the club optioned three players to their alternate training site.

Right-handed pitchers Eduard Bazardo and John Schreiber and catcher Connor Wong were all optioned to Boston’s alternate site in Worcester, but they will remain at the Fenway South complex through the end of spring training.

Bazardo, 25, was initially added to the Sox’ 40-man roster back in November after showing out at the team’s fall instructional league late last year.

The Venezuelan-born righty is regarded by Baseball America as the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system and carries with him a 1.80 ERA through his first four appearances of the spring — the most recent of which came in the ninth inning of Tuesday’s contest against Atlanta.

Schreiber, meanwhile, joined the Red Sox’ 40-man roster when he was claimed off waivers by the Tigers last month.

The 27-year-old, equipped with a funky delivery, has gotten off to a tough start with his new club this spring, allowing a total of two earned runs in just 1 1/3 innings of relief spanning two appearances out of the bullpen.

Prior to getting claimed by Boston in February, Schreiber has spent the first two years of his big-league career with Detroit in 2019 and 2020, posting a 6.28 ERA and 4.21 FIP over 28 total outings and 28 2/3 total innings pitched while consistently being shuttled between Triple-A and the majors.

Finally, we arrive at Wong, undoubtedly the most familiar name on this brief list.

One of three players acquired from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade last February, the 24-year-old Wong is currently regarded by Baseball America as the No. 15 prospect in the Sox’ organization, ranking tops among catchers.

The former third-round pick out of Houston, who hits from the right side of the plate, clubbed his first home run of the Grapefruit League campaign for Boston on Tuesday.

Since camp broke in February, Wong has drawn plenty of praise from Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

“There’s a calmness about him that managers like,” Cora said of Wong. “And we’re very happy. Last year, he was part of the big trade, and I bet everything was going so fast for him. And now for him to slow everything down, and being able to work, it’s a testament of who he is as a person, as a player. And obviously he’s somebody that we’re counting on in the future.”

All three of Bazardo, Schreiber, and Wong will now begin the 2021 season at the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester.

Following Tuesday’s moves, the Sox now have approximately 47 players at major-league camp in Fort Myers with Opening Day just over two weeks away.

(Picture of Eduard Bazardo: Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Top prospects Jeter Downs, Gilberto Jimenez included in second round of Red Sox spring roster cuts

Following their 8-2 victory over the Rays at JetBlue Park on Friday afternoon, the Red Sox announced their second round of spring roster cuts, as the club optioned four players to their alternate training site and reassigned eight players to the minor-leagues.

Right-handed pitching prospect Connor Seabold, infield prospect Hudson Potts, and outfield prospects Jeisson Rosario and Marcus Wilson were optioned down to Boston’s alternate training site.

Left-handers Kyle Hart and Matt Hall, right-handers Caleb Simpson and Ryan Weber, catcher Jett Bandy, infielder Chad De La Guerra, infield prospect Jeter Downs, and outfield prospect Gilberto Jimenez, meanwhile, were all reassigned to the minors.

All four prospects who were optioned to the alternate site are currently on the Sox’ 40-man roster, while all eight players who were reassigned to the minors were taking part in major-league spring training as non-roster invitees.

Among those who were sent down to the alternate site, Baseball America ranks Potts as the No. 24 prospect, Rosario as the No. 20 prospect, and Seabold as the No. 11 prospect in Boston’s farm system heading into the 2021 season.

Among those who were reassigned to minor-league camp, Downs and Jimenez are regarded by Baseball America as the No. 2 and No. 7 prospects in the Red Sox farm system, respectively.

Following Friday’s flurry of moves, the Sox now have just 10 non-roster invitees at big-league camp, bringing the total size of their spring training roster down to approximately 53 players.

(Picture of Jeter Downs: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Durbin Feltman, A.J. Politi, Thaddeus Ward among 12 players included in Red Sox’ first round of spring roster cuts

Before taking on the Rays in Port Charlotte on Tuesday afternoon, the Red Sox announced their first round of spring training roster cuts.

