#RedSox Catcher Christian Vazquez Considered ‘Someone Teams Could Make a Run at’ in Trade Talks

In his weekly column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo pointed out that teams looking for a backstop may have interest in the Red Sox’ Christian Vazquez now that JT Realmuto is off the board and a Philadelphia Phillie.

Teams Cafardo listed as potential Vazquez suitors were also teams that missed out on Realmuto,  including the Braves, Dodgers, Padres, and Reds.

Now, Vazquez and Realmuto aren’t exactly on the same level in terms of what they bring to the table both at and behind the plate, but Vazquez’s defensive prowess is no joke.

It’s been made pretty much abundantly clear that the Red Sox aren’t planning on carrying three catchers on their 25-man roster in 2019, and with Vazquez due to make $2.85 million, the most of any Boston catcher, this coming season, moving on makes sense, especially when you consider what Leon and Swihart can still provide.

Fresh off signing a three-year contract extension last spring training, the 28-year-old struggled immensely at the plate, slashing a career-worst .207/.257/.283 with three home runs and 16 RBI in just 80 games played in 2018. He also missed a significant amount of time with a fifth finger fracture in his right hand.

To add to the conversation, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Saturday that he feels comfortable with the minor league depth the club has at catcher with this inevitable trade coming, which starts with ex-Rangers backstop Juan Centeno, who Boston signed to a minor league deal last November.

“We’re good,” Cora said. “I had Juan in Houston in 2017. He was part of the playoff roster. So I’m comfortable.”

All three of Centeno, Cora, and Vazquez are natives of Puerto Rico for what it’s worth.

Although Vazquez’s future with the Red Sox is cloudy at this point in time, the same can certainly be said for Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon. The competition between the three of them should really be something to watch these next few weeks.

As for what Dave Dombrowski would want in return for one of the three backstops available via trade, I would venture to say it’s either going to be a middle innings reliever or back-end starter. The possibility that the Red Sox acquire prospects to improve their farm system, like Cafardo says above, is there as well.

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#RedSox Reportedly Seeking Rotation Depth in Catcher Trade Talks as Spring Training Begins.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Boston Sports Journal’s Sean McAdam reported that the Boston Red Sox are in search of some starting rotation depth. In order to do this, McAdam reports, the club is making any three of their big league catchers available via trade.

Now, this should not come as that large of a surprise, especially since president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi said in January that Boston would like to carry only two catchers on their Opening Day roster this season.

What may be surprising here is that Dombrowksi may be looking to shore up the back-end of the Red Sox starting rotation while the bullpen remains the biggest question mark for this club.

As things stand currently, the Red Sox’ starting five will more than likely consist of Chris Sale, David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, Rick Porcello, and Eduardo Rodriguez in 2019. That’s already one of the better rotations in the American League if everyone stays healthy.

Even without the addition of a trade piece, hurlers such as Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, and Steven Wright, when healthy, are more than capable of both pitching out of the bullpen and filling in for a spot start when needed.

So, these rumors are certainly not coming out of nowhere, but when the time comes and one of Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, or Sandy Leon is dealt, I, for one, would be surprised if the Red Sox receive a back-end starting pitcher instead of a reliever in return for one of their backstops.

One Burning Question for Each #RedSox Position Group Headed into Spring Training.

The Red Sox are set to kick off their spring workouts this coming week beginning with pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Fenway South in Fort Myers on Tuesday.

The blueprint for attempting to repeat as World Series champions will be created over the next month and a half before the club hits the road for an 11-game west coast road trip to kick off their 2019 campaign.

There are obviously many components involved in this process, so I went ahead and composed a handful of questions pertaining to each Red Sox position group.

Starting pitchers – Will Chris Sale be able to stay healthy for a full season?

Chris Sale dealt with numerous throwing shoulder issues in 2018, limiting him to 27 starts in the regular season and just 15.1 innings pitched in the postseason. Still, the left-hander posted a 2.11 ERA, averaged 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings, and finished top five in American League Cy Young voting for the sixth consecutive year. Not to mention he recorded the final out of the World Series as well.

So, heading into the final year of his contract before hitting free agency, the spotlight will be on Sale to see if he can sustain his typical success over the course of a full season’s workload. Without a doubt, it’s going to be an important season for the Florida native. How he holds up may just dictate who comes out on top in a competitive American League East.

Relief pitchers – Who will serve as the Red Sox’ closer in 2019?

Speaking of pitching, it seems as though Dave Dombrowski is comfortable with the idea of either Matt Barnes or Ryan Brasier serving as the Red Sox’ closer to at least begin the 2019 season.

