The 2020 Major League Baseball season has reached its final weekend leading up until the August 31 trade deadline. With that, a few key contributors on the Red Sox popped up in trade rumors on Friday.
According to The Athletic’s Eno Sarris and Brittany Ghiroli, the Astros have “inquired” on right-hander Matt Barnes, while the Rays “have interest” in catcher Christian Vazquez “with early discussions centering around Tampa’s pitching prospects.”
Barnes and Vazquez, who are both 30 years old, are under club control through the end of the 2021 season, with Vazquez having a $7 million team option for 2022.
Coming into Friday with the second-worst record in the American League at 10-21, the Sox seem primed to be sellers between now and Monday afternoon. They made that much apparent last week by dealing both Heath Hembree and Brandon Workman to the Phillies.
Barnes, who is good friends with both Hembree and Workman, could be the next Boston reliever to get moved.
Through his first 12 appearances of the year, the UCONN product has struggled thus far, posting a 6.00 ERA and 6.65 FIP over 12 innings of work. Still, Barnes was among the nastiest relievers in the American League in 2019, and a pitching-savvy club such as the Astros, led by renowned pitching coach Brent Strom, may be able to unlock something in the fireballer.
Vazquez, meanwhile, has a case to be made that he is more valuable to the Red Sox than Barnes is seeing how he anchors an ever-changing pitching staff.
Coming off a career year last season, the Puerto Rico native entered the weekend owning a .260/.295/.430 slash line to go along with four home runs and 12 RBI through 28 games and 105 plate appearances.
Just recently, Vazquez expressed his desire to end his career with the Red Sox, the organization he was originally drafted by 12 years ago.
“I think it’s going to be sad if I left Boston because all my career we’re here,” he said this past Tuesday. “From (2008), a young kid, I’ve been here. Only one organization. And my goal is retire here. That’s my goal in my career. Be part of one organization, have one jersey on my chest all my career. But we don’t control that.”
If chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, who used to work for the Rays, were to entertain trading Vazquez to Tampa Bay, who have the top farm system in baseball according to Baseball America, not only could the Sox possibly get a quality pitching prospect back, but they could also open the door to sign free agent-to-be J.T. Realmuto this winter if the Phillies don’t re-sign the All-Star backstop first.
That is just a distinct possibility, however, and Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy even classified Vazquez as someone “we want in Boston” when speaking with NESN’s Tom Caron on Wednesday.
With less than 72 hours to go until the trade deadline, Bloom and Co. are certainly on the clock. Even with all that has transpired over the past few days, it would be quite surprising to see the Red Sox not make any additional moves by Monday.
Statistically speaking, Xander Bogaerts has been one of the best shortstops in baseball over the last three seasons. On top of that, the two-time All-Star is by all accounts a clubhouse leader and is on a relatively team friendly contract after signing a six-year, $120 million extension with the Red Sox last spring.
With all that being said, could the Sox actually consider trading one of their cornerstone players just six months after dealing Mookie Betts to the Dodgers? Well, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, it is at least somewhat of a possibility given the circumstances.
Those circumstances being that in Bogaerts’ current contract, the 27-year-old will receive a full no-trade clause once he reaches seven years of major-league service time next month.
On top of that, Bogaerts can also opt out of his deal at the end of the 2022 season, which as Rosenthal notes, could very well happen considering the fact that the likes of Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, and Trevor Story are all slated to hit free agency the winter before and in turn could reset the market for shortstops.
Considering these two pieces of information, if Boston were to ever trade Bogaerts, doing so before this year’s August 31 trading deadline would likely be the best time seeing how the Aruba native could be moved with virtually no restrictions.
Of course, the idea of trading Bogaerts really is quite ludicrous, to be frank. The idea that the Red Sox would want to trade a player they consider “extremely important” does not make all that much sense.
Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy may have said in a radio interview last week that no Boston players are “untouchable” ahead of the trade deadline, but he did also say, “There are certainly guys who have grown up in the system that we’d like to keep with the Sox for a long, long time.”
Bogaerts, as well as third baseman Rafael Devers, certainly fit that description. And despite what Rosenthal says, I do not feel the Red Sox are “almost obligated” to shop around the shortstop.
At 6-12, the Red Sox are off to a dreadful start this season and are on pace to finish the year with a 20-40 record. To make things worse for fans watching at home, the average time it has taken the Sox to complete a game this year has been 3 hours and 18 minutes, which according to Baseball Reference is the fourth-highest mark in Major League Baseball behind the Astros, Angels, and Pirates.
Lengthy games that have resulted in disappointing losses two-thirds of the time are one thing, but again, to add insult to injury, the majority of Red Sox home games this season have started at 7:30 p.m. eastern time. No other team in baseball is doing this, and some are even starting games earlier than they have in the past since attendance is not an issue for the time being.
