The Red Sox have acquired right-handed pitching prospect Zach Bryant from the Cubs to complete the trade that sent left-hander Josh Osich to Chicago back in August, the team announced Saturday.
Boston originally dealt Osich to Chicago on August 31 in exchange for a player to be named later. Given six months to complete that deal, the deadline was fast approaching, and we now know Bryant is indeed the PTBNL.
The 22-year-old right-hander was selected by the Cubs in the 15th round of the 2019 amateur draft out of Jacksonville University.
In his debut season as a professional, Bryant — listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 lbs. — posted a 1.27 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 12 total relief appearances and 21 1/3 innings of work between the rookie-level, Arizona League Cubs and short-season, Northwest League Eugene Emeralds in 2019.
A native of Port Orange, Fla., Bryant initially attended Daytona State College for two years before transferring to Jacksonville for the 2019 season, where he produced a 3.48 ERA over 28 outings and 31 innings pitched.
He also put up a 44:19 strikeout-to-walk ratio while recording 12 saves en route to being named to the All-ASUN second team.
Now a member of the Red Sox organization, Bryant joins the likes of Christian Koss and Nick Sogard as former 2019 draft picks that Boston has acquired via trade this offseason.
(Picture of Zach Bryant: Zach Bryant’s Twitter/@zbry34)
When the Red Sox traded for Adam Ottavino last month, the move was greeted with plenty of shock since he was coming over in a trade with the Yankees that seemingly came out of no where.
As it turns out, though, Ottavino could prove to be a vital piece of Boston’s late-inning bullpen puzzle this coming season. The veteran reliever has already made a positive first impression on Red Sox manager Alex Cora at the onset of spring training in Fort Myers.
“Very smart individual,” Cora said Saturday in regards to Ottavino. “He’s very quiet. He moves very smoothly and very slow around. But, when you talk to him, he opens up. He knows a lot about pitching. He knows himself. Like he told me a few days ago, he’s excited to be here.”
Boston acquired Ottavino — as well as right-handed pitching prospect Frank German and cash considerations — from New York on January 25 in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later.
The 35-year-old right-hander is six months removed from a 2020 campaign with the Yankees in which he posted a 5.89 ERA and .770 OPS against over 24 appearances and 18 1/3 innings pitched.
Upon closer inspection, however, six of the 12 earned runs Ottavino surrendered last year came against the Blue Jays on September 7, an outing in which he failed to record a single out. If you take that one blowup away, his ERA on the season drops to 2.98.
For his major-league career, which dates back to 2010, Ottavino has not surprisingly had more troubles against left-handed hitting (.792 OPS against) than right-handed hitting (.615 OPS against), but the ex-Rockie will still get the chance to face hitters from both sides of the plate with his new club.
“We talked a little bit about the way we’re going to use him, and we’re not going to limit him to righties,” added Cora. “He’s going to get lefties and righties out. He worked hard in the offseason to improve a few things. He threw a bullpen today, actually Christian [Vazquez] caught him. This is a guy that was very dominant in Colorado. He was dominant two years ago [in New York]. He had a bad outing against Toronto last year. So, he’s a big part of what we’re trying to accomplish and I’m happy that he’s pitching for us.”
Working primarily with a sinker, slider, cutter, and changeup, Ottavino originally attended Northeastern University before getting selected by the Cardinals in the first round of the 2006 amateur draft.
While at Northeastern from 2004-2006, the Brooklyn native got the chance to watch the Red Sox from up close since the university’s campus is just a few blocks away from Fenway Park.
“When I was in college, I went there regularly,” Ottavino said last month of his past experiences at Fenway. “I would get the standing room tickets after practice, especially if [Curt] Schilling or Pedro [Martinez] was pitching. Try to watch those guys from behind home plate up the stairs there.”
In addition to watching the Sox when he was younger, playing for them is actually something he has envisioned doing as recently as his free agency in the winter of 2018/2019.
“The Red Sox were one of my top teams I wanted to go to at that time,” said Ottavino, who ultimately wound up signing a three-year, $27 million deal with the Yankees. “They reached out early in the process but it never really got off the ground… The team had just won the World Series, so there was nothing not to like there. Boston has always been a place I saw myself playing. So it was definitely one of the teams at the very beginning of the process I was hoping would reach out to me. And they did and it never got off the ground. But I still appreciate the interest, for sure.”
