Red Sox showing interest in Corey Kluber

The Red Sox have had some contact with free agent starting pitcher Corey Kluber this winter, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Kluber, 36, makes his offseason home in Winchester, Mass., where his wife, Amanda, is from. The veteran right-hander has discussed potential deals with the Red Sox in each of his last two trips to free agency before ultimately deciding to sign elsewhere.

In January 2021, Kluber inked a one-year deal with the Yankees. After posting a 3.83 ERA in 16 starts (80 innings) for New York, the righty signed another one-year pact with the Rays last December and pitched to a 4.34 ERA with 139 strikeouts to just 21 walks over 31 starts (164 innings) for Tampa Bay this past season.

Kluber may no longer the dominant ace who won two Cy Young Awards in a span of four seasons with the Guardians from 2014-2017. But the three-time All Star has seemingly expressed a desire to pitch in Boston and could still provide the Red Sox with value as a steady rotation presence.

“I think they’re well aware of how I feel [about pitching close to home],” Kluber told Speier.

So far this offseason, the Red Sox have worked to solidify their starting rotation. They welcomed James Paxton back after he exercised his $4 million player option and revealed at the GM meetings that they planned on using Garrett Whitlock as a starter next season. Speier notes that the club has shown interest in free agent lefty Andrew Heaney and remains in contact with Nathan Eovaldi about a potential multi-year deal to return to Boston.

The Red Sox, according to Speier,  are “expected to be one of the biggest spenders this winter.” But that spending is expected to be spread across several areas, meaning those within the industry are not anticipating high-end free agent starters such as Justin Verlander, Jacob deGrom, Carlos Rodon, or Chris Bassitt to be pursued by Boston anytime soon. Instead, it seems as though chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. are focused on veteran, mid-rotation options like Eovaldi, Heaney, and Kluber.

Kluber, who turns 37 in April, could land a one-year deal or a one-year deal with an option attached in free agency this winter. He earned a base salary of $8 million with the Rays this season and is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive $12 million in 2023.

Back in July, Kluber — who was born in Alabama — told MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo that he enjoyed spending his winters in Massachisetts and that Fenway Park was one of his favorite places to visit while on the road during the baseball season.

“I think it’s an awesome city. I think it’s a great place,” he said. “During the summer time, during baseball season, it’s hard to find a better place. I enjoy going there as a visitor. Fenway is one of, if not my favorite park in the big leagues. Just the environment, the history of it, all that sort of stuff. I just think it’s a very cool place.”

(Picture of Corey Kluber: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Kutter Crawford on 15-day injured list with right shoulder impingement

The Red Sox have placed right-hander Kutter Crawford on the 15-day injured list with a right shoulder impingement. In a corresponding move, fellow rookie righty was recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the club announced earlier Sunday morning.

Crawford was originally slated to start Sunday’s series finale against the Rangers at Fenway Park. He was instead scratched after experiencing shoulder soreness. The 26-year-old’s stint on the injured list is backdated to September 1, so he will first be eligible to return when the Red Sox open a three-game weekend series with the Royals on Sept. 16.

When speaking with reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) prior to Sunday’s 5-2 win over Texas, Red Sox manager Alex Cora expressed optimism that Crawford would only require the minimum 15 dats on the injured list.

Crawford, who last pitched in Minnesota on Tuesday, has posted a 5.47 ERA and 4.35 FIP with 77 strikeouts to 29 walks over 21 appearances (12 starts) spanning 77 1/3 innings of work for Boston this season. While there have been some impressive stretches, he has gotten tagged for 18 runs (17 earned) in his last three starts (12 2/3 innings) dating back to August 19. That is good for an ERA of 12.08.

With Crawford sidelined for the time being, Winckowski took his spot in the starting rotation on Sunday. The 24-year-old allowed two runs on three hits, three walks, and three strikeouts over four innings of work.

