|Former Red Sox reliever Anthony Varvaro sworn in as police officer||12.10.16 at 4:15 pm ET|
Today he is a police officer.
The 32-year-old, who last pitched professionally as a member of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox in 2016, graduated from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police academy Friday. The New York native was one of 79 graduating in the ceremony.
Varvaro joined the Red Sox prior to the 2015 season, coming over from the Braves for minor league pitcher Aaron Kurcz.
The righty, who pitched in a combined 123 games with Atlanta from 2013-14, only saw action in nine games for the Red Sox before being designated for assignment. It was discovered that Varvaro was pitching with a torn flexor tendon in his pitching arm, resulting in season-ending surgery.
Varvaro re-signed with the Red Sox prior to last season, totaling a 2.83 ERA in 18 relief appearances for the PawSox. But on June 19 he announced he was retiring from professional baseball to pursue a career in law enforcement.
|Source: Rafael Devers was player Red Sox wouldn’t give up in Chris Sale deal||12.10.16 at 3:20 pm ET|
According a major league source, the player the White Sox were asking for in addition to Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech was third base prospect Rafael Devers. It wasn’t until Devers was taken out of the equation by the White Sox that a deal for Sale was completed, with Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz ultimately going to Chicago in the deal.
It wasn’t the first time the White Sox had asked for Devers, with the 20-year-old’s name first surfaced in a potential Sale deal just before the non-waiver trade deadline. A source confirms that major league talent was also asked for by Chicago during July negotiations, which wasn’t the case this offseason.
With Moncada gone, Devers becomes an even more vital part of the Red Sox’ future, with little depth behind current third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
After a slow start with Single-A Salem last season, Devers finished strong. The lefty hitter managed a .326 batting average with seven home runs and .906 OPS after the All-Star break, finishing hitting .282 with a .779 and 11 homers in 128 games.
The Red Sox also have another power-hitting third baseman in their system with Bobby Dalbec, who was a fourth-round pick out of the University of Arizona in last year’s draft. The righty-hitting Dalbec tore up the New York-Penn League during his pro debut, hitting .386 with a 1.101 OPS and seven homers in 34 games with short-season Lowell.
|Red Sox notebook: Dave Dombrowski addresses Chris Sale scissor incident; Teams calling on starting pitchers||12.07.16 at 6:56 pm ET|
OXON HILL, Md. — The dust has settled. Dave Dombrowski and Chris Sale have both explained their experiences during the pitcher’s trade to the Red Sox. And now the question can be asked: What did the Red Sox think of the scissors incident?
The issue in question was Sale cutting up the White Sox’s throwback uniforms last season in protest of having to wear the garb during one of his starts.
So, did it concern Dombrowski at all when acquiring his new ace?
“Well, I mean, I think you do your checking when you read that and see what you feel causes some things,” Dombrowski said during his meeting with the local media at the MLB Winter Meetings Wednesday night. “But after I’ve checked things out, not really, no.”
The conversation led to how the Red Sox viewed Sale’s personality and make-up, which of course was secondary to the talent offered by the 27-year-old lefty.
“There’s always an on-field and an away from the game,” Dombrowski said. “On the field, he’s as competitive as can be. He’s got an edge to him, a good edge. His teammates love him. I mean, I’ve seen him pitch so many times in my career being in the same division. I know we never liked facing him. And off the field, actually, I’ve heard a lot of pleasant things about him. He’s expecting his second child. He told me the due date is December 20. Doesn’t know that his wife will make it until then. But he lives 20 minutes or 25 minutes away from the ballpark in Fort Myers. He lives in the Naples area.
“I’ve heard tremendous things about him as an individual. And actually, it’s amazing because again, it’s a small world, he grew up in the Lakeland area. I remember meeting his father at a ballgame at times just by coincidence in the past. Not that that tells you about the individual himself. So, I’ve had a lot of connections throughout the time period. A couple of our guys know him very well in the organization and say really good things about him.”
|Source: Red Sox made strong run at Royals closer Wade Davis||12.07.16 at 3:59 pm ET|
According to a major league source, the Sox showed strong interest in acquiring Royals closer Wade Davis before he was dealt to the Cubs Wednesday in exchange for outfielder Jorge Soler. (For more on that deal, click here.)