That in mind, the best relief pitcher on the market who just so happens to have spent the last three seasons in a Red Sox uniform is still available.

Given how this winter’s free agency has panned out, I’ve grown more and more content with the thought of the Red Sox offering Craig Kimbrel a one-year deal for the 2019 season with a value similar to that of the qualifying offer the flame-throwing closer declined in November.

I have a feeling the soon to be 31-year-old Kimbrel would prefer a multi-year deal, but whether it be Barnes, Brasier, or Kimbrel manning the ninth inning for Boston in 2019, the bullpen is surely far from perfect and will more than likely be the club’s weakest link.

Catchers – Which Red Sox catcher, if any, will get traded before Opening Day?

It’s been reported this winter that the Red Sox would prefer not to carry three catchers on their 25-man roster like they did for parts of the 2018 season heading into the 2019 campaign.

Blake Swihart, Christian Vazquez, and Sandy Leon may all be available via trade as Opening Day looms, but who has the best case to be moved?

Swihart, for starters, is the most appealing option in this scenario.

Turning 27 in April, the former top prospect’s big league career has not exactly panned out the way many envisioned it would when he made his debut with Boston in 2015.

This past season, Swihart was limited to just 207 plate appearances in an extremely limted role with the club, slashing .229/.285/.328 with three home runs and 18 RBI over that span.

Still, the Texas native is viewed by many as Boston’s most appealing backstop. Red Sox manager Alex Cora even said, “I want to see Blake catching more. I’ll give him a chance to,” back at the Baseball Winter Meetings in December.

With Leon and Vazquez in the mix as well, the Red Sox’ catching competition will definitely be something worth paying attention to over the course of the spring.

Infielders – Is Rafael Devers poised for a breakout in 2019?

The second year third baseman blew everyone away with his consistently clutch play this past October as he collected nine RBI in all three postseason series combined, with three of those coming on a game-sealing three-run home run off of Justin Verlander in Game 5 of the ALCS.

But in his first full regular season with Boston, the 22-year-old posted a below average 94 OPS+, committed 24 errors manning the hot corner, and even struggled to find playing time at different points throughout the year.

So, heading into the 2019 season, what should be expected of Devers? The pressure will certainly be on with Eduardo Nunez proving to be a capable third baseman when healthy, and the Red Sox have prospects such as Michael Chavis Bobby Dalbec looming in the minor leagues as well.

If this picture is evident of anything…

…then I fully expect the Dominican Republic native to get to somewhere close to 30-35 home runs this year to go along with a slugging percentage north of .490. One of the more interesting breakout candidates to watch for on this club.

Outfielders – Can Jackie Bradley Jr. put together a consistently solid season at the plate?

Finally, Red Sox fans all know Jackie Bradley Jr. is arguably the best defensive center fielder in the American League, that much has proven thanks to his first Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2018.

What people want to see are consistent at bats from the 28-year-old outfielder.

In the second half of last season, Bradley Jr. slashed .269/.340/.487 with seven home runs and 27 runs driven in. Pretty solid numbers over a span of 58 games.

If the South Carolina native could put those type of numbers together for the length of a full season in 2019, then I think it’s safe to say that the Red Sox will have the best outfield in baseball.

All pictures courtesy of Billie Weiss.

#RedSox React to Patriots Clinching yet Another Super Bowl Berth.

The New England Patriots are heading to their third straight Super Bowl following a 37-31 overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2019 AFC Championship Game.

That’s a tremendous accomplishment within itself as the club, led by future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady, will look for their sixth Super Bowl title in franchise history against the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta on February 3rd.

Following an eventful Winter Weekend at Foxwoods Resort Casino, it seemed as though a good number of Red Sox players and coaches had their eyes on this particular contest, and they sent their congratulations with a familiar theme to the Patriots following the exciting Championship Game win.

The Red Sox already know something about beating a team from Los Angeles on the biggest stage in their sport, and now it’s the Patriots’ turn. What a time to be alive as a sports fan in New England.

STILL HERE.

RECAP: Brock Holt’s Eighth Inning Pinch-Hit Home Run Lifts #RedSox to Tight 2-1 Win over Phillies.

Fresh off a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend, the Red Sox headed north for some tougher competition in the form of the 65-52 Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.

Coming off an outing in which he surrendered seven earned runs on six hits in four innings pitched in his last time out against the Toronto Blue Jays last Thursday, Rick Porcello looked much more like the Rick Porcello we saw two starts ago when he threw a complete game against the New York Yankees.

Making his 25th start of the season in this one, Porcello ended up tossing seven innings of one run ball after taking a perfect game into the fifth.

