Yairo Muñoz becomes latest Red Sox player to test positive for COVID-19

Red Sox infielder Yairo Munoz has tested positive for COVID-19, manager Alex Cora said during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s Merloni and Fauria program earlier Wednesday afternoon.

Munoz, who was selected from Triple-A Worcester on Friday, tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning, per Cora.

The versatile 26-year-old has appeared in five games for the Red Sox since being called up from Worcester, most recently being used as a defensive replacement at second base in Tuesday night’s 8-5 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.

After starting that game on the bench, Munoz was dispatched in the middle of the second inning when — after getting test results back — Cora was forced to pull Xander Bogaerts, as it was later revealed that the star shortstop tested positive for COVID-19.

Because of that, Jonathan Arauz, Tuesday’s starting second baseman for Boston, shifted over to shortstop while Munoz took over at second base for the remainder of the contest.

Within the next few hours, both Bogaerts and Munoz will become the seventh and eighth players the Red Sox have had to place on the COVID-19 related injured list since Friday. They will join the likes of Enrique Hernandez, Christian Arroyo, Martin Perez, Matt Barnes, Hirokazu Sawamura, and Josh Taylor.

Hernandez and Arroyo both tested positive for the virus in Cleveland and remain in quarantine there, while Perez, Barnes, and Sawamura all tested positive for the virus in St. Petersburg and are quarantining at the team hotel.

On top of that, quality control coach Ramon Vazquez and strength and conditioning coach Kiyoshi Momose have tested positive as well, while Taylor and first base coach Tom Goodwin have been identified as close contacts and are also in quarantine.

As is the case for all players who test positive for COVID-19, Munoz will have to remain away from the Red Sox for the next 10 days at the very least.

(Picture of Yairo Munoz: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Yairo Muñoz makes Red Sox history by extending hitting streak with Triple-A Worcester to 35 straight games

While the Red Sox welcomed Chris Sale back in grand fashion with a 16-2 romping over the Orioles at Fenway Park on Saturday afternoon, Yairo Munoz was making some history approximately 45 miles away at Polar Park in Worcester.

Coming into play on Saturday, Munoz had recorded at least one base hit in 34 consecutive games for Triple-A Worcester dating back to the beginning of July.

In compiling a 34-game hitting streak, Munoz had tied Dom DiMaggio for the longest such streak in Red Sox organizational history, as DiMaggio accomplished the feat at the major-league level during the 1949 season.

Facing off against the Syracuse Mets on Saturday, it took Munoz until the eighth inning to extend his streak after he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout against opposing starter Adam Oller.

In the bottom of that eighth inning, with one out and runners at first and second in a 5-0 contest in favor of Syracuse, Munoz was matched up against Mets reliever Roel Ramirez.

On the very first pitch he saw from the right-hander following a mound visit, Munoz ripped a line-drive single to right field to advance both runners an additional 90 feet while etching his name into the record books.

At that moment, the 26-year-old received a standing ovation from the 7,166 who were on hand at Polar Park to witness some history.

Joey Meneses followed by belting a grand slam that cut Syracuse’s lead down to one run, but the WooSox’ comeback attempt fell short in the form of a 5-4 defeat.

Still, while his team may not have had the best of days, Munoz certainly had a memorable one — at least on an individual level.

“I feel really, really proud of myself and fortunate to be where I am right now, thankful to God and all the sacrifices made to be here today,” he told reporters (including MassLive.com’s Katie Morrison) through translator Pete Amalbert. “I’m just really fortunate to be here and have this record under my name.”

Over the course of his historic streak, Munoz has amassed 57 hits in his last 35 games and is now slashing .317/.345/.446 to go along with 14 doubles, four triples, six home runs, 31 RBI, 40 runs scored, 17 stolen bases, 13 walks, and 44 strikeouts across 77 total games (329 plate appearances) in his first season with the WooSox.

The Red Sox originally signed the versatile right-handed hitter to a minor-league contract last March, shortly after he was released by the St. Louis Cardinals and shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic-induced shutdown began.

