Former Red Sox Right-Hander Hector Velazquez Claimed off Waivers by Orioles

Three days after he was designated for assignment, former Red Sox right-hander Hector Velazquez was claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

The 31-year-old was initially designated in order for Boston to make room on their 40-man roster for fellow right-hander Collin McHugh, who they signed to a one-year deal on Thursday.

Velazquez had spent the previous three seasons with the Red Sox after his contract was purchased from the Mexican League’s Pirates de Campeche in February 2017.

Over those three years, Velazquez worked as both a starter and a reliever, posting a 3.90 ERA and 4.41 FIP over 89 appearances (19 starts) and 166 total innings pitched.

The native of Mexico served as an important member of the World Series-winning team in 2018, which has by far been his best season in the majors to this point, but he also experienced a great deal of struggle in 2019, a year in which he was shuttled between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket on several occasions.

Having brought on a plethora of pitching depth in Chaim Bloom’s first offseason as chief baseball officer, Velazquez probably became more and more expandable, and he ultimately lost his spot on the Sox’ 40-man roster spot late last week.

Of course, it is unfortunate that he was not able to sneak through waivers like Brian Johnson did last November, but it will be fascinating to see how Velazquez fares with a new organization.

Red Sox Claim Right-Hander Phillips Valdez off Waivers From Mariners, Place Dustin Pedroia on 60-Day Injured List

The Red Sox have claimed right-hander Phillips Valdez off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, the club announced Sunday. In order to make room for Valdez on Boston’s 40-man roster, second baseman Dustin Pedroia was placed on the 60-day injured list.

Valdez, 28, was claimed off waivers by Seattle back in November and designated for assignment on Friday.

The Dominican Republic native spent the 2019 campaign with the Texas Rangers organization, where he made his major-league debut in June and posted an ERA of 3.94 and xFIP of 4.64 over 11 relief appearances and 16 innings of work.

While in the minors in 2019, Valdez worked as both a starter and reliever, and owned an ERA of 4.92 over 26 outings (14 starts) for the Rangers’ Triple-A club in Nashville.

An original international signee of the Indians back in 2009, Valdez’s pitch mix includes a sinker, changeup, slider, and four-seam fastball, per Statcast.

The Red Sox will be Valdez’s sixth organization, as the righty rounds out Boston’s 40-man roster for the time being.

As for Pedroia, the 36-year-old veteran suffered a setback with his surgically-repaired left knee last month and has yet to report to big-league camp.

The move to put him on the 60-day injured list is probably more of a formality than anything at this point, but it is still not great nonetheless.

As things stand right now, the Red Sox should have 67 players at major-league camp once Valdez and outfielder Cesar Puello arrive. That clubhouse is going to be crowded.

 

Red Sox Designate Travis Lakins for Assignment

After acquiring left-handed reliever Matt Hall from the Detroit Tigers earlier Friday, the Red Sox have designated right-handed reliever Travis Lakins for assignment in order to make room for Hall on the club’s 40-man roster.

Lakins, 25, made his big-league debut last April and went on to post a 3.86 ERA and 5.22 xFIP over 16 appearances (three starts) and 23 1/3 innings pitched spanning five different stints with the Sox.

Once ranked as highly as the No. 8 prospect in Boston’s system by MLB.com back in 2016, the former 2015 sixth-round pick out of Ohio State opened some eyes towards the latter part of the 2019 season.

There, serving as an “opener” for the Sox in September, Lakins combined to allow a total of two hits and two walks over 5 2/3 innings of work in his first three career major-league starts.

That impressive showing made it seem as though the righty may be on his way tovying for an expanding role in the Red Sox’ bullpen come the spring, but that does not appear to be the case now.

Instead, if Lakins is not traded or released within the next seven days, he will more than likely be outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket and still get an invitation to major-league camp in February.

As things currently stand, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster stands at 40 players with more moves likely to come.