The only real costly mistake the right-hander made last night was the hit that broke up the perfecto and no-no simultaneously, a leadoff solo shot off the bat of Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins to leadoff the fifth.

A 1-1 72 MPH hanging curveball located towards the bottom of the strike zone, Hoskins did not miss in what turned out to be his 23rd homer of the season and lone run of the evening for Philadelphia.

Other than a two out single he gave up in the same inning, Porcello was perfect en route to his 15th winning decision of the season, as he set a new-season high in strikeouts with 10 on the night.

Like the typical quick worker he is, the 2016 Cy Young Award winner found himself in one three-ball count all night and never dealt with the same one batter for too long a time.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (61 strikes), Porcello was pinch-hit for in the top half of the seventh inning, which would go down as the correct decision to make in that spot.

Before that happened though, the 29-year-old added on to his fine day on the mound with a second inning double off of Phillies starter Nick Pivetta for his second two-bagger of the year.

Out of those 91 pitches thrown, Porcello relied on both of his fastballs a combined 51% of the time on Tuesday while topping out at 92.5 MPH with his four-seamer in the first inning.

Improving to 15-5 and lowering his ERA on the year to 4.04, Porcello will look to build on what has thus far been an inconsistent month in his next time out against the Cleveland Indains on Monday.

In relief of Porcello, the Red Sox bullpen was responsible for closing out the final two frames on Tuesday night, and Heath Hembree did his part with a 1-2-3 eighth inning, which ended with this Odubel Herrera whiff.

Craig Kimbrel, on the other hand, was a different story.

Entering the ninth with a 1.071 OPS against over his last seven appearances, the flame throwing closer got his night started in a one-run game by walking the first batter he faced on six pitches.

With the help of Sandy Leon though, Kimbrel was able to secure his 36th save of the season by retiring the final three Phillies he faced to wrap up a 2-1 win for the Red Sox.

All and all, in nine total innings, Boston pitching held the Phillies to one run on two hits and one walk to go along with 13 punch outs. Not bad.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Phillies starter Nick Pivetta, who owned a 4.51 ERA in 24 games (23 starts) this season.

A right-hander in his second year in the majors, Pivetta held Boston scoreless in seven innings pitched in his only other career start against them at Citizens Bank Park last season.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, it was more of the same from Pivetta on Tuesday night, as they could only tack on one run in the six innings he appeared in.

That run, a 384 foot solo shot off the bat of Sandy Leon with one out in the third, put Boston on the board first in this one.

Although they had another opportunity to score in the inning, nothing came of it after Andrew Benintendi grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Fast forward all the way to the eighth, with Pivetta out and reliever Tommy Hunter in for Philadelphia, Brock Holt came through with the biggest hit of the night.

Batting in the pitcher’s spot with one out in the inning, Holt swung away at the first pitch he saw from Hunter, a 94 MPH cutter located on the inner half of the plate, and sent it 424 feet to right field to score what ended up being the winning run.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 86-35, 10 games up in the American League East, and have won five games in a row.

From @SoxNotes: This is the first time Red Sox starting pitchers have ever recorded 10+ strikeouts and 0 walks in consecutive team games (source: ). Rick Porcello had 10 K and 0 BB tonight, after Chris Sale had 12 K and 0 BB on Sunday.

That home run from Brock Holt was his second career pinch-hit homer. The last time he did that came nearly two seasons ago against the Padres in San Diego.

Over the span of his six-game hitting streak, Holt is slashing .364/.440/.636 with two long balls and six RBI in 22 at bats.

Rick Porcello owns a 1.200 OPS this season.

Going for the quick two-game sweep later tonight, it will be Nathan Eovaldi looking for redemption in his first interleague start with the Red Sox.

In case you have forgotten, Eovaldi got his bell rung for eight runs on 10 hits in two innings last Friday against the Orioles.

In four career outings at Citizens Bank Park, the newest Red Sox hurler owns a 4.57 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched.

Opposite Eovaldi will be Phillies right-hander Vince Velasquez, who, like Pivetta, has only made one start against the Red Sox in his four-year career.

That start, which came back when Velazquez pitched for the Astros during part of the 2015 season, was an outing in which the California native gave up three runs on seven hits in six innings pitched in an eventual 8-3 win for Houston.

That was a long time ago though, and things have definitely changed in the last three years.

First pitch of the series finale in Philly is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET Wednesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RECAP: David Price Surrenders Career-High Five Home Runs as Struggles Against Yankees Continue for the #RedSox Starter.

David Price and the New York Yankees. Name a more disastrous duo.

Yes, on a night where the Red Sox could have left the Bronx with a two game lead in the American League East pennant race, David Price came up extremely short.