Now that he is with the Red Sox, the 6-foot-5, 246 lb. hurler figures to be part of a group of relievers made up of Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Hirokazu Sawamura, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor; all of whom will be vying for the role as Boston’s closer over the next month-plus.
That being said, Cora was rather mum about which sort of specific role Ottavino will be undertaking out of the bullpen once the 2021 season does begin.
“He’s going to get big outs in the last third of the game,” the Sox skipper said with a wry smile. “Whenever you ask me about these guys (Barnes, Brasier, etc.), that’s going to be the answer.”
(Picture of Adam Ottavino: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
When the Red Sox agreed to sign veteran right-hander Garrett Richards to a one-year, $10 million contract last month, they did so knowing there would be some risk involved.
Excluding the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the last time the 32-year-old accrued more than 150 innings pitched in a single campaign came in 2015 when he was a member of the Angels.
In July 2018, his season was cut short due to right elbow UCL damage which would require Tommy John surgery that same month.
Since successfully recovering from the elbow reconstruction, Richards has technically not missed a beat, though he’s made just 17 appearances (13 starts) — all with the Padres — at the major-league level dating back to late September 2019.
Even in a limited sample size, however, the Oklahoma native proved to be effective enough for San Diego in 2020, posting a 4.03 ERA and 4.28 FIP over 14 outings (10 starts) and 51 1/3 innings pitched while placing in the 82nd percentile in fastball velocity, the 97th percentile in fastball spin, and the 99th percentile in curveball spin among big-league hurlers, per Baseball Savant.
The fact that Richards had quality stuff — and quite frankly has had quality stuff since being selected by the Angels in the first round of the 2009 amateur draft — last year made him appealing to a lot of clubs this offseason, the Red Sox included.
“Stuff-wise, for me, he was one of the best in the league,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Richards’ career when speaking to reporters via Zoom earlier Saturday. “He’s been hurt, but what I saw last year with the Padres was eye-opening. I’m glad that he’s with us. This is a guy that when we talked to him during the offseason, he feels that there’s more. For how veteran he is and his age, he hasn’t wasted too many bullets, right? Because he’s been hurt.”
In Cora’s praise of Richards, the 6-foot-2, 210 lb. righty also drew comparisons to a key member of Boston’s World Series-winning team in 2018 in Nathan Eovaldi.
The Sox acquired Eovaldi in late July of that season, a little less than two years after the flame-throwing right-hander had undergone Tommy John surgery for the second time in his baseball career. He went on to produce a 3.33 ERA over 12 outings (11 starts) and 54 innings to close out the regular season for Boston and a 1.61 ERA over six outings (two starts) and 22 1/3 innings in the postseason.
“It’s pretty similar to what we got in ’18 with Nate, when we traded for him,” said Cora Saturday. “A guy that has been hurt, but we knew at that time that he was going to be okay. Stuff-wise, off the charts.”
While Richards, like Eovaldi, has the potential to do some special things on the mound in 2021, one thing that cannot be ignored about his addition is the veteran presence he provides, especially with the uncertainty stemming from the ongoing pandemic.
“He’s a good teammate, too,” the Sox skipper confidently stated. “He was in a winning situation last year with the Padres and it’s good to have him around. With all the guidelines and everything because of the virus, it’s not that easy to get the groups together like we usually do in meetings to meet people. But, little by little, we will get to know him — we’ll get to know all of them — and he’s somebody that I’m looking forward to pitch every five days and see where he can go.”
Because Cora, who talks to the media first every day, mentioned Eovaldi when praising Richards, the 31-year-old Sox starter, who also spoke to the media on Saturday, was asked about the rotation newcomer and how their situations compare in regards to overcoming injuries.
“Early on, getting to see him throw a couple bullpens, his stuff is so electric,” Eovaldi said of Richards’ pitch repertoire. “The slider, the changeup, the fastball. It all comes out of the hand really well. He’s got a little bit of a different delivery, I think, but he looks great coming into camp. I’m excited to have him here.
“And then getting over the hurdles, I think you just build off of each start,” he continued. “You continuously build, you build that confidence up. I think him being here, our pitching staff, having [pitching coach Dave Bush and bullpen coach Kevin Walker] around, I think that’s going to help him out a lot. Just mainly using his strengths when he’s pitching and just keep attacking.”
