Michael Chavis, Alex Verdugo Both Homer While Martin Perez Tosses Five Scoreless Innings Against Rays as Red Sox Halt Losing Streak at Four

The Red Sox capped off their first road trip of the season on a positve note on Wednesday night, topping the Rays by a final score of 5-0 to put an end to their four-game losing streak.

Martin Perez made his third start of the year for Boston in this one, and he picked up where he left against the Mets with another solid outing on Wednesday.

Working five scoreless innings, the left-hander worked a bit of a tight-rope act, but still managed to keep Tampa Bay off the board while scattering four hits and three walks to go along with four strikeouts on the night.

Part of the reason Perez was able to avoid any real damage was his ability to induce soft contact on Wednesday, as he got the Rays to ground into a double-play on two separate occasions.

On top of that, the Sox starter also did an adequate job of dealing with traffic on the base-paths. Among the 20 batters he faced, Perez allowed seven to reach base, yet none of them scored thanks in part to the Rays going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position, with the last of those chances coming with two outs in the fifth.

There, Yandy Diaz reached base on a line-drive double off Perez, but the 29-year-old countered by getting the dangerous Austin Meadows to fly out to right and that was that.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 91, only 48 of which were strikes, Perez relied on his cutter and changeup a combined 53% of the time he was on the mound Wednesday, inducing eight swings-and-misses with the pair of pitches while also topping out at 93.6 mph with his four-seam fastball, a pitch he threw 20 times en route to picking up his second consecutive winning decision.

With that, Perez is now 2-1 on the season with an ERA of 3.45. His next start will also come against the Rays, this time at Fenway Park, sometime next week, likely on Tuesday.

In relief of Perez, Colten Brewer got the first call out of the Red Sox bullpen in the middle of the sixth, and he maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in an otherwise perfect inning of work.

From there, Austin Brice tossed a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh, Matt Barnes bounced back with a quick and painless bottom of the eighth, and Brandon Workman closed things out and preserved the shutout by striking out the side in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup, absent the likes of Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr., was matched up against Rays southpaw Ryan Yarbrough to kick things off on Wednesday.

As it turned out, Boston’s first runs of the night were driven in by a left-handed bat. That hitter’s name? Alex Verdugo.

Yes, it took until the fourth inning, but after Michael Chavis reached base on a two-out double, the 24-year-old outfielder followed by crushing a 0-1, 71 mph curveball from Yarbrough just over the fence in right field for his first Red Sox home run.

Fast forward to the sixth, and Chavis was in the offensive spotlight once more, this time coming to the plate against Yarbrough with no outs and a runner on first following a Christian Vazquez RBI single that brought in Xander Bogaerts.

On the sixth pitch he saw from the Rays starter, Chavis unloaded on a 3-2, 78 mph changeup down the heart of the plate and deposited it 421 feet to the seats in left field, right off a cardboard cutout.

Chavis’ second big fly of 2020 and his second within the last five days put his side up 5-0, which as previously mentioned, would be all the Red Sox would need to pick up their fourth win of the season in this one.

Some notes and observations from this victory:

Michael Chavis on Wednesday: 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. His first multi-hit game of the season, and he also looked really sharp at first base.

Since giving up five runs (four earned) in his first two innings pitched as a member of the Red Sox back on July 25, Martin Perez has yielded just two earned runs over his last 13 2/3 innings of work.

Xander Bogaerts over the course of this seven-game road trip: 10-for-23 (.435) with two homers and four RBI.

From Red Sox Notes:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s a happy flight back home to Boston, another off day on Thursday, and the first of three against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park to kick off the weekend on Friday.

As things currently stand, the Sox will roll with right-hander Ryan Weber on Friday, right-hander Zack Godley on Saturday, and an opener on Sunday. The Jays have yet to name any of their starters for the three-game set.

First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. eastern time on NESN and WEEI.

Before that though, major-league rosters across baseball have to go from 30 players down to 28 by Thursday morning, so stay tuned for that.