Known for his struggles at Yankee Stadium since signing with Boston prior to the 2016 season, Price certainly did not do himself any favors yesterday.

Lasting just 3.1 innings, the lefty was walloped for EIGHT earned runs on nine hits, with five of those being home runs, while only recording three strikeouts.

In a 25-pitch first inning, the Yankees reached base four times off of Price, and got four runs out of it. The first of those four came on an Aaron Judge 409 foot blast to center field for the first run of the game. The other three runs came three batters later on one swing of the bat from rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres, who, on a 93 MPH two-seam fastball from Price, belted his 15th long ball of the season 380 feet to right field to put his team up by a bunch early.

An inning later, the Yankees struck again with another homer, this one coming from center fielder Aaron Hicks on a two-run shot, his first of three on the night.

After a surprising scoreless frame in the third, things got ugly for Price in an inning he would not be able to finish.

To truly show how miserable of a night the Vanderbilt alum had, just look at the events that transpired in the bottom half of the fourth.

First batter of the inning, Kyle Higashioka, 0/22 to start his career, takes Price deep to left for his first big league hit and home run on a 1-2 89 MPH cutter. 7-0 Yankees.

Two batters later, Aaron Hicks, career .208 hitter against Price prior to yesterday’s contest, blasts his second homer 373 feet to dead center. 8-0 Yankees and that is what put an end to David Price’s awful outing.

Finishing with a pitch count of only 71 (51 strikes), the 32 year-old hurler topped out at 94.5 MPH with his four-seam fastball in the second inning.

Let’s take a closer look at those struggles Price has had at Yankee Stadium since joining the Red Sox.

5 GS
25 IP
47 H
29 ER
10 HR
10.44 ERA

Image result for not great bob

Nope, it really isn’t! And in all honesty, I have no confidence at all in giving the ball to David Price in a potential ALDS or ALCS game at Yankee Stadium. If that were to be the case later on in October, I’d be interested to see how Alex Cora and the Red Sox would go about not utilizing their $30 million man in a situation he should be able to handle. but clearly can’t.

You also cannot make stuff like this up.

Anyway, last night’s debacle ended a solid run for Price in which he allowed three or fewer runs in nine straight starts. He’ll look to hopefully rebound from this in his next outing against the Kansas City Royals on Saturday. For now, let’s just hope one bad start does not derail the quality season Price has had to this point.

In relief of Price, Justin Haley was first out of the Red Sox bullpen and gave up one run in 2.2 innings of work.

Brandon Workman came through with the best performance of any Red Sox pitcher on Sunday, as he threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

And in the eighth, Hector Velazquez gave up an additional two runs on three hits, including Aaron Hicks’ third homer of the evening, to wrap up what was a dismal evening for Red Sox pitching.

On the other side of things, the Yankees pitching staff had themselves a GREAT night against a team that just scored 11 runs off of them on Saturday.

Let me tell you though, Luis Severino is in a whole other category of pitchers when compared to Sonny Gray. The Yankees ace shut down the Red Sox lineup while pitching into the seventh inning of this one. Over that stretch, Severino surrendered just two hits and three walks while fanning six to improve to 13-2 on his season.

The only run of the night for the Red Sox came in the ninth, when after Sandy Leon reached second on a double and Blake Swihart advanced him to third on a single, Rafael Devers collected his 47th RBI of the year by scoring Leon on a  5-4 force out at second base. All this coming with Aroldis Chapman, who hadn’t appeared in a game in nearly a week, on the mound for New York.

Some notes from this loss:

In a highly anticipated series between two of the best teams in all of baseball, here are the results from all three games.

Friday: BOS 1-8 NYY
Saturday: BOS 11-0 NYY
Sunday: BOS 1-11 NYY

Not much consistency between these two clubs over the weekend, and neither game was close because of it.

Nine games into the season series, the Red Sox own a 4-5 record against New York in 2018. The good news is, seven of the next ten games against the Yankees will be played at Fenway Park, including the last three of the season on the last weekend of September.

Having dropped two of their first three games on a decently long road trip, things will not get easier for the Red Sox when they land in the nation’s capital sometime this morning. In a three-game series against the Washington Nationals kicking off on Monday, the Red Sox will be greeted by one of the best pitchers in the National League in Mad Max, Max Scherzer. He’ll be matched up against an old teammate in Rick Porcello for Boston, and first pitch of the series opener is scheduled for 7:05 PM ET tonight.

 

 

RECAP: Rafael Devers Sets Tone Early and Chris Sale Fans 11 as #RedSox Shut out Yankees.

