Red Sox designate former top prospect Darwinzon Hernandez for assignment

The Red Sox needed to clear a spot on their 40-man roster in order to make the signing of infielder/designated hitter Justin Turner official on Friday afternoon. They cleared that spot by designating reliever Darwinzon Hernandez for assignment.

Hernandez, 26, originally signed with the Red Sox for just $7,500 as an international free agent coming out of Venezuela in August 2013. Despite receiving a modest signing bonus, it did not take the left-hander all that long to establish himself as arguably the top pitching prospect in Boston’s farm system.

Heading into the 2019 season, Hernandez was ranked by Baseball America as the Red Sox’ No. 3 overall prospect. The Bolivar native made his major-league debut that April before making his first career start against the Rangers less than two months later.

Hernandez spent another month in the minor-leagues before being recalled again in mid-July. In 27 appearances out of Boston’s bullpen from that point forward, Hernandez posted a 4.32 ERA — but much more respectable 2.81 FIP — with 46 strikeouts to 20 walks over 25 innings of relief.

On the heels of a relatively strong rookie campaign, it appeared as though Hernandez had momentum heading into 2020. But a bout with COVID-19 in July and a left AC joint sprain in August limited him to just seven outings (8 1/3 innings) during the pandemic-shortened season.

To his credit, Hernandez bounced back in 2021 by making a career-high 48 relief appearances. While his 3.38 ERA and 29.7 strikeout rate were undoubtedly solid, Hernandez did walk 31 batters in 40 innings of work, which led to him having a 4.80 FIP.

With those discouraging peripherals in mind, Hernandez was left off Boston’s Opening Day roster last April and began the 2022 season with Triple-A Worcester. The burly lefty then sustained a torn right meniscus in May that required surgery. After a lengthy recovery period, he returned to the Red Sox in July but struggled to the tune of a 21.60 ERA (16 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings) before being sent back down in August.

Hernandez did not fare much better with the WooSox down the stretch, as he yielded nine runs (eight earned) with 10 strikeouts to nine walks across nine appearances (eight innings) through the end of the minor-league season. He returned to his home country this offseason and produced a 3.86 ERA in 19 outings (16 1/3 innings) for the Cardenales de Lara of the Venezuelan Winter League, but he still issued nine walks to the 74 batters he faced in that time frame.

Given his well-documented control issues (32.3 percent career walk rate in 85 1/3 big-league innings) , it seems as though the Red Sox were ready to move on from Hernandez if the occasion arose, as it did on Friday. Boston will now have the next seven days to either trade, release, or waive Hernandez and keep him in the organization without committing a 40-man roster spot to him.

Hernandez, for his part, does not turn 27 until next December and still has one minor-league option remaining. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound southpaw also possesses upside in the form a high-octane four-seam fastball, a mid-80s slider, and a high-70s curveball. Taking all those factors into consideration, Hernandez could very well draw interest from a team in need of bullpen depth and be traded or claimed off waivers in the coming days.

Regardless of his fate, though, Hernandez becomes the latest in a long line of Red Sox players to be cut from the club’s 40-man roster this winter, joining the likes of Eric Hosmer, Jeter Downs, Tyler Danish, Eduard Bazardo, Abraham Almonte, Franchy Cordero, and Yu Chang.

After removing Hernandez and adding Turner on Friday, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster is still at full capacity. They will need to clear another spot once the signing of veteran starter Corey Kluber is made official.

(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Elsa/Getty Images)

Red Sox clear roster spot by outrighting Ronaldo Hernández to Triple-A Worcester

The Red Sox have outrighted catcher Ronaldo Hernandez to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced on Friday. The move clears a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster, which now sits at 39 players.

Hernandez, 25, was originally acquired from the Rays in a February 2021 trade that sent pitchers Jeffrey Springs and Chris Mazza to Tampa Bay. The native Colombian first signed with the Rays as an international free agent in 2014 and was regarded as on of their top prospects at the time the deal between the two division rivals was made.

For the better part of the last two seasons, Hernandez — who had been added to Tampa Bay’s 40-man roster in 2019, provided the Red Sox with upper-minors catching depth. He was called up from Worcester on two separate occasions this year but he has yet to make his major-league debut.

With the WooSox this year, the right-handed hitting Hernandez batted .261/.297/.451 with 27 doubles, 17 home runs, 63 RBIs, 50 runs scored, 21 walks, and 92 strikeouts over 105 games (439 plate appearances). From behind the plate, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound backstop threw out 16 of 65 possible base stealers while also allowing 13 passed balls and committing six errors.

Back in October, MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith reported that the Red Sox expected Hernandez to be eligible for a rare fourth minor-league option in 2023. While most minor-leaguers only receive three options, Hernandez qualified for a fourth since he played fewer than five full seasons of pro ball while using three options.

According to The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, Hernandez did receive that fourth option, but the Red Sox elected to waive him anyway. Since he subsequently cleared waivers, Hernandez will remain in the organization without occupying a 40-man roster spot. He is currently regarded by SoxProspects.com as the No. 28 prospect in Boston’s farm system and has been playing winter ball in the Colombian Professional Baseball League.

By outrighting Hernandez, the Red Sox have an open spot on their 40-man roster to work with. That does not necessarily mean a trade or free agent signing is imminent, but the club could be looking ahead to next week’s Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

With Hernandez out of the picture to some degree, the only catchers currently on Boston’s 40-man roster are Connor Wong and Reese McGuire. Caleb Hamilton, who was outrighted last month, and Hernandez project as the club’s top two depth options at Worcester heading into next season. The Red Sox, of course, could still look to add a clear-cut starting catcher between now and Opening Day.

(Picture of Ronaldo Hernandez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox non-tender Yu Chang, Franchy Cordero

The Red Sox have elected not to tender 2023 contracts to infielder Yu Chang and first baseman/outfielder Franchy Cordero, the club announced on Friday night. As a result, both Chang and Cordero are now free agents.

Chang, 27, was claimed off waivers from the Rays in early September. The versatile right-handed hitter went 3-for-20 (.150) with two doubles, one RBI, three runs scored, five walks, and seven strikeouts in 11 games with the Red Sox, his fourth and final team of the 2022 season.

A former top prospect out of Taiwan who first broke in with the Guardians in 2019, Chang was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $900,000 in his first year of arbitration eligibility. The Taitung native is now free to explore opportunities elsewhere, though the Red Sox may look to bring him back on a minor-league contract.

Cordero, meanwhile, was one of three players the Red Sox acquired from the Royals in the three-team trade that sent fellow outfielder Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City in February 2021. The left-handed hitter posted a dismal .497 OPS across 48 games in his first season with Boston and was designated for assignment last October.

After clearing waivers, Cordero was subsequently re-signed. The 28-year-old opened the 2022 season with Triple-A Worcester before having his contract selected in late April. He batted .282/.346/.479 in his first 25 games with the Sox this past season and most notably hit a walk off grand slam against the Mariners at Fenway Park on May 22.

But Cordero began to struggle again as the season progressed. He slumped to the tune of a .162 batting average in the month of July and was sent back down to Worcester on August 2. Eric Hosmer being placed on the injured list towards the end of the month led to Cordero being recalled. The native Dominican proceeded to belt four home runs in his first 12 games back with the club, but he saw his season prematurely come to an end on September 5 after crashing into the right field wall at Tropicana Field and suffering a right ankle sprain.

In 132 total games with the Red Sox over the last two years, Cordero slashed just .209/.279/.350 with 23 doubles, one triple, nine home runs, 38 RBIs, 48 runs scored, 36 walks, and 143 strikeouts across 411 plate appearances. He put up those numbers while grading poorly as a defender at both first base and in the outfield.

As is the case with Chang, the Red Sox could look to reunite with Cordero — who was projected to earn $1.5 million in his second year of arbitration eligibility — by way of a lesser or a minor-league deal for the 2023 campaign. According to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, Boston “remains intrigued with Cordero’s tools and he is a beloved clubhouse presence.”

With two left-handed hitting first basemen in Hosmer and Triston Casas already on the big-league roster, though, it would presumably be difficult to find Cordero any meaningful playing time next year.

By non-tendering Chang and Cordero, the Red Sox have created two spots on their 40-man roster, which now sits at 38 players. Eight of those players are already under contract for 2023. The other 30 unsigned players will be tendered contracts and will negotiate their salaries for next season in the near future.

While Rafael Devers headlines that group, Ryan Brasier, Darwinzon Hernandez, and Josh Taylor are among those who were considered non-tender candidates earlier in the week. They will instead be tendered contracts alongside other arbitration-eligible players such as Nick Pivetta, Alex Verdugo, Christian Arroyo, and Reese McGuire.

(Picture of Franchy Cordero: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Red Sox outright Caleb Hamilton to Triple-A Worcester after catcher clears waivers

Red Sox catcher Caleb Hamilton has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, according to MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo.

Hamilton and reliever Jake Reed were both designated for assignment on Tuesday so that the Red Sox could create space on their 40-man roster for the additions of Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, Ceddanne Rafaela, Wilyer Abreu, and David Hamilton. Those five prospects needed to be added in order to receive protection from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

While Reed was claimed by the Dodgers on Friday, Hamilton cleared waivers and was sent outright to Worcester. The 27-year-old backstop did not have the ability to refuse the assignment since he only made his major-league debut for the Twins this past July.

Minnesota originally selected Hamilton in the 23rd-round of the 2016 amateur draft out of Oregon State University. The Washington state native spent parts of seven seasons in the minor-leagues before finally breaking in with the Twins over the summer.

In 22 games with Minnesota, the right-handed hitting Hamilton went just 1-for-18 (.056) at the plate with one home run, one RBI, five runs scored, four walks, and 14 strikeouts. The 6-foot, 185-pounder appeared in six games as a first baseman in addition to 11 games at catcher.

At the Triple-A level this year, Reed batted .233/.367/.442 with 10 doubles, 11 homers, 43 runs driven in, 34 runs scored, one stolen base, 43 walks, and 67 strikeouts across 62 games (251 plate appearances) with the St. Paul Saints. He also threw out six of 32 base stealers from behind the plate.

While catcher has served as his primary position in pro ball, Hamilton came up as a utility player of sorts in college and has past experience at every defensive position in both the infield and outfield.

It is unclear when the Twins removed Hamilton from their 40-man roster, but the Red Sox claimed him off waivers from Minnesota on October 11. His run on Boston’s 40-man roster lasted a little more than a month.

Hamilton, who turns 28 in February, should now provide the Sox with upper-minors catching depth in Worcester alongside Ronaldo Hernandez and Kole Cottam, among others.

(Picture of Caleb Hamilton: Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

Red Sox lose Jake Reed on waivers to Dodgers

Three days after designating him for assignment, the Red Sox have lost reliever Jake Reed on waivers to the Dodgers, the club announced earlier Friday afternoon.

Reed, 30, was designated for assignment on Tuesday alongside catcher Caleb Hamilton so that the Red Sox could create space on their 40-man roster for the prospect quintet of Chris Murphy, Brandon Walter, Ceddanne Rafaela, Wilyer Abreu, and David Hamilton. Those five minor-leaguers needed to be added in order to receive protection from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

Boston originally claimed Reed off waivers from the Orioles on October 13. The right-hander posted a 7.02 ERA and 5.09 FIP with 13 strikeouts to eight walks over 18 relief appearances (16 2/3 innings) for the Mets, Dodgers, and O’s this past season.

A former fifth-round draft pick of the Twins out of the University of Oregon in 2014, Reed first broke in with the Dodgers last July after spending seven years in the Minnesota organization and part of the 2021 campaign with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City.

Since being released by the Angels last June, Reed has been signed and designated by the Dodgers, claimed and designated by the Rays, claimed and designated by the Mets, claimed and designated by the Dodgers, claimed and designated by the Orioles, claimed and designated by the Red Sox, and claimed by the Dodgers again.

Between all those stops, Reed has pitched to a 5.74 ERA and 4.33 FIP with 23 strikeouts to 10 walks in 28 career appearances (one start) and 26 2/3 innings at the big-league level. That includes a 2.70 ERA (3.94 FIP) across 11 total outings (10 innings pitched) with Los Angeles.

Listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Reed possesses a unique delivery and arm angle while primarily working with a sinker-slider combination that is complimented by a four-seam fastball and changeup. The Arizona native has one minor-league option remaining, so the Dodgers could elect to shuttle Reed between Los Angeles and its Triple-A affiliate next season if he can stick on their 40-man roster this winter.

(Picture of Jake Reed: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Red Sox offseason: Tyler Danish elects free agency after clearing waivers

The Red Sox have outrighted right-hander Tyler Danish off the 40-man roster, the club announced on Monday. Rather than accepting a minor-league assignment, Danish has elected to become a free agent.

Danish, 28, signed a minor-league deal with the Red Sox this past February after spending the majority of the 2021 campaign in the Angels organization. The righty reliever was added to Boston’s 40-man roster in the final week of spring training and begin the year at Triple-A Worcester.

On April 19, Danish was recalled from the WooSox. He made his Red Sox debut the following day, marking his first big-league action since August 2018. In 32 relief appearances for Boston, Danish posted a 5.13 ERA and 4.97 FIP with 32 strikeouts to 12 walks over a career-high 40 1/3 innings of work.

A right forearm strain kept Danish on the injured list from July 7 until August 28. Prior to that lengthy IL stint, he had pitched to a 4.02 ERA in 31 1/3 innings out of the Boston bullpen. After the fact, he surrendered nine earned runs in six September appearances before being optioned to Worcester on the first of October.

Though no formal announcement was made, the Red Sox placed Danish on waivers in recent days. The Florida native has previously been outrighted in his career, so he had the right to become a free agent as soon as he cleared waivers, which is what happened on Monday.

It should be interesting to see how many teams reach out to Danish this winter. The 6-foot, 200-pound hurler held opponents to a .175 batting average against with his curveball — his most frequently-used pitch — this season. He also averaged 91.2 with his four-seam fastball while mixing in a sinker and changeup.

A former second-round draft pick of the White Sox out of Durant High School in 2013, Danish first broke in with Chicago in 2016. He appeared in just 11 games in parts of three major-league seasons with the South Siders before being released in Oct. 2018.

From there, Danish spent part of the 2019 campaign with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma. He was then cut loose by Seattle that May and spent the rest of the year with the New Britain Bees of the independent Atlantic League. After another stint in indy ball with the Sioux Falls Canaries of the American Association in 2020, Danish inked a minors pact with the Angels in last May.

All told, Danish owns a lifetime 5.06 ERA at the major-league level, a 3.65 ERA in indy ball, and a 5.51 ERA in 107 outings (39 starts) at the Triple-A level. He is out of minor-league options, so that could impact the way clubs view him moving forward.

By outrighting Danish, the Red Sox created an opening on their 40-man roster, which now sits at 39 players. That is noteworthy when considering the fact that chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. will need to activate five players from the 60-day injured list once the offseason officially begins. They are also slated to see seven players (including Xander Bogaerts) file for free agency in the coming weeks.

(Picture of Tyler Danish: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox roster moves: Yu Chang activated, Jeurys Familia designated for assignment, Jaylin Davis outrighted

The Red Sox made a series of roster moves before wrapping up a quick two-game series against the Yankees at Fenway Park on Wednesday night.

Infielder Yu Chang, who was claimed off waivers from the Rays on Monday, was added to the active roster. To make room on the 28-man roster for Chang, veteran reliever Jeurys Familia was officially designated for assignment.

Additionally, outfielder Jaylin Davis, who was designated for assignment on Monday, cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, the club announced.

Chang, 27, will be playing for his fourth team this season. The Taiwan native began the year with the Guardians before being traded to the Pirates for cash considerations in late May. He was then designated for assignment by Pittsburgh and claimed by Tampa Bay in early July.

Between the three clubs, Chang has batted .236/.278/.349 with four doubles, four home runs, 14 RBIs, 16 runs scored, 11 walks, and 52 strikeouts over 58 games (164 plate appearances). The right-handed hitter slashed a more respectable .260/.305/.385 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 36 games (105 plate appearances with the Rays.

Chang originally signed with the Guardians for $500,000 as an international free agent coming out of Taitung in June 2013. The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder was once regarded as one of the top prospects in Cleveland’s farm system but he has not been able to find his footing at the big-league level.

That being said, the Red Sox still took a chance on Chang and his versatility likely played a role in that since he has experience at all four infield positions. Since he is out of minor-league options, though, Boston will need to keep Chang on its active roster if it does not intend on exposing him to waivers.

Chang, who will wear the No. 12 with the Sox, is not in Wednesday’s starting lineup, but he should be available off the bench if needed.

Familia, on the other hand, saw his Red Sox tenure come to an end on Tuesday night after a disastrous 10th inning against the Yankees. The right-hander loaded the bases with two outs before giving up a game-winning three-run double to Gleyber Torres that lifted New York to a 7-6 victory.

After signing a one-year, $6 million deal with the Phillies in March, Familia struggled to a 6.09 ERA in 38 appearances before being cut loose by Philadelphia in early August. The former All-Star closer then inked a minors pact with the Red Sox before having his contract selected on Aug. 9.

Since joining Boston’s bullpen, Familia has posted a 6.10 ERA and 5.15 FIP to go along with eight strikeouts to seven walks over 10 relief outings spanning 10 1/3 innings of work. Tuesday’s performance was the last straw for the 32-year-old hurler, who made the announcement himself that he had been designated for assignment.

Given that he will likely clear waivers in the coming days, Familia said Tuesday night that he plans on returning home to the Dominican Republic to rest up and then prepare for whatever opportunities may present themselves next year.

UPDATE: Familia cleared waivers on Friday and rejected an outright assignment in favor of free agency, the Red Sox announced.

By removing Familia and adding Chang, the Red Sox will carry 15 position players and 13 pitchers on their active roster for the time being. They also have a vacancy on their 40-man roster.

Davis, meanwhile, was designated for assignment so that the Red Sox could add Chang to their 40-man roster on Monday. The 28-year-old was initially claimed off waivers from the Giants in late April but has since been removed from Boston’s 40-man roster on two separate occasions.

Each time, Davis cleared waivers and was subsequently outrighted to Worcester, where he is batting .198/.315/.318 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in 76 games with the WooSox. In two stints with Boston, the right-handed hitter has gone 8-for-24 (.333) with one double, two RBIs, three runs scored, three walks, and 11 strikeouts over 12 games. 

(Picture of Yu Chang: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Red Sox lose Phillips Valdez on waivers to Mariners

The Red Sox lost reliever Phillips Valdez on waivers to the Mariners over the weekend. Seattle claimed Valdez on Friday and promptly optioned him to its Triple-A affiliate in Tacoma, Wash.

Boston had designated Valdez for assignment three days prior in order to create space for Josh Winckowski, who did not count against the club’s 40-man roster while he was out on the COVID-19 related injured list.

Valdez, 30, was originally claimed by the Red Sox off waivers from the Mariners in February 2020. The right-hander made Boston’s Opening Day roster that summer and impressed during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign by posting a 3.26 ERA with 30 strikeouts to 16 walks over a career-high 24 relief appearances (30 1/3 innings pitched).

After producing a 5.85 ERA in 2021, Valdez had spent much of the 2022 campaign with the Red Sox being shuttled between Boston and Triple-A Worcester. With the big-league club, the Dominican-born hurler pitched to a 4.41 ERA (3.92 FIP) with 13 punchouts to seven walks across 13 outings spanning 16 1/3 innings of work. With the WooSox, he yielded a 3.06 ERA to go along with 19 strikeouts to 14 walks over 17 2/3 innings of relief.

Equipped with a changeup, sinker, and slider, Valdez has but one option year remaining, meaning the Mariners could stash him away at Triple-A for the rest of the season if they so choose.

That being said, Valdez made his Rainiers debut on Sunday, pitching a scoreless eighth inning in an 8-3 win over the El Paso Chihuahuas. He was followed by another former Red Sox reliever in Fernando Abad, who worked a shutout ninth inning to preserve the victory.

(Picture of Phillips Valdez: Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Michael Feliz elects free agency after being outrighted off Red Sox’ 40-man roster

Four days after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox, reliever Michael Feliz has cleared waivers and has elected free agency in lieu of accepting an outright assignment to Triple-A Worcester.

Feliz made one appearance for Boston after having his contract selected from Worcester last week. Taking the place of the injured Tyler Danish on the major-league roster, the right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on one hit, two walks, and four strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings of relief against the Yankees on July 8.

The following day, Feliz — who is out of minor-league options — lost his spot on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster when fellow reliever Kaleb Ort was called up from the WooSox.

Since he has accrued more than five years of big-league service time, Feliz had the ability to reject an assignment to the minor-leagues in favor of free agency should he clear waivers, which is exactly what happened on Wednesday.

Now, Feliz is free to sign elsewhere. The 29-year-old hurler from the Dominican Republic could appeal to other clubs given the fact he posted a 3.28 ERA and 2.85 FIP with 28 strikeouts to nine walks across 18 appearances (three starts) and 24 2/3 innings for the WooSox this season.

(Picture of Michael Feliz: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox outright James Norwood to Triple-A Worcester after right-hander clears waivers

Five days after being designated for assignment by the Red Sox, right-hander James Norwood has cleared waivers and has therefore been outrighted to Triple-A Worcester, per MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith.

The Sox originally acquired Norwood from the Phillies in exchange for cash considerations last Saturday. The hard-throwing 28-year-old spent one day on Boston’s major-league roster before being designated for assignment on Monday so that the club could create an opening for infielder Jeter Downs.

While he did not appear in a game with the Red Sox, Norwood does own an 8.31 ERA — but much more respectable 3.65 FIP — with 22 strikeouts to nine walks over 20 relief appearances (17 1/3 innings) for the Phillies this season.

Per Baseball Savant, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound hurler works with a four-seam fastball that has averaged 98.6 mph this year, a split-finger fastball, and a slider.

Norwood, who is out of minor-league options, will join a WooSox bullpen that includes several relievers with prior big-league experience like Kaleb Ort, Eduard Bazardo, Silvino Bracho, Taylor Cole, Geoff Hartlieb, Michael Feliz, and Phillips Valdez.

(Picture of James Norwood: Brandon Sloter/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)