At the moment, both Eovaldi and Richards are slated to crack the Red Sox’ Opening Day starting rotation. I would pencil them in to be the team’s No. 2 and No. 3 starters at this point, but that’s really more of a guess than anything.
(Picture of Garrett Richards: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
On Wednesday morning, the Red Sox traded left-hander Jeffrey Springs, right-hander Chris Mazza, and $100,000 in cash considerations to the Rays in exchange for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard.
Both Springs and Mazza had just been designated for assignment by the Sox, so it came as somewhat of a surprise that Boston was able to acquire a highly-touted prospect such as Hernandez — formerly Tampa Bay’s No. 13 prospect according to Baseball America — for two pitchers they were surely prepared to outright or part ways with for nothing in return.
Having said that, why would the Rays strike a deal with their division rival that seemingly strengthens that rival’s minor-league pipeline in exchange for Springs and Mazza, who combined to yield 36 runs (32 earned) in 50 1/3 innings pitched a season ago?
Tampa Bay’s general manager, and Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom’s friend and former colleague, Erik Neander explained the process behind that decision recently.
“This guy is a really talented player and a great person,” Neander said of Hernandez when speaking with reporters via video conference Wednesday night. “I think for us, it’s a situation where it was probably more about the two guys that we’re bringing in. It’s safe to say that in Mazza and Springs, both are talented, we have more optimism than their 2020 ERA’s would suggest. We think they are players that — Mazza in more of a length capacity, Springs in a shorter relief capacity, but can get stretched a little bit — we think are going to be additive to our group and help us win.
“Ultimately, the track records underneath those guys is not extensive by any means, obviously,” he continued. “But, forward-looking on both of them, we’re optimistic that they are better than they’ve been and are players that are going to help us. And with respect to Ronaldo, he’s a good, young talent, and we wish him nothing but the best, certainly. He’s gone about his business with us the right way and is going to continue to develop into being a major-league player one day.”
Mazza, 31, owns a lifetime 5.05 ERA and 4.00 FIP over 18 appearances (six starts) and 46 1/3 major-league innings between the Red Sox and Mets since 2019.
Last season with Boston, the California native ranked in the 83rd percentile among qualified big-league pitchers in regards to exit velocity and ranked in the 8th percentile in regards to hard-hit percentage, so that ability to limit hard contact must be a part of Mazza’s game the Rays find appealing.
Springs, meanwhile, owns a lifetime 5.42 ERA and 4.66 FIP over 59 appearances (two starts) and 84 2/3 innings pitched between the Red Sox and Rangers since 2018.
Last season with Boston, the 28-year-old southpaw ranked also ranked in the 83rd percentile among qualified big-league pitchers in regards to exit velocity while ranking in the 95th percentile in regards to whiff rate.
On top of that, both Mazza and Springs have at least one minor-league option remaining, so Tampa Bay would have the ability to send each of them down this coming season without worry if necessary.
This is the first trade the Red Sox have completed with the Rays since Bloom took over Boston’s baseball operations department a little less than 16 months ago.
“It was different. I think this was our first one, so I told him, ‘You’re making this one easy. Trying to throw you a softball the way it’s perceived. So go ahead, enjoy it,'” Neander said jokingly of his conversations leading up to the trade with Bloom. “It is what it is. We have a good relationship. There’s a lot of trust there. I think that helps cut through a lot of the negotiations that usually take place…. It was different, but it’s been over a year. We’ve grown used to these roles we’re in, and it was nice to work with each other to agree to a trade.”
(Thank you to the Tampa Bay Rays for providing BloggingtheRedSox.com with Erik Neander’s full video conference from Wednesday)
(Picture of Erik Neander: Mary DeCicco/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
In case you missed it, the Red Sox acquired catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard from the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday morning in exchange for left-hander Jeffrey Springs and right-hander Chris Mazza, as well as $100,000 in cash considerations.
Among the two minor-leaguers Boston received in this deal, Hernandez is without a doubt the most highly-touted.
The 23-year-old was originally signed by the Rays out of Colombia for $225,000 in 2014 and worked his way up to earning a spot on the club’s 40-man roster in November 2019 to avoid being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.
Despite not getting to experience a minor-league season last year on account of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Hernandez did spend the entirety of the major-league season at the Rays’ alternate training site, so it is not like 2020 was a complete wash for him.