Coming off a game in which they were held to just one run by CC Sabathia and the Yankees pitching staff, the Red Sox made sure that was not the case on Saturday night. With Chris Sale on the mound though, they didn’t need much to pick up a series-evening win.

Making his 18th start of the season last night, Chris Sale wrapped up his stellar month of June with yet another superb performance against a team he has a solid track record against.

Going into what was his 14th career start against the Yankees, Sale owned a 1.73 ERA in 93.2 innings against New York over nine seasons, including one outing this season in which he allowed one run in just six innings pitched back on April 10th.

Right from the get go, it was clear that Sale meant business in a decently important game. And given the fact he had a four run lead to work with before he even took the mound, the lefty was not put in all that many stressful spots on Saturday.

In a full seven innings pitched, Sale held the Yankees to just three total baserunners on one hit, one walk, and one HBP while recording a healthy 11 strikeouts on the evening.

What was most impressive about the Florida native’s night would have to be his sixth frame of work, in which he struck out the side on 20 pitches, the most he threw in an inning. Can’t forget to mention the help he got from Jackie Bradley Jr. in the bottom half of the third as well.

Retiring the last 16 batters he faced, Sale finished with a final pitch count of 101 (72 strikes) after ending the seventh. Topping out at 100 MPH in that seventh inning, the 29-year-old hurler went to his four-seam fastball 36% of the time on Saturday.

A performance certainly worthy of a win, Sale improved to 8-4 on the season last night. He’ll look to build on a successful June in his next time out, which should come against the lowly Kansas City Royals on Friday.

In relief of Sale, Alex Cora turned to two relievers out of the Red Sox bullpen for what was essentially mop-up duty in a blowout game. First, Heath Hembree tossed a scoreless eighth inning, then Hector Velazquez tossed a scoreless ninth to wrap this thing up.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup made people forget about their one run clunker on Friday night very quickly.

Facing off against a pitcher who has struggled against Boston in the past in Sonny Gray, Rafael Devers got the scoring started right away in the first.

After recording the first two outs of the inning, Gray allowed the next three batters he faced to reach base on two singles and a walk. That set up an ideal scoring situation for Devers, and he capitalized on it.

Mookie’s reaction:

That grand slam was the first from the Red Sox since April 30th. With that slam, Devers became the youngest player in the history of Red Sox vs. Yankees matchups to go yard in that fashion.

An inning later, a leadoff double from Sandy Leon followed by a Mookie Betts walk set up another great scoring spot, this time for Andrew Benintendi. On the third pitch of his at bat, Benintendi ripped a single to right field to score Leon from Second and collect his 53rd RBI of the year.

Speaking of RBI, JD Martinez had three of them on Saturday, and he picked up his first in the second when a 322 foot sacrifice fly to right field scored Betts from third and put the Red Sox up by six runs early.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth now, with Gray well out of this game, and Martinez struck again. This time on an RBI single to score Jackie Bradley Jr. from second.

In the seventh, after Rafael Devers lined a one out double off of Yankees reliever Giovanny Gallegos, Sandy Leon blasted is his second home run is as many starts 388 feet into the right field seats.

From that point on, JD Martinez notched his 3rd RBI of the night in the eighth, and Brock Holt picked up one in the ninth on a pinch-hit RBI single to score his teams 11th and final run of the game. Not like it was needed, but it was still nice to see that production come from the bottom of the lineup after a quiet night on Friday.

Some notes from this win:

Alex Cora on the big win, “”The guys came out with an attitude today. It was fun to watch. There was something different with this group today.”

From @SoxNotes: Chris Sale has a 1.03 ERA in his last 5 starts. Among the 500+ pitchers who have made at least 10 starts vs. NYY in the Live Ball Era (1920-pres.), Sale owns the lowest career ERA (1.61) against the Yankees, as well as the highest SO/9.0 IP ratio (11.62).

With his five-hit performance at the plate on Saturday, Rafael Devers raised his batting average by 12 points, his OBP by 10 points, and his SLG by 22 points.

Entering July, JD Martinez leads all of baseball in HR (25) and RBI (67).

In this first day of July, the finale of this Red Sox-Yankees series will receive plenty of attention via Sunday Night Baseball. For David Price, this particular start looms large. A career 4.27 ERA in 19 starts at Yankee Stadium, the lefty will have plenty to prove in what should be a playoff atmosphere in the Bronx tonight.

He’ll be matched up against the best pitcher on this Yankees staff in Luis Severino. New York specifically moved their rotation so Severino would start tonight’s contest, so you know it means a lot for them as well.

First pitch of the final game is scheduled for 8:05 PM ET on ESPN.