Red Sox Reportedly Looking to Trade Jackie Bradley Jr. This Offseason

The Red Sox may be looking to trade outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. this winter, according to MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

Bradley Jr., who turns 30 in April, is entering his final year of salary arbitration and is projected to earn $11 million in 2020.

With it already out there that the Sox would look like to bring their payroll below the $208 million luxury tax threshold for next season, Bradley Jr.’s projected 2020 salary may not be in the club’s plans.

As Smith notes, Boston could non-tender their outfielder at any time before the December 2nd deadline, meaning he would become a free agent immediately.

Another possibility is that the team could tender Bradley Jr. a contract, look for a trade partner in the coming months, and potentially release him if no partner is found before Opening Day rosters are set, since, “arbitration contracts aren’t fully guaranteed until a player makes the Opening Day roster.”

Bradley Jr. is coming off a 2019 campaign in which he slashed .225/.317/.421 with 21 home runs and 62 RBI over 147 games played while also providing steady defense in center field.

Given the chance that Boston also deals Mookie Betts this winter, it would be hard to imagine a Red Sox outfield without Betts and Bradley Jr. in it in 2020. More is sure to come once we officially hit the offseason later this month, so stay tuned for that.

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Eduardo Rodriguez Falls Short of 20th Win, Rafael Devers Picks up 200th Hit, and Mookie Betts Scores Winning Run as Red Sox Walk off Orioles in 2019 Season Finale

After dropping their penultimate game of the year with a 9-4 loss at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, the Red Sox bounced back and wrapped up their 2019 season in style, as they walked off the O’s in nine innings in a 5-4 victory on Sunday.

Making his 34th and final start of the season for Boston on Sunday was Eduardo Rodriguez, who entered the weekend just one winning decision of 20 and 3 2/3 innings shy of 200.

Tossing seven full innings to surpass that 200-mark on the season, the left-hander surrendered three runs, all of which were earned against his former club on four hits and two walks to go along with eight strikeouts on the afternoon.

All three of those Baltimore tallies came in the top half of the third, when with one out and runners on the corners, back-to-back RBI knocks from Hanser Alberto and Austin Hays got the Orioles on the board first.

One mound visit from pitching coach Dana LeVangie later, and Rodriguez allowed the third run of the frame to come in on a fielder’s choice out off the bat of Trey Mancini.

Other than that bit of trouble though, the Venezuela native settled in nicely from the beginning of the fourth inning on, retiring 12 of the last 14 hitters he faced leading into the middle of the seventh, the point in which his outing came to an impressive close with an emphatic six-pitch punchout of Richie Martin.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 115 (71 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler relied on his four-seam fastball nearly 48% of the time he was on the mound Sunday, inducing 14 swings and misses and topping out at 95 MPH with the pitch while Christian Vazquez was behind the plate.

Ultimately unable to get that vaunted 20th win due to what transpired later on, Rodriguez finishes his fourth full season with the Red Sox with a 19-6 record, a 3.91 ERA, and a career-high 231 strikeouts over 34 outings and 203 1/3 total innings pitched.

In relief of Rodriguez, Matt Barnes came on for one final time in the eighth with a brand new one-run lead to protect, and he could not do that, as he allowed the game-tying run, which was unearned, to cross the plate on a two-out RBI single from Jonathan Villar.

No 20th win for Rodriguez, all while Barnes was charged with his eighth blown save of 2019.

And in the ninth, Brandon Workman fanned the only three Orioles he faced on just 15 pitches to send this one to the bottom half of the inning with a 4-4 stalemate intact, and that eventually earned him his 10th and final winning decision.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against an old friend in Orioles right-hander Chandler Shepherd, who was with the PawSox up until May of this year before being designated for assignment.

Kicking off the scoring in the third just as Baltimore did, the Boston bats quickly responded from an early three-run hole by plating two of their own on back-to-back one-out, run-scoring hits courtesy of Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers.

Fast forward all the way to the sixth, and a leadoff walk drawn by Xander Bogaerts, single from J.D. Martinez, and another walk drawn by Mitch Moreland brought Christian Vazquez to the plate in a one-run game with the bases full.

