Sunday Gossip – Trade Deadline Update

For baseball fans, a trade deadline update is important, especially if your team is in the hunt for October. In a few short days, teams will either be buyers, or sellers in the one and done trade deadline on Wednesday. It has been relatively quiet throughout Major League Baseball, as teams look to see what they need to do. For Boston, the goal is quite simple – Get into the postseason. With that in mind, what will Dombrowski do?

The other 29 teams have to be wondering the same thing. Who is on the block, and whotrade deadline update is looking to keep their star players from changing uniforms. Trade rumors can be hard to decode, especially when there is a high profile player involved. The most notable names that are being listed are Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard.

The Dream Wish List For Boston

For the Red Sox, it’s no secret that they need help in the bullpen help. That can be said for many other teams, especially the Washington Nationals and Minnesota Twins. As for the rest of the teams who seem to be in, or nearing playoff contention, pitching might be the answer to their problems. It’s just a matter of who they give up to get the top pitcher to assist their team.

Right now, Boston doesn’t have a trade deadline update to give. Everything is just rumors at this point for them. The same can be said for other teams who are also looking for help. This can come in the form of pitching, or a big bat in the lineup.

The Red Sox don’t have a deep farm system. However, they do have a lot of talent both in the minors and in the majors. Players like Kirby Yates and Jake McGee won’t come cheap. The Red Sox got lucky with Andrew Cashner, in which only two minor league prospects went to Baltimore.

Trade Deadline Update Around MLB

Saturday was a big day for trades in a sense. For the trade deadline update, we look at two teams that made an impact for their clubs.

First, is the Oakland A’s, who made a trade for reliever, Jake Diekman. Oakland traded prospects Ismael Aquino and Dairon Blanco to the Kansas City Royals for Diekman. In 48 games for the Royals, he went 0-6 with a 4.75 ERA. Diekman pitched in 41.2 innings, allowing 22 earned runs, while striking out 63 batters. In 8 major league seasons, Diekman has pitched for 4 teams. The Oakland A’s will be his 5th teams.

Another move that was made on Saturday was done by the Minnesota Twins and Miami Marlins. The Twins acquired two players, Sergio Romo and Chris Vallimont. The Marlins received first baseman Lewin Diaz in return.

The big name in this trade is Sergio Romo, who has plenty of big game experience. The right hander was a member of the San Francisco Giants’ 3 World Series titles in 2010, 2012, and 2014. This season, Romo has pitched in 38 games, with a 2-0 record and a 3.58 ERA. He has 17 saves so far this season as well. With the trade to Minnesota, the 12 year veteran will be playing on his 5th major league team.

Devers Showing Signs of Maturity And Stardom With Portland

Since Dave Dombrowski took over the reigns in August of 2015, the Boston Red Sox have traded over a dozen minor league players. While adding “power pitchers” will deverscontribute to team success, one can only look back if a prospect becomes a major league superstar. But there is one prospect who has remained in the farm system throughout the entire tenure. His name is Rafael Devers.

In 2013, the Dominican infielder was signed to his first pro contract and began playing in the Red Sox farm system in early 2014. At the time, Boston already had Will Middlebrooks, Jose Iglesias, Deven Marrero, Xander Bogaerts, and Garin Cecchini ahead of him on both the organizational depth chart and top prospect lists. (As of today only Bogaerts and Marrero remains on the big-league roster.)

Ascending the Ranks

As his bat developed and some of those players left the system, Devers began to ascend the ranks. By 2014’s end, Devers was already in the conversation for the top five Red Sox prospects. This was during a time when Blake Swihart and Henry Owens were still highly regarded in the minor leagues. Theoretically, the only thing keeping Devers from being major-league ready was his age, physical maturity, and defense.

However, as 2017 begins, Devers finds himself as the #2 prospect in the Red Sox farm system. He started the season with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs and belted a home run in his first at-bat. As of Thursday night, he’s 10-25 with three doubles in addition to the homer. This already surpasses his April hit total from 2016 with Salem.