Having said that, the 6-foot-3, 23o pounder saw his offensive production decline the last time he took the field for organized minor-league action in 2019.
Compared to his 2018 slash line of .284/.339/.494 to go along with 21 home runs and 79 RBI over 109 games with Class-A Bowling Green, Hernandez posted a .265/.299/.397 slash while clubbing just nine homers and driving in 60 runs in 103 games with High-A Charlotte two years ago.
He did bounce back by producing an .894 OPS over 42 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League after the season ended, but there still might be some lingering concerns there.
On the other side of the ball, Hernandez has thrown out 120 of the 288 (42%) of the base runners that attempted to steal against him over the course of his four-year professional career. He is also averaging more than 13 passed balls per season over that span.
Taking what he does offensively and defensively into consideration, here is a sampling of scouting reports from 2020 on Hernandez from various baseball outlets.
“If you just look at raw tools, Hernandez compares to Gary Sánchez and is not only a potential everyday catcher but one who might have real impact. He has big raw power and run-stopping, plus-plus arm strength, but his approach is bad (which might impede the power), and his swing only generates power in certain parts of the zone. He loads his hands very high and deep and then cuts down through the typical hitting zone, which causes Hernandez’s power to come toward the top of the zone and out in front when his swing starts to lift, making his point of impact of paramount importance to his power production… His defensive ability, specifically the receiving, might still be a problem and is part of why Kevan Smith was ahead of him on last year’s depth chart. He’s still a high-variance prospect with some flaws that may be exploited in a significant way at the big league level, but Hernandez has a shot to be an everyday player due to his power.”
“Hernández has a pair of plus tools in his raw power and arm strength, but he’s still learning the nuances of the game and seeking consistency on both sides of the ball. Big and strong, he makes hard contact with strength-driven bat speed and shows feel for finding the barrel thanks to good hand-eye coordination. That Hernández’s power plays almost entirely to his pull side during games speaks to his aggressive approach and leads some scouts to question his overall hitting ability. While he doesn’t strike out much, Hernández does chase contact too often and will need to adopt a more selective approach as he works his way through the Minors.
“A rocket, 70-grade arm and solid catch-and-throw skills help Hernández control the running game, and he’s thrown out 36 and 39 percent of base stealers, respectively, in his first two full-season campaigns. He’s improved as a receiver but still has a way to go to become average, and the same goes for Hernández’s blocking skills. Improving his body and conditioning should help with the latter, and the Rays expect some gains to occur naturally as Hernández gains much-needed experience behind the plate. If it all clicks for him, Hernández could develop into an average defensive catcher who hits for enough power to compensate for his lack of average and receiving issues.”
“Hernandez’s 2018 breakout season with low Class A Bowling Green has started to fade into the background, but his trade in a swap for a designated for assignment player is still a surprisingly low return for a catcher with significant power potential. Hernandez was not a particularly good fit in a Rays organization that emphasizes receiving ability far above offensive contributions from its catchers.
“Hernandez struggles as a future fringe-average receiver and will have to improve in this facet of the game to earn an everyday role in the majors. His power comes from a very pull-heavy approach that may be exploited by more advanced pitchers. That said, Hernandez has plus power and a plus arm and he’s only 23, so he has a chance to refine some of his current issues. He’s a very useful addition to the Red Sox farm system as a catcher to develop. And if MLB eventually goes to computerized ball-strike calls, his biggest liabilities will largely diminish. Hernandez had to be added to the 40-man roster before the 2020 season and has used one option. He will head into 2021 having not played above high Class A.”
Hernandez was regarded by Baseball America as the Rays’ No. 13 prospect headed into the 2020 season.
According to SoxProspects.com’s Chris Hatfield, the young backstop will likely rank somewhere between No. 11 and No. 2o in regards to the site’s ranking of the Red Sox’ top prospects.
That in turn, would make Hernandez one of, if not the top catching prospect in Boston’s farm system, as noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.
On the subject of Red Sox minor-league catchers, Hernandez will join a position group that includes the likes of Connor Wong (also on the 40-man), Jhonny Pereda, Roldani Baldwin, Kole Cottam, Chris Hermann, Jhonny Pereda, and Austin Rei at major-league camp the onset of spring training.
It’s already been said, but in a matter of 12-plus months, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have seemingly transformed the organization’s catching depth from an area of weakness to an area of strength. Not too shabby.
