Red Sox add intriguing infield prospects Alex Binelas, David Hamilton in trade with Brewers: ‘We’re excited about the minor-league players that we got,’ Chaim Bloom says

The Red Sox may have traded Hunter Renfroe for Jackie Bradley Jr. on Wednesday night, but they did so while also acquiring two intriguing prospects from the Brewers.

As highlighted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox basically dealt Renfroe and took on Bradley Jr.’s $9.5 million salary for 2022 (plus an $8 million buyout in 2023) in order to add infield prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton.

“Having two premium defensive center fielders is a huge boost to our roster,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said Wednesday. “And we’re also excited about the minor-league players that we got. So we felt like this was something that made sense for us right now and also had a chance to pay dividends down the road.”

Binelas was recently selected by the Brewers in the third round of the 2021 amateur draft out of the University of Louisville, where he belted 19 home runs and posted a .968 OPS in his final season with the Cardinals.

Going into this summer’s draft, Binelas was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 76 draft-eligible prospect and was assigned to Milwaukee’s Arizona Complex League affiliate upon signing with the organization for $700,000.

After just seven games in the rookie-level complex league, Binelas was promoted to Low-A Carolina on August 16. In 29 games with the Mudcats to close out the year, the left-handed hitter slashed .314/.379/.636 (163 wRC+) with 11 doubles, nine home runs, 27 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 12 walks, and 33 strikeouts over 132 plate appearances.

Among hitters who accrued at least 130 plate appearances in the Low-A East this season, Binelas ranked fifth in OPS (1.014), third in isolated power (.322), and fifth in wRC+, per FanGraphs.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, the 21-year-old is capable of playing both corner infield positions. At the midway point of the 2021 season, he was regarded by Baseball America as the 20th-ranked prospect in Milwaukee’s farm system.

“A left-handed hitter with power,” Bloom said of Binelas. “He plays both infield corners. But the bat is really his calling card. A good hitter with really special power. Obviously it’s just early in his professional journey but he had a tremendous debut and really showed a lot in his acclimation to pro ball. A really nice power left-handed bat to bring into the system.”

Hamilton, on the other hand, was selected by the Brewers in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin despite suffering a ruptured Achilles in a scooter accident that resulted in him missing the entirety of the 2019 season at both the college and pro levels.

With the 2020 minor-league season being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton did not make his professional debut as a member of the Brewers organization until this spring.

The 24-year-old, who is also a left-handed hitter split the 2021 season between High-A Carolina and Double-A Biloxi. He batted .258/.341/.419 (110 wRC+) with 19 doubles, 11 triples, eight homers, 43 RBIs, 66 runs, 52 stolen bases, 50 walks, and 90 strikeouts in 101 games spanning 459 total plate appearances.

Formerly regarded by Baseball America as the No. 15 prospect in Milwaukee’s farm system, Hamilton just wrapped up a solid campaign in the Arizona Fall League by slashing .293/.453/.463 with three doubles, two triples, five RBIs, five runs scored, four stolen bases, 12 walks, and six strikeouts over 14 games (53 plate appearances) for Salt River.

Listed at 5-f00t-10 and 175 pounds, Hamilton is obviously well-regarded for his speed and athleticism, which were his carrying tools coming out of college. The middle infielder’s 52 stolen bases were the sixth-most in the minor-leagues this season.

“David Hamilton has premium speed and he’s a really good middle infielder,” Bloom said. “Plays a good shortstop. Interesting trajectory. Highly-touted high school player who went to the University of Texas. Had a tough injury and recovered from it, and kept his speed. He has great speed and athleticism and is a very exciting player to add to our system.”

Unlike Binelas, Hamilton can become eligible for the Rule 5 Draft for the first time in his career in 2022. The Red Sox will need to add the speedster to their 40-man roster by next November if they want to prevent that from happening.

