Could Red Sox Really Entertain Idea of Trading Xander Bogaerts Before August 31 Trade Deadline?

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.

Baseball America: ‘Difficult to Gauge’ Who Red Sox Are Targeting With Top Draft Pick

The 2020 MLB Draft is less than two days away, and according to Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo, “it’s difficult to gauge what the Red Sox are targeting” with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Collazo has the Sox taking Harvard-Westlake High School (Calif.) outfielder Pete-Crow Armstrong in his latest mock draft for BA. You can read more about Crow-Armstrong here.

Crow-Armstrong, 18, was the best hitter available at the time Boston made their pick in this mock draft, but as Collazo notes, the club “could also be intrigued with college arms like Cade Cavalli or Garrett Crochet.”

Despite that possibility, it seems like the Red Sox, led by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni, are locked in on targeting a prep prospect with high upside with their top pick in this year’s draft.

Jesuit High School (Ore.) right-hander Mick Abel has been a popular pick to go the Sox in other mock drafts, but some seem to believe that Bloom and Co. are headed in another direction in terms of playing position.

One of those guys is The Athletic’s Keith Law, who in a web chat from last week said there’s “zero chance” that Boston takes a high school arm in the first round. That coming a day after he wrote that he has “heard the Red Sox would like to grab one of the top high school position players with this pick, assuming the right one falls.”

Law also has Crow-Armstrong going to the Red Sox in his latest mock draft, for what it’s worth.

Whoever they wind up taking, it will be of the utmost importance that the Sox hit on their first-round selection. That being the case since they were stripped of their second-round pick due to their illegal stealing of signs in 2018, resulting in their total slot value for this year’s draft being capped at just $5,129,900.

 

 

Red Sox’ Andrew Benintendi Is the Ninth-Best Left Fielder in Baseball, per One Former Executive

In his most recent Big Board for The Athletic, former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden ranked Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi as the ninth-best left fielder in baseball.

Listed behind Washington’s Juan Soto, Houston’s Michael Brantley, Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows, San Diego’s Tommy Pham, Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna, Chicago’s Eloy Jimenez, Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds, and Oakland’s Mark Canha, Benintendi, per Bowden, “is the most disappointing left fielder in baseball.”

Leading with that is certainly an interesting way to make your case that Benintendi is one of the best left fielders in the game, but Bowden defends his ranking by saying “Now you’re probably wondering how [Benintendi] made this list. It’s simple. I’m betting on him and the fact that he’s only 25 years old and is primed for a breakout season.”

As we know, Benintendi, a former first-round pick out of Arkansas in 2015, had a very underwhelming 2019 campaign in what was initially supposed to be a breakout year.

One of the reasons for Benintendi’s struggles, as Bowden notes, is that he bulked up a bit in the months following the 2018 World Series, which the Red Sox believe may have actually slowed down his swing and mechanics, resulting in an all-around down year in terms of offensive production.

Now though, after slimming back down and getting the chance to work with hitting coach Tim Hyers and assistant hitting coach Peter Fatse during the offseason, the club believes that “they’ve been able to get [Benintendi] mechanically back to where he was in 2017 when he hit 20 homers, stole 20 bases and was on base over 35 percent of the time” en route to finishing second in American League Rookie of the Year voting.

After dealing with some adversity and tough injury luck in 2019, Benintendi inked a two-year, $10 million contract extension with Boston in February that essentially buys out his first two seasons of arbitration eligibility.

If baseball is played in 2020, the 25-year-old Cincinnati native will be counted on to be a surefire presence at the top of the Red Sox lineup. Even more so now that Mookie Betts is a Dodger.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m a big Andrew Benintendi guy. Have been for quite awhile. But, from what I’ve seen online, he definitely has plenty of doubters, and what better way to silence those doubters than to put together your best season in the majors in 2020?

 

Potential Red Sox Draft Targets: University of Louisville Right-Hander Bobby Miller

In his latest 2020 mock draft for The Athletic, Keith Law has the Red Sox taking University of Louisville right-hander Bobby Miller with their top pick at No. 17 overall.

Law writes the following of Miller:

Miller has been up to 98 mph as a starter with an above-average slider, showing some effort in the delivery but missing plenty of bats for the Cardinals, with mid-rotation or closer potential.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 26 overall draft-eligible prospect and seventh among right-handed hurlers out of college, Miller posted a 2.31 ERA and .181 batting average against over four starts and 23 1/3 innings pitched for the Cardinals this season before the COVID-19 pandemic halted collegiate athletics across the country.