(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Eric Espada/Getty Images)
On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I am joined by The Athletic’s Alec Lewis, who covers the Kansas City Royals for the site.
Alec and I mostly talked about the trade between the Red Sox and Royals last week that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City and Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later from K.C. to Boston.
We also discussed how Benintendi will have to adjust to the dimensions at Kauffman Stadium, how Cordero needs to stay healthy as a member of the Sox, and much more.
The episode is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.
Thanks to Alec 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 check out his work for The Athletic 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 Andrew Benintendi: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Former Red Sox closer Brandon Workman has reportedly reached agreement on a one-year, major-league contract with the Cubs, according to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney.
Per Mooney, Workman will earn a base salary of $1 million in 2021 with the chance to earn an additional $2 million in performance bonuses.
The 32-year-old right-hander is a little more than four months removed from what can best be described as a tumultuous 2020 season between the Sox and Phillies.
With Boston to begin the year, Workman got off to a so-so start, allowing three earned runs over seven appearances and 6 2/3 innings pitched out of the bullpen before getting dealt to Philadelphia along with Heath Hembree for right-handers Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold.
Upon arriving in Philly, Workman had the chance to re-establish himself as he was about to embark upon free agency, but he instead floundered.
In 14 appearances (13 innings) in a Phillies uniform, the Texas native posted a dismal 6.92 ERA and 1.146 OPS against while blowing three of a possible eight save opportunities to close out the season.
Performing that poorly to end a contract year has to be unsettling to some degree, but Workman still managed to net himself a major-league deal anyway, albeit a short-term one.
It’s likely the Cubs are banking on the former first-round draft pick returning to his 2019 form — in which he produced a 1.88 ERA and struck out 104 hitters in 71 2/3 innings — with a new change of scenery.
Prior to his signing with Chicago, Workman was someone the Red Sox “had at least some interest in a reunion with,” per MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.
A reunion between the two sides in 2021 may not be possible anymore, but Cotillo adds that Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have “at least some interest in three free-agent righties — Jeremy Jeffress, Chaz Roe and Ben Heller.”
Earlier this week, the @RedSoxStats Twitter account hinted at the idea that Boston is not yet done making bullpen additions ahead of the start of the 2021 season.
(Picture of Brandon Workman: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
The Red Sox have traded right-hander Chris Mazza and left-hander Jeffrey Springs as well as cash considerations to the Rays in exchange for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard, the team announced Wednesday morning.
Both Mazza and Springs were recently designated for assignment by Boston so that the club could make room on its 40-man roster and accommodate the additions of Martin Perez and Hirokazu Sawamura.
Mazza, 31, posted a 4.80 ERA and 4.26 FIP over nine outings (six starts) and 30 innings pitched in his debut season with the Sox after being claimed off waivers from the Mets in December 2019.
Springs, meanwhile, put up worse numbers than Mazza (7.08 ERA, 4.81 FIP) in 2020, but there is plenty of appeal in what he does on the mound. That much was highlighted by the fact that over a nine-game stretch from August 31 through September 23 last season, the 28-year-old produced a 2.53 ERA and 2.39 xFIP over 10 2/3 innings of relief.
Considering that Mazza and Springs both have at least one minor-league option remaining, it’s not too surprising to see a team — especially a team like the Rays — take a chance on the hurlers via trade.
As for who the Red Sox are acquiring, let’s start with Hernandez.
The 23-year-old backstop entered the 2020 season as Tampa Bay’s No. 13 prospect according to Baseball America.
Although he did not see any big-league playing time in 2020, Hernandez did spend the entirety of the year at the Rays’ alternate training site on account of his being added to the team’s 40-man roster the previous November in order to be protected from the 2019 Rule 5 Draft.
Leading up to that protection, the Colombian posted a .265/.299/.297 slash (104 wRC+) to go along with nine home runs, 60 RBI, and seven stolen bases across 103 games for High-A Charlotte. He also threw out more than 39% of the base runners that attempted to steal against him.
Following the 2019 minor-league season, Hernandez played for the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League and posted an OPS of .894 over 11 games played and 42 plate appearances.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 230 lbs., the right-handed hitting Hernandez will join a catching mix at Red Sox camp that includes the likes of Christian Vazquez, Kevin Plawecki, Connor Wong, Jhonny Pereda, and Roldani Baldwin. More on Plawecki in a minute.