In total, 12 players — two catchers, 10 pitchers — were reassigned by the club to the minor-leagues.

Catchers (2): Roldani Baldwin, Austin Rei

Pitchers (10): Seth Blair, Matt Carasiti, Raynel Espinal, Durbin Feltman, Frank German, Zac Grotz, Kaleb Ort, A.J. Politi, Thaddeus Ward, Josh Winckowski

All 12 players cut on Tuesday were initially invited to big-league camp as non-roster invitees, so these moves are not exactly surprising.

According to Baseball America, Ward is the No. 10 prospect and Politi is the No. 27 prospect in Boston’s farm system heading into the 2021 season. Both right-handers are projected to begin the year with Double-A Portland as part of the Sea Dogs’ starting rotation.

German and Winckowski, meanwhile, are two pitching prospects the Sox acquired via trade this offseason.

The 23-year-old German was part of the deal between the Red Sox and Yankees that brought Adam Ottavino to Boston, while the 22-year-old Winckowski was part of the three-team swap that sent Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals.

They, too, are right-handed pitchers and are both projected to start the 2021 campaign in Portland.

Just because these players were reassigned, that does not prevent them from appearing in additional Grapefruit League games this spring. Feltman and Ward are both expected to pitch against the Rays on Tuesday, for example.

When they are not playing in games, players reassigned to the minors will remain in Fort Myers, but will work out at different times than those who are still on the major-league roster.

Following Tuesday’s round of cuts, the Sox now have 22 non-roster invitees at big-league camp, bringing the total size of their spring training roster down to 62 players.

(Picture of Thaddeus Ward: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Might recently-signed Danny Santana cost Christian Arroyo his spot on Red Sox’ roster?

Could the Red Sox signing utilityman Danny Santana to a minor-league contract on Thursday ultimately cost Christian Arroyo his spot on the club’s 40-man roster. One writer in particular — MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — thinks that may be the case.

In his weekly notes column for MassLive, Cotillo made 10 predictions for the Sox’ 2021 season, and one of those predictions was that Santana makes the team out of spring training after winning the competition for the final bench spot.

“Though he’s a late entrant into the competition for Boston’s final bench spot, Santana is actually a better fit for the roster than the club’s other options,” Cotillo wrote Friday. “The other three competitors — Christian Arroyo, Michael Chavis and Yairo Muñoz — are all right-handed hitters, which limits Alex Cora to an extent.”

Cotillo notes that while the handedness of the hitters on the Red Sox’ bench would change on a game-to-game basis, “the fact that the backup catcher (Kevin Plawecki) is right-handed means a left-handed bat would be preferable.”

As currently constructed, Jonathan Arauz and Marwin Gonzalez are the only infielders on Boston’s 40-man roster who can hit from the left side of the plate, as both are switch-hitters.

Arauz, who is still just 22 years old, figures to begin the 2021 season at the Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester to continue his development, while Gonzalez, who inked a one-year, $3 million pact with Boston last month, figures to see most of his playing time come in left field as opposed to the infield.

Having said that, Cora and Co. are somewhat limited in what they can do in regards to bench flexibility. That is where Santana — a switch-hitter — comes into play.

In seven major-league seasons between the Twins, Braves, and Rangers, the 30-year-old out of the Dominican owns a lifetime .266/.304/.422 slash line against right-handed pitching and a lifetime .243/.287/.407 slash line against left-handed pitching going back to 2014. He has also seen playing time at every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher.

Arroyo, who unlike Chavis is out of minor-league options and unlike Munoz is on Boston’s 40-man roster, unsurprisingly owns a lifetime .213/.297/.381 slash line in 176 career plate appearances against righties dating back to 2017. He has seen playing time at just three different positions: second base, third base, and shortstop.

Taking those points into consideration, Santana — as noted by Cotillo — “makes more sense than the others,” including Arroyo.

Coming into the spring, Arroyo seemed like almost a lock to make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster considering the fact that he is out of minor-league options like Nick Pivetta is.