Both of those runs came right away in the top of the first, but Winckowski settled down and tossed three consecutive scoreless frames to end his day on a more positive note. He finished with a final pitch count of 82 (47 strikes) and lowered his ERA to 5.75, though he did not factor into the decision.

As it turns out, Winckowski’s latest big-league stint may be short-lived. As Cotillo reports, the Red Sox will need to clear a roster spot for reliever Zack Kelly, who was placed on the paternity leave list on Friday.

Kelly and his wife, Brittany, have since welcomed their first child. The 27-year-old is expected to re-join the Red Sox in St. Petersburg on Monday ahead of their upcoming series against the Rays.

That being said, it appears as though Winckowski will be optioned back to Worcester when Kelly is activated from the paternity leave list at some point on Monday. The Red Sox have three off days within the next two weeks, so they should be able to operate with a four-man starting rotation for the time being.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox scratch Kutter Crawford from scheduled start on Sunday due to shoulder soreness

When the Red Sox go for a four-game sweep of the Rangers on Sunday afternoon, right-hander Kutter Crawford will not take the Fenway Park mound as originally planned.

Crawford has instead been scratched from his start due to shoulder soreness, manager Alex Cora said following Saturday’s 5-3 win over Texas. Boston has yet to announce who will start in his place on Sunday.

The shoulder soreness Crawford is currently experiencing stems from him playing catch on Friday. The decision to scratch the 26-year-old was made out of an abundance of caution, as the Red Sox will know more about his status later Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

“He wasn’t moving well today after he played catch yesterday so we’re not going to push him,” Cora told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo) while adding that a stint on the injured list is a possibility.

With Crawford unable to go on Sunday, fellow righty Josh Winckowski is a candidate to start in his place. The 24-year-old was optioned to Triple-A Worcester on August 24, but has since been added to the big-league club’s taxi squad.

Winckowski last pitched for the WooSox one week ago Sunday, allowing four earned runs on five hits, three walks, and four strikeouts over four innings against the Syracuse Mets. In 13 starts for Boston this season, the 6-foot-4, 202-pound hurler owns an ERA of 5.83.

Crawford, who last pitched for the Red Sox in Minnesota on Tuesday, has posted a 5.47 ERA and 4.35 FIP with 77 strikeouts to 29 walks over 21 appearances (12 starts) spanning 77 1/3 innings of work this season. He has been tagged for 18 runs (17 earned) in his last three starts (12 2/3 innings) dating back Aug. 19.

As Cotillo suggested, Winckowski will likely be called up from Worcester if Crawford does indeed require a stay on the injured list. If he does not, Boston could elect to go in the direction of a bullpen game for Sunday’s series finale.

(Picture of Kutter Crawford: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Nathan Eovaldi will not start for Red Sox on Tuesday, could be headed for injured list

Nathan Eovaldi will not make his next scheduled start for the Red Sox on Tuesday, manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) in Williamsport, Pa. earlier Sunday afternoon.

Eovaldi, who had his last turn through the rotation skipped because of a sore right trapezius muscle, has not bounced back the way the Red Sox were hoping and will therefore not be available for Tuesday’s series opener against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park. It remains to be seen if he will require a stint on the injured list.

“Nate is not going to start on Tuesday,” Cora said. “He hasn’t been able to bounce back in the same area, the trap, kind of, like, in there. IL, we don’t know yet. But he won’t start on Tuesday. That’s where we’re at.”

Eovaldi last pitched against the Yankees on August 12, allowing two runs on eight hits, two walks, and three strikeouts over six innings of work. The veteran right-hander also flashed diminished velocity, averaging just 94.4 mph with his four-seam fastball, which was down from his yearly average of 95.9 mph.

When it was revealed that Eovaldi would not start against the Pirates last Thursday, the 32-year-old hurler said he first experienced the soreness around his right trap a few days after his most-recent outing. He also indicated that, if it were up to him, he could have pitched in Pittsburgh.

“But we’re playing it safe,” said Eovaldi, via The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. “I’m just going to skip this turn and be ready to go Tuesday against Toronto.”