After spending the majority of last summer at Boston’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, Munoz was called up in late August and impressed in his brief stint with the club, which was ultimately cut short due to a season-ending lower back strain.

In December, the 5-foot-11, 201 pounder had his spot on the Sox’ 40-man roster taken away from him when he was designated for assignment and somewhat-surprisingly cleared waivers, resulting in him being outrighted to Worcester.

Because of that, the Red Sox were able to retain Munoz’s rights, which has paid off thus far considering what the Dominican native has accomplished at the minor-league level.

That being said, it’s no sure thing Munoz will make it back to the majors before season’s end, as he would need to be re-added to Boston’s 40-man roster, which is currently at full capacity.

Still, Munoz — a former top prospect who has proven he can hit at the major-league level (.278 hitter in parts of three seasons with the Cardinals and Red Sox from 2018-2020) while also playing multiple defensive positions — could provide value for a club looking to make a push for a division title during the final stretch of the 2021 regular season.

“One thing about Yairo, he brings energy on a daily basis,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said of Munoz earlier this month. “He has that bat-to-ball skill regardless of where the ball is, you know? It can be way up there or way down there and he’ll find barrel. We’re very pleased with what he’s doing. Not only because of the results, but because he’s doing the things he’s supposed to do — playing hard and doing the things that winning players do.”

“Obviously, we pay attention to everything that is going on and we’re very pleased with the way he’s going about it,” added Cora. “I’m not saying he’s on the radar or he’s not, but we are aware of what’s going on with him, and every report we get is a positive one.”

Regardless of the possibility that Munoz may or may not be on the verge of another call-up to the Red Sox, he will look to extend his hitting streak to 36 games in Worcester’s series finale against the Mets at Polar Park on Sunday afternoon.

(Picture of Yairo Munoz: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Is it time for the Red Sox to give Yairo Muñoz another chance?

While the Red Sox were in the process of dropping their fifth straight game in a 4-2 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park on Tuesday night, Yairo Munoz was busy making history for Triple-A Worcester.

With a leadoff single in the fourth inning of the WooSox’ contest against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders in Moosic, Pa., Munoz extended his hitting streak to 25 consecutive games, tying former Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury — who did it in 2007 — for the longest such streak in the history of the club’s Triple-A affiliate.

By adding on a single in the eighth inning of Worcester’s 7-2 victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Munoz raised his batting line on the season to a solid .303/.333/.436 to go along with 13 doubles, four triples, five home runs, 28 RBI, 32 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, 12 walks, and 39 strikeouts in 67 games (283 plate appearances) with the WooSox.

Dating back to July 1, when his streak began with a modest 1-for-2 showing against the RailRiders, the right-handed hitting 26-year-old has slashed an impressive .394/.429/.566 (166 wRC+) while clubbing two of his five homers, collecting 12 of his 28 RBI, and scoring exactly half of his 32 runs over his last 25 games.

With an RBI single in the third inning of Wednesday night’s game against the RailRiders, Munoz extended his hitting streak to 26 consecutive games to surpass Ellsbury’s previous mark and make even more Red Sox Triple-A history in the process of doing so.

In the month of July alone, Munoz ranked second among Triple-A East hitters in total hits (36), 12th in extra-base hits (12), seventh in total bases (53), third in doubles (9), 19th in runs scored (16), second in stolen bases (10), second in batting average (.404), eighth in on-base percentage (.442), 14th in slugging percentage (.596), and ninth in OPS (1.038).

While he has been consistently performing at the plate as of late, Munoz — who is listed as an outfielder — has played all over the field for the WooSox, including nine games at first base, 42 games at third base, seven games at shortstop, two games in left field, three games in center field, and two games in right field.

The Red Sox originally signed Munoz to a minor-league contract last March, just weeks after he was somewhat-oddly released by the St. Louis Cardinals earlier that spring.

After the start of the 2020 season was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dominican native spent the majority of his summer at Boston’s alternate training site in Pawtucket before having his contract selected in late August.