The 25-year-old former top prospect had a decent showing in limited action with the Sox last season, going 12-for-50 (.240) at the plate with three home runs, eight RBI, and four walks over 14 September contests (54 plate appearances).

If Boston were to roll with Santana over Arroyo out of the gate, though, that would likely mark the end of Arroyo’s run on the club’s 40-man roster.

In other words, you could see a transaction where the Red Sox purchase Santana’s contract — and in doing so add him to their major-league roster — while designating Arroyo for assignment to clear a roster spot.

The goal then, as Cotillo writes, would be for the Red Sox “to try to sneak Arroyo through waivers” while both Chavis and Munoz would be optioned down to the alternate site.

In this scenario, this would not be the first time the Sox designated Arroyo, as they did the very same thing just days after claiming the Florida native off waivers from the Indians last August.

For what it’s worth, Santana, who turns 31 in November, is only under club control through the end of the 2021 season. Arroyo, meanwhile, turns 26 in May and is under club control through the 2024 season.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Santana will earn a base salary of $1.75 million if he makes it to the majors with the Red Sox this year with the chance to earn an additional $1 million in incentives and another $100,000 in the form of a bonus if he starts at Triple-A.

Those contract details, per Cotillo, makes it “seem like the Red Sox have plans to bring him up to the majors.”

We will have to wait and see if those hypothetical plans come to fruition before Opening Day.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox outright right-hander Marcus Walden to Triple-A Worcester, add him to spring training roster

After being designated him for assignment last Wednesday, right-handed reliever Marcus Walden has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, the Red Sox announced Monday afternoon.

Despite losing his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster, Walden has been added to the club’s major-league spring training roster.

The 32-year-old was initially DFA’d last week so that the Sox could clear a 40-man roster spot for veteran utilityman Marwin Gonzalez.

At that time, the Red Sox had seven days to either trade Walden, release him, or sneak him through waivers, which they ended up doing.

In 15 appearances out of the Boston bullpen last season, Walden struggled to the tune of a 9.45 ERA and 8.59 FIP over 13 1/3 innings pitched in two separate stints with the club.

Going into the 2020 campaign, the California native was coming off a solid showing in 2019 in which he compiled a 3.80 ERA and a 76:32 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 70 relief appearances spanning 78 innings of work.

Walden proved to be one of Alex Cora’s most reliable relievers in ’19, and the Red Sox manager recently acknowledged that it was a difficult decision to cut the righty.

“It’s a tough business,” Cora said last Thursday. “There are certain situations that we like the player, we like the person but it’s a tough one. He didn’t have the best season last year, but at the same time, there’s a lot of good arms out there. It’s tough to make a decision like that but it’s a decision you have to make.”

Walden ultimately returns to the Red Sox in a lesser capacity, but he remains with the organization nonetheless and will look to return to form with the WooSox to begin the 2021 season.

With the addition of Walden, Boston’s spring training roster now stands at approximately 72 players.

Catcher Kevin Plawecki and outfielder Franchy Cordero remain on the club’s COVID-19 related injured list.

(Picture of Marcus Walden: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox make Marwin González signing official, designate Marcus Walden for assignment

The Red Sox have officially signed veteran utilityman Marwin Gonzalez to a one-year contract for the 2021 season, the team announced Wednesday evening.

In order to make room for Gonzalez on their 40-man roster, Boston also designated right-hander Marcus Walden for assignment.

Gonzalez and the Red Sox originally agreed to a one-year pact for 2021 a little less than two weeks ago.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Gonzalez — who turns 32 in March — will earn a base salary of $3 million this year with the chance to earn up to $1.1 million in additional performance bonuses. There is no player, club, or dual option for a potential second year.

The Venezuelan switch-hitter had spent the last two seasons with the Twins and put up a .248/.311/.387 slash line to go along with 20 home runs and 77 RBI over 167 total games played. He also saw time at every defensive position besides center field in his time with Minnesota.

That versatile aspect of Gonzalez’s game will surely carry over to Boston as well, as the 6-foot-1, 205 pounder could line up to play both corner outfield spots while also serving as a left-handed complement to the right-handed hitting Bobby Dalbec at first base when needed.