(Picture of Alex Binelas: Michael Clevenger/Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services, LLC)

Red Sox trade Hunter Renfroe to Brewers for package including Jackie Bradley Jr.; Boston also acquires prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton in deal

In a stunning turn of events, the Red Sox have traded outfielder Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for infield prospects Alex Binelas and David Hamilton and a familiar face in Jackie Bradley Jr, the club announced late Wednesday night.

Renfroe, who turns 29 next month, originally signed a one-year deal with the Sox shortly after being let go by the Rays last December.

In his debut season with Boston, the right-handed hitter slashed .259/.315/.501 with 33 doubles, 31 home runs, 96 RBIs, 89 runs scored, 44 walks, and 130 strikeouts over 144 games spanning 572 relief appearances.

While seeing the majority of his playing time come in right field, Renfroe finished the year tied with Rangers rookie Adolis Garcia for the most outfield assists in the American League (16), but also led all big-league outfielders in errors committed with 12.

Upon signing with the Sox last winter, Renfroe earned $3.1 million in what was his first season of arbitration eligibility. MLB Trade Rumors projected that the 28-year-old would receive $7.6 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility in 2022, which obviously represents a significant raise from the amount he earned in 2021.

Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom must have felt that this price was too steep to pay, leading the club to deal Renfroe to the Brewers for a pair of prospects and an established veteran such as Bradley Jr.

Regarding the two prospects Boston acquired from Milwaukee, Binelas and Hamilton were regarded by Baseball America as the No. 20 and No. 15 prospects in the Brewers’ farm system, respectively.

Binelas, 21, was selected by the Brewers in the third round of this summer’s amateur draft out of the University of Louisville.

A Wisconsin native, Binelas appeared in just seven Arizona Complex League games before earning a promotion to Low-A Carolina on August 16. He batted a stout .314/.379/.636 (136 wRC+) to go along with 11 doubles, nine home runs, 27 RBIs, 29 runs scored, 12 walks, and 33 strikeouts across 29 games (132 plate appearances) with the Mudcats.

Listed at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, the left-handed hitter can play both corner infield positions and well regarded for his power, as evidenced by his .322 ISO at Low-A this year.

Hamilton, 24, was also selected by Milwaukee in the eighth round of the 2019 amateur draft out of the University of Texas at Austin.

After not playing any affiliated baseball in 2019 and missing out on the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton made his professional debut for High-A Wisconsin this spring and ultimately made his way to Double-A Biloxi by early August.

In 33 games with the Shuckers, the left-handed hitting infielder produced a .248/.322/.414 slash line (104 wRC+) with five doubles, four triples, three homers, 12 RBIs, 16 runs, 11 stolen bases, 15 walks, and 32 strikeouts over 150 plate appearances while seeing playing time at second base and shortstop.

Unlike Binelas, Hamilton is not known for his power, but for his speed, as the 5-foot-10, 175 pounder has already stolen 52 bases through his first 101 games in the minor-leagues.

Neither Binelas nor Hamilton were immediately added to Boston’s 40-man roster, though the latter can become eligible for the 2022 Rule 5 Draft if he is not added to the 40-man by next November.

Finally, we arrive at what is the most fascinating aspect of this deal in Bradley Jr., who the Red Sox, of course, took with the 40th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of the University of South Carolina.

After spending the first eight years of his big-league career with the Sox, Bradley Jr. became a free agent last winter and effectively signed a two-year, $24 million contract with the Brewers in March.

Bradley Jr.’s first season with a new team did not go as swimmingly as it did for Renfroe. Despite remaining an elite defender in center field, the 31-year-old struggled at the plate to the tune of a .163/.236/.261 slash line with 14 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 29 RBIs, 39 runs, seven stolen bases, 28 walks, and 132 strikeouts in 134 games (428 plate appearances) with the Brewers.