Making his Red Sox debut the following day, Munoz hit .333/.333/.511 over his first 12 games with the club before a lower back strain prematurely ended his season on September 17.

Despite providing a last-place team with a bit of his spark in his brief time with them, Munoz ultimately lost his spot on Boston’s 40-man roster in December, but somehow cleared waivers and was outrighted to Worcester.

Invited to major-league spring training as a non-roster invitee, the versatile 5-foot-11, 201 pounder appeared in eight Grapefruit League games and collected eight hits in 18 at-bats(.444 batting average), though he did not stand much of a chance of making the Sox’ Opening Day roster with the likes of Christian Arroyo and Michael Chavis ahead of him on the right-handed hitting depth chart.

After opening the 2021 minor-league campaign with the WooSox, Munoz got off to a slow start, posting an underwhelming .581 OPS through his first month with the team.

With this historic 25-game hitting streak, however, Munoz has emerged as someone who could be knocking on the Red Sox door sooner rather than later — if he is not doing so already, that is.

Munoz, who does not turn 27 until January, is a former top prospect of the Athletics, the organization he began his professional career with as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in January 2012.

He is someone that was part of the trade that sent outfielder Stephen Piscotty from St. Louis to Oakland prior to the start of the 2018 season, and — in his time with the Cardinals — proved to handle himself well at the plate while playing all over the field.

Upon getting called up by the Red Sox late last season, Munoz provided a jolt to a club that was in desperate need of one and likely would have continued to do so throughout the month of September had he not gotten injured.

As things currently stand, the Red Sox have hit a ball coming out of the All-Star break, as they are 8-8 dating back to July 16 and have averaged a measly 4.25 runs per game over that stretch.

Given what he did in his brief time with the Red Sox last year and what he has done with the WooSox to date, Munoz’s speed on the base paths and ability to move around the infield and outfield could jumpstart a Red Sox team that is in the midst of a season-high five-game losing streak.

“One thing about Yairo, he brings energy on a daily basis,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said on Wednesday. “He has that bat-to-ball skill regardless of where the ball is, you know? It can be way up there or way down there and he’ll find barrel. We’re very pleased with what he’s doing. Not only because of the results, but because he’s doing the things he’s supposed to do — playing hard and doing the things that winning players do.”

Of course, the Sox would need to add Munoz back to the 40-man roster to get him back in the mix, and that would require a corresponding move that would see someone lose their 40-man spot.

That said, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have not shied away from shuffling around the 40-man roster if it meant potentially improving the club.

Most recently, Boston designated outfield prospect Marcus Wilson for assignment in order to add trade deadline acquisition Hansel Robles to the 40-man roster and, before that, designated Austin Brice for assignment in order to call up top outfield prospect Jarren Duran from Worcester.

Taking all that into consideration, perhaps the Sox would prefer to wait until rosters expand to September to give someone such as Munoz, who does have one minor-league option year remaining, another shot at the major-league level.

“This is a guy that has experience at the big-league level,” said Cora. “I saw him from afar last year and what he did last year here — as far as running the bases, being versatile, and finding ways to get on base — it was interesting. Obviously, we pay attention to everything that is going on and we’re very pleased with the way he’s going about it.”

Though Cora has been impressed with what he has seen from and read on Munoz, that does not necessarily mean he is on the verge of getting called up to the big-league squad, as previously stated.

“I’m not saying he’s on the radar or he’s not, but we are aware of what’s going on with him,” Cora said. “And every report we get is a positive one.”

(Picture of Yairo Munoz: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Might recently-signed Danny Santana cost Christian Arroyo his spot on Red Sox’ roster?

Could the Red Sox signing utilityman Danny Santana to a minor-league contract on Thursday ultimately cost Christian Arroyo his spot on the club’s 40-man roster. One writer in particular — MassLive.com’s Chris Cotillo — thinks that may be the case.

In his weekly notes column for MassLive, Cotillo made 10 predictions for the Sox’ 2021 season, and one of those predictions was that Santana makes the team out of spring training after winning the competition for the final bench spot.