I could go on about this issue, which you can read more about here, but what I really found interesting was how Red Sox team president and CEO Sam Kennedy conceded on Wednesday that the late start times for night games at Fenway Park may not have been the best idea in hindsight.
“We talk about scheduling issues each and every day,” he said. “The 7:30 experiment was designed to try and capture the largest television audience possible and given the way the team has played, given maybe the nature of the pandemic with people being home more, perhaps that wasn’t the right decision. We’ll see as we go forward here.”
When asked about moving games up in order to avoid playing at the same time as the Bruins or Celtics, Kennedy said, ” Because we play every day, it is really hard for us to adjust on the fly. We have done that in years past. But, sometimes you find yourselves in a situation like the Bruins yesterday when they were set to play late in the day and then they played at 11 o’clock in the morning given the overtime game.”
In his closing statement, Kennedy emphasized how fluid things have been in terms of scheduling since the 2020 MLB season began last month. While some teams like the Red Sox are closing in on 20 games played, other teams like the Cardinals have only played five due to a COVID-19 outbreak within their ranks.
“We’re literally in a day-to-day situation over here trying to work our way through what is a highly unusual season,” he stated. “Yes, we do talk about changes to the schedule and being flexible.”
If the Red Sox continue to fall out of contention as they are on pace to do, it will be interesting to see how long it will take for any schedule adjustments to be made, if there are any at all.
Per Drellich, these pay cuts are for those employees making $50,000 or more per year and are tiered in the following fashion.
“Salary of $50K-99K is 20%
$100 to $499K is 25%
$500K-plus is 30%”
As Drellich notes, the employees who make $100,000 are being treated in just about the same way those making upwards of $500,000 are, which has led to the following statement from a Red Sox staffer:
“People are livid.”
This news was apparently broken at a company meeting held by the Red Sox on Friday night, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. In this particular meeting, the club announced that there would be no furloughs or layoffs, just salary cuts for those employees making upwards of $50,000 as previously mentioned.
Earlier Friday, the Red Sox announced that 22 minor-league players had been released on Thursday, so it definitely appears that John Henry, Tom Werner, and Co. are trying to cut down on costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the 2020 baseball season on hold for the time being.
For the most part, the uniforms donned by the Red Sox have remained unchanged over the last few decades.
There have been subtle changes here and there, such as the addition of a blue alternate road jersey in 2009 or the decision to go from blue lettering back to red lettering on the primary road jersey in 2014, but out of the 30 clubs that Major League Baseball is comprised of, the Red Sox have one of the more classic looks in the game, as they should.
Still, that has not stopped team higher-ups from discussing how to further modernize the Sox’ look moving forward, especially now that Nike took over as MLB’s official uniform outfitter last winter.
“We are looking at changes as we go forward,” team president Sam Kennedy told The Athletic’sChad Jennings. “[The changes will be] likely geared to get us to a uniform that is geared towards high performance. We will always be respectful of our incredible traditional look and feel, but we are always open to new and different concepts as time goes by.”
With Nike providing the Red Sox with their uniforms for the foreseeable future, the hope is that more technology can be implemented into any new uniform so that players can be more comfortable while actually playing baseball.
For instance, according to team executive vice president of partnerships Troup Parkinson, Red Sox ownership is really more focused on fit than anything else in talks about potential new uniforms.
“They think that, for example, Nike can bring tons of technology to the fit and hopefully help the performance of the athlete,” Parkinson said. “[It’s] happened in basketball and in football, but, amazingly, in baseball it hasn’t. The [players], if you talk to them, they will say the uniform doesn’t fit.”
Per Jennings, Red Sox principal owner John Henry and team chairman Tom Werner are “heavily involved” in decisions regarding the club’s uniforms and overall aesthetic look. Such decisions include changing primary logos, adding alternate jerseys, changing up batting practice looks, and sticking with batting helmets with a shiny finish rather than a matte one.
“John and Tom are both very engaged in uniform design,” said Kennedy. “They both have a passion for the look and feel of the brand. In terms of the Red Sox, while we have not made dramatic changes in our time here, we had had some relatively minor adjustments, driven by ownership’s desire to preserve our traditional look while modernizing a bit.”
To add on to that, Parkinson himself said that he expects subtle changes to the Red Sox’ uniforms to come at some point in the ‘near future.’
As Jennings puts it, these potential changes “likely won’t be wholesale or drastic changes, but they will be noticeable, especially for a fan base that’s grown attached to the current look. Which is the old look. Which is the classic look.”
What could these changes to Boston’s uniforms look like? Well, it’s tough to say.
As things stand currently, the Red Sox employ a five-jersey rotation (home whites, road grays, red home alternates, navy blue road alternates, and those special Patriots’ Day whites) to go along with white pants at home and gray pants on the road. All these uniforms are worn with the standard navy blue cap with a red ‘B’ front and center.