Could Michael Chavis Be at Risk of Losing Spot on Red Sox Roster?

Major-league rosters across baseball on Thursday will shrink down from 30 players to 28 players for the remainder of the 2020 season, meaning most clubs will have to demote two players from their active rosters within the next 24 hours.

The Red Sox, of course, are no exception to this rule, and will be subject to doing the same on Thursday, which just so happens to be an off-day for the last-place club.

That being said, a team averaging just over 4.2 runs per game through its first 11 games of the season may be willing to shake things up offensively, and in order to do that, a player struggling at the plate may have to take a back seat for the time being. That player, in this scenario, is Michael Chavis.

Fresh off making his first career Opening Day roster last month, Chavis has gotten his first full season in the majors off to a dreadful start. Through seven games played, six of which have been starts, the 24-year-old is 3-for-his-first-21 at the plate, resulting in a dismal .143/.182/.286 slash line to go along with just one home run and one RBI thus far.

In those 21 at-bats, or 22 plate appearances to be more specific, Chavis has struck out nearly 41% of the time, which according to FanGraphs is the sixth-highest mark in the American League among hitters who have accrued at least 20 plate appearances at this point in the season.

On top of that, the former first-round pick has the second-highest swing-and-miss rate (22.5%) in the junior circuit behind only White Sox rookie phenom Luis Robert (26.2%).

Long story short, Chavis, who still has three minor-league options remaining on his current contract, seems like the “perfect” candidate to get sent down to the Red Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket so that he can sort some things out in a less stressful environment.

In the meantime, the Sox have some things to figure out themselves in terms of roster construction at the major-league level. Top prospect Bobby Dalbec, who has fully recovered from his asymptomatic bout with COVID-19, is “swinging the bat better all the time” while playing in intrasquad games in Pawtucket, according to Boston manager Ron Roenicke.

“[It’s] still hard to tell because they aren’t real games that they’re playing in,” Roenicke said of Dalbec’s performance. “We just get reports on how he does and hopefully that translates into, if you need to, good at-bats in the game.”

Swapping Chavis for Dalbec does not seem too far out of the realm of possibilities for the Sox seeing how the latter can play both corner infield positions relatively well. Then again, a straight swap wouldn’t mean as much with roster sizes shrinking down to 28 players on Thursday.

All in all, whether it is Chavis or another pair of players that get demoted, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. certainly have their work cut out for them over the next few hours.

Red Sox Call up Right-Hander Zack Godley, Option Dylan Covey to Pawtucket

Prior to wrapping up a three-game weekend series against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox added right-hander Zack Godley to their active roster and optioned right-hander Dylan Covey to their alternate training site in Pawtucket in a corresponding move.

Godley, 30, signed a minor-league deal with Boston on July 17 shortly after getting released by the Detroit Tigers.

The veteran rigthy made two appearances for the Sox during Summer Camp, with the first coming in an intrasquad game and the second coming in an exhibition game against the Blue Jays.

In that rain-shortened contest against Toronto on July 22, Godley got the start and tossed three scoreless no-hit innings, but that wasn’t enough for a rotation spot right away as he was initially left off Boston’s Opening Day roster.

Now, the former Diamondbacks hurler will get the chance, likely on Monday or Tuesday against the Mets, to prove that he is indeed worthy of hanging around with the Red Sox. Whether that comes as a starter or reliever has yet to be determined.

And for what it’s worth, the Red Sox now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Red Sox Reportedly Sign Right-Hander Zack Godley to Minor-League Deal

The Red Sox have signed right-hander Zack Godley to a minor-league deal, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo and confirmed by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

As noted by Speier, any player signed to a contract, whether it be of the major or minor-league variety, is automatically added to their respective club’s 60-man player pool. That being said, Godley will be the 57th player added to the Sox’ roster pool.