By swapping Renfroe’s projected 2022 salary of $7.6 million for Bradley’s 2022 salary of of $9.5 million (plus an $8 million buyout in 2023), Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. — per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — took on about $10 million in additional salary to add Bradley Jr. and two promising prospects in Binelas and Hamilton.

In addition to acquiring Bradley Jr., the Red Sox also announced the signings of left-handers James Paxton and Rich Hill to one-year deals for the 2022 season, meaning their 40-man roster is now up to 39 players.

(Picture of Jackie Bradley Jr: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire speedy outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. from Rangers and assign him to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have acquired outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. from the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash considerations, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

The reason the Sox were able to make a trade in the wake of the July 30 trade deadline is because of the fact that DeShields is on a minor-league contract and has not been on a major-league roster so far this season.

DeShields, who turns 29 later this month, initially inked a minor-league pact with the Rangers back in early February and opened the 2021 minor-league season with Triple-A Round Rock, where he slashed .263/.392/.368 (99 wRC+) with nine doubles, one triple, five home runs, 18 RBI, 46 runs scored, 16 stolen bases, 50 walks, and 62 strikeouts over 66 games (305 plate appearances) for the Express.

A former first-round pick of the Astros out of Woodward Academy (Ga.) back in 2010, DeShields was selected by Texas in the 2014 Rule 5 Draft and accrued five years of big-league experience with the Rangers prior to being part of a three-player trade with the Indians that saw Corey Kluber briefly head to the Lone Star state in December 2019.

Across just 37 games with Cleveland during the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, the speedy right-handed hitter posted a modest .252/.310/.318 slash line (72 wRC+) to go along with three doubles, two triples, seven RBI, 10 runs scored, three stolen bases, nine walks, and 29 strikeouts over 120 total trips to the plate.

Known for his speed and defensive abilities, DeShields — who is listed at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds — has been assigned to the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in Worcester, where he figures to provide some experienced outfield depth for the WooSox alongside the likes of Michael Gettys and Tate Matheny.

As noted by Cotillo, Boston has seen its upper-minors outfield depth take a hit as of late with Jarren Duran being promoted last month and Marcus Wilson being claimed off waivers by the Mariners earlier this week.

That said, it should be fascinating to see if, in addition to providing organizational depth and insurance in the event of an injury, DeShields will garner any sort of big-league consideration with his new club once rosters expand in September. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of Delino DeShields: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Red Sox acquire pitching prospect Victor Santos from Phillies to complete C.J. Chatham trade

The Red Sox have acquired right-handed pitching prospect Victor Santos from the Phillies to complete the trade that sent infielder C.J. Chatham to Philadelphia.

Boston dealt Chatham to Philadelphia in exchange for a player to be named later back on January 18 in order to clear a spot on their 40-man roster that would later allow them to acquire reliever Adam Ottavino from the Yankees.

As the six-month deadline for both sides to agree on which player the Red Sox would be acquiring was approaching, that PTBNL turns out to be a pitching prospect in the form of Santos.

Santos, who turned 21 on July 12, was originally signed by the Phillies out of the Dominican Republic for $150,000 back in November 2016.

Since that time, the 6-foot-2, 220 pound hurler has risen through the ranks and opened the 2021 minor-league season with High-A Jersey Shore, where he posted a 1.33 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over nine appearances (one start) spanning 20 1/3 innings pitched before earning a promotion to Double-A Reading on June 24.

In four starts with the Fightin Phils, Santos put up a 3.05 ERA, a 3.90 FIP and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 15:4 over 20 2/3 total innings of work.

Santos’ last outing as a member of the Phillies organization actually came against Double-A Portland this past Wednesday, as the young righty yielded four runs on six hits, one walk, and three strikeouts in five innings against the Sea Dogs in Reading, Pa. on July 14.

Back in early March, FanGraphs’ Eric Longengagen wrote that Santos has “a good changeup” and “slings in average stuff, some of which plays up because of his funky, long arm action. His realistic ceiling is that of a fifth or sixth starter.”