Turning to Sogard now, the 23-year-old was the Rays’ 12th-round selection in the 2019 amateur draft out of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
The Southern California native was not included in Tampa Bay’s 60-man player pool this past season, but he did enjoy moderate success in 2019 by slashing .290/.405/.313 with five doubles, 21 RBI, and 20 swiped bags across 63 games for short-season Hudson Valley.
A switch-hitting infielder listed at 6-foot-1 and 180 lbs., Sogard has garnered experience at every infield position besides first base as a professional thus far. He will presumably start the 2021 minor-league season at one of the Red Sox’ Class-A affiliates (Salem or Greenville).
Circling back to Plawecki, the Sox placed the 29-year-old backstop on the COVID-19 related injured list on Wednesday, which cleared up a 40-man roster spot for Hernandez.
As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Plawecki can spend as much time on the COVID-19 injured list as he needs and will not count against Boston’s 40-man roster during that time.
(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Eric Espada/Getty Images)
Hudson Potts’ first offseason as a member of the Red Sox organization has been a busy one to say the least.
Back in November, the 22-year-old was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in order to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. That, in turn, led to Potts receiving his first invite from the Sox — and third invite overall — to big-league spring training.
The Texas native was originally acquired by the Red Sox along with outfield prospect Jeisson Rosario last August in a trade that sent veteran first baseman Mitch Moreland to the Padres.
At that time, Potts was regarded by MLB Pipeline as San Diego’s No. 16 prospect, and with the minor-league season having been cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, he was spending time at the club’s alternate training site at the University of San Diego.
He spent the rest of the year at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket.
Even with no real in-game action in 2020, the former 2016 first-round draft pick was less than a full year removed from his age-20 season with Double-A Amarillo of the Texas League in which he slashed a modest .227/.290/.406 to go along with 16 home runs and 59 RBI across 107 games in 2019.
Those numbers — as well as a strikeout rate of 28.6% and a walk rate of 7.1% — might not jump off the page, but it is important to remember that Potts was doing this at a fairly young age for the level he was playing at. FanGraphs’ Ben Clemens noted as much when writing about Potts and other position player prospects on Tuesday.
“It’s so hard to play in Double-A at 20 years old,” Clemens wrote. “Potts wasn’t good, but he was able to tread water despite being three to four years young for the level, which is often a better sign than hitting well at an age-appropriate level. That said, don’t sleep on his 2018, when he was also quite young for Hi-A and put together a fearsome power season.”
In 2018 with High-A Lake Elsinore of the California League, the right-handed hitter posted a .281/.350/.498 clip in addition to clubbing 17 homers and driving in 58 runs over 106 games (453 plate appearances).
One of the things that has held Potts back, if you want to say that, to this point has been his inability to make contact on a consistent basis. Another dimension of his game that is shrouded in uncertainty pertains to his primary defensive position.
Both of those aspects could hinder the 6-foot-3, 220 lb. infielder’s long-term potential as a major-league-caliber player, according to Clemens.
“Warning Signs: The big one is contact — that’s not the kind of thing you can paper over with other skills,” Clemens wrote of Potts. “He’ll also need to find a defensive home; he looks like a corner guy, though San Diego experimented with a Mike Moustakas-esque second base assignment before trading him. Corner-only sluggers with contact issues aren’t exactly in short supply, so that’s the worry here.”
In regards to the 20-80 scouting scale, FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen has Potts’ hit tool at 30 in terms of present value and 35 in terms of future value, which ranks ninth and 19th among Red Sox position player prospects, respectively.
“If [Potts’ hit tool turns out lower than 40 FV], it might make his bat unplayable” due to all the swings-and-misses, Clemens wrote.
Despite those concerns, Clemens still seems optimistic about Potts’ outlook, opining that “the combination of his power and age are simply more enticing than the whiffs are worrisome.”
Currently regarded by MLB Pipeline as Boston’s 19th-ranked prospect, Potts is projected to begin the 2021 minor-league season — whenever it starts — with Double-A Portland and could seemingly see playing time at every infield position besides shortstop.
The Red Sox will host their first full squad spring training workout in Fort Myers this coming Monday, so that could be a good time to get our first glance at Potts since last year’s fall instructional league. Stay tuned for that.
