Former Red Sox Second Baseman Ian Kinsler Retires From Baseball

In case you missed it, former Red Sox second baseman Ian Kinsler retired from baseball on Friday night after spending the 2019 season with the San Diego Padres. He will however remain with the Padres in a front office capacity, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.

Kinsler, 37, finishes a 14-year big-league career between the Rangers, Tigers, Angels, Red Sox, and Padres with 1,999 career hits, 257 career home runs, 909 career RBI, four career All-Star nods, two career Gold Glove Awards, and one career World Series championship, which he won with Boston in 2018.

The Sox acquired Kinsler from the Angels in exchange for pitching prospects Ty Buttrey and Williams Jerez the day before the trade deadline in 2018.

Brought in to stabilize Boston’s infield defense at second base, the Arizona native slashed .242/.294/.311 with one homer and 16 RBI over 37 games while ranking 11th among American League second baseman in FanGraphs’ Defense metric (0.8) in that span.

Appearing in 11 of the Sox’ 14 postseason contests that October, Kinsler went 7-for-34 (.206) with three runs driven in.

“Obviously, Detroit was a great experience for me,” Kinsler told The Athletic. “Dave Dombrowski traded for me twice. He traded for me in Detroit, then for that magical run in Boston. I was able to be a part of a world-championship team. Those are the two things that really stand out in my head.”

Kinsler also added that, “The run in Boston, being just a small part of that was incredible.”

After winning his first World Series title with the Red Sox, Kinsler inked a two-year, $8 million deal with San Diego prior to the start of the 2019 campaign, but a herniated cervical disk held him out from August 12th on and was the ultimate deciding factor in his deciison to step away from playing baseball.

Kinsler may have only been with the Red Sox for a brief three months, but he definitely made his time in Boston worth it.

Reliving Andrew Benintendi’s ALCS Catch on Its One-Year Anniversary

One year ago Thursday night, October 17th, 2018, the Red Sox were one out away from jumping out to a three-games-to-one lead over the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series at Minute Maid Park.

Entering the bottom half of the ninth inning with an 8-6 lead to protect after allowing one run to cross the plate in the eighth, former Sox closer Craig Kimbrel walked three of the first five hitters he faced in the frame to fill the bases and put the winning run at first for Astros star third baseman Alex Bregman.

Heading into that at-bat, Kimbrel had thrown just 53% of his 34 pitchers for strikes and even plunked Bregman in the previous inning.

On the very first pitch he saw from Kimbrel this time around, a 97 MPH four-seamer on the inner half of the plate, Bregman ripped laced a line drive to left field, one that was falling quickly as Andrew Benintendi was closing in on it.

Per Statcast, Bregman’s liner had an exit velocity of 86.3 MPH off the bat and 79% chance of being a hit.

If that line drive were to fall in for a hit, it certainly had the potential to clear the bases and give their Astros their second win of the series.

Benintendi had different plans though, as he closed in, sprawled out, and saved the day for the Red Sox with an incredible catch for the third and final out of the contest.

According to Baseball Reference, that catch had a Win Probability added of 18%, the second-highest amount for one play in Game 4 behind only Jackie Bradley Jr.’s two-run home run off Josh James in the fifth inning.

“I thought I got a good jump on it,”Benintendi later said following the Game 4 win. “It wasn’t hit that hard. I thought I could catch it, I timed it up well. At that point, it was do or die.”

Later named the Associated Press’ Play of the Year for 2018, Benintendi’s game-sealing catch was an altering one, and it could have made the difference between the Red Sox eventually topping the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series or getting sent home early by Houston for the second year in a row.

“It was fun. I’m glad I caught it,” Benintendi added.

It was also one of the few times we had seen Benintendi put his emotions on display while on the field to that point.

The 2019 season may not have gone the way the 25-year-old outfielder wanted it to, but the talent he displayed last October surely shows that he is more than capable of bouncing back in 2020.