Although all the details are not yet known because the deal is still pending a medical review, Godley is expected to the join the Sox at Summer Camp as a non-roster invitee and compete for a rotation spot.

The 30-year-old out of South Carolina was cut loose by the Detroit Tigers on Monday and was almost immediately linked to the Red Sox, which is understandable seeing how chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said on Friday that the team’s starting rotation is “definitely more unsettled than I think you would want.”

A former 10th-round draft pick of the Cubs in 2013, Godley had a nice run with the Arizona Diamondbacks for a little while there in 2017 and 2018, as he posted a collective 3.63 FIP over 59 appearances (57 starts) and 333 1/3 innings pitched over that span. However, the 2019 campaign was a different story for the former Tennessee volunteer, and he ended up getting cut by Arizona in August before landing with the Blue Jays.

There, Godley made just six appearances as a reliever with Toronto before again getting cut loose by another team in September.

The Tigers signed Godley to a minor-league pact in December, but after realizing he was not going to make their Opening Day roster, Detroit released the veteran righty earlier this week, as previously mentioned.

One important note with this signing made by the Red Sox, per Cotillo is that, “Though the expectation is that Godley has a good chance to make the team at the end of camp next week, his contract includes an opt-out after the first week of the regular season if he’s not in the majors. Additionally, he has an opt-out clause at the end of July if he’s not in the majors by that point.”

Of course, if Godley does perform well enough to latch on with Boston, he will need to be added to the club’s 40-man roster prior to the start of the 2020 season.

 

Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke Leaning Towards Having 15 Pitchers and 15 Position Players on 30-Man Opening Day Roster

When the 2020 season kicks off next week, the Red Sox will have 30, rather than 25 or 26, players on their Opening Day roster and their roster will stay at 30 players for two weeks, or until August 7th.

During those first two weeks of the truncated 2020 campaign, in which the Sox are scheduled to play 12 games, the club is leaning towards carrying 15 pitchers and 15 position players, manager Ron Roenicke said when speaking to reporters via Zoom on Wednesday.

“We kind of know what we want to do. It’s not locked in on that,” Roenicke said in regards to constructing Boston’s Opening Day roster. “If we get to the last few days and we see that we think maybe we need more than 15 pitchers and we have to go to 16 pitchers, then we’ll do that. I know what I want to do, and that’s probably that 15 (pitchers) and 15 (position players).”

However, despite expressing what he would like to do, Roenicke also acknowledged that his outlook could change after the Red Sox play the Blue Jays in a pair of exhibition games at Fenway Park next Tuesday and Wednesday.

“I think when we get to these last few games, we’ll have a better idea,” the Sox skipper added. “As you know, the starting pitching has a lot to do with that, whether we’re going to go with openers, how much length we’re going to have and if we’re carrying guys who are basically three or four inning guys, which can cover your innings.”

In losing Chris Sale to Tommy John surgery, David Price in a trade with the Dodgers, and Rick Porcello to free agency, Boston’s starting pitching depth has taken a major hit since last fall. Not to mention the fact that left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who projected to be the Sox’ Opening Day starter, will likely miss the start of the season due to his testing positive for COVID-19 last week.

As things currently stand, Nathan Eovaldi will likely be Boston’s Opening Day starter, and he will presumably be followed by the likes of Martin Perez, Ryan Weber, Brian Johnson, and perhaps an opener, as Roenicke mentions above.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Red Sox seem to be close to signing free-agent right-hander Zack Godley, last with the Tigers, to a contract, so he could be an appealing rotation option as well.

In terms of position players, the Sox are pretty much set. Roenicke said as much on Wednesday when describing how well the offense has performed since Summer Camp began earlier this month.

“The offense is swinging so well that I keep asking, ‘Is it just that our offense is so good or are we not pitching as well?'” he rhetorically asked. “Maybe it’s a combination of both, but to have this many guys hot this early surprises me because I felt like we would slowly get into this and the last few games, I was hoping we’d swing well.”