“Though he’s a late entrant into the competition for Boston’s final bench spot, Santana is actually a better fit for the roster than the club’s other options,” Cotillo wrote Friday. “The other three competitors — Christian Arroyo, Michael Chavis and Yairo Muñoz — are all right-handed hitters, which limits Alex Cora to an extent.”

Cotillo notes that while the handedness of the hitters on the Red Sox’ bench would change on a game-to-game basis, “the fact that the backup catcher (Kevin Plawecki) is right-handed means a left-handed bat would be preferable.”

As currently constructed, Jonathan Arauz and Marwin Gonzalez are the only infielders on Boston’s 40-man roster who can hit from the left side of the plate, as both are switch-hitters.

Arauz, who is still just 22 years old, figures to begin the 2021 season at the Sox’ alternate training site in Worcester to continue his development, while Gonzalez, who inked a one-year, $3 million pact with Boston last month, figures to see most of his playing time come in left field as opposed to the infield.

Having said that, Cora and Co. are somewhat limited in what they can do in regards to bench flexibility. That is where Santana — a switch-hitter — comes into play.

In seven major-league seasons between the Twins, Braves, and Rangers, the 30-year-old out of the Dominican owns a lifetime .266/.304/.422 slash line against right-handed pitching and a lifetime .243/.287/.407 slash line against left-handed pitching going back to 2014. He has also seen playing time at every defensive position besides pitcher and catcher.

Arroyo, who unlike Chavis is out of minor-league options and unlike Munoz is on Boston’s 40-man roster, unsurprisingly owns a lifetime .213/.297/.381 slash line in 176 career plate appearances against righties dating back to 2017. He has seen playing time at just three different positions: second base, third base, and shortstop.

Taking those points into consideration, Santana — as noted by Cotillo — “makes more sense than the others,” including Arroyo.

Coming into the spring, Arroyo seemed like almost a lock to make the Red Sox’ Opening Day roster considering the fact that he is out of minor-league options like Nick Pivetta is.

The 25-year-old former top prospect had a decent showing in limited action with the Sox last season, going 12-for-50 (.240) at the plate with three home runs, eight RBI, and four walks over 14 September contests (54 plate appearances).

If Boston were to roll with Santana over Arroyo out of the gate, though, that would likely mark the end of Arroyo’s run on the club’s 40-man roster.

In other words, you could see a transaction where the Red Sox purchase Santana’s contract — and in doing so add him to their major-league roster — while designating Arroyo for assignment to clear a roster spot.

The goal then, as Cotillo writes, would be for the Red Sox “to try to sneak Arroyo through waivers” while both Chavis and Munoz would be optioned down to the alternate site.

In this scenario, this would not be the first time the Sox designated Arroyo, as they did the very same thing just days after claiming the Florida native off waivers from the Indians last August.

For what it’s worth, Santana, who turns 31 in November, is only under club control through the end of the 2021 season. Arroyo, meanwhile, turns 26 in May and is under club control through the 2024 season.

According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Santana will earn a base salary of $1.75 million if he makes it to the majors with the Red Sox this year with the chance to earn an additional $1 million in incentives and another $100,000 in the form of a bonus if he starts at Triple-A.

Those contract details, per Cotillo, makes it “seem like the Red Sox have plans to bring him up to the majors.”

We will have to wait and see if those hypothetical plans come to fruition before Opening Day.

(Picture of Christian Arroyo: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Yairo Muñoz among Red Sox’ most impressive performers early on in spring training

In his first traditional spring training with the Red Sox, Yairo Munoz is off to a hot start.

Following a 1-for-3 performance against the Rays on Tuesday that was highlighted a hard-hit two-run home run to the opposite field, the 26-year-old came off the bench as a pinch-runner in Wednesday’s contest against the Twins and collected another RBI by lining a run-scoring single in his only trip to the plate in the sixth inning of an eventual 14-6 victory for the Sox.