Up against new Orioles reliever Shawn Armstrong, Vazquez delivered with a line-drive RBI single to left to drive in Bogaerts and knot things up at three runs apiece.

An inning later, it was the top of the lineup getting things done once more, this time with Devers reaching base with a one-out double off Evan Phillips, his 200th hit of the season, and Bogaerts scoring him on an RBI single to the opposite field. 4-3.

That probably should have been good enough to get Rodriguez his 20th win, but as already mentioned, the Orioles rallied and tied things up in their half of the eighth.

In the bottom half of that eighth, it looked as though the Sox had jumped in front again, as Jackie Bradley Jr. crushed an 0-1, 95 MPH heater from Mychal Givens with two outs and Brock Holt on at first.

Instead of mashing his 22nd homer of the year though, Bradley Jr. was downright robbed by Stevie Wilkerson in right field, as the O’s outfielder sprawled out to take away what surely was a two-run shot. The .980 xBA on that line drive is quite evident of that statement.

So, the two sides headed into the ninth still in a 4-4 tie, and after Brandon Workman did what he had to do in the top half, Betts did what he had to do to lead off the bottom half.

Yup, the reigning American League MVP drew a six-pitch walk off of Dillon Tate in what very well could have been his last plate appearance as a Red Sox.

That brought Devers up to the plate for a fifth time, and all he did was rip a single through the right side of the infield. One that was certainly good enough to advance the runner on base up to third, but as he is known to do, Betts caught the opposition off guard and made the trek towards the promised land.

By the time the right fielder Wilkerson caught on to this, Betts was well on his way to sliding safely into home, as the Red Sox came away with a 5-4 walk-off win in their final game of 2019.

Some notes from this win:

From Red Sox Notes:

 

From MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith:

From MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo:

So, the Red Sox finish their World Series-defending campaign with a final mark of 84-78, 19 games off the pace of the New York Yankees for the American League East crown and 12 games off the pace of the Tampa Bay Rays for the second American League Wild Card spot.

To say the 2019 season was underwhelming would be an understatement, but there was still plenty to remember and definitely plenty to reflect on and learn from.

As I have said before, there are plenty of questions surrounding this club headed into the offseason, and they’ll have about four weeks to get a head start on those discussions.

Will Mookie Betts or Jackie Bradley Jr. be traded? Will J.D. Martinez opt out of his current deal? Will Brock Holt be offered a new contract? These are all uncertainties at the moment, and only time will tell on how these issues are resolved.

That is for another time though. For now, it’s a good time to unpack, reflect, and say thanks.

Pitchers and catchers report in a little under five months.

Red Sox Acquire Right-Hander Andrew Cashner in Trade with Orioles

Before taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second of a three-game weekend series on Saturday night, the Red Sox acquired right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner in a three-player trade with the Baltimore Orioles. The club made the transaction official earlier Saturday.

Cashner, 32, had started 17 games for Baltimore this season, where he posted a 3.83 ERA and .234 batting average against over 96 1/3 total innings pitched.

With a contract that runs through 2019 and has a team option attached for 2020, Cashner appears to be the man to take over the fifth spot in the Red Sox’ starting rotation.

Originally signing a two-year, $16 million deal with the Orioles in February of 2018, the Texas native had a rough first go around in his first full season with Baltimore, posting an ERA of exactly 5.00 in 28 outings, but has rebounded nicely so far this year. That much is evident by his 1.41 ERA and .168 batting average against in five starts since the beginning of June.

When all the dust is settled, expect Sox manager Alex Cora’s rotation to look something like this:

Chris Sale
David Price
Rick Porcello
Andrew Cashner
Eduardo Rodriguez

In his career at Fenway Park, Cashner is 1-1 with an ERA of 7.20 over a small sample size of two starts and just 10 innings pitched.

On the other side of this trade, Boston sent two minor leaguers in the form of 17-year-old infielder Noelberth Romero and 17-year-old outfielder Elio Prado. Both signed as international free agents out Venezuela during last year’s signing period and both were assigned to the Red Sox’ Dominican Summer League team.

Per president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Cashner’s first start in a Red Sox uniform will come on Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Red Sox Release Tyler Thornburg After Reliever Refused Minor League Assignment

The Red Sox have released right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg, per the club’s official Twitter account.

