The Boston Red Sox continued to reshuffle their organization under Senior VP Chaim Bloom, moving 26-year-old outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals in a three-team deal. The deal sent outfield prospect Khalil Lee to the New York Mets and prospects Franchy Cordero, Josh Winckowski, and three players named to be later to the Sox for the former top prospect.
The deal is reminiscent of trades that Bloom orchestrated while heading up the Tampa Bay Rays, but uncharacteristic for the big-budget Beantowners, who now will have a completely new outfield in 2021 after trading Mookie Betts to Los Angeles last year and not re-signing free agent Jackie Bradley Jr., but slumped in 2019 and had a disastrous injury-shortened campaign in 2020.
“Big Maple” back to the Mariners
James Paxton has joined a rather large group who has failed in the Big Apple. After six seasons with Seattle, the big lefty was dealt to the Yankees for pitchers Justus Sheffield, Erik Swanson and outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams in 2018.
Paxton struggled early in his first season in New York, but had a good second half and ended up a respectable 15-6 in 2019, but ran into injury issues and only made five starts in 2020. The 32-year-old is hoping that a return to the Mariners (on a one-year, $8.5 million contract) will be the magic elixir that saw him strike out over 200 batters and pitch a no-hitter.
Minor league musical chairs
With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report this week, clubs are scrambling to bring in an additional reliever or an extra bat off the bench and some free agents are desperate enough to accept an invite to a camp in hopes of finding a landing spot.
Infielder Renato Nunez, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, utility man Brock Holt and former All-Star outfielder Jay Bruce accepted minor-league contracts and invitations to spring training from the Detroit Tigers, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, and New York Yankees.
Nunez is 26 and hit 31 HR’s in 2019 and 12 for Baltimore last season. Lucroy is 34 and is coming back from a torn hamstring and may possibly slot in as the backup catcher for the White Sox. Holt battled injuries last season with Milwaukee and Washington following his seven-year stint with Boston, while the 33-year-old Bruce has become a journeyman in his 30’s and may be some left-handed insurance for GM Brian Cashman if the Yankees cannot get Brett Gardner re-signed.
Contenders collecting arms
American League contenders are putting the finishing touches on trying to upgrade their rotations and bullpens. Oakland added lefty specialist Adam Kolarek in a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. Kolarek went 3-0, with an 0.95 ERA in 20 appearances with LA. Minnesota added righty reliever Alex Colome (2-0, 0.81 ERA with Chicago), Tampa added 41-year-old starter Rich Hill to help plug the holes created by the departure of Blake Snell and Charlie Morton, and New York added submarining righty Darren O’Day to replace Adam Ottavino in the Yankees bullpen.