#RedSox Reportedly Shopping Sandy Leon

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney and Marly Rivera, the Red Sox are reportedly looking into trading catcher Sandy Leon as Opening Day looms.

Going into 2019, we knew that the club did not want to go into the season with three catchers on their 25-man roster like they did last year. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowksi made that much clear during the baseball winter meetings this past December.

Now, exactly one week before the new season begins, it appears that Leon may be the odd man out in Boston’s catching mix.

The recently turned 30-year-old backstop, who was acquired from the Washington Nationals for cash in March of 2015, is slashing .250/.382/.357 with one home run and five RBI in 14 games and 34 plate appearances this spring.

His competition for a spot on the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster is Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez.

Swihart, who is starting for Boston Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, has posted an .865 OPS in Grapefruit League play, while Vazquez has fared much worse with an OPS south of .300.

Now, Swihart would undoubtedly net the most return for the Red Sox in a potential trade. He may not be the best catcher of the trio, but he is the youngest and the most talented hitter of the group.

But, if the 26-year-old Swihart is the one who is poised to take over primary catching duties for the Red Sox, it would be interesting to see what the club could get in return for Leon, as well as what their plan for Christian Vazquez would be.

There’ll probably be more to come regarding this potential trade pretty soon, so stay tuned for that.

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#RedSox’ Mookie Betts Not Thinking About Contract Extension, Prefers to Wait Until Free Agency to Sign Next Deal

One day after Mike Trout signed a 12-year, $430 million contract extension to remain with the Los Angeles Angels, Red Sox superstar Mookie Betts indicated to reporters on Wednesday that he rather wait to test free agency than sign an extension of his own.

“I don’t expect anything to happen till I’m a free agent,’ Betts said.

The 26-year-old outfielder is set to become a free agent for the first time following the 2020 season.

According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, Betts rejected a seven-year, $200 million extension from Boston after the 2017 season, which would have netted him approximately $28.6 million per year over the lifetime of that pact.

But now that the game’s best position player, Trout, is off the board with a contract that will net the Angels outfielder nearly $36 million per season, it appears that Betts may have the right idea heading into the winter of 2020/2021.

Red Sox executives have made it abundantly clear that they have reached out to Betts this offseason in hopes of reaching agreement on a long-term extension, but as Sherman reports, “the Betts camp (has) not even made a counter-proposal.”

If the year-to-year game is the one Betts wants to play, so be it. He’s already going to make $20 million during the 2019 season, the most for any player in their second year of arbitration eligibility.

This isn’t to say that the Tennessee native is as good as gone come the conclusion of the 2020 season, he said that himself.

“I love it here in Boston. It’s a great spot. I’ve definitely grown to love going up north in the cold. That doesn’t mean I want to sell myself short of my value.”

He doesn’t want to sell himself short of his value, which essentially sounds like any thought of taking a hometown discount is out the window.

Like the great philosopher David Price once said, Mookie Betts pretty much “holds the cards now.” It’s his decision to make and his alone.

If he wants to remain with the Red Sox and the Red sox want him to stay as well, then the club better be ready to pony up on a mega-deal of Trout-like proportions when the time comes in 2020.

If they aren’t willing to commit long-term to the reigning American League MVP, well, I rather not think about that right now.

Mike Trout and Angels Reportedly Agree to 12-Year, $430 Million Deal

The best player in baseball is about to become the highest paid player in baseball, as Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels are finalizing a new 12-year contract worth more than $340 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. This would be the largest contract in the history of professional sports.

If the details are indeed accurate, this contract will net Trout approximately $35.8 million per season over the next 12 years.

The two-time American League MVP, now entering his age 27 season with Los Angeles, has consistently been a five-tool phenom since his big league debut in 2011.

Since the start of his first full season in 2012, Trout leads all of baseball in fWAR (64.2) by a wide margin. He’s also finished top three in AL MVP voting in six of the last seven seasons, with the one exception coming in 2017 when he missed a significant amount of time due to a left thumb injury.

This past season, Trout slashed .312/.460/.628 with 39 home runs, 79 RBI, and 24 stolen bases over 140 games.

There was some speculation fueled by the Bryce Harper signing that the Philadelphia Phillies were going to be in on Trout when he was supposed to hit free agency following the 2020 season. But, the New Jersey native ultimately decided to remain with the organization he has seemingly grown up with, at least for the forseeable future anyway.

Now that names such as Trout, Harper, Nolan Arenado, and Manny Machado have all gotten their record paydays, all eyes turn to the Red Sox’ own Mookie Betts, who like Trout before Tuesday, is set to hit free agency in 2020.

The 2018 AL MVP has gone on record this spring indicating that he’s in no rush to sign an extension before hitting the open market.

“Contracts and those type of things are kind of tough to do, especially with the market and how those things kind of roll,” Betts said back in February. “But I will say I love my teammates and my coaches and everybody who’s around and have a great deal of respect for the front office. We’ll just leave it at that.”

With Trout now set to earn more than $35 million per season when his new contract begins, one would have to guess that Betts probably will be seeking a deal with an AAV in that range as well.