Thornburg, 30, was returned from his month-long rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday without being activated from the 10-day injured list with a right hip impingement, meaning the Sox had two days to decide whether to add the righty back to the active roster, designate him for assignment, or outright him.

On Tuesday, WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported that Thornburg would not accept a minor league assignment, so this outcome seemed the most likely before it even occurred.

Acquired by Boston from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for infielder Travis Shaw and minor leaguers, Yeison Coca, Maurico Dubon, and Josh Pennington in December of 2016, Thornburg’s tenure with the Red Sox did not go according to plan.

Given his reputation as one of the better setup men in the National League in his time with Milwaukee, Thornburg was seen as part of the bridge out of the Sox bullpen that would make way for Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning.

Instead, the Texas native missed all the 2017 season due to thoracic outlet syndrome in his throwing shoulder and did not make his Red Sox debut until July 6th of the following season.

There, Thornburg appeared in 25 games for Boston, posting a dismal 5.63 ERA and .901 OPS against over 24 innings pitched before being shut down for the remainder of the year on September 26th.

This year, the former third round pick made his first Opening Day roster as a member of the Red Sox, and allowed 16 earned runs on 21 hits and 10 walks to go along with 22 strikeouts over 16 appearances and 18 2/3 innings of work. That’s good for an ERA of 7.71 and OPS against of .972. Not great.

Thornburg yielded two runs on two hits and two walks in the sixth inning of a 10-3 loss against the Toronto Blue Jays on may 21st, two days before he was placed on the IL.

While rehabbing with the PawSox, Thornburg posted a 12.66 ERA and 2.44 WHIP over 11 outings (one start) and just 10 2/3 frames pitched.

As mentioned before, his reputation while with the Brewers should give Thornburg another shot with another club, but it was clear that the marriage between him and the Red Sox was never going to work out. Perhaps a change of scenery will do him better.

Out of all the trades Dave Dombrowski has made since taking over as the Red Sox’ president of baseball operations in 2015, this particular one he made with David Stearns should go down as one of the worst.

The Red Sox virtually got nothing of value out of Thornburg while he was with the club, nor could they flip him for any sort of asset(s) either.

Instead, Travis Shaw, despite being demoted to Triple-A San Antonio last month, has gone on to have two 30-plus home run seasons with the Brewers.

Mauricio Dubon, meanwhile, worked his way to becoming Milwaukee’s fifth-ranked prospect before getting the call up the majors on July 7th, where he will look to provide infield depth to a team competing for a National League Central crown.

All this transpiring while the Red Sox continue to deal with struggles in their bullpen and may even trade for a reliever of Thornburg’s perceived caliber before he arrived in Boston.

#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.

#RedSox Acquire RHP Colten Brewer from San Diego Padres.

In a slew of several roster moves, the Red Sox announced on Tuesday evening that they had officially acquired right-handed reliever Colten Brewer from the San Diego Padres in exchange for infield prospect Esteban Quiroz.

Reported earlier in the day, this transaction provides Dave Dombrowski with another fascinating addition to his bullpen.

At the age of 26, Brewer just broke in with the Padres this year after spending different parts of six seasons with three different organizations, where he posted a 5.59 ERA and .357 BAA over 11 relief appearances and 9.2 innings pitched.

A former fourth round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011, Brewer, per Statcast, relies on four different pitches, his cutter, his curveball, his four-seam fastball, and his slider.

Brewer

Procuring a swing rate of 36.6% in 2018, Brewer, a native of Dallas, Texas, will look to provide his new club with a different kind of look out of the bullpen in 2019.

On the other side of this deal, the Red Sox parted ways with minor league infielder Esteban Quiroz.

Ranked as Boston’s 28th best prospect over at SoxProspects.com, Quiorz initially joined the organization as an international free agent from Mexico last November.

In his age 26 and first minor league season in the states, Quiroz slashed .283/.406/.547 to go along with seven home runs and 31 RBI over a span of 32 games between the Gulf Coast League Red Sox and Double A Portland Sea Dogs.

The trade was made official at approximately 4:47 PM ET.

That, along with the roster moves I previously mentioned, puts the Red Sox 40-man roster at 39.

I will have more on the other moves later.