With the additions of Gonzalez and Enrique Hernandez, both of whom are already familiar with Red Sox manager Alex Cora, the Sox have put themselves in a position where they are set up to a bevy of lineup combinations and defensive platoons depending on who they are going up against on a given day.

As for Walden, the move to designate him for assignment comes more than four years after he initially signed a minor-league deal with the Red Sox in December 2016.

Since then, the 32-year-old reliever has proven to be effective at the major-league level for an extended period of time.

Across 70 appearances out of the Boston bullpen in 2019, Walden posted a solid 3.81 ERA and 3.69 FIP over 78 total innings of work.

Coming off that successful campaign — his first full one in the majors — the California native figured to play an important role for the Sox in 2020, but he floundered to the tune of a disastrous 9.45 ERA and 8.59 FIP over 15 outings spanning 13 1/3 innings pitched in two separate big-league stints last year.

Even with a poor, truncated 2020 coming on the heels of a successful, full 2019, Walden’s leash appeared to be short as he is now without a 40-man roster spot for the time being.

The Sox will have seven days to either trade Walden, release him, or sneak him through waivers unless he is claimed by another club first.

With this transaction made, Boston’s 40-man roster remains at full capacity, which means more moves will need to be made in order to accommodate the likes of catcher Kevin Plawecki and outfielder Franchy Cordero, both of whom remain on the team’s COVID-19 related injured list.

(Picture of Marwin Gonzalez: Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

Red Sox bring back right-hander Joel Payamps via waiver claim, place outfielder Franchy Cordero on COVID-19 related injured list

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Joel Payamps off waivers from the Blue Jays, the team announced Monday afternoon.

In order to make room for Payamps on their 40-man roster, Boston also placed outfielder Franchy Cordero on the COVID-19 related injured list.

Payamps comes back to the Sox a little less than three weeks after being designated for assignment by the club in order to open up a roster spot for starter Garrett Richards on February 3.

The 26-year-old hurler was then claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays a week later, but his stint with Toronto obviously did not last that long.

Prior to getting DFA’d earlier this month, Payamps originally came to Boston from the Diamondbacks via a waiver claim back in November.

In limited action with Arizona the last two seasons, the Dominican native yielded four runs (three earned) on six hits, six walks, and five strikeouts over four total appearances and seven innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 3.86 and a FIP of 4.35.

Now that he is back with the Sox, Payamps will presumably compete for a spot on the team’s Opening Day roster as a mid-inning reliever, assuming he does not get designated and/or claimed by another club again.

Of course, Payamps, who works with a four-seam fastball, slider, sinker, and changeup, does have one minor-league option remaining, so him starting the year with Triple-A Worcester is a legitimate possibility as well. He is also under team control through 2026, for what it’s worth.

Moving on to Cordero now, the Red Sox placed the 26-year-old outfielder on the COVID-19 injured related list, but as noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, “being placed on this list does not require a confirmed positive test.”

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo tweeted earlier Monday that Cordero was not yet with the team and that manager Alex Cora was not sure of the exact reason as to why.

Cotillo later tweeted that the reasoning behind Cordero being placed on the COVID-19 related IL was “unclear,” noting that it’s not yet known if “he tested positive or has a disputed test or what the exact deal is.”

Cordero joins catcher Kevin Plawecki as the only two members of the Red Sox currently on the team’s COVID-19 related injured list. Both players will not count towards Boston’s 40-man roster as long as they are on said list.

The Dominican-born slugger was originally acquired by Boston from the Royals earlier this month as part of the trade that sent fellow outfielder Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City. He figures to see significant playing time in left field for the Sox this coming season, assuming he is healthy.

Following this particular transaction, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is back at full capacity, though some spots may be in jeopardy relatively soon assuming both Cordero and Plawecki return sooner rather than later.

Also, the Marwin Gonzalez signing still needs to be made official, so there’s that.

(Picture of Joel Payamps: Kiyoshi Mio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)