Higher-ups in the Red Sox organization like John Henry, Tom Werner, Sam Kennedy, and Dave Dombrowski have made it clear that they would like Betts to remain with the club past 2020, but that all depends on the player’s willingness to sign an extension.

If  you were Mookie Betts, would you rather take the money and security now on a lucrative long-term deal, or wait until you reach free agency and test the waters then?

Betts, exactly 10 months younger than Trout, slashed .346/.438/.640 with 32 home runs, 80 runs driven in, and 30 stolen bases in 136 games played this past season on his way to his first MVP award.

In January, the two sides, that being Betts and the Red Sox, reached an agreement on a record-setting one-year, $20 million deal for the Tennessee native’s second year of arbitration eligibility.

Nathan Eovaldi Strikes out Three as #RedSox Fall to Twins 4-1

The Red Sox fell to 8-15-1 in Grapefruit League play on Monday afternoon following a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Twins down the road at Hammond Stadium. They are now 2-4 against Minnesota this spring, and with only one game left between the two sides, the 2019 Chairman’s Cup essentially belongs to the Twins already.

Making his second start of exhibition season in this one was Nathan Eovaldi, who made his Red Sox Grapefruit League debut against the Twins as well.

Working the first four innings of this one, the right-hander surrendered two runs, both of which were scored in the first, on four hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts on the day. He was also reaching 99-100 MPH with his fastball.

Those two runs came on a two out two-run home run off the bat of Eddie Rosario, marking the Twins slugger’s fourth home run of the spring.

Other than that, Eovaldi worked his way around two more additional hits in the bottom half of the second before retiring the final six hitters he faced in order to end his afternoon on a positive note.

From the middle of the fifth inning on, Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, and Ryan Weber combined to give up another pair of runs on four hits, no walks, and five strikeouts over the final four frames.

Barnes, who revealed postgame that he was tipping some of his pitches on Monday, gave up both of those runs in a rough fifth inning, but fixed the issue and struck out Marwin Gonzalez to put an end to the Twins rally.

Weber, meanwhile, faced the minimum six hitters and struck out half of them in an impressive seventh and eighth inning of relief.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was limited to just one run on seven hits by ace right-hander Jose Berrios and the rest of the Twins staff.

That one run came in the top of the first and it was provided by JD Martinez, who drove in Mookie Betts from third on a line drive RBI single off Berrios.

Despite leaping out to an early advantage, the Boston bats really failed to put anything else together for the remainder of the afternoon in Fort Myers.

Some notes from this loss:

Martinez went 2/2 with an RBI and a walk on Monday batting out of the cleanup spot.

Rafael Devers forget his regular jersey on the short trip, so he had to wear No. 84 before eventually making the switch back over to No. 11.

Weber was reassigned to minor league camp following Monday’s game, meaning the Red Sox now have 35 players at big league camp.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll welcome the Toronto Blue Jays into JetBlue Park for a Tuesday afternoon showdown.

Eduardo Rodriguez is scheduled to start for Boston, while right-hander Sean-Reid Foley, who is one of the only two major leaguers to be born in Guam, will be doing the same for Toronto.

First pitch Tuesday is scheduled for 1:05 EDT at JetBlue. Boston 25 and NESN have it covered.

Bobby Dalbec Among 11 Players Reassigned to Minor League Camp in Second Round of #RedSox Roster Cuts

Six days after making their first round of roster cuts last Tuesday, the Red Sox announced on Monday that the following 11 players have been reassigned to minor league camp.

Among the position players reassigned was infielder Bobby Dalbec. Boston’s sixth-ranked prospect outlasted top prospect Michael Chavis at Red Sox major league camp, but not by much.

Dalbec, 23, slashed .200/.333/.234 with no home runs and a pair of RBI in 36 spring plate appearances.

The Washington native made some noise by launching a monster shot of a home run in his first at-bat against the Northeastern University baseball team back in February, but really has not been able to showcase that legitimate power of his so far in Grapefruit League play.

Given the fact that names such as Chavis, Josh Ockimey, and Sam Travis are all projected to start the 2019 season in Triple-A Pawtucket, I would guess that Dalbec will begin his year with Double-A Portland, where he hit six homers and drove in 24 runs over the course of 29 games in 2018.

As things currently stand, the Red Sox have 36 players in their big league camp, and the most surprising of those who still remain might just be Darwinzon Hernandez.

The club’s top pitching prospect has impressed so far this spring, allowing just one run on seven hits, five walks, and three HBPs over five appearances (two starts) and 10 innings of work.

If he doesn’t crack Boston’s Opening Day roster, it would not be much of a shock to see Hernandez make his major league debut at some point this season. The 22-year-old left-hander is capable of both starting and coming out of the bullpen.

With Opening Day just over 10 days away, expect the team to announce their next round of roster cuts fairly soon.

 

 

#RedSox Split St. Patrick’s Day Split-Squad Doubleheader Against Pirates and Rays

The Red Sox both improved and fell to 8-14-1 in Grapefruit League play on Sunday afternoon following a St. Patrick’s Day split-squad split, with the 3-2 win coming at JetBlue Park against the Tampa Bay Rays and the 8-1 defeat coming at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton.