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Santos has displayed exceptional control over the course of his professional career considering the fact that “he has averaged 8.2 strikeouts and 1.3 walks per nine innings in 254 ⅔ innings in the minors.”

According to his transactions page on MLB.com, Santos has been assigned to Portland, so it’s likely he will join the Sea Dogs’ starting rotation and could, in theory, make his organizational debut at some point next week. We will have to wait and see on that.

(Picture of C.J. Chatham: Miles Kennedy/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Andrew Benintendi crushes 2 homers for Royals; former Red Sox outfielder has found success since moving down in Kansas City’s lineup

Andrew Benintendi’s tenure with the Royals did not get off to the best of starts.

After being dealt from the Red Sox to Kansas City as part of a three-team, seven-player trade back in February, Benintendi struggled throughout his first spring training in Arizona, and that coincidentally carried over into the regular season as well.

Through his first 15 games as a member of the Royals, the 26-year-old put up an underwhelming .193/.270/.246 slash line with just three extra-base hits (all doubles), four RBI, three stolen bases, six walks, and 17 strikeouts over 63 plate appearances.

In that time, Benintendi — primarily Kansas City’s No. 2 hitter — failed to barrel up a single ball and posted a dismal wRC+ of 51 to show for his efforts.

As of the morning of April 21, it looked as though the former first-round pick was still on the path towards regression that started during the final month of the 2019 season.

But on that day against the Rays, Benintendi did something he had not done in a while: make significantly hard contact, and he did it twice by barreling up a pair of balls in the fourth and eighth innings.

Both balls the left-handed hitter squared up went for lineouts, but the fact he made more than solid contact on more than one occasion was encouraging — and a harbinger of positive things to come.

Since then, Benintendi has been on a roll as of late. He came into Saturday’s action riding an eight-game on-base streak and undoubtedly put together his best performance of the season to this point against the Twins at Target Field.

Batting seventh and starting in left field for Kansas City, the Cincinnati native went 3-for-4 at the plate with a pair of home runs — his second and third homers of the season, two RBI, and three runs scored while leading his side to an 11-3 victory over Minnesota.

At the time Benintendi hit his first big fly of the afternoon (about 4 p.m. eastern time), Red Sox manager Alex Cora was fielding questions from reporters during his pregame Zoom call at Globe Life Field.

Cora had the Royals-Twins game on the television playing in his office as well.. That being the case because at one point, while talking about Eduardo Rodriguez, he paused, saw Benintendi’s home run, and said, “Look at Benny. He hit a homer.”

Following Saturday’s showing, Benintendi raised his batting average on the season to .262 and his OPS on the season to .757.

Over his last seven games alone, Benintendi is slashing an unworldly .435/.519/.870 with three homers six RBI, seven runs scored, four walks, and one stolen base dating back to April 23.

The success Benintendi has enjoyed as of late can be linked to when he was dropped from second to seventh in the Royals’ lineup on April 19.

The Red Sox moved on from Benintendi over the winter after originally taking the outfielder in the first round of the 2015 amateur draft out of the University of Arkansas.

In exchange for Benintendi, the Sox acquired outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later from the Royals as well as pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and one player to be named later from the Mets.

Cordero, the only player Boston got back in that trade who has seen any major-league time to this point, came into Saturday’s game against the Rangers sporting a .176/.236/.216 slash line to go along with 26 strikeouts in 55 trips to the plate (47% strikeout rate).

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi and Michael A. Taylor: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Alex Verdugo experiencing first real spring training with Red Sox: ‘I’m feeling really comfortable and feeling really good about where I’m at right now’

Alex Verdugo’s first spring training as a member of the Red Sox was far from a conventional one.

After coming over from the Dodgers in the Mookie Betts/David Price trade last February, the young outfielder — then 23 years old — reported to Fort Myers, where it was revealed that he was working his way back from a stress fracture in his lower back.