As I’m typing this, the Red Sox have 50 out of a possible 60 players in their Summer Camp pool. More guys are likely to be added to said pool by the end of the week, but just for fun, here’s a little Opening Day roster projection from yours truly.

Starting rotation:
Nathan Eovaldi
Martin Perez
Ryan Weber
Brian Johnson
Zack Godley (FA)

Bullpen:
Brandon Workman
Matt Barnes
Marcus Walden
Colten Brewer
Ryan Brasier
Matt Hall
Jeffrey Springs
Chris Mazza
Austin Brice
Heath Hembree

Catchers:
Christian Vazquez
Kevin Plawecki
Jonathan Lucroy

Infielders:
Mitch Moreland
Jose Peraza
Michael Chavis
Xander Bogaerts
Rafael Devers
Tzu-Wei Lin
Jonathan Arauz

Outfielders:
Andrew Benintendi
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Alex Verdugo
Kevin Pillar
J.D. Martinez (DH)

Obviously, take this with a grain of salt, as it is just a rough prediction with exactly nine days to go until Opening Day.

Some guys you would expect to see on here, such as Rodriguez, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor, will likely miss the start of the season due to testing positive for coronavirus. In addition to that, right-hander Collin McHugh, who signed with the Sox in February, has yet to throw a live batting practice at Summer Camp.

Godley, meanwhile, might not be ready for the start of the season even if he is signed relatively soon. The 30-year-old was only released by the Tigers on Monday, so that will certainly be something to monitor if/when he signs his contract with Boston.

For the time being, Roenicke, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, and the Red Sox as a whole have a little more than a week to sort any roster-related issues out before the sprint that will be the 2020 season begins.

 

What to Expect From Red Sox as MLB Roster Freeze Ends on Friday

Rosters across Major League Baseball have been frozen since late March. That freeze will end at noon eastern time on Friday.

Minor transactions have still taken place over the past few months, but beginning on Friday, clubs will have the chance to pick up where they left off earlier in the year in terms of roster construction ahead of a truncated 60-game season that begins in late July.

Prior to the roster freeze, the Red Sox were quite busy making some moves themselves with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom at the helm.

Officially speaking, major-league transactions across baseball ceased on March 27th. Right before that, Boston made a few somewhat notable moves, such as acquiring minor-league catcher Jhonny Perada from the Cubs, signing former Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz to a minor-league contract, and optioning relievers Jeffrey Springs and Josh Osich to Triple-A Pawtucket, Colten Brewer to Double-A Portland, and Chris Mazza to High-A Salem.

By the last week of July, Bloom and Co. will have to narrow a pool of 60 players down to 30 ahead of a modified version of Opening Day on July 23rd or 24th, so it’s likely that plenty of roster shuffling is to come beginning on Friday afternoon.

On top of that, the Sox were involved in a handful of trade rumors prior to the roster freeze as well.

More specifically, talks between the Red Sox and Padres surrounding outfielder Wil Myers seemed to be heat up after Boston dealt Mookie Betts to the Dodgers in February.

Per The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Kevin Acee, the Sox were interested in acquiring touted prospects like Cal Quantrill or Luis Campusano from the Padres in exchange for taking on a portion of the $61 million owed to the 29-year-old Myers over the next three seasons.

According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, though, “no trades involving the Red Sox were ‘imminent’ at the time MLB put a freeze on all transactions on March 27.”

March 27th was nearly three months ago, so it’s not out of the realm of possibilities to assume that some GMs might have some moves lined up for when the roster freeze does finally end.

That being said, when I “spoke” to Bloom via e-mail last week, he stated that during this long layoff, he has “continued to speak to counterparts and contacts throughout the game, but not to discuss trades or roster moves.”

Another aspect of the business side of the game that will return on Friday are contract extensions.

Prior to the pandemic-induced shutdown, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported in late February that “teams across baseball are trying to lock up pre-arbitration players to multi-year contracts that buy out free agent years.”

