Red Sox Add Yairo Muñoz to Spring Training Roster, Option Four Pitchers to Minor-League Camp

The Red Sox officially announced the signing of former Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz on a minor-league deal on Thursday. The 25-year-old has been added to Boston’s spring training roster as a non-roster invitee and will likely begin the year with Triple-A Pawtucket once the 2020 season does begin.

In a series of other moves, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom also announced that Colten Brewer and three pitchers picked up over the course of the offseason — Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, and Jeffrey Springs– had been optioned to minor-league rosters.

Hall and Mazza were both optioned to High-A Salem, while Brewer was optioned to Double-A Portland and Springs was optioned to Pawtucket.

Brewer and Mazza both seemed like potential options to serve as an opener for the Sox this season, but it looks like they’ll start the year in the minors once baseball does resume, although I doubt it will be at the levels they were optioned to on Thursday.

Hall and Springs, meanwhile, were picked up via a pair of trades over the winter. The two left-handers appeared in a total of 41 major-league games last year with the Tigers and Rangers respectively.

With these moves, the Red Sox now have 43 players at major-league camp, 16 of which are pitchers.

 

Red Sox Minor-Leaguer Tests Positive for COVID-19, Club Shuts Down Fenway South Complex for at Least Two Weeks

A Red Sox minor-league player has tested positive for COVID-19, the team announced Tuesday night.

Per a team spokesman, that player tested positive and received the results of the test on Monday, eight days after he had last been at the Red Sox’ facility in Fort Myers.

That player is now recovering and “doing well” at home, and the Red Sox believe that it is “more likely” he contracted COVID-19 upon departing from Fort Myers last week.

With this news though, the Fenway South complex will now be shut down for at least the next two weeks, effective immediately. During that time, the facility, JetBlue Park included, will undergo a deep cleaning.

Some Red Sox players were still using the facilities at Fenway South to continue their workouts even after spring training was suspended by Major League Baseball. Those players will now have to find somewhere else to work out.

The Red Sox also advised any player or staff member who came into contact with the aforementioned minor-leaguer who tested positive for the virus to self-quarantine for the next two weeks.

Although this Red Sox minor-leaguer has yet to be identified, he is now the third known professional baseball player to test positive for COVID-19 after two Yankees minor-leaguers tested positive earlier in the month.

Red Sox Acquire Catcher Jhonny Pereda From Cubs to Complete Travis Lakins Trade

The Red Sox have acquired minor-league catcher Jhonny Pereda from the Cubs to complete the trade that sent right-hander Travis Lakins to Chicago back in January. The club made the transaction official earlier Monday.

Pereda, who turns 24 in April, was originally signed by the Cubs as an international free agent out of Venezuela in April 2013.

In 98 games with Double-A Tennessee last year, the backstop slashed .241/.336/.305 with two home runs and 39 RBI. He was also the recipient of the 2019 Minor League Rawlings Gold Glove Award for catcher, as he threw out 44 of the 132 (33.3%) of the runners who attempted to steal against him last year.

A right-handed hitter, Pereda also played eight games at first base in 2019 as well as two games at third base in 2017.

As for Lakins, the 25-year-old was dealt to the Cubs in January in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Pereda turned out to be that PTBNL, but Lakins has since been waived by Chicago and claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.

Red Sox Option Left-Hander Josh Osich to Triple-A Pawtucket

In their first roster move since Major League Baseball suspended spring training, the Red Sox have optioned left-hander Josh Osich to Triple-A Pawtucket. The club made the transaction official earlier Thursday.

Osich, 31, was originally claimed off waivers from the White Sox last October in what was Chaim Bloom’s first move as Boston’s chief baseball officer.

Coming off a year in which he posted a 4.66 ERA and .242 batting average against over 57 appearances and 67 2/3 innings of work for Chicago, Osich has had quite the busy offseason, as he was claimed by Boston in late October, then non-tendered in early December before coming back on a split contract two days later.

The Idaho native had surrendered just one earned run on three hits, four walks, and six strikeouts through his first four outings and 4 2/3 innings of the spring, but he will not make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster, whenever Opening Day may be.

With this move, the Sox technically now have 46 players at major league camp.

Red Sox’ Chris Sale to Undergo Tommy John Surgery

Red Sox ace left-hander Chris Sale will undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, the team officially announced Thursday.

This news comes one day after it was reported by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier that Sale had recently begun another throwing program in Fort Myers nearly three weeks after throwing to live hitters for the first time since last year at the beginning of the month.

The day after throwing that live bullpen session, Sale began to feel discomfort in the same left elbow he had issues with in 2019, and the results of his MRI revealed a flexor tendon strain. Those results were sent over to esteemed sports medicine specialists Dr. James Andrews and Dr. Neil ElAttrache, but neither doctor recommended surgery at the time and instead prescribed Sale with rest since his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) was “unchanged”, per interim manager Ron Roenicke.

While speaking with reporters in a conference call on Thursday, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom explained that Sale began throwing again last Friday, then threw a light session on Sunday, but had to be shut down while throwing outside on Tuesday due to the pain he felt in that elbow. That’s how the decision for the left-hander to go under the knife was reached.