SoxProspects.com projects Devers as having “All-Star potential regardless of position due to his value at the plate.”

Their report continues to say: “Potential to be a plus hitter for average with plus-to-better power. Fluid, easy swing. Natural hitter. Strong, quick wrists. Future plus hit tool. Easy plus bat speed and an advanced approach for his age. Solid swing mechanics and separation in stride. One of the most exciting young players in the system in years. Mature approach for his age and has shown the ability to handle aggressive assignments. Will stick at third base for the foreseeable future, but if his bat develops as projected, it would profile at first base.”

Considering third base has been a revolving door for the Red Sox, Devers could be the answer at the hot corner. This is especially true when taking into account fellow Red Sox prospect and first baseman Sam Travis. In the meantime, the 20-year-old slugger will continue to dominate with the Eastern League’s best team.

The Red Sox Are Built for Sustainable Success

The Red Sox are edging closer to their first division title since 2013. At various times in recent memory, that seemed impossible. Too many collapses. Not enough nerve. But as the leaves change color and autumn truncates summer, things are falling into place just nicely this time. The offense is unstoppable, and the pitching has improved. Boston is galloping away with the American League East, and that may be the case for many years to come.

Red Sox

This current success is rooted in fairly recent failure. The Red Sox have made just one postseason appearance since 2009. They’ve finished in last place three times since then, including the past two seasons, while winning eighty games has proved difficult. Managers have changed. Front office members have been fired. New players have arrived on bloated contracts. Yet, through it all, hope still pervaded, for an exciting group of prospects received playing time in which to hone its craft. Now, we’re seeing the fruits of that labor at the Major League level, and it’s pretty magical.

How the Red Sox Built a New Core

In darker days, back when Pablo Sandoval flailed at off-speed junk or Bobby Valentine lost control, we heard so much about the new core developing below. Well, it’s finally here. And it’s finally attuned to big league ball. Mookie Betts has over 200 hits, 30 home runs, 100 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Xander Bogaerts has 20 bombs of his own and he led the league in batting average earlier this season. Jackie Bradley Jr. may finish with 30 homers and 100 RBI with a late surge, complimenting his all-world defense. These players have an average age of just 24. They’re great, and they’re going to be around for a very long time.

Around that nucleus, there are more layers of young Red Sox talent. Andrew Benintendi is just 21, but his grace, poise and ability belies that fact. Yoan Moncada needs further refinement, but his raw skills saw him promoted to Boston before turning 22. Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez has slowly returned to form, and he may be the Red Sox’ third playoff starter. Then we have Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez, one of whom will eventually become the starting catcher at Fenway Park.

Few Teams Can Compete With This Talent

Quite simply, no other team in the AL East can match that cadre of young, cost-controlled, Major League-ready talent. Toronto is a strong opponent, but many of their aging stars will soon hit free agency. The Yankees are transitioning to a youth movement, and their farm is loaded. But in developmental terms, New York is probably where Boston was in 2014. Many of those bright young players still have a lot to learn, and that can be a painful process. Meanwhile, Baltimore relies on a veteran core, and Tampa Bay is so far removed from contention as to be almost irrelevant.

The Red Sox will have tremendous flexibility moving forward, as these players should remain in Boston for many years. However, right now, veterans like David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Rick Porcello and Dustin Pedroia are providing valuable experience and leading the Red Sox back to contention. That blend of youth and know-how is crucial. It may just result in a deep championship run, if the magic dust doesn’t run out.

Whether the Red Sox win it all this year or not, fans can rest assured that other opportunities will arise in future years. At one point, just a few short years ago, that was a distant dream. Yet now, after building through the tough times, sustainable success is once again on tap in Beantown. It should be fun to watch.

The Incredible Potential of Yoan Moncada

The Red Sox are loaded with young talent throughout their organization, but the player who excites me the most is possibly Yoan Moncada, the Cuban infielder with enormous potential. A 21-year old phenom, Moncada has now been promoted to Double-A Portland, and that should really enthuse Red Sox Nation, which is in for a treat when the youngster finally arrives at Fenway Park.