Through his first four Grapefruit League games of the year, Munoz is 5-for-9 (.555) at the plate with that one homer, one double, and four RBI while playing left field and third base.

The Dominican native is coming into the spring without a spot on Boston’s 40-man roster, meaning he is one of 33 non-roster invitees currently at big-league camp in Fort Myers.

The Sox outrighted Munoz off their 40-man roster in December. That decision was met with much surprise considering the fact that the utilityman impressed over the course of the final month of the 2020 campaign and the team had just signed him a one-year contract for the 2021 season.

After spending a healthy chunk of July and the entirety of August at the club’s alternate training site in Pawtucket, Munoz was called up by Boston on August 31 and made his team debut on September 1.

From that point forward, the right-handed hitter — listed at 5-foot-11 and 200 lbs. — slashed an impressive .333/.333/.511 to go along with one home run, five doubles, four RBI, and two stolen bases over 12 games played before a lower back strain prematurely ended his year on September 19.

Given the fact he performed well and proved more than capable of playing multiple defensive positions (was worth positive-4 defensive runs saved in left field), it, again, was somewhat shocking to see Munoz stripped of his 40-man roster spot three months ago.

Having said that, it might be even more shocking that the ex-St. Louis Cardinal managed to clear waivers without getting claimed by another organization beforehand.

At just 26 years old, Munoz is still relatively young, under team control through 2024, and has one minor-league option remaining. All while just a few years removed from being one of the top prospects in the Athletics’ farm system, which is the organization he originally signed with back in 2012.

In Chaim Bloom’s tenure as chief baseball officer thus far, the Red Sox have clearly placed an emphasis on bringing in — whether by trade, waiver claim, or free agency — versatile players who can be put to the test on the field. Christian Arroyo, Enrique Hernandez, and Marwin Gonzalez are among those on the team’s projected Opening Day roster who fit that mold.

While Munoz may have taken a step back this offseason and still has some work to do in order to crack Boston’s Opening Day roster, he seems to fit that mold, too.

At the end of the day, it’s as MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith wrote earlier Wednesday: “The Red Sox are lucky Yairo Munoz remains in the organization.”

Smith also wrote that Munoz “is one of the top outfield depth options heading into 2021. He will play for Boston at some point this season.”

(Picture of Yairo Munoz: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

Red Sox remove utilityman Yairo Muñoz from 40-man roster, outright him to Triple-A

The Red Sox have outrighted utilityman Yairo Munoz to Triple-A Pawtucket, the club announced earlier Monday afternoon.

Munoz, who turns 26 next month, originally signed a minor-league pact with Boston back in late March following his release from the St. Louis Cardinals earlier that month.

After being added to the club’s 60-man player pool in July, the Dominican Republic native eventually had his contract purchased and was added to the Sox’ 40-man roster on August 31 in the wake of the trade deadline.

In a brief stint with Boston, Munoz impressed, going 15-for-45 (.333) at the plate with one home run, four RBI, and two stolen bases over 12 games played before hitting the injured list due to a lower back strain on September 19. The 5-foot-11 right-handed hitter also proved he could play both corner outfield positions to some degree in addition to his abilities as a versatile infielder.

With Munoz, who does have one minor-league option remaining, being outrighted, the Red Sox’ 40-man roster currently stands at 38 players, which holds some significance as the 2020 Rule 5 Draft is this Thursday.

On another note, as indicated by The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier, the reason why ‘Triple-A Pawtucket’ has not yet been updated to ‘Triple-A Worcester’ is likely because the team has not moved offices yet. So there’s that.

Red Sox Announce 30-Man Opening Day Roster for 2020 Season

The Red Sox have released their 30-man Opening Day roster for the 2020 season, the club announced earlier Thursday afternoon.

As manager Ron Roenicke told reporters last week, the Sox will carry 15 pitchers and 15 position players on their roster to begin the year.

Among the notable additions to Boston’s Opening Day squad are right-handers Phillips Valdez and Dylan Covey, left-hander Josh Osich, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and infielder Jonathan Arauz.