That will no longer be the case, though Eovaldi remains optimistic he can avoid the injured list.

“It’s frustrating. I feel like it’s going a little slower than we anticipated but I’m feeling a lot better,” Eovaldi told Browne on Sunday. “Every day, it’s just how can we make sure that I’m 100 percent especially going down the road for this next stretch. That’s the main goal, to avoid [the IL].”

Fellow right-hander Josh Winckowski wound up starting in Eovaldi’s place on Thursday and got rocked for seven runs over five innings. The 24-year-old rookie was optioned to Triple-A Worcester that same night.

Earlier this season, Eovaldi spent more than a month on the injured list due to low back inflammation. Since returning on July 15, he has posted a 6.32 ERA and 4.43 FIP with 24 strikeouts to eight walks over his last six starts and 31 1/3 innings. That includes a 2.95 ERA in the month of August.

If Eovaldi winds up going on the injured list again, Winckowski would be a logical choice to replace him in Boston’s starting rotation. Although he was only optioned three days ago, Winckowski can be recalled at any time as long as he is replacing an injured player. In this case, that would be Eovaldi.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox scratch Nathan Eovaldi from Thursday start with sore trapezius muscle; Josh Winckowski will face Pirates in his place

Nathan Eovaldi was scheduled to make his 19th start of the season for the Red Sox in Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates. That will no longer be the case.

Following Boston’s 8-3 win over Pittsburgh at PNC Park on Wednesday night, manager Alex Cora told reporters (including The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham) that Eovaldi has been scratched from his start due to a sore trapezius muscle. Fellow right-hander Josh Winckowski will pitch in his place.

Winckowski was originally slated to work in relief of veteran left-hander Rich Hill, who allowed two runs over five solid innings, on Wednesday. Cora instead opted to have Ryan Brasier, Hirokazu Sawamura, and newcomer Jeurys Familia record the final 12 outs of the Sox’ series-clinching victory.

Eovaldi, meanwhile, last pitched against the Yankees on Friday, yielding two runs on eight hits, two walks, and three strikeouts across six innings. The 32-year-old missed time on the injured list earlier this season because of low back inflammation. Since returning on July 15, he has posted a 6.32 ERA (4.42 FIP) with 24 strikeouts to eight walks in his last six starts while showing diminished fastball velocity.

If it were up to Eovaldi, he would pitch on Thursday. But the Red Sox are playing it safe and will have him skip his next turn through the rotation. He is now lined up to start against the Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

“I feel I feel like I could pitch [Thursday], but we’re playing it safe,” Eovaldi said. “Just going to skip this turn and be ready to go Tuesday against Toronto. I feel like I could pitch, but we don’t know how I’ll rebound afterward. So, we’re just trying to be cautious right now.”

Winckowski last pitched for Boston last Thursday. The 24-year-old rookie made his major-league debut in late May and has since produced a 4.69 ERA and 4.94 FIP to go along with 34 strikeouts to 20 walks over 11 starts spanning 55 2/3 innings of work.

Following Thursday night’s finale in Pittsburgh, the Red Sox will travel to Baltimore to take on the Orioles in a three-game weekend series. Righties Kutter Crawford and Michael Wacha will start the first two games at Camden Yards, while fellow righty Nick Pivetta will start the Little League Classic in Williamsport, Pa. on Sunday.

(Picture of Nathan Eovaldi: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ James Paxton set to begin rehab assignment in Florida Complex League on Thursday

Red Sox left-hander James Paxton will make his organizational debut when he starts a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on Thursday, according to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.

Paxton, per Speier, is slated to pitch three innings when the FCL Red Sox take on the FCL Rays at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. It will be his first start at any level since April 6 of last year.

Then a member of the Mariners, Paxton tore his left ulnar collateral ligament in the second inning of his start against the White Sox. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery one week later.