Listed at 6’5″ and 220 lbs., the 21-year-old junior was a 38th round selection of the Baltimore Orioles three years ago, but he opted to honor his commitment to Louisville rather than sign with the club out of high school

Per his MLB Pipeline scouting report, the Illinois native’s “fastball is notable for both its heat — he sat at 95-96 mph throughout his dominance of East Carolina and worked at 97-99 in shorter stints in the fall — and its heavy life. He also can miss bats with a slider/cutter that usually operates at 85-87 and reached 90 during the fall. He has faith in a splitter/changeup with similar velocity and employs a more traditional change in the low 80s.”

One thing to watch with Miller though, as Law mentions, is his delivery, which “limits his control and has some scouts wondering if he’s destined to be a reliever in the long run.”

In the months leading up to the 2020 draft, which is now just under two weeks away, the Red Sox have been linked to a handful of college pitchers, but according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis, Boston seems more likely to take a prep prospect like Mick Abel, Jared Kelley, Nick Bitsko, Ed Howard, or Pete-Crow Armstrong if one of them is still on the board at No. 17.

With chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and amateur scouting director Paul Toboni leading the charge, the Sox will be limited to just four picks in this year’s five-round draft, the shortest in MLB’s history, and will have a grand total of $5,129,200 in slot money to spend on whichever four prospects they select from June 10 through the 11th.

Red Sox Pitching Coach Dave Bush Tells His Pitchers to Maintain ‘Normal Throwing Programs’ While Awaiting MLB’s Return

At this point exactly one year ago, Red Sox pitchers had combined to throw exactly 411 innings through the club’s first 46 games of the 2019 season.

Flash forward to 2020, and that number of innings pitched on the same date stands at zero, and it appears that it will stay at zero until at least early July.

First-year Red Sox pitching coach Dave Bush, who was appointed to the position last October in place of Dana LeVangie, would be learning the ropes of his new post under normal circumstances. Instead, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has put Major League Baseball on hold for the time being, Bush, like many across the sport, have to find new ways to coach up his players.

In a recent conversation with The Athletic’s Peter Gammons, Bush, 40, said that he has told the Boston pitching staff to stick with “normal throwing programs” until they know when they can get back to a spring training setting and can “begin a supervised program for the season” from there.

This is the same sort of sentiment Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom echoed earlier this month in a radio interview with WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria regarding the pandemic-induced shutdown’s effect on players.

“Even if we have a spring training, however long that spring training is, guys will need to get ramped up well in advance of that to make sure they’re in shape and make sure they can safely get back up to ready to roll whenever the season does start,” he said. “We are so used to working backward from a specific start date and we can’t do that right now. So we’re trying to keep them at a level that is responsible where we’re not trying to get them at too high a gear and then ask them to hold. But we also want to make sure they don’t run out of time to get up to speed if and when we do get a specific start date. So we’re just trying to find that happy medium.”

The conventional version of spring training was suspended by MLB on March 13th. The majority of Red Sox players left Fort Myers at the time to return to their respective homes, but it appears that some individuals, such as Alex Verdugo and Chris Sale, have returned to work out at the Fenway South complex in recent weeks. More could return relatively soon, too, considering how Florida has been loosening its COVID-19-related restrictions across the state.

According to Gammons, MLB clubs are currently terrified of two things. The first being a potential second wave of the coronavirus and all the ramifications that come with it, and the second being “that the re-ramping-up process, coming four-plus months after the initial ramping-up process, will result in a rash of injuries.”

To add on to that, Gammons writes, “Two prominent orthopedic surgeons with significant baseball experience have predicted waiting lines at the doors of Dr. James Andrews, Dr. Neal ElAttrache and the many other physicians who have preserved so many careers.”

The re-ramping up process that Gammons mentions should be a concern for pitching coaches and general managers across the league. I can’t say for sure, but it seems like these guys went into ‘prepare for the season mode’ around the same time they are accustomed to and then all of a sudden were told to go into ‘offseason mode’ just like that. I’m no pitching guru, but disrupting someone’s routine like that has to have negative connotations, right?

For now, it will be fascinating to see how Bush continues to coach his pitching staff without being in the same physical location as them.