Among the notable players who were left off the Sox’ active roster are left-hander Brian Johnson, right-handers Zack Godley and Chris Mazza, and infielder Yairo Munoz.

In order to make this all happen, the Red Sox needed to recall Valdez, Osich, Jeffrey Springs, Matt Hall, and Colten Brewer from the minors while also giving 40-man roster spots to Covey and Lucroy.

By adding Covey and Lucroy, Boston’s 40-man roster now stands at 37 players, meaning someone like Johnson, Godley, or Munoz could be added at a later date if necessary.

As mentioned in the tweet above, Darwinzon Hernandez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Josh Taylor, Chris Sale, and Dustin Pedroia will begin the truncated 2020 season on the injured list. The first three players listed here should be able to re-join the Red Sox relatively soon. The other two? Not so much.

All teams will be allowed to carry 30 players on their active roster from now until August 6, when rosters will be reduced to 28 players. Two weeks after that date, on August 20, rosters will again be reduced to the conventional 26 players.

So, even though Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom and Co. have put together this here Opening Day roster ahead of Friday’s season opener against the Orioles, there will still be some important decisions to make down the line.

 

Red Sox Add Yairo Muñoz to Spring Training Roster, Option Four Pitchers to Minor-League Camp

The Red Sox officially announced the signing of former Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz on a minor-league deal on Thursday. The 25-year-old has been added to Boston’s spring training roster as a non-roster invitee and will likely begin the year with Triple-A Pawtucket once the 2020 season does begin.

In a series of other moves, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom also announced that Colten Brewer and three pitchers picked up over the course of the offseason — Matt Hall, Chris Mazza, and Jeffrey Springs– had been optioned to minor-league rosters.

Hall and Mazza were both optioned to High-A Salem, while Brewer was optioned to Double-A Portland and Springs was optioned to Pawtucket.

Brewer and Mazza both seemed like potential options to serve as an opener for the Sox this season, but it looks like they’ll start the year in the minors once baseball does resume, although I doubt it will be at the levels they were optioned to on Thursday.

Hall and Springs, meanwhile, were picked up via a pair of trades over the winter. The two left-handers appeared in a total of 41 major-league games last year with the Tigers and Rangers respectively.

With these moves, the Red Sox now have 43 players at major-league camp, 16 of which are pitchers.

 

Red Sox Sign Former Cardinals Utilityman Yairo Muñoz to Minor-League Deal

The Red Sox have signed former Cardinals utilityman Yairo Munoz to a minor-league deal, according to Major League Baseball’s official transaction wire. He was assigned to Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday.

Munoz, 25, was released by St. Louis earlier this month after he “left the team” and “flew home” without ever contacting the Cardinals. His agent apparently told the club that his client was frustrated with his role, something Cards manager Mike Shildt said on multiple occasions last season.

According to The Athletic’s Mark Saxon, that frustration did not hamper Munoz’s chances of making the Cardinals’ Opening Day roster this year, as Shildt told him that the Dominican Republic native had an “inside track” to landing a roster spot.

That vote of confidence did not stop Munoz from receiving his unconditional release from St. Louis though, and less than three full weeks after essentially excusing himself from the Cardinals, he has joined the Red Sox on a minor-league deal for the 2020 season.

Originally signed by the Athletics as an international free agent out of the DR back in 2012, Munoz was part of the trade that sent outfielder Stephen Piscotty to Oakland in December 2017.

The former top prospect is capable of playing second base, third base, and shortstop, as well as all three outfield positions. That sort of versatility is something the Red Sox have seemed to value immensely lately.

In 88 games with the Cardinals last season, Munoz slashed .267/.298/.355 with two home runs and 13 RBI. That rather underwhelming performance for Munoz was coming off an impressive rookie campaign where he posted an OPS+ of 109 over 108 games in 2018.

Munoz still has five years of team control remaining and is not arbitration eligible until the 2021 season.

If baseball is played in 2020, Munoz could provide the Red Sox with solid infield and maybe even outfield depth at the Triple-A level.