Three Home Runs and Seven Masterful Innings from Eduardo Rodriguez Lift Red Sox to Rain-Filled 8-1 Win over Dodgers

In their first game at Fenway Park since June 26th, the Red Sox took the first of a three-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers, opening the second half of their season with a commanding 8-1 victory Friday night.

Making his 19th start of the season for Boston in this World Series rematch was Eduardo Rodriguez, who capped off his first half with back-to-back outings of five or more innings pitched and less than two runs given up.

Picking up right where he left off in this one, the left-hander yielded just one earned run on five hits and two walks to go along with 10 strikeouts to tie a season-high over seven quality innings of work.

That one Los Angeles run came in the top half of the second, when with one out and the bases empty, Alex Verdugo unloaded on a 1-2, 87 MPH cutter from Rodriguez and deposited 374 feet into the right field seats.

Other than that, the Venezuela native maneuvered his way around back-to-back walks earlier in the first before retiring 17 of the next 21 Dodgers hitters he faced leading into the middle of the seventh, where his night came to a close with a ground out off the bat of Corey Seager to strand runners at first and second.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 105 (67 strikes), the 26-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 37% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing eight swings and misses and topping out at 94.1 MPH with the pitch. He also got 11 whiffs with his changeup, a pitch he threw 33 times with Christian Vazquez behind the plate.

Improving to 10-4 while lowering his ERA on the season down to 4.43, Rodriguez will look to keep this recent encouraging run going in his next time out, which should come against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In relief of Rodriguez, after an hour-long rain delay, left-hander Josh Taylor came on, fanned one and tossed a scoreless eighth to make way for Hector Velazquez in the ninth.

Like Taylor, Velazquez also punched out one lone Dodger en route to securing the convincing 8-1 win for his club.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against Dodgers right-hander Kenta Maeda, who allowed one run over three relief appearances against Boston in last year’s Fall Classic.

Rafael Devers got the scoring started for the Sox right away in the first inning, picking up where he left off before the break by mashing his 17th home run of the season, a 372-foot opposite field shot over the Monster, to put his team on the board.

An inning later, it was Christian Vazquez getting back in the swing of things, this time taking Maeda deep to left on a one-out, 3-2 changeup for his 15tth big fly which also broke a brief 1-1 stalemate.

Fast forward to the sixth, after the Dodgers starter had his way for a bit, and back-to-back doubles from Mookie Betts and Devers to lead off the frame got Boston back on the board again. 3-1.

In the seventh, with Maedo out and reliever Pedro Baez in, a one-out single from Jackie Bradley Jr., followed by Michael Chavis and Bradley Jr. both reaching base safely on a fielder’s choice, brought Brock Holt to the plate in a prime insurance run spot.

Having only faced the Dodgers one-time before Friday in his career, Holt capitalized on said run-scoring opportunity with a first-pitch RBI double off the left field wall, scoring Bradley Jr. and advancing Chavis up to third.

That gave the Sox a 4-1 advantage, and an hour-long weather delay meant Los Angeles had to turn to a new pitcher in righty JT Chargois with one out and runners in scoring position for Boston.

Mookie Betts came through in his first at-bat following the lengthy stoppage, driving in Chavis from third on a sacrifice fly to center. 5-1.

Two batters later, Xander Bogaerts made the Dodgers pay for intentionally walking Devers by punishing a 1-1 slider from Chargois and sending it 388 feet just over that home run marker on the Monster.

Bogaerts’ 18th blast of 2019 put the Red Sox ahead 8-1, and that would go on to be Friday’s final score.

Some notes from this win:

The Red Sox are 6-1 in their last seven games. Over that span, they are averaging 7.7 runs per game.

The 22 swings and misses Eduardo Rodriguez got on Friday set a new career-high.

From Red Sox Notes

From WEEI’s Rob Bradford and Red Sox Stats

From the Red Sox:

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the middle game of this three-game set on Saturday night.