Yoan Moncada

In sixty-one games with the Class-A+ Salem Red Sox this season, Moncada hit .307 with 4 home runs, 34 RBI and 25 doubles. His on-base percentage was .427, and he stole 36 bases in 44 attempts. That is a lethal combination that can really help a team win, and excite the fans simultaneously.

Moncada has also taken a big step forward since 2015. Last year, he hit .278 with 8 homers and 49 steals for the Class-A Greenville Drive. After proving himself at the lowest levels of minor league ball, the hulking specimen will now face his first real challenge, adjusting to what many people regard as the most talented tier below the Majors. While Triple-A is often home to diminished veterans, Double-A is typically loaded with elite prospects, which means more time is required there than at any other stage of the development process.

It’s important that the Red Sox give Yoan Moncada time to adjust at that level, where he’ll learn a lot about the game and American culture. The process of acclimating to the professional game can be a challenge for Cuban players. Boston has learned that with Rusney Castillo, who passed through waivers this week, just two unsatisfying years after agreeing a seven-year, $72.5 million contract. Yet with Dustin Pedroia marshaling second base at the big league level, Moncada has time to smooth off some of the rough edges in his game, particularly defensively, before arriving in Boston.

When Will Yoan Moncada Arrive?

He should be ready to join the big league club by the end of next season, perhaps as a September call-up, so there’s room to breathe here. A lot can still go wrong, as the poor performance of Cubans such as Yasiel Puig and Jorge Soler illustrates, but the potential upside is enormous. If he isn’t rushed, Yoan Moncada can be the cornerstone around which the Red Sox are built for the next decade.

Right now, MLB.com ranks him as the fifth-best prospect in baseball, and the third-best position player. The speed is electric, while the swing is fluid from both sides of the plate. He has a tremendous arm, and his overall defense should improve with more preps. Red Sox execs have spoken about potentially getting Moncada to play multiple positions to aid his versatility, but they want him to master second base before worrying about that.

The Red Sox made a huge commitment when they signed Yoan Moncada to a $31.5 million bonus, shattering the previous record. Ownership went the extra mile for Red Sox Nation, beating the Yankees, Dodgers and Padres to the signature of a player capable of transforming a franchise. That willingness to spend big to accrue elite prospects should be lauded, as the Sox try to win now and in the future. Therefore, I expect Moncada to be untouchable as Dave Dombrowski attempts to trade for pitching, except for the most elite of returns, namely Jose Fernandez.

The kid is on a path to superstardom, and it’s going to be fun to watch. All he needs is a little nurturing, before an elite player will emerge. I, for one, cannot wait to see him pull on a Red Sox uniform, as the pipeline of young talent continues to overflow.

Red Sox Fans Look Ahead to the Trade Deadline

With Memorial Day behind us, attention is slowly turning towards the trade deadline in Major League Baseball. For perhaps the first time since 2013, the Red Sox are in a strong position as the calendar flips to June, which means they should be buyers in the market, looking to add pieces for a championship run rather than selling them to assist a rebuild.

Trade deadline

Right now, Dave Dombrowski doesn’t need to worry about offense or defense. The Red Sox lead baseball in almost every offensive category, and the everyday lineup could produce some historic numbers before the season is over. Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Xander Bogaerts have taken another step forward. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz are turning back the clock with tremendous performances. And even unheralded guys like Travis Shaw and Christian Vazquez have taken their turn leading this team. All around the diamond, the Red Sox are really solid with the leather, which is also fun to see.

So, we come to the one area where Boston must improve: pitching. At this point, almost everybody on the planet must know that the Red Sox lack elite rotation depth. Boston starters have a 4.57 ERA, thanks mostly to Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly. That ranks 21st in baseball, and must improve if Boston is to compete for a World Series championship.

What Can the Red Sox Give Up at the Trade Deadline?

We’ve already heard enough about potential trade targets for the Red Sox, and those discussions will intensify in the coming weeks. By the time July arrives, you will likely be tired of hearing about Sonny Gray and Julio Teheran, so it’s time to take a different approach. Let’s look not at what the Red Sox can acquire at the trade deadline, but rather what they can actually give up. Who, exactly, are their most realistic trade chips?