Red Sox Outright Sam Travis to Triple-A Pawtucket After He Clears Waivers

One week after he was designated for assignment Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis was outrighted to Triple-A Pawtucket earlier Thursday, meaning he is now off Boston’s 40-man roster.

The 26-year-old Travis was designated on January 2nd in order to make room on the Sox’ 40-man roster for former Mets and Indians catcher Kevin Plawecki, whom the club signed to a one-year major-league contract earlier that day.

That decision to drop Travis from the 40-man roster more than likely came from the fact that the Illinois native was out of minor-league options headed into the spring and would have had to fight for a spot on Boston’s Opening Day squad.

Now, with Travis neither being traded to or claimed by another club, he will have the chance to provide the Sox with depth at both corner outfield spots as well as first base while in Triple-A.

In a career-high 59 games in 2019, the former 2014 second-round pick slashed .215/.274/.382 with six home runs and 16 RBI.

As MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo notes, Travis will likely still receive an invite to major league camp come February.

Red Sox Claim Chris Mazza off Waivers From Mets

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox claimed right-handed reliever Chris Mazza off waivers from the New York Mets.

Mazza, who was designated by New York last week, posted an ERA of 5.51 and xFIP of 5.47 over nine relief appearances and 16 1/3 innings of work this past season, his first in the majors.

The 30-year-old hurler was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 27th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Walnut Creek, Ca. and had to work his way through independent league ball in 2018 in order to make it back as a Rule 5 pick of the Mets that year.

While with the Mets’ Double- A and Triple-A clubs this season, Mazza allowed a total of 43 runs (40 earned) on 91 hits and 26 walks over 18 appearances, 17 of which were starts. That’s good for an ERA of 3.61 and batting average against of .247.

Per Statcast, Mazza relies on five pitches: a changeup, a cutter, a four-seam fastball, a sinker, and a slider. He averaged 90.6 MPH with his four-seamer in 2019.

Mazza joins left-hander Josh Osich as additions chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have made through waivers so far this offseason. As the above tweet mentions, the righty is the 40th player on the Red Sox’ current 40-man roster, which is subject to change.

Red Sox’ Trevor Kelley Claimed off Waivers by Philadelphia Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies claimed right-handed reliever Trevor Kelley off waivers from the Red Sox on Monday. Both clubs made the transaction official.

Kelley, 26, made his big league debut for Boston this past season on July 2nd, and went on to post a 8.64 ERA and 6.69 FIP over 10 appearances out of the bullpen spanning 8 1/3 innings of work.

A former 36th-round pick out of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2015, the Rhode Island native owns a lifetime 2.37 ERA in the minors over 171 relief outings and 247 innings pitched.

Since Kelley was on Boston’s 40-man roster, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster now stands at 36 players with the non-tender deadline just a few hours away as this is being written.

Red Sox Outright Brian Johnson off 40-Man Roster

The Red Sox have reportedly outrighted left-hander Brian Johnson, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Johnson, who turns 29 in December, can now be claimed by any other club, meaning the Sox now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.

As noted in the above tweet from Rosenthal, teams have until next Monday, December 2nd, to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players who would free agents otherwise.

Johnson still has one year of team control remaining before becoming eligible for salary arbitration, but these kinds of decisions are going to be made all across baseball in the next week.

Appearing in 21 games (seven starts) for Boston in an injury-riddled 2019, the University of Florida product posted an ERA of 6.02 and FIP of 5.32 over 40 1/3 innings of work. This coming the year after Johnson proved to be a valuable member of the Sox’ pitching staff as both a starter and reliever in 2018.

With new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom at the helm, the Red Sox are clearly in need of some help at the back end of the starting rotation, and maybe even more so depending on the statuses of Nathan Eovaldi, David Price, and Chris Sale, headed into next spring.

That said, the first move to address this potential issue came last week, when 27-year-old left-hander Kyle Hart was added to Boston’s 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 deadline this past Wednesday.

Johnson being outrighted does not necessarily mean his Red Sox career is over, but his time on the club’s major-league roster is, or at least for the time being.