Left-hander Chris Sale will get the start for Boston, while right-hander Ross Stripling will do the same for Los Angeles.

Since June 15th, Sale has posted a 5.96 ERA and .301 batting average against over his last four starts and 22 2/3 innings pitched.

Last time he pitched against the Dodgers, Sale recorded the final out of the 2018 World Series in Game 5.

Stripling, meanwhile, did not make an appearance at all for LA last October, and only has one prior start against the Sox under his belt, one in which he put together five scoreless innings in a winning effort back on August 6th, 2016.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:15 PM EDT on FOX. Red Sox going for their sixth straight win.

Former #RedSox Closer Craig Kimbrel Will Not Be in Attendance for Tuesday’s Ring Ceremony, Says Team President and CEO Sam Kennedy

Earlier last week, Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy extended a formal invitation to former closer Craig Kimbrel to attend the club’s Opening Day festivities at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Fast forward to Monday, the day before Boston’s home opener, and Kennedy told reporters that Kimbrel will in fact not be in attendance, as he does not want to cause any distractions.

MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo has the full quote from Kennedy:

Kimbrel, who of course won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2018, has yet to sign a contract with a big league club and remains a free agent.

When the report first popped up that the 30-year-old hurler could make an appearance at Fenway to receive his World Series ring, my initial reaction was that if you’re Dave Dombrowski, you can’t let that man leave without a contract offer.

Now, as we talk about the Red Sox bullpen 11 games into the new season, things do not as dire as many expected them to be. That much is highlighted by both Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier owning an ERA of 0.00 in eight combined appearances so far this year.

Still, one of the more elite relievers baseball has seen should be contributing in a major league bullpen right about now. We’ll have to wait and see if that happens anytime soon though, especially with a compensatory draft pick potentially on the line for the Red Sox.

Any way, first pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays is scheduled for 2:05 PM EDT on Tuesday at Fenway Park, with pregame festivities kicking off the day at 1 PM EDT.

The Final Three Outs of the 2018 World Series Taking You into the New Year.

As 2018 comes to a close, I figured it was a good time to reflect on what was one of, if not the greatest year in Boston Red Sox franchise history.

A record-setting 108 regular season wins followed by an impressive 11-3 run in the postseason en route to the club’s ninth World Series title following a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five.

Mookie Betts was named 2018 American League MVP, the first time a Red Sox player has received that honor since Dustin Pedroia in 2008.

After waiting until February to finally sign a five-year, $110 million contract, JD Martinez went ahead and led the junior circuit in RBI (130) and total bases (358) to go along with 43 home runs in hs first season with Boston.

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s defensive prowess was finally recognized with his first ever Gold Glove Award. The 28-year-old outfielder also came through with multiple clutch at bats in the ALCS against the Houston Astros on his way to being named the series’ Most Valuable Player.

Steve Pearce was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays in June to provide a platoon with Mitch Moreland at first base and hit his way to becoming the MVP of the World Series after slashing .333/.500/1.167 with three homers and eight RBI in five games.

David Price put his postseason demons behind him to the tune of a 2.59 combined ERA in the ALCS and World Series, including seven-plus innings of one run ball against the Dodgers in that faithful Game Five.

And finally, Chris Sale, after dealing with left shoulder issues for the majority of the second half of the season, came in to close things out in the ninth inning of Game Five and win his team their fourth World Series title in the last 15 years.

So, without further or due, here are the final three outs of the 2018 World Series. Enjoy and Happy New Year.

 

#RedSox Sign 2018 World Series MVP Steve Pearce to One-Year Deal.

The Red Sox announced Friday evening that they had come to an agreement with first baseman Steve Pearce on a one-year, $6.25 million contract through the 2019 season.

Pearce, 35, was acquired by Boston from the Toronto Blue Jays back on June 26th in a two-player deal.