By hiring Dombrowski, signing David Price and acquiring Craig Kimbrel, the Red Sox signaled a shift in philosophy, away from prospect conservation and toward a win-now mentality. However, we live in an age where sustainable contention is only achievable by delivering constant waves of young talent to the major league roster. Therefore, it’s still safe to assume that certain elite prospects are untouchable in trade deadline negotiations. Personally, I would include the following players in that group: Betts, Bogaerts, Yoan Moncada, and Andrew Benintendi.

Due to a very deep system, that still leaves plenty of chips with which Dombrowski can work. Down on the farm, guys like Rafael Devers, Anderson Espinoza, Brian Johnson and Michael Kopech may be expendable, although the latter three are promising pitchers in an organization starved of talent at that position. Elsewhere, fringe big leaguers like Henry Owens and Rusney Castillo may also be better utilized as trade deadline currency at this point.

Yet, at present, I think the Red Sox’ biggest trade chip is Blake Swihart. He possess a really strong bat with plenty of upside, but has struggled defensively behind the plate. Given the dearth of catching talent, many teams would overlook that deficiency in favor of his offense, but the Red Sox are in a position where their lineup is so dominant that carrying an elite defensive catcher like Christian Vazquez is preferable. That leaves Swihart without a position and, perhaps, without a future in Boston.

Ultimately, Dombrowski has many options as he attempts to tweak and improve his team. For that, he can thank Ben Cherington and – to a lesser extent – Theo Epstein, who did tremendous work stockpiling such a wide array of young talent. Now might be the time to flip some of these prospects for a true difference-maker in 2016 and beyond. With young stars blooming at the major league level, the future has finally arrived for the Red Sox. The trade deadline is an opportunity to grasp it and take full advantage.

Sea Dogs’ Jantzen Witte Making Transition from Third to First Look Easy

Jantzen Witte sea dogs

Jantzen Witte has been one of the Portland Sea Dogs best hitters to this point in the season, posting a .348/.392/.500 line with seven extra-base hits, 19 runs batted in, seven runs scored and six walks in 18 games.

He began his transition from third to first base in Spring Training last sJantzen Witteeason, and so far has made the job look easy, posting a .996 fielding percentage at first base over 960 career innings.

“Last year I kind of got moved over there the last day of Spring Training, and then played the majority of my games at first,” Witte told Yawkey Way Report. “I actually felt okay with it.

“As far as ground balls and things like that, I don’t think it’s a huge adjustment, but as far as my footwork around the bag and picks and things like that, it looks so easy, but there’s a lot of stuff going on. A lot of moving parts that I think a lot of people don’t realize. That’s something that I am still working on.”

Witte was selected by the Red Sox in the 24th round of the First-Year player draft in 2013 out of Texas Christian University. He was named to the 1st-Team Academic All Big-12 Team his senior year, when he hit .293 with 15 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 34 runs batted in.

The 25-year old talked about how his college baseball career has helped ease the transition into professional baseball, although there are some major differences.

“I think anybody that played college baseball, they have so many more reps than these guys [that come out of] high school,” he said. “The earlier levels of [professional baseball] we have so much more experience in close ball games, and so many AB’s [while] facing some pretty good arms.”

“I think the hardest thing to do is be consistent in pro ball, [because] you play so many games—[Double-A] is where the level is that everyone is at an even playing field.”

So far this season, the New England weather has had little effect on the Ft Worth, Texas native.

“In college we played in places like Air Force in Colorado in the snow. When we were in the Mountain West, BYU, you know we’re up in the snow, it’s icy, so it’s something I have played in before,” he said. “It might take an extra one or two sprints to get loose, but you know, you just got to play the game regardless of what the temperature is like.”

In 181 career minor league games, Witte is hitting .293/.361/.457 with 13 home runs, 54 doubles, eight triples and 122 runs batted in while splitting time between third and first base.