Outside of some rumors pertaining to Rafael Devers last fall, the Red Sox really weren’t linked to any other players on the roster who could be due for an extension before the shutdown.

Andrew Benintendi agreed to a two-year contract extension in early February, but that only buys out two of the 25-year-old’s three years of arbitration eligibility.

Other than Devers, Brandon Workman, who will become a free agent after the 2020 season, and Eduardo Rodriguez, who will become a free agent after the 2021 season, are certainly prime candidates.

Long story short, just about everything I mentioned above can be summarized in this one tweet from noted exceptional Twitter follow @RedSoxStats:

See you at 12 PM eastern time on Friday.

 

Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom, Team President Sam Kennedy Address Coronavirus Concerns That Led MLB to Delay Start of Season

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, as well as general manager Brian O’Halloran and team president Sam Kennedy, spoke in depth Friday on where Major League Baseball is headed in the wake of the remainder of spring training being suspended and the start of the 2020 season being pushed back at least two weeks due to the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

Earlier Friday, the league made it official that major-league players have the freedom to either remain at their club’s spring training facility, return to their club’s city, or go home themselves at their own discretion.

In a meeting between Red Sox executives, coaches, and players on Friday, Bloom and Co. echoed that same sentiment.

“We’ve just gotten word, and are getting the word out to our players, that since starting to discuss this, it’s been agreed that now our players can leave should they choose to, and go home or go wherever they need to go,” Bloom said in a conference call. “We’re trying to make sure that happens in a safe and orderly manner. We’re working on that as we speak. For players who want to stay here, we will have the facility available to them.”

The Sox have yet to gather a headcount on which players will be staying and which players will be leaving, but despite no official word from the league, they gave their minor-league players the same option as well. Although remaining in Fort Myers may be the most ideal route for them to take due to financial restrictions.

“We recognize, especially as we get into the population of minor leaguers, this may be the best option for them,” Bloom stated. “And we want to make sure that is a good option.”

Typically, the weeks leading up to April involve the movement of dozens of players, major and minor-league alike, in numerous transactions between clubs. But, with the United States now being in a state of national emergency and all, rosters may become frozen for the time being. Or in other words, no roster moves will be allowed until Major League Baseball can resume baseball activities. Nothing has been made official regarding this matter as of now, but Bloom did say that, “We are fully prepared that the next several days will include new information.”

There is also a possibility that rosters could be expanded from 26 players once the 2020 season does start to make up for less preparation time, although, according to Bloom, “There is no indication right now that anything will change.”

Because there is no definite date for a new Opening Day outside of April 9th, which is unlikely to happen, there’s a very real chance that additional spring training games will need to take place once the league resumes in order for players to up their workload once more.

“The short answer is, we don’t know,” Bloom said in regard to a later addition of spring training games. “We don’t have enough of a sense of what this will look like when we start up again.”

Regarding that point about players needing to increase their workload before the season starts, one thing that makes this outbreak-induced delay so challenging is that we simply don’t know when regular season baseball will be back.

As The Athletic’s Chad Jennings notes, “Bloom pointed out that spring training buildup is usually based upon working backward from a known point in time. Opening Day is usually on a specific date, and so players work to be ready on that exact day.

Right now, baseball has no idea when Opening Day will be, so there’s no working backward. The issue of building and sustaining is particularly tricky for pitchers as teams try to find a balance between sustaining their current status and not overworking for a start date that might be far, far down the road.”

How teams will prepare with no set Opening Day date in sight will be interesting to see, and according to Bloom, it will be “one of the tougher questions that I think every club is going to have to answer.”

Turning to some positive news, no Red Sox player has yet to test positive for coronavirus, and the club has even set up their own task force to deal with issues surrounding the virus, per Kennedy.

For the time being, JetBlue Park and the entire Fenway South complex will remain closed to the media and the public through Sunday, while all Fenway Park employees outside of stadium security have been told to work from home.