In the three-team trade that sent former Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals on Wednesday, Kansas City ended up trading outfield prospect Khalil Lee to the Mets.
As it turns out, though, New York was not originally involved in trade conversations between the Sox and Royals, meaning Boston was going to acquire Lee from Kansas City before flipping him to another team.
Speaking with Quinn Riley of BostonSportsWave.com on Saturday, Royals assistant general manager A.J. Picollo detailed how the three-team swap between his club, the Mets, and Red Sox came to be.
“That was something that the Red Sox had orchestrated themselves, and informed us about a day before the trade that they were probably going to trade Khalil Lee to another team,” Picollo said. “And then as we got down to the last hours before the trade was finalized, they told us that he was going to be going to the New York Mets. Sometimes those three-team deals, all three teams are involved to make it work and in this case, it was really just us and the Red Sox, and then the Red Sox trying to be creative and improve their system. They had the idea that we could maybe trade Khalil Lee and get something else we need and they flipped him to the Mets. So, those deals are always interesting and they come together in different ways.”
Given the information provided by Picollo here, it seems more like the Red Sox traded Benintendi (and $2.8 million of his 2021 salary) to the Royals in exchange for Lee, Franchy Cordero, and two players to be named later, then traded Lee to the Mets in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Josh Winckowski and one player to be named later.
Just this past Friday, Mets acting general manager — and former Red Sox assistant GM — Zack Scott told reporters that New York acquiring Lee in the first place was more capitalizing on an opportunity as opposed to something that came together more formally.
“It was an opportunity. We didn’t have direct conversations with Kansas City on that,” Scott said. “They were obviously looking for a major-league player to add to their roster, so that wasn’t going to be necessarily where we were going to match up. With my connections to Boston, quite frankly they know that I like Khalil Lee as a prospect from when I was there. He was someone we had talked about, and I knew they liked Khalil Lee as well.
“Just they reached out and asked if there would be interest here, and we were excited and I know our pro scouts here really like the player,” he continued.”[Lee’s] got a lot to like, a lot of tools and athleticism. We like a lot of things about his performance as well. That was how that came about, just that kind of conversation. I believe in being pretty active in talking to other teams because you never know what ideas might come up in those conversations, especially the informal ones. And that was one of those cases.”
Lee, 22, was regarded by MLB Pipeline as the Royals No. 8 prospect.
The former 2016 third-round draft pick spent the entirety of the 2020 season at Kansas City’s alternate training site. In his most recent organized minor-league action, Lee slashed .264/.363/.372 with eight home runs, 51 RBI, and 53 stolen bases over 129 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas in 2019.
Rather than take on Lee in a straight swap with the Royals, the Red Sox, as previously mentioned, opted to flip the speedy outfielder to the Mets in exchange for Winckowski and two additional players to be named later.
Winckowski, 22, posted a 2.69 ERA and .231 batting average against over 24 appearances (23 starts) and 127 1/3 innings pitched between Class-A Lansing and High-A Dunedin in 2019, when he was still a member of the Blue Jays’ organization.
Since that time, the 6-foot-4 righty was not added to Toronto’s 60-man player pool at any point last year and was promptly traded to the Mets along with two other pitchers in exchange for veteran southpaw Steven Matz in late January.
Prior to his being traded to Boston earlier this week, Winckowski had been regarded by MLB Pipeline as New York’s No. 26 prospect.
Because they essentially traded Lee to the Mets for Winckowski and a player to be named later, it seems like there’s a solid chance that PTBNL could be someone significant given Lee’s standing as a sought-after prospect.
That being said, it will likely be a while before the Red Sox decide on which two PTBNLs from the Royals and one PTBNL from the Mets they will be acquiring.
“I don’t want to get into too many specifics on it, but the specific identities of the players are still to be determined,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said late Wednesday night. “We have frameworks in place with the clubs as to how and when we are going to do that. But, there’s not names of the players that we are getting that we are involved with right now.”
The process for trades involving players to be named later can take as long as six months to play out, so it is not like Bloom and Co. will be in a rush to get this done.
As a matter of fact, according to The Athletic’s Peter Gammons, the Red Sox have a list of four Royals minor-leaguers to choose from as their players to be named later from Kansas City. After the first month of the minor-league season, they can then choose any two players from that list.
Who will those two players from the Royals — and one from the Mets — be? Only time will tell.
(Picture of Khalil Lee: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)