When the Red Sox began their Grapefruit League slate later that month, Verdugo was unable to play in any spring games and would instead spend his time rehabbing, getting treatment, or hitting in the cage.

The following month, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic really took off and eventually forced Major League Baseball and its clubs to shut down their spring training facilities on March 12.

Despite the shutdown, which would last into July, Verdugo was still able to go to the Sox’ Fenway South complex in order to continue getting treatment on his back.

By the time players reported to their respective teams’ summer camps, the 24-year-old was essentially a full-go, but he would have to prepare for a shortened season without the benefit of a spring training schedule to work off of.

“When we had the spring training 2.0, there still wasn’t very many games,” Verdugo explained on Tuesday via Zoom. “We were kind of just playing against ourselves. It was good because I was getting at-bats, I was seeing pitches. But physically, I felt a little bit off. When the season kicked in, it took me probably a week — maybe a week-and-a-half — into the season for me to finally get that adjustment and realize, ‘Oh, OK, this is what I got to do.’ And from there, I didn’t look back.”

In his first eight regular season games of 2020, Verdugo went a mere 6-for-26 (.231) at the plate with two walks and seven strikeouts from July 25 through August 23.

Starting on the night of August 4 — in which he went 1-for-2 at the plate against the Rays, the Arizona native put up an impressive .320/.378/.514 slash line to go along with six home runs and 15 RBI over 45 games and 193 plate appearances en route to leading the 2020 Red Sox in bWAR (2.2), per Baseball Reference.

Having solidified himself as an everyday big-league outfielder who was on the rise, Verdugo came into the 2021 season with the opportunity to actually play in some Grapefruit League games for the first time in his career.

Leading up to Tuesday’s contest against the Braves in North Port, though, the left-handed hitter carried with him an OPS of .508 through his first 11 games of the spring.

“For the spring I’m having, it’s been a different one,” Verdugo said. “I think if we go performance-wise and batting average-wise, it’s not quite where I would want it. But physically and all that, I’m in a lot better position than I was last year. I think right now, it’s just getting up there and just letting my eyes see the pitches, having some at-bats. I’ve been having better at-bats, working the count deep. Maybe 3-2, couple of pitches have gotten me. But I’m feeling really comfortable and feeling really good about where I’m at right now.”

Despite the statistical struggles so far this spring, Verdugo did go 1-for-2 with a single, an RBI forceout, a run scored, and a walk while playing six innings of center field against Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon.

“He’s been getting better. He’s making good decisions at the plate,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora in regards to the progress Verdugo is making this spring. “He’s not chasing pitches — in the first at -bat he did — but the walks, trying to stay up the middle, the other way, that’s what he does… He’s feeling good about his swing and he’s been getting a lot of at-bats in the backfields, too.”

Verdugo reinforced some of these points himself when discussing how he should be more locked in when the 2021 season begins as opposed to where he was at in late July last year.

“I’ve been kind of going through some things, fighting some stuff at the plate,” he said. “My biggest thing for me is I use the entire field. So I just got to get back to using left field, letting the ball travel just a split-second more, and then just throwing the hands at it. Like I said, the last couple games, I hit a line-drive over the shortstop, been having better at-bats, walking a little bit more. So we’re right on the final path. This next week, we got to just lock it in a little bit more and get it ready.”

Last season, Verdugo went 22-for-39 (.564) at the plate with a pair of home runs and four RBI when pushing the ball to the opposite field. He will look to replicate that sort of production this year, as he will likely slot into the No. 2 spot in the Sox’ regular lineup behind former Dodgers teammate Enrique Hernandez.

Defensively, Verdugo figures to see the lion’s share of his playing time come in either center or right field.

The former second-round draft pick out of Sahuaro High School only played eight innings in center field in 2020, but he said Tuesday that he’s had no problems getting more acclimated with a position that can be a little more challenging to play inside Fenway Park as opposed to other ballparks.