Fenway Park will also undergo a three-day cleaning starting Saturday morning where “every square inch [of the park] will be disinfected and cleaned,” Kennedy said.

In times like these, baseball takes a back seat as there are more pressing matters at hand. It may stink now, but baseball and the Red Sox will be back eventually.

 

Red Sox’ Tzu-Wei Lin Pulled From Tuesday’s Game Against Yankees Due to Left Hamstring Tightness

Red Sox utilityman Tzu-Wei Lin was pulled after the first inning of Tuesday’s Grapefruit League contest against the New York Yankees due to left hamstring tightness, the team announced.

Lin started in center field for Boston in Tampa Bay on Tuesday, played the entirety of the bottom half of the first inning, which was rather lengthy, and was subsequently replaced by Cole Sturgeon in the top half of the second.

The cause of Lin’s tight hamstring is not yet known, but the 26-year-old had gotten his spring off to an impressive start, slashing .412/.474/.471 with one double, one RBI, and one stolen base through his first 19 plate appearances entering Tuesday.

Entering his seventh full season with the Red Sox organization after signing as an international free agent out of Taiwan back in June 2012, Lin finds himself without any minor-league options remaining on his current contract, meaning he has to make the big-league club out of spring training if he does not want to be exposed to waivers.

With rosters expanding to 26 players this year, Lin has plenty of factors, like his versatility, working in his favor, so hopefully this hamstring injury does not sideline him for too long. I’m sure interim manager Ron Roenicke will provide an update at the conclusion of Tuesday’s contest.

Red Sox Sign Outfielder César Puello to Minor-League Deal, Invite Him to Major League Spring Training

As pitchers and catchers report to Fenway South in Fort Myers on Tuesday, the Red Sox have made another roster addition, signing outfielder Cesar Puello to a minor-league deal that includes an invite to big league camp.

Puello, who turns 29 at the beginning of April, had spent the 2019 season between the Angels and Marlins, slashing .248/.356/.384 with four home runs and 18 RBI over 44 total games between the two clubs.

Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Mets in 2007, the Red Sox will be the ninth organization Puello has spent time with.

Despite only playing in 44 games last year, Puello was worth 1.0 fWAR thanks to some exceptional defense in the Angels and Marlins outfield, per FanGraphs. He logged time at all three outfield positions as well.

Puello will earn $625,000 if he makes it to the majors this year, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

With this signing, as well as the other non-roster invitees mentioned in the tweet above, the Red Sox now have 65 players attending major-league spring training this year. That number will have to be trimmed down to 26 by the time March 26th comes around.

 

 

Red Sox Designate Sam Travis for Assignment to Make Room on 40-Man Roster for Kevin Plawecki

In a corresponding move to signing catcher Kevin Plawecki to a one-year, major-league deal on Thursday, the Red Sox also announced that first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis had been designated for assignment.

As the above tweet indicates, the addition of Plawecki on a majors deal meant that someone else would need to be removed from the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, and now we know that it is indeed Travis.

Originally drafted by Boston in the second round of the 2014 draft out of Indiana University, the 26-year-old was out of options headed into the spring, meaning he would have had to make the Sox’ Opening Day roster.

In a career-high 59 games this past season, Travis slashed .215/.274/.382 to go along with six home runs and 16 RBI while playing first base and both corner outfield positions.

There was a stretch during the summer where it looked like the former top prospect was beginning to put it all together (he had an OPS of 1.007 from July 26th to August 20th), but he ultimately fizzled out over the final few weeks of the season.

With this move made, it now appears that Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec are the top two choices to take over first baseman duties for Boston in 2020. A reunion with free agent Mitch Moreland or even bringing in someone like Eric Thames could be in the mix as well.

Like MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo points out, Chaim Bloom and Co. now have seven days to either find a trade partner for Travis, waive him, or release him if nothing comes to fruition. If Travis goes unclaimed, he will be outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket and off the Sox’ 40-man roster.