Boston signed the 33-year-old southpaw to a unique one-year, $6 million contract last December. The deal includes a two-year, $26 million club option that the Red Sox can pick up at the end of the season. If they decline, Paxton could then exercise a $4 million player option for the 2023 campaign.

While injuries have hindered him throughout his big-league career, Paxton has proven to be an effective starer when healthy. With the Yankees in 2019, for instance, the Canadian-born hurler posted a 3.82 ERA and 3.86 FIP with 186 strikeouts to 55 walks over 29 starts spanning 150 2/3 innings of work. He has been limited to just six outings since then because of injury.

It remains to be seen how many rehab appearances Paxton will need before he is able to join the Red Sox’ starting rotation. Last year, fellow lefty Chris Sale made five starts across three levels while rehabbing from Tommy John before making his season debut for Boston on August 14.

Using that same sort of template, Paxton could potentially be back in the majors by early September, though that is no sure thing. In the meantime, it should be interesting to see how Paxton responds as he returns to competitive action. Last April, the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder sat between 92-96 mph with his four-seam fastball. He also traditionally works with a curveball, cutter, and changeup.

When the time comes for the Red Sox to activate Paxton, they will presumably need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster since he has been on the 60-day injured list since March.

(Picture of James Paxton: Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images)

Red Sox’ Chris Sale to make 2022 debut against Rays on Tuesday

It’s official: Chris Sale will make his 2022 debut for the Red Sox when they go up against the Rays at Tropicana Field on Tuesday night.

Sale has spent the entirety of the season on the 60-day injured list due to a right rib cage stress fracture he sustained while throwing a bullpen session at his alma mater, Florida Gulf Coast University, back in February. His recovery was then slowed for a few weeks in May because of a non-baseball health concern related to his family’s medical history.

After resuming his throwing program, Sale began a rehab assignment in the Florida Complex League on June 20. The 33-year-old left-hander made two starts for Boston’s rookie-level affiliate before moving up to Double-A Portland. He then made one start for the Sea Dogs before taking his rehab to Triple-A Worcester on Wednesday.

Matched up against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders at Polar Park, Sale allowed one run on three hits and five walks to go along with five strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings of work. Forty-two of the 72 pitches he threw went for strikes as he mixed in a high-90s fastball, mid-80s changeup, and high-70s slider.

Despite the high number of walks and the fact he did not pitch more than four innings in any of his outings, Sale will return to the Sox’ rotation to start the second game of their four-game series with the Rays.

Sale’s return should be a welcomed one, as the Red Sox currently find themselves mired in starting rotation issues with Nathan Eovaldi, Rich Hill, and Michael Wacha all out on the injured list for the time being.

Since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2020, Sale has made just nine starts for Boston over the last three seasons. Unlike his recovery from elbow reconstruction, though, the veteran lefty says he is in a better place physically because he has not had to build back up his arm strength.

“Coming back from a major arm surgery last year, there were a lot of question marks still,” Sale said Wednesday. “This year’s more of just sharpening the sword, not rebuilding it.”

A seven-time All-Star, Sale is in the third year of the five-year, $145 million contract extension he signed with the Red Sox in March 2019. He has the ability to opt out of his deal at season’s end, though that seems unlikely to happen.

(Picture of Chris Sale: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Red Sox place Michael Wacha on 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation, recall Connor Seabold from Triple-A Worcester

Before taking on the Yankees at Fenway Park on Friday night, the Red Sox placed right-hander Michael Wacha on the 15-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation, retroactive to July 5. In a corresponding move, fellow righty Connor Seabold has been recalled from Triple-A Worcester, the club announced.

Wacha heads to the injured list after dealing with a “heavy arm” for the last week or so. The 31-year-old was slated to start against the Rays on Monday but was scratched from that outing. The Red Sox were hopeful that Wacha would be able to go against the Yankees on Friday, but the righty did not bounce back as the team hoped he would.