“The biggest thing, like I said health-wise, is taking care of my body and making sure my legs and everything’s under me,” said Verdugo. “Really, the position doesn’t matter. Center, we do have a little bit more run since it’s gap-to-gap, but there’s no problem with that yet. With our corner outfielders and everybody, we all do a really good job of communicating, shifting, and going where we need to be.”

Outside of J.D. Martinez, Verdugo is technically the longest-tenured outfielder on the Red Sox’ major-league roster following the Andrew Benintendi trade and Jackie Bradley Jr. signing with the Brewers.

One of the reasons Boston has gone through such a seismic shift in regards to roster construction this offseason is because of how poorly they played in 2020. Another reason for it is because the organization, spearheaded by the return of Cora as manager, clearly expects to be more competitive in 2021.

With the infusion of talent chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have added to the mix, the Sox are a group this spring that has generated a lot of internal positive energy and excitement.

And with the prospect of a limited number of fans returning to Fenway Park for Opening Day on April 1 and beyond, that leaves someone like Verdugo — who can feed off that energy from the crowd — feeling excited for what’s on the horizon.

“It just kind of felt like gut-punch after gut-punch,” Verdugo said about the 2020 season. “This year, going through the trials and errors last year, we got some new pitchers, got some new guys, got some new talent. I think everybody’s just excited. We’re all excited to have fans back, excited to get back into this normality. We’re excited to get back to this normal life that we’re living in.

“This year, we know that we can be pretty good and be competitive,” he added. “We’re just keeping a positive mindset and everybody’s working and doing what we need to do.”

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Pitching prospect Zach Bryant joins the show

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by newest Red Sox right-handed pitching prospect Zach Bryant, who the club acquired from the Chicago Cubs last weekend.

Among the topics Zach and I discussed were how he grew up a Red Sox fan despite being born and raised in Florida, how weightlifting helped turn him into a legitimate prospect, how he works out with Orioles outfielder Austin Hays and Rockies first-round draft pick Zac Veen in the offseason, how Driveline Baseball has helped him improve, how he faced off against Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani while at the Driveline facility, what Red sox fans can expect out of him in 2021, and much more!

The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thanks to Zach for taking some time out of his busy schedule to have a conversation with me. You can follow him on Twitter by clicking here, and you can follow him on Instagram by clicking here.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Zach Bryant: Aussiedi Photography)

Red Sox’ Alex Verdugo says Dodgers winning World Series was ‘bittersweet’ for him, calls Boston place ‘where I was supposed to be’

Last year, Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo went through something for the first time as a major-leaguer in that he played for a team that failed to qualify for the postseason.

Prior to getting traded to Boston last February, the 24-year-old had been a part of three straight National League West-clinching Dodgers teams from 2017-2019.

Although he never appeared in a postseason game as a member of the Dodgers, Verdugo still worked hard to reach that ultimate goal of being a member of the last team standing come late October.

So when Los Angeles finally ended their 32-year World Series drought this past fall while Verdugo was at home watching his former teammates celebrate that accomplishment, it was a bit weird for the former Dodgers top prospect.

“I’m happy for the guys,” Verdugo said Thursday when speaking with reporters via Zoom. “It’s a bittersweet moment because at the same time, I want that ring. I want to be a champion, but I think things work out for reasons.”

While the Red Sox may have struggled to the tune of a 24-36 record in Verdugo’s first season with the club, the left-handed hitter did enjoy success on an individual level in 2020.

Over 53 games played last year, Verdugo slashed an impressive .308/.367/.478 to go along with six home runs, 16 doubles, and 15 RBI across 221 plate appearances. He also recorded seven outfield assists en route to finishing 12th in American League MVP voting.

“Coming over here and being with Boston and being with the staff and the teammates, and how I feel like I get along and jell with the guys, I think the fit here is better,” said Verdugo. “I think this is where I was supposed to be, and I think it’s going to make it even more special when we do get that ring and we win it here.”