Beginning with the contest against the Rays, David Price was originally scheduled to make his second start of the spring against his old club, but the left-hander was scratched Sunday morning due to illness.

In his place, fellow southpaw Brian Johnson, who was going to pitch anyway, surrendered two runs (one earned) on a pair of hits and walks to go along with three strikeouts in two-and-two-thirds innings of work.

Johnson faced 13 Rays hitters on the afternoon, retiring eight of them while allowing five to reach base before getting the hook with one out to get in the top half of the third.

From there, Trevor Kelley, Heath Hembree, Adam Lau, Colten Brewer, Jenrry Mejia, Durbin Feltman, Hunter Smith, and Eduard Bazardo combined to hold Tampa Bay scoreless over the final 6.1 frames on Sunday, as they scattered just two hits, six walks, and six strikeouts en route to the win.

Hembree, who worked the start of the fourth inning, struggled with control a bit, which was evident by him walking the bases loaded while failing to retire the side.

Feltman, meanwhile, fanned the first two hitters he faced in relatively easy fashion, but could not finish things off after giving up a two out double and surrendering two straight walks.

Bazardo, who was signed as an international free agent by Boston back in 2014, picked up the save in his Grapefruit League debut thanks to a 1-2-3 ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox split-squad lineup was matched up against Rays minor leaguer Ryan Merrit to kick things off.

Starting the scoring in this one was Brock Holt, whose leadoff double in the first would translate to Boston’s first run of the afternoon coming around to score on a two out RBI double off the bat of JD Martinez.

Fast forward all the way to the bottom half of the eighth, trailing by a run, and back-to-back two out RBI knocks from Danny Mars and Ryan Fitzgerald pulled the Red Sox up a run themselves, as 3-2 would go on to be the final score in this one.

Meanwhile, over in Bradenton, as previously mentioned, the Red Sox fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1.

Jackie Bradley Jr. provided the lone highlight for Boston in this one with, in his one words, “probably the most amazing play I’ve ever made.”

Steve Pearce left in the first inning after feeling discomfort in his left calf while running out a grounder in his first and only at bat of the afternoon.

When asked about it, the 2018 World Series MVP said, “I didn’t feel a pop. There wasn’t anything that was too alarming. I just don’t like how it is right now.”

His departure on Sunday seems more precautionary than anything, but it would not be too surprising if the 35-year-old Pearce is held out of action for the next few days to ensure all is well with that left calf.

Some additional notes from Sunday’s split-squad doubleheader:

Colten Brewer faced the minimum six hitters in two shutout frames against the Rays, while Jenrry Mejia also held Tampa Bay scoreless to go along with one strikeout in a perfect seventh inning.

Triston Casas, who was Boston’s first round selection in the 2018 draft, made his 2019 Grapefruit League debut at JetBlue Park as a defensive replacement for Mitch Moreland in the fifth.

The 19-year-old prospect went 0/1 with a walk and a strikeout while also seeing a fair amount of action over at first.

Next up for the Red Sox, they’ll make the short trek to Hammond Stadium on Monday to face the Minnesota Twins in the sixth installment of the 2019 Chairman’s Cup.

Nathan Eovaldi will be getting the ball for Boston, while ace right-hander Jose Berrios will be doing the same for Minnesota.

The last time these two clubs linked up, Eovaldi allowed one run over three innings in his first start of the spring, while Berrios allowed a pair of runs over 3.1 innings.

First pitch Monday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT. NESN does not have it covered.

Chris Sale Named #RedSox’ 2019 Opening Day Starter

Prior to Sunday’s split-squad action against the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates, Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced that Chris Sale will get the start for Boston on Opening Day in Seattle on March 28th.

Fresh off a seven-strikeout performance in his spring debut yesterday, Sunday’s announcement marks the second consecutive season the ace left-hander will make his first start of the year in a Red Sox uniform on Opening Day.

This bit of news was originally supposed to be revealed by Cora following Saturday’s win over the Atlanta Braves, but he decided to hold out and add some drama to what appeared to be a pretty easy choice to make.

Entering his eighth full major league season, Sale owns a 1.93 ERA while fanning 32 over 28 innings in four previous Opening Day starts with both the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox.

In five career appearances (four starts) at T-Mobile Park against the Mariners, the left-hander has surrendered six earned runs and struck out 44 over 29.1 innings of work.

As things are currently lined up with the Red Sox going to a six-man rotation to start their 2019 season, it appears as though Sale will also be getting the start for the home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 9th at Fenway Park.

Regarding how the remainder of Boston’s rotation will fill out to at least start the season, that is not yet known due to David Price being scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday because of an illness.

Sale, 29, went 12-4 with a 2.11 ERA and 13.5 K/9 in 32 games started for Boston in 2018.

His next and what should be final Grapefruit League start will more than likely come against the Tampa Bay Rays at JetBlue Park on Thursday.