A soon to be free agent, the journeyman infielder made his presence felt immediately with his new club, as he finished the 2018 campaign with a solid .279/.394/.507 slash line to go along with seven home runs and 26 RBI over 50 games in a Red Sox uniform.

More importantly, Pearce came through with multiple clutch performances in October, including a two-homer night in the fifth and deciding game of the 2018 World Series, which ultimately led him to being named the Fall Classic’s Most Valuable Player.

“We’re thrilled to have Steve back with us for another year as we think he’s a great fit for our club,” said President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski. “Obviously, we all saw what kind of impact he can have on the field, especially with the Postseason that he had. He also provides good depth and balance from the right side for us.”

Entering his 13th year in the big leagues in 2019, the Florida native will more than likely take on the same platoon role he had at first base with Mitch Moreland over the latter half of the 2018 season.

On the business side of things, the $6.25 million Pearce will earn in 2019 is the same amount he earned in both of the last two seasons with the Blue Jays and Red Sox.

With Pearce now taken care of, here’s a list of the remaining free agents who ended their year with Boston:

RHP Craig Kimbrel
RHP Nathan Eovaldi
RHP Joe Kelly
LHP Drew Pomeranz
INF Brandon Phillips
2B Ian Kinsler

 

 

How Much Money Will Nathan Eovaldi Make This Winter?

When the Red Sox acquired the services of Nathan Eovaldi from the Tampa Bay Rays on July 25th, it was not all that clear what they were getting.

Many expected President of Baseball Ops Dave Dombrowksi to pursue a frontline reliever, such as Zach Britton or even Brad Hand, to stabilize his club’s then shaky bullpen, but that was not the case, or was it?

Over a two-month span with Boston, Eovaldi posted a 3.33 ERA and .266 BAA in 12 games (11 starts) and exactly 54 innings pitched.

There were some ups and downs mixed in with some dominant outings, but the right-hander provided the Red Sox with a high velocity arm capable of getting big outs, and that’s what he did in the postseason.

Making his first career appearance on a playoff roster, Eovaldi went on to be a crucial piece of the puzzle for Boston, both as a starter and reliever.

In the six October contests he appeared in, the Red Sox went 5-1, with that one loss coming in that 18 inning loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Three of the World Series, a game where the Houston native tossed six-plus innings of one-run baseball on just one day of rest.

He would not appear in a game for the remainder of the series, but that effort alone appeared to have inspired the team to bounce back the way they did following that ugly loss en route to a World Series title.

Behind Steve Pearce and David Price, I would go ahead and say Eovaldi finished third in World Series MVP voting.

So now, the ex-Ray is set to hit free agency for the second time in his career. With a base salary of around $2 million this season, Eovaldi will no doubt be highly sought out after being a bargain this year.

With that in mind, I thought I would pose the following question: How much money should the Red Sox pay Nathan Eovaldi?

After the heroic month of October he had, I don’t believe I would be the first to say that the Red Sox need to do anything possible to retain his services.

Eovaldi is 28, has had two Tommy John surgeries, and has one of the more electric and durable fastballs in baseball.

Drew Pomeranz is also set to hit free agency, so ignoring the price for a second, Eovaldi would be able to fill in that spot if he were to stay.

We could be looking at a 2019 starting rotation, that, when healthy, consists of Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello. Eduardo Rodriguez, and then Eovaldi.

That is pretty good, but it would also be pretty expensive.

Last winter, the two highest contracts awarded to starting pitchers were Yu Darvish’s six-year/$126 million deal with the Chicago Cubs and Jake Arrieta’s three-year/$75 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Both of those AAV’s come out to $21+ million per season and both Darvish and Arrieta were respectively 31 and 32 when those contracts were signed.

They were also both regarded as aces when with the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs, while Eovaldi has never been given that role in his seven-year career.

So, to cut to the chase, given what he did in the postseason and specifically against the New York Yankees, I would predict the Red Sox and Eovaldi agree to a four-year deal somewhere in the $70-$75 million range.

Let’s get it done.