Having said that, Verdugo — who was selected by Los Angeles in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft — still enjoyed seeing some of his old friends like Cody Bellinger, Edwin Rios, and Walker Buehler win it all considering the fact they all grinded through the minor-leagues together not too long ago.

“It was fun. I still got a lot of friends over there,” he said. “Still had some guys that you root for and at the end of the day, I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, into the minor-leagues to get into the bigs and play next to these guys. To see their dreams come true, it’s amazing.”

As the Dodgers head into the 2021 season coming off their first World Series title since 1988, Verdugo hopes the Red Sox can meet them in the Fall Classic once more to get a little retribution sometime in the near future.

“Now, it’s just, hopefully we see them and we get to beat them and get a little satisfaction that way,” said Verdugo.

(Picture of Alex Verdugo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi ready to ‘get going’ with Royals, begin next chapter of career

Former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi did not find out he was going to be traded to the Royals until relatively late Tuesday night, but he at least got some heads up about it.

The 26-year-old had been mired in trade rumors for much of the offseason, yet he was able to shut out most of that noise. Tuesday night, however, was a different story.

“I got a call last night from Chaim Bloom, and he said, ‘There’s a good chance you’re going to get traded tonight, so I’ll let you know,’” Benintendi recounted when speaking with the Kansas City media via Zoom earlier Wednesday. “I didn’t know the team, and then I find out it’s the Royals and I’m extremely excited — I’m from the Midwest — going to a Midwest team. So, I’m excited. I’m ready to get there, ready to meet people, build those relationships, and get going.”

Boston officially dealt Benintendi, as well as $2.8 million of his $6.6 million salary for 2021, to Kansas City in exchange for outfielder Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later as well as right-handed pitching prospect Josh Wincowski and one player to be named later from the New York Mets.

For Benintendi, the trade comes at an interesting point in his career.

The former 2015 first-round draft pick of the Red Sox has seen his once promising potential dip as of late. Most recently, he managed to collect just four hits in 14 games last year before suffering a season-ending rib injury in August.

“Last year, obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Benintendi said in regards to the pandemic shortened 2020 season. “It was the first time we had ever experienced something like that. I played 13 or 14 games and I broke my ribs, which is unfortunate. Obviously, it’s tough to swing with some broken ribs. But, I’m feeling good now and ready to get going.”

Expanding upon that, Benintendi’s injury, which occurred while he was rounding second base during an August 11 game against the Rays, was originally announced by the Red Sox as a right rib cage strain.

“I tripped around my own feet going around second base,” he said. “It was a rib strain, but there were a couple fractures. But, I’m feeling great now. Feel back to 100%.”

In being moved to a market like Kansas City, there is a level of comfort involved here for Benintendi, and it’s not just because of the city’s proximity to Nashville and his home state of Ohio or its quality barbecue.

For one, the former Arkansas Razorback is already quite familiar with Royals manager Mike Matheny. That being the case because Matheny’s son, Tate, was also drafted by the Red Sox in 2015, so the two played their rookie ball together with the Lowell Spinners.

“I’m extremely excited to be playing for him,” Benintendi said of the ex-Cardinals skipper. “I’ve known Tate since I was drafted. In 2015, we were in Lowell together in rookie ball for the Red Sox. And I also lived in St. Louis for a number of offseasons, so I got to know them pretty well. I’m excited going into this that I have somewhat of a relationship with Mike and having some familiarity. So, I’m excited to play for him.”

Adding on to that, Kauffman Stadium is a ballpark Benintendi has enjoyed success at in his time with the Red Sox. For his career, the left-handed hitter owns a lifetime .485/.564/.848 slash line to go go along with four doubles, one triple, two home runs, and three RBI at ‘The K.’