The home whites with the arching ‘Red Sox’ across the chest and the red piping around the collar and down the front of the jersey, for the most part, have remained a constant throughout the club’s storied history. They went with pullover tops and a predominantly red cap for a little bit there in the 1970’s, but that trend did not last into the following decade.
The road grays, meanwhile, have either featured ‘Boston’ across the chest in red or navy blue font since the turn of the century. The ‘Hanging Sox’ logo was added to the left sleeve of the road jerseys in 2010 and have been present since.
In terms of alternate looks, the red alternates worn at home have been in rotation since 2003 and have since been given a more modern look through the removal of the original blue piping that went around the collar and down the middle of the jersey.
As mentioned earlier, the navy blue alternates worn on the road were added to the mix in 2009. For whatever reason, they do not feature the ‘Hanging Sox’ logo on the left sleeve.
All in all, it’s a pretty solid mix of tradition and color rolled into one set of uniforms. It’s somewhat difficult to see how something already so good could be improved upon.
Then again, Parkinson told Jennings that “he actually likes to hear unusual uniform and branding ideas from outside companies (like Nike in this case) – those outsiders presumably are not as emotionally attached to the current look, and might offer much-needed perspective – but those partners rarely, if ever, suggest anything too far outside the box.”
Nike has proven to get creative with the looks of other historic franchises across different sports while also keeping that team’s history and tradition in tact, like with the Boston Celtics or Los Angeles Lakers.
If I could throw out some ideas here, I’d say that I would not mind seeing the Red Sox go back to wearing gray jerseys with the navy blue ‘Boston’ across the chest while on the road. That incorporates more of the team’s legacy into their look and may be nostalgic for older fans.
Speaking of nostalgia, it’s been said before, but bring back the 70’s throwbacks that we saw briefly in 2015 and 2016. It’s definitely a fun look.
Also, could it be possible that the Red Sox would remove the red piping from their primary home jerseys? It’s the only jersey in the current mix that still features piping, although it is arguably their most classic feature.
Lastly, I’ve written about it in the past, but it would be interesting to see the Sox wear the red jerseys on the road and the blue jerseys at home. Mix it up a little, you know?
Other than that, I’m definitely curious to see what tweaks Nike and the Red Sox have in store for the team’s look. Not exactly sure when any changes will be revealed to the public, though.
Per Abraham, the Red Sox feel “it’s best for players, coaches., etc. to go home” while a “small staff will be at Fenway South for any who do stay.”
This news comes on the same day Major League Baseball sent a memo to all 30 clubs stating that, “40-man roster players must be permitted to remain at the club’s spring training site, and are eligible to receive their usual spring training allowances…We understand that many 40-man roster players have chosen to remain in camp to date, but we anticipate that may change in the coming days as events continue to unfold and players become better educated about current conditions.”
In regard to non-roster and other minor-league players not on a club’s 40-man roster, those players “should return to their off-season residences to the extent practical. If it is not feasible for a non-roster player to return home, which may be the case for some international players or players who reside in high-risk areas in the United States, clubs should work with the player to provide suitable accommodations. Non-roster players who require ongoing treatment from the club’s medical personnel may remain in order to receive treatment.”
With Major League Baseball suspending spring training and pushing back the start of the regular season by at least two weeks on Thursday due to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, it’s not all that surprising to see more measures being taken less than four days later with more likely to come this week.
On the same day the above memo was sent to all 30 clubs, a Yankees minor-league player tested positive for COVID-19, leading the team to quarantine all of it’s minor-leaguers for two weeks while delivering food to their hotel rooms, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
The New York Yankees have told all their minor league players that they should quarantine for two weeks, sources told ESPN. The team will deliver food to the players in their hotel rooms.
The fact that one player has tested positive is far from encouraging, as it could create a trickle-down effect similar to the one we’ve seen in the NBA since Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for novel coronavirus this past Wednesday.
While Red Sox team president Sam Kennedy said in a conference call Friday that no one in the organization has yet to test positive for the coronavirus at that time, he did acknowledge that he “feels a sense of inevitability” that someone within the organization will eventually test positive.
“We are preparing for that as an organization,” Kennedy said in regard to a Red Sox employee potentially testing positive. “If that happens, we’ll be ready with our own protocols and with Major League Baseball’s protocols.”
If something coronavirus-related does happen to the Red Sox in the coming days, I’ll make sure to have something about it on here. So, hopefully nothing happens, but if it does, stay tuned and remember to wash your hands.
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’sChad 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.
If the Sox were to host baseball’s Midsummer Classic within the next three to five years, it would be their fourth time doing it at Fenway Park, with the first occasion coming back in 1946, the second coming in 1971, and the third, more notable occasion coming in 1999, when Pedro Martinez was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
The American League is 2-0-1 when the game is played at Fenway Park.