What derailed a deal was Kansas City’s preference of Soler over Red Sox infielder Travis Shaw, who was ultimately traded to Milwaukee with minor leaguers Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington for relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg.
Davis would have certainly added a unique dynamic to the back-end of the Red Sox’ bullpen, having totaled a 1.18 ERA over the last three seasons as one of the best game-enders in baseball. Davis has also been dominant during the Royals’ World Series runs, allowing just one earned run over 25 postseason innings.
The 31-year-old Davis saved 27 games for the Royals last season, and is owed $10 million in 2017, the final season of his current contract.
|White Sox manager Rick Renteria talks plans for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech||12.07.16 at 2:56 pm ET|
The White Sox manager took a few moments at the MLB Winter Meetings Wednesday to discuss his organization’s two prize acquisitions, both of whom were included in the deal sending Chris Sale to the Red Sox.
“I’ve seen a little video of the guys,” Renteria said. “Moncada, the first clip I saw of him, he reminded me a little bit from his set up and everything of [Robinson] Cano, and now he’s a switch-hitter and shows some discipline at the plate. I know that at 21 years of age, he still has a long way to go in terms of what he’s ultimately going to be. I think he’s a very talented human being who we hope is going to be an impact-type player.
“Kopech is a young man who is about 6-foot-3, very good arm. Obviously we have people within the organization that believe that we can harness that strength and that skill set and have him become a pitcher, command the zone, things of that nature.
“But, again, our job is going to be to have these guys become as quickly — to become as comfortable as quickly as possible with the way that we are going to go about preparing to play the game, and hopefully they enjoy it.”
Renteria wouldn’t commit to which position Moncada might play, although early indications are that the White Sox plan on keeping the prospect at the position he has spent most of his time, second base.
Perhaps the most immediate correction the White Sox would like to see in Moncada’s game is cutting down on the swings a misses, which led him to finish off his big league regular season with strikeouts in nine straight plate appearances.
“I think that’s just experience,” he said. “I think it’s him — for example. I’ll give you an example. They were coming down, finishing him off underneath the hands down and in. He’s a 21-year-old man who has not seen that type of bite coming from pitchers, and it’s probably changing the lane in which he’s looking for that particular type of slider where he’s got to get it out and away.
“He also has shown discipline. He walks. It’s one of those things where I think time will tell us, but I think there’s a look to him and there’s an action to him that I believe will generate change of that particular outcome in the future.”
|Chris Sale talks day of trade, calls from Red Sox teammates, playing in Boston market||12.07.16 at 10:24 am ET|
OXON HILL, Md. — Chris Sale found out about his trade to the Red Sox while driving up Interstate-75 to his alma mater, Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Fla. David Price was the first to reach out the Red Sox newly-acquired ace pitcher. And he is looking forward to the competition between starters in the Red Sox rotation, which currently boasts seven members.
These were some of the items touched on during Sale’s introductory conference call Wednesday morning. Here is a transcript:
THOUGHTS ON THE TRADE
Hey guys. I want to say hey to everybody first. No doubt. It’s kind of like being the monkey in the middle. You’re just glad when you finally get the ball. It’s hectic. There’s a lot of speculation, there’s story after story, I’m obviously getting flooded with text messages from family and friends. Just to have the whole process out of the way and get back to some kind of normalcy will be nice.
(THOUGHTS ON COMING TO BOSTON)
I’m excited. You’re talking about one of the greatest baseball franchises ever. I’ve always been a big fan of the Boston Red Sox for a few reasons. It’s also going to be nice to spend more time down in Southwest Florida as well for spring training. That was big for us as well. My wife is a couple weeks away from delivering our second son. