Red Sox one of several teams interested in signing Korean sensation Ha-Seong Kim, per report

The Red Sox are reportedly one of several teams that are interested in signing free-agent Korean infielder Ha-Seong Kim, according to ESPN’s Daniel Kim.

Per ESPN’s Kim, “Kim has several MLB offers in the five-plus year range.”

Kim, 25, has has yet to play at the major-league level, but has proven to be one of the more impressive players in the Korean Baseball Organization over the past seven seasons.

Going back to 2014, the South Korean-born, right-handed hitting, right-handed throwing infielder owns a career slash line of .294/.373/.493 to go along with 133 home runs, 575 RBI, and 134 stolen bases over 891 total games between the Nexen Heroes and Kiwoom Heroes.

He has also proven to be one of the better defensive shortstops in the KBO in recent years, picking up a pair of Gold Glove awards for his efforts at short in 2018 and 2019.

Kiwoom officially posted Kim on December 7, giving major-league clubs until the first of January to acquire his services.

Depending on how much Kim signs for, that club will owe Kiwoom 20% of the contract’s first $25 million in value, 17.5% of the next $25 million, and 15% of anything beyond the $50 million threshold, as noted by MLB Trade Rumors‘ Mark Polishuk.

MLBTR predicts that Kim will land a five-year deal worth somewhere around $40 million with whichever club he signs with. They also had him as their seventh-ranked free agent at the onset of the offseason.

All this being said, the Red Sox should be players for Kim, but only if they can convince him to move to second base, a position he has very little experience at, on a (just about) full-time basis.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier observed earlier this month that as a five-star phenom in Korea, Kim’s “age and performance would fit the Sox’ vision of upgrading their long-term talent base” — but only if he is open to playing second.

“In all likelihood, [Kim’s] the only open-market second base option this winter for whom the Sox would consider a deal of more than two years,” Speier wrote.

This may be the case because the Red Sox are coming off a season in which their second basemen struggled mightily, as has seemingly been the case the past few years.

Among American League teams in 2020, Red Sox second basemen ranked 14th in on-base (.273) and slugging percentage (.313), and 15th in OPS (.586) and wRC+ (55).

Those are truly dismal numbers from one position group, and they will likely need to improve if Boston intends on not being one of the worst team in baseball for a second consecutive year in 2021.

Identifying second base as a potential area of weakness headed into the spring, how do Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. go about addressing that area in order to improve their squad?

Well, besides the trade market, free agency is always an option, too. And Kim — at the ripe age of 25 years old, just entering his prime — might just be the best infielder not named D.J. LeMahieu available to sign at the moment.

“The international market is an intriguing one and a good one,” Sox manager Alex Cora said of international free agents such as Kim during his virtual winter meetings media availability last week. “Like the rest of the big-league organizations, everybody’s paying attention and doing their homework.

“They’re very talented, they’re guys that can impact the game sooner rather than later,” added Cora. “It will be interesting how it moves in the upcoming days or weeks. These guys, throughout their careers, they’ve been very solid, very consistent, and that’s something that intrigues not only the Red Sox, but the rest of the organizations at the big-league level.”

Red Sox free agency: Scott Boras likens Jackie Bradley Jr. to peanut butter and jelly sandwich; ‘He’s sweet, smooth, and spreads it all over and covers it well’

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s market may be heating up, but the Red Sox have remained interested in the free-agent outfielder, according to super-agent Scott Boras.

Per Boras, the Sox and Bradley Jr. have “certainly” had discussions about a potential reunion since his client declared for free agency last month.

“They’ve certainly expressed the interest and let us know that he’s a clear part of the Red Sox’ support hose, let’s put it that way,” Boras said earlier Tuesday via Zoom. “We know that he’s had great success there, he’s a winning player, and the Red Sox’ intentions are to advance their winning ways, certainly beyond what happened in ’20. As with most free agent players, we get notice of interest, then we’ll wait and see how the market unfolds moving forward” 

Despite how poorly Boston played this past season, Bradley Jr. was a key contributor on both sides of the ball, as he finished second on the team in bWAR (2.1) behind only fellow outfielder Alex Verdugo (2.2).

Over 55 games played, the 30-year-old slashed .283/.364/.450 to go along with seven home runs and 22 RBI. He also led all major-league center fielders in Outs Above Average (7), per Statcast, meaning he was credited with “recording seven more outs on balls hit to the outfield than an average center fielder in 2020.”

While providing his usual stout defensive efforts in center, Bradley Jr.’s offensive approach evolved in a way this past season. As noted by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier and Pete Abraham, the former first-round pick showed a “willingness to hit the ball to center and left field” to the tune of a career-best 201 wRC+ when hitting the ball in those directions, per FanGraphs.

Boras figures that this added dimension to Bradley Jr.’s game will bode well for him once clubs are ready to make their final offers.

“I think the fact that he has really illustrated a dimension of a different approach, particularly going the other way, his OPS was well over .800, that seems to be very attractive to a lot of clubs,” said Boras. “They ask a lot of questions about it, what adjustments he’s made. When you have a world champion, someone who has done what Jackie’s done, being as young as he is, being as efficient as he is, as great of a teammate as he’s been, he’s received a lot of attention and we expect something very grand here going forward.”

Along with the Red Sox, Bradley Jr. is drawing interest from the likes of the Blue Jays, Cubs, and Phillies, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. The University of South Carolina product is likely seeking a multi-year deal worth nearly $10 million in average annual value.

And with the way the game is trending in terms of defensive metrics, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched for the Gold Glover to get that kind of money on the open market.

“JBJ is kind of the PBJ of the major leagues. He’s sweet, smooth, and spreads it all over and covers it well,” Boras said of Bradley Jr. “What Jackie does in a defensive runs-saved environment has been popular.”

How popular? We shall see.

Blogging the Red Sox presents: A discussion with Brian O’Halloran

To say Red Sox general manager Brian O’Halloran’s baseball journey has been unique to this point would be an understatement.

Whether it be studying abroad in the then-Soviet Republic of Georgia, working for an international logistics company in Moscow, or substitute teaching in his hometown, the Weymouth native has certainly seen plenty on his way to spending the past 19 years with the Red Sox occupying the following positions:

  • Baseball operations assistant (2002-2006)
  • Director of baseball operations (2006-2010)
  • Vice president of baseball operations (2011)
  • Assistant general manager (2011-2019)
  • General manager (2019-)

A member of four World Series-winning front offices in Boston, O’Halloran, affectionately known as “BOH,” recently took some time out of his busy offseason schedule to answer a handful of questions from yours truly via email.

Among the topics discussed were O’Halloran’s upbringing in Weymouth, his experience overseas, getting his foot in the door with the Red Sox, what it has been like working under Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington, Dave Dombrowski, and Chaim Bloom, and focusing on team goals over individual ones. Enjoy.

What do your favorite memories of growing up in Weymouth entail?

Brian O’Halloran: That could be a really long answer, so I will try to keep it short! I loved growing up in Weymouth. My favorite memories mostly center around my group of close friends I grew up with, many of whom I am still close with today. This includes a few that I’ve been friends with since elementary school at the old Hunt School. I have a lot of great memories around sports – youth soccer and little league baseball in particular. Perhaps the most notable is being a member of the 1983 Eagles of East Weymouth Little League, with an undefeated regular season and a hard-fought win in the championship series, two games to one, against a very game Weymouth Elks club lead by head coach and Weymouth sports legend Mark Ducharme.

Is there anything that you learned or picked up while living in Georgia or Russia that you apply to your role as general manager of the Red Sox?

O’Halloran: I think my experience overseas helps me every day. Living and working in a totally different culture, far from home, and meeting people with all different backgrounds, provides great perspective and opportunity for growth as a person. I encourage anyone who can get such an experience to jump at the chance.

What were some of the benefits and challenges of working unusual hours when you first joined the Red Sox?

O’Halloran: There definitely were challenges — some nights I would work until 5 a.m. and then substitute teach in Weymouth a few hours later. I guess the benefit was that I got an opportunity to show my level of commitment to working in baseball.

On that note, does the Red Sox’ baseball operations department still work out of the Fenway Park basement?

O’Halloran: No, we are upstairs now.

What role, in baseball, politics, etc., do you think Theo Epstein will pursue next?

O’Halloran: I don’t know, but whatever he does, I’m sure he will be successful at it!

Speaking of Epstein, what have been the similarities and differences between working with him, Ben Cherington, Dave Dombrowski, and now Chaim Bloom?

O’Halloran: The biggest similarities are competitiveness and burning desire to win, as well as a love of and commitment to the game of baseball. Of course they are all different personalities with different ways of going about their jobs. I certainly have learned a lot from all of them!

As you see former colleagues such as Mike Hazen and Jed Hoyer become heads of baseball operations for different clubs, do you start to wonder when you will get that opportunity?

O’Halloran: No, not really. Although I am happy for my friends and colleagues who earn such great opportunities. Personally, I am 100% focused on working with Chaim and our group to bring more championships to Boston. I have always tried to focus on team goals over individual ones. When the team succeeds, individuals who have contributed tend to get increased opportunities, either within their current organization or outside it.

Finally, what do your December plans look like now that there will be no in-person winter meetings?

O’Halloran: Our day-to-day is very similar to usual, except we are working from home. We are talking to other teams and agents, looking for any opportunities to improve the team and achieve our goal of building a sustainable, championship caliber team year-in and year-out. It’s a little strange not to be able to do that in the office or at in-person winter meetings, but it’s 2020, we have to adapt! That includes adjusting to the fact that my office-mates now include two teenagers (doing distance learning from home) and a dog!

Thank you to Brian O’Halloran, who recently teamed up with the Red Sox Foundation to offer fans the chance to win his personal collection of over 20,000 baseball cards in support of the foundation’s ongoing commitment to Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion, for making this possible.

That sweepstakes has since ended, but a pretty nice gesture nonetheless.

Red Sox select right-hander Garrett Whitlock from Yankees in major-league phase of 2020 Rule 5 Draft

For the second consecutive year under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom, the Red Sox partook in in the major-league portion of Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft, selecting right-hander Garrett Whitlock from the Yankees organization.

Whitlock, 24, was originally drafted by New York in the 18th round of the 2017 amateur draft out of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

A native of Georgia, Whitlock most recently pitched at the Double-A level in 2019, posting a 3.07 ERA and 3.09 xFIP over 14 starts and 70 1/3 innings pitched for Trenton before undergoing Tommy John surgery last July.

The 6-foot-5, 190 lb. righty relies on a three-pitch mix that includes an average sinker, slider, and changeup, per his FanGraphs scouting report. He also works from a lower arm slot, which allows him to add more deception to his delivery.

Based off the fact he underwent Tommy John last summer, Whitlock should be ready for the start of the 2021 season, especially when you consider the fact he was up to 94 mph in August.

Assuming Whitlock is healthy and is still on the team come February, one might expect him to compete for a spot either at the back end of Boston’s starting rotation or as a swingman capable of providing multiple innings out of the bullpen. We will have to wait and see on that.

With the addition of Whitlock, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster currently sits at 39 players.

And of course, as noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, “Boston paid New York $100,000 for [Whitlock]. He must remain on the active roster the entire 2021 season (barring an injured list stint) or be offered back to his previous club, the Yankees, for $50,000.”

Red Sox offseason: Dustin Pedroia will have ‘the say in anything going forward with his career,’ GM Brian O’Halloran says

Though his future is undecided at the moment, the Red Sox have remained in contact with Dustin Pedroia over the course of the offseason, general manager Brian O’Halloran said Monday.

Pedroia, 37, has played in just nine total games since the start of the 2018 season on account of undergoing three procedures on his left knee over the last three years.

“We talk to Dustin and his agents all the time,” O’Halloran told reporters via Zoom. “I wouldn’t get into the specifics of any of those conversations, but I understand the question.”

The Sox reinstated Pedroia from the 60-man injured list and added him back to the 40-man roster in late October, but that does not mean the second baseman will be ready to play in 2021.

“Dustin’s not a healthy player right now,” O’Halloran said of Pedroia. “Anything with Dustin, first of all, we’d keep those conversations private. And Dustin’s going to have the say in anything going forward with his career.”

Entering the final year of the eight-year, $110 million contract extension he signed with Boston in 2013, Pedroia did not play at all this past season and has not been with the Sox consistently since Memorial Day 2019. At that time, the four-time All-Star decided to halt all baseball/rehab activities and return to his Arizona home to assess his future.

With all the uncertainty surrounding his status moving forward, Pedroia would seem at serious risk to lose his spot on the Red Sox’ 40-man roster, which currently sits at 39 players.

As the virtual Winter Meetings commence this week, one would thing chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom is going to continue to reshuffle his team’s roster, and freeing up Pedroia’s spot could certainly help with that.

All that being said, Pedroia remains one of the more iconic figures in recent Red Sox history. The former second-round draft pick out of Arizona State has collected 1,805 career hits, a Silver Slugger Award, four Gold Glove Awards, an MVP trophy, and three World Series titles over the course of an illustrious 14-year major-league career.

Because of all those accolades and what he means to the franchise, Pedroia will certainly have plenty of influence on how his situation is handled by the team as the offseason continues.

“As a Red Sox great and someone who I have had the pleasure of knowing for many, many years now,” said O’Halloran, “we would give Dustin the respect of having input on everything that goes on with him and keep any conversations we have with him private.”

Red Sox believe top pitching prospects Bryan Mata, Connor Seabold will be big-league ready by next July

By this time Friday night, the Red Sox will have added six or seven minor-leaguers to their 40-man roster in order to protect said minor-leaguers from this year’s Rule 5 Draft in December.

Among the handful of eligible prospects who will presumably be added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday are right-handers Bryan Mata and Connor Seabold.

Mata, 21, is regarded by MLB Pipeline as the top pitching prospect and No. 4 overall prospect in Boston’s farm system. The Venezuela native spent the 2020 season at the Sox’ alternate training site in Pawtucket, and he really impressed there, according to Worcester Red Sox pitching coach Paul Abbott.

“I can’t say enough on this kid,” Abbott said of Mata back in October. “He’s as exciting, I think, as anybody in baseball. Top-shelf fastball, top-shelf slider. Curveball is above average. The changeup, too. It’s hard to squeeze all those pitches in when the first two are so dynamic. Young kid, got a little taste of Double-A last year and in the Fall League he did well, but this, for him… he got a ton of value out of this situation. His command wasn’t consistent enough. But a small little tweak in a low-stress environment like we were in allowed him to make some adjustments.”

Following his summer in Pawtucket, Mata was one of 62 players who took part in the Red Sox’ fall instructional league down in Fort Myers, though he did not see any in-game action, per SoxProspects.com’s Ian Cundall.

Seabold, meanwhile, also spent part of his summer working out at McCoy Stadium, but only after being acquired from the Phillies along with Nick Pivetta back in August.

The 24-year-old was originally selected by Philadelphia in the third round of the 2017 amateur draft out of Cal State Fullerton.

Boston dealt veteran relievers Brandon Workman and Heath Hembree in order to obtain both Seabold and Pivetta’s services, but that trade already looks like a win for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom considering the fact that the pair of former Red Sox righties are currently free agents.

While working with Mata and the other pitchers present at the alternate training site for the latter half of the 2020 campaign, Seabold, too, drew attention from the likes of Abbott.

“His stuff across the board is probably middle of the road, or slightly above average,” Abbott said of the California native. “His changeup is not; his changeup is a top-of-the-food-chain type pitch. His fastball grades out, carries better and looks better than the velo. He’s got a little deception to him. He’s a grinder out there in the short time I saw him. Competes really well. We started developing a curveball with him, something a little slower and a little deeper than the slider. Another kid that needs to season a little bit, face some better hitters. He hasn’t been above Double-A. But I like his makeup and I like his pitchability. He’s a guy who can eat up some innings and give you some quality starts down the road.”

With Mata and Seabold both putting in quality efforts over the summer, the Red Sox obviously have high hopes for the pair of young hurlers. Combine that optimism with the notion that the two pitchers will be added to Boston’s 40-man roster on Friday, and they could very well be ready to make their major-league debuts sooner rather than later.

As a matter of fact, The Athletic’s Peter Gammons wrote Wednesday that, “the Red Sox believe that Byan Mata — who is 21 and was up to 99 [mph] in Pawtucket — will be up by July, as will Connor Seabold.”

What transpires in the spring — as well as how the Red Sox perform from a pitching perspective out of the gate next season — will likely serve as better indicators for what Mata and Seabold’s estimated time of arrival to the majors will look like.

Still, with all the uncertainties surrounding the Sox’ pitching staff moving forward, the emergences of Mata and Seabold will definitely provide some encouragement, and maybe even reassurance, for Bloom and Co. going into 2021.

Red Sox Having Discussions With Blue Jays About Trading David Price, per Report

The Red Sox have reportedly had talks with the Toronto Blue Jays among other clubs about trading left-hander David Price, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

According to Rosenthal, “A deal only will come to fruition if the clubs agree on how much the Red Sox will pay of the $96 million remaining in the final three years of Price’s contract,” and, “Such an agreement is not close at this time.”

The 34-year-old Price spent the final three months of the 2015 season with Toronto as part of their run to the ALCS before signing a then-record-setting seven-year, $217 million deal with Boston that December.

Granted, that trade between the Jays and Detroit Tigers was done with Alex Anthopoulos, the current general manager of the Braves, at the helm for Toronto.

In his brief time north of the border, Price became a fan favorite. Combine that with the fact that the Blue Jays are currently in need of top-of-the-rotation starting pitching, and a reunion between both parties would make sense depending on what the Red Sox got out of it.

As Rosenthal notes, “the Sox are looking at a sliding scale – the more money they include, the better the package they will receive,” in deals for Price or even right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who is owed $51 million over the next three years.

All this comes as chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. continue to work towards the goal set by Sox ownership of getting under the $208 million luxury tax threshold with the idea of trading Mookie Betts serving as a last resort. They seemed to make that much clear at the Winter Meetings earlier this month.

With durability issues surrounding Price headed into his age-34 season, the Red Sox may have to pay up to $36 million of the remaining $96 million remaining on the Tennessee native’s deal, which would essentially turn it into a three-year, $60 million contract.

Two weeks ago, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that the Angels, Cardinals, Padres, Reds, and White Sox were among the clubs that have been in contact with Boston regarding Price.

At this point in time, the Red Sox trading away Price seems more likely to happen than not. The return Boston gets in any potential deal will be interesting to see.

Red Sox Sign Left-Hander Martin Perez to One-Year Deal

The Red Sox and left-hander Martin Perez have reportedly agreed on a one-year, $6 million deal for the 2020 season that includes a $6.25 million club option for 2021, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Perez, who turns 29 in April, spent this past season with the Minnesota Twins, where he posted an ERA of 5.12 over 32 outings (29 starts) and 165 1/3 innings of work.

Among the 26 American League hurlers with at least 160 innings under their belt in 2019, Perez ranked 22nd in ERA, 17th in xFIP (4.69), ninth in hard-hit rate (35%), and 21st in fWAR (1.9), per FanGraphs.

A former international signee out of Venezuela by the Texas Rangers back in 2007, Perez will look to fill the void left in the Sox’ starting rotation by Rick Porcello, who happened to sign a one-year deal with the New York Mets on Thursday as well.

In his career at Fenway Park, Perez owns a lifetime 5.96 ERA and batting average against of .287 over four starts and 22 2/3 innings pitched. That includes six innings of one-run ball in one of his final starts as a Twin back on September 5th.

With the additions of Perez and infielder Jose Peraza via free agency, as well as Jonathan Aurez through the Rule 5 Draft made by chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. on Thursday, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster should stand at 39 players once everything is official.

 

Red Sox Agree to One-Year Deal With Jose Peraza

The Red Sox have reportedly signed former Cincinnati Reds infielder Jose Peraza to a one-year, $3 million deal laden with incentives, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.

This marks their first free-agent signing under chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom.

Peraza, 25, was non-tendered by Cincinnati earlier this month after spending the last four years patrolling the Reds’ infield and outfield.

In 141 games this past season, the Venezuela native slashed .239/.285/.346 with six home runs and 33 RBI while playing second and third base, shortstop, and left and center field.

That underwhelming campaign came right after Peraza had a career year in 2018, and the Reds ultimately did not feel that the infielder was worth the $3.6 million he was projected to earn in arbitration next year.

Originally an international signee of the Atlanta Braves back in 2011, Peraza’s major-league career to this point has been fairly inconsistent. Since he became an everyday player for Cincinnati at the start of the 2017 season, Peraza’s fWAR totals go as follows:

2017: -0.3
2018: 2.6
2019: -0.6

That obviously does not tell the whole story, but it is something worth noting nonetheless.

With the Red Sox’ 40-man roster increasing to 38 players now with the additions of Jonathan Arauz and Peraza on Thursday, there is sure to be a healthy competition for an Opening Day roster spot among names such as those two, as well as C.J. Chatham, Michael Chavis, Marco Hernandez, and Tzu-Wei Lin come the spring.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo, despite only inking a one-year pact with Boston, Peraza will be under team control for the next three years due to the arbitration process.

Also, with all those infielders I mentioned above, it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox would entertain a reunion with free agent Brock Holt at this point in time.

Red Sox Select Jonathan Arauz in Rule 5 Draft

In their only major move of this past week’s Winter Meetings, the Red Sox selected Astros infield prospect Jonathan Arauz with their lone pick in the major-league portion of Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft.

Arauz, 21, had been part of the Astros organization since December 2015, when he came over from the Philadelphia Phillies in the trade that sent Ken Giles to Houston exactly four years ago Thursday.

The selection of Arauz marks the first time since 2016 that Boston took a player in the Rule 5 Draft. That player? Josh Rutledge, who had signed a minor-league deal with the Colorado Rockies that November before making his return to the Sox’ active roster.

As it goes for all players selected in the major-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, Arauz must stay on Boston’s 26-man roster or injured list throughout the 2020 season. If he does not, then he would have to be offered back to Houston.

According to the Red Sox’ vice president of professional scouting Gus Quattlebaum, Arauz, a native of Panama, will be given the chance to compete for a utility role with Boston come the spring.

Other infielders the switch-hitting Arauz could be competing with include C.J. Chatham, Marco Hernandez, and Tzu-Wei Lin.

Previously ranked as the No. 25 prospect in the Astros farm system, Arauz’s tenure in the minors has not been all smooth sailing. In fact, he was handed down a 50-game suspension in April 2017 for testing positive for the banned stimulant methamphetamine.

As the first tweet above from the Red Sox mentions, the club now has 37 players on their 40-man roster.

Turning to the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 Draft now, the Sox also selected 22-year-old Jose Espada from the Toronto Blue Jays and 28-year-old Raynel Espinal from the New York Yankees, both of whom are right-handed pitchers who will more than likely begin 2020 with Triple-A Pawtucket.