In terms of future locations for the All-Star Game, the Los Angeles Dodgers will serve as hosts at Dodgers Stadium in 2020, the Atlanta Braves will do the same at SunTrust Park in 2021, and a little later down the line, the Philadelphia Phillies will host the event at Citizens Life Bank in 2026 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
“We need more space for it to take over the whole city. We’ve told MLB we would like to host,” said Kennedy Friday. “We don’t have any specific plans or a specific year.”
Assuming the Red Sox host their fourth All-Star Game in the 2022-2025 range as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, it’s not crazy to think that either of Xander Bogaerts and/or Rafael Devers could serve as the team’s ambassadors for that special week in July.
The Red Sox officially named Chaim Bloom as their new chief baseball officer on Monday afternoon through a press conference that featured Bloom himself, principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and team president Sam Kennedy. Brian O’Halloran was also formally promoted to general manager, marking the first time Boston has had a GM since 2016.
“We’ve tried to keep up with the change in nature of the baseball operations landscape,” Kennedy said of Bloom’s new title. “We value the collaboration and brainpower and institutional knowledge that our incredible team of baseball operations folks have.”
In his new role with his new organization, Bloom, who is coming over from the Tampa Bay Rays after 15 seasons working various roles, most recently as senior vice president of baseball operations, will have plenty of tough decisions to make right from the jump.
The futures of two Red Sox All-Stars, Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, are among those, with Betts having one year remaining in arbitration before reaching free agency for the first time next winter, and Martinez having five days to decide whether or not to opt out of the remaining three years and $62.5 million on his current contract once the World Series comes to a close later this week.
“Our top priority is sustainability and competitiveness over the long term,” Bloom said when asked about Betts and Martinez. “That can take many forms but that’s really going to be the top priority. There’s a lot I don’t know. I’m just coming in here. So I’m looking forward to building relationships with them.”
The theories surrounding what the Sox plan to do with Betts has been a hot topic since the club’s 2019 season ended last month. So much so that Henry discussed it, as well as Martinez’s situation, when describing what the interview process with Bloom was like.
“We talked about that there are a lot of tough decisions to make during this offseason. That’s not uncommon,” Henry said. “We talked about Mookie, J.D. other issues, but we didn’t focus on what should we do.”
As has already been indicated by Red Sox ownership, it is a goal, not a mandate, to get the team’s 2020 payroll under the $208 million luxury tax threshold. Betts, who is projected to earn $27.7 million in his final year of salary arbitration, and Martinez, who would earn $23.75 million next year if he opts in, would account for approximately 24.7% of that $208 million.
“You’re going to look at a number of factors,” said Henry. “Including where Mookie wants to play in the long-term.”
If the Red Sox were to offer Betts a contract extension and the 27-year-old were to turn it down, a trade would not be out of the question. Bloom did discuss how integral a quality farm system is for a team’s long-term success. Even with one year left of team control, Betts still could garner a hefty return in terms of prospects in a potential trade.
How Bloom makes his mark in his tenure with the Red Sox will be something to pay attention to for the foreseeable future. Someone who came up in a club with limited financial resources now has a great deal more to work with. How he utilizes those will be worth monitoring as Boston heads towards an offseason full of uncertainties.
In case you somehow missed it, the Red Sox officially parted ways with now former president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski on Monday morning after the news was first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Passan late Sunday night.
The #RedSox today announced that they have parted ways with President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski.
This comes on the same night that the Red Sox fell to the New York Yankees by a final score of 10-5 to fall back to 76-67 on the season and a full eight games behind the Oakland Athletics for the second American League Wild Card Spot, all but snuffing out any hope of making a late push for October baseball.
Dombrowski, 63, had one year remaining on his contract that ran through the end of the 2020 season, and is less than a full year removed from constructing a Red Sox team that won a franchise-record 108 games en route to a historic World Series title this past October.
The ex-Detroit Tigers general manager was hired by the Sox in August of 2015, inheriting a club from Ben Cherington that was on its way to its third last place finish in the American League East since 2012.
In the three full seasons he was at the helm in Boston, Dombrowski won three consecutive division titles, the first time that had ever been accomplished in Red Sox history, and of course capped it off with the World Series win last year.
Per the Sox’ official release that you can visit above, Dombrowski was informed of this decision by principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, and president & CEO Sam Kennedy.
“We were extraordinarily fortunate to be able to bring Dave in to lead baseball operations,” said Henry. “With a World Series Championship and three consecutive American League East titles, he has cemented what was already a Hall of Fame career.”
While the club begins the pursuit to find its next head of baseball operations, assistant general managers Eddie Romero, Brian O’Halloran and Zack Scott will take over those duties for the remainder of the 2019 season.