“Obviously it’s a lot different than Fenway,” Benintendi said of the Royals’ ballpark. “Left field, you have a lot more room to run out there, which I’m excited about. I always love playing there and something about it, I feel like I see the ball well. So, it’s exciting. It’s a big field. I feel like I’m a gap-to-gap kind of hitter and obviously those gaps there are pretty big, so we’ll see if we can run a little bit.”

While getting the chance to “run a little bit” for a new team, Benintendi is also hoping to show that the Royals made a smart decision in trading for him and the Red Sox made an unwise decision in letting him go.

“It’s nice to be wanted,” the 5-foot-9, 180 lb. outfielder said. “I feel like there’s a sense of pride for me. I want to go perform well, obviously, and show them it was worth the trade. I want to go play well for the fans and the organization. I’m excited and it’s nice to be wanted.”

Even while saying that, Benintendi will still cherish what he did with the Red Sox, highlighted by winning the World Series in 2018, for the rest of his career.

“They drafted me, and I’ll always have that connection with Boston,” he eloquently stated. “2018 is a tough one not to mention. That year was unbelievable. Most of all, it’s the relationships I’ve had with teammates, coaches, things like that. You get to meet a lot of people in this game and some of the relationships I had there, I’ll have forever. It’s something I’ll take with me.”

Taking those experiences with the Red Sox and what he learned from them to Kansas City, Benintendi is certainly open to the idea of becoming a player his new teammates can lean on for information if the occasion arises.

“If guys have questions or anything like that, I’m an open book about it,” he said. “If they want to bounce questions or anything like that off me, I’d be more than happy to share those experiences and whatever it takes.”

(Picture of Andrew Benintendi: Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Red Sox have ‘expressed interest’ in a reunion with free-agent reliever Brandon Workman, per report

Add Brandon Workman to the list of former Red Sox the club is reportedly interested in a reunion with via free agency.

According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, the Sox “have expressed interest in a reunion” with the right-handed reliever, though it is unknown at this point if talks between the two sides have progressed beyond that.

Workman, 32, is coming off a 2020 campaign split between the Red Sox and Phillies in which he posted a 5.95 ERA and 5.48 FIP over 21 appearances and 19 2/3 innings pitched.

Boston dealt Workman to Philadelphia on August 21, at which point the veteran hurler carried with him an ERA of 4.05 through his first seven outings of the year.

Things did not improve for Workman upon arriving in Philly, however, as the Texas native went on to surrender 11 runs (10 earned) on 23 hits and nine walks over 13 innings of work spanning 14 relief appearances in a Phillies uniform.

That’s good for an ERA of 6.92. He also blew three of a possible eight save opportunities before becoming a free-agent in late October.

Prior to the shortened, 60-game 2020 season, Workman had put together his best full year of work out of the Red Sox bullpen in 2019, posting a miniscule 1.88 ERA in 73 appearances and 71 2/3 innings pitched.

Had his free-agency come a year sooner, the former second-round draft pick likely would have been one of the most sought-after relievers last winter.

Instead, Workman’s free-agency came at a low point in his career, and he still remains on the open market because of it.

The Red Sox, even after acquiring veteran reliever Adam Ottavino from the Yankees earlier this week, may not be done adding to their bullpen, as Cotillo noted in the above tweet.

Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom echoed this same sort of sentiment when speaking with reporters on Monday in the wake of the Ottavino trade.

“Bullpens are one of those things, you never feel like you’re totally there,” Bloom said via a Zoom call. “There’s always ways to get better and it never seems like you have enough. I think, certainly, this move today puts us in a better place. You can look at a perfect world scenario where a lot of guys who should be depth end up being depth and that we’re well-insulated from the left side, from the right side, long, short. With that said, we know we’re not going to live in a perfect world so we’re always going to make sure that we have as much depth as possible knowing we’re still working with a 40-man roster.”

Other former Red Sox who are currently free agents that the club has reportedly expressed interested in include first baseman Mitch Moreland and infielder Travis Shaw.

(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)