“He hasn’t been able to bounce back from his bullpens or playing catch,” manager Alex Cora said of Wacha on Thursday. “Nothing structural. We actually tested him, an MRI and all that. Everything looks clean. It’s just, right now, he hasn’t been able to bounce back.”

In 13 starts for Boston this season, Wacha has posted a 2.69 ERA and 3.96 FIP with 50 strikeouts to 22 walks over 70 1/3 innings of work. Since his stint on the injured list was backdated by three days, the veteran hurler will be eligible to return to action July 22, which is the Red Sox’ first game after the All-Star break.

Seabold, meanwhile, will make his third start of the season for the Sox on Friday, which will also be his first-ever appearance at Fenway Park. The 26-year-old made two starts on the road last week, allowing a total of eight earned runs on 15 hits, three walks, and 11 strikeouts in 8 2/3 combined innings against the Blue Jays and Cubs.

With Wacha out through the All-Star break, Seabold could remain in Boston’s starting rotation for its next series against the Rays in Tampa Bay next week. On Friday, Seabold will be opposed by Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes as he takes the Fenway mound for the first time in his big-league career.

(Picture of Connor Seabold: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Michael Wacha will not start for Red Sox on Friday, could be headed for injured list as arm issues linger

The Red Sox were hoping that Michael Wacha would be able to start against the Yankees on Friday after he was scratched on July 4 due to a “heavy arm.” That will not happen, as the veteran right-hander is still dealing with arm issues.

“He hasn’t been able to bounce back from bullpens or playing catch,” manager Alex Cora said of Wacha on Thursday. “Nothing structural. We actually tested him. He had an MRI and all that, and everything looks clean. Right now, just hasn’t been able to bounce back.”

Wacha made his 13th start of the season for Boston in Toronto on June 28, allowing four earned runs on seven hits, three walks, and two strikeouts over five innings. Last Sunday, the 31-year-old first began complaining about “a heavy, tired feeling” in his throwing arm. As previously mentioned, he was slated to make his 14th start on Independence Day but was instead scratched in favor of Austin Davis.

While Wacha continues to be plagued by arm fatigue, the Red Sox remain optimistic that he will not require a trip to the injured list. Wacha has proven to be one of Boston’s best starters this season, posting a 2.69 ERA and 3.96 FIP with 50 strikeouts to 22 walks across 70 1/3 innings of work.

With that being said, however, the Sox still need a starter to go up against Yankees left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. on Friday night. Connor Seabold, who last pitched in Chicago on July 3, would be in line to start on regular rest.

But the Red Sox optioned Seabold to Triple-A Worcester on Monday, meaning the only way they could call him back up on Friday would be if they placed another player on the injured list.

So, it seems likely that Boston will place Wacha on the 15-day injured list and recall Seabold from Worcester to start on Friday. If not, they could lean in the direction of a bullpen game.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Paul Rutherford/Getty Images)

Red Sox ‘hopeful’ that Michael Wacha (heavy arm) will be able to start against Yankees on Friday

The Red Sox are hopeful that Michael Wacha will be able to start against the Yankees on Friday night, manager Alex Cora told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) prior to Tuesday’s contest with the Rays at Fenway Park.

Wacha was originally slated to make his 14th start of the season for Boston on Monday. But the veteran right-hander was instead scratched the night before due to what the team described as a “heavy arm.” Austin Davis started in his place.

On the heels of his latest outing against the Blue Jays in Toronto on June 28, Wacha first began complaining of “a heavy, tired feeling” in his throwing arm on Sunday. While that feeling resulted in him missing a start, it does not appear as though it will require a stint on the 15-day injured list.

The 31-year-old hurler previously spent 12 days on the injured list back in May due to left intercostal irritation. With the Red Sox this season, he has posted a 2.69 ERA and 3.97 FIP with 50 strikeouts to 22 walks over 70 1/3 innings of work.

If Wacha can indeed go on Friday, he would be opposed by left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. of the Yankees in the second game of a four-game weekend series in Boston.

(Picture of Michael Wacha: Paul Rutherford/Getty Images)