According to Bloom, the date for Sale’s surgery has not yet been set, but he does “expect it to be soon, in the fairly near future.”

The recovery time for a pitcher undergoing Tommy John surgery is typically anywhere between 12 to 15 months, so depending on when Sale does have it, he will miss the entirety of the 2020 season, whenever that starts, as well as some time in 2021.

Sale, who turns 31 later this month, is set to earn $30 million this season in the first year of the five-year, $145 million contract extension he signed with Boston last March.

The Florida native missed the final six weeks of the 2019 campaign due to inflammation in his left elbow and dealt with a bout of pneumonia right around the time camp broke this year.

Without Sale in their plans, the Red Sox’ starting rotation will be composed of Eduardo Rodriguez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Martin Perez. Outside of those three, Ryan Weber had looked solid in his handful of spring starts, while Roenicke also mentioned Brian Johnson and an opener as potential rotation options on Thursday.

“”It’s never just about one season. We’re always going to make sure we’ll bolster our long-term outlook as well,” Bloom said in regard to this year’s Red Sox. “Losing Chris for 2020 isn’t going to make our task any easier.”

Red Sox Should Wear Red Alternate Jerseys on the Road in 2020

When baseball does finally return this year, the Red Sox should try something new and wear their red alternate jerseys on the road. It would look something like this:

(Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

I say this because before spring training games were suspended last week, the Sox wore their red tops with their grey pants for every single game away from JetBlue Park, and quite honestly, I thought it was a sharp look.

From what I recall, I don’t think the Red Sox have ever wore their red tops on the road during the regular season or postseason. That look is typically reserved for Friday night home games or a doubleheader at Fenway Park.

The same goes for the navy blue tops as well in that they are reserved for Friday night games on the road.

But, as recently as the 2018 postseason, that pattern seemed to cease under former manager Alex Cora, who appeared to let whoever that day’s starting pitcher was choose which jersey to wear. A prime example of this is how Eduardo Rodriguez went with the red or blue tops for the majority of the 34 starts he made last year.

Another factor here is that the red tops the Red Sox wore during spring training this year included the player’s last names on the back unlike the alternate home jerseys they have worn in years past.

That may be the case becuase Nike is the new uniform provider for Major League Baseball, but according to MLBShop.com, it looks like the Sox’ red alternates will not include last names once again.

4a32deb8-e5fb-4ace-981f-97f1f3ccbf1a.png

They could still wear these at home, but why not go with the spring training version for regular season games on the road in 2020? Sure, the front of the jersey would read ‘Red Sox’ opposed to ‘Boston’, but in today’s day and age, I don’t think that matters as much anymore.

Wearing red on the road would provide the Red Sox with a new look, which makes perfect sense since the 2020 team will surely be deemed ‘the new-look Red Sox’ to at least begin the season.

Major League Baseball Places Temporary Ban on All Scouting Activity

Major League Baseball is temporarily prohibiting all scouting activity on both the domestic and international level, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Per Rosenthal, no public or private tryouts will be permitted, while amateur games, showcases, workouts, and in-home or in-person visits are off limits as well. This has been done because Major League Baseball “does not want any clubs seeking a scouting advantage over any other.”

With the amateur draft set to take place from June 10th through the 12th, it appears that the league is trying to be as cautious as possible in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States.

The draft, which had been done at MLB Network’s studious in Secaucus, New Jersey since 2009, was set to take place in Omaha, Nebraska, the host city of the annual College World Series, this year.

But, with the NCAA announcing last Thursday that all remaining winter and spring championships had been cancelled due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, that went for the College World Series as well.

Although nothing has been made official yet, it doesn’t make too much sense anymore to hold the amateur draft in Omaha when nothing will be going on there by the time June rolls around.

In this case, though, the logistics of when and where the draft will take place are not all that important. It’s the events leading up to the event that I am now more interested in.

Why is that? Because with high school and collegiate athletics seemingly being shut down across the country, MLB clubs no longer have the chance to scout and evaluate potential targets after sending their scouts back home.

Of course, these same teams are diligent in the pre-draft process and presumably already have plenty of information on plenty of prospects from previous seasons.

But, as Tigers general manager Al Avila told The Athletic’s Keith Law, “The unfortunate part is if you had the rest of March/April/May, there’s some players you may have not liked, didn’t have as high, all of a sudden they had a really good spring to elevate them, and some players maybe would have fallen a little bit. it doesn’t happen that drastically that many times, (but) we can only go on the information we have now.”

If the draft does still take place in June, and some executives suggested to Law that it be pushed back, it would be interesting to see how teams approach it given the reality that it really is just a crapshoot that also involves millions in signing bonuses.

Narrowing things down to just the first round of the draft, the Red Sox have had a diversified approach of taking both high school and college players with their first selection in recent years.

Of course, former University of Arizona infielder Cameron Cannon was Boston’s first pick in 2019 despite being drafted in the second round. That was related to luxury tax penalties from 2018.

This year, the Sox are set to make their first selection with the 17th overall pick in what will be Chaim Bloom’s first draft as Boston’s chief baseball officer. This is not to say that Bloom is solely responsible for draft preparations, but I would assume that he has final say in who the team drafts over that three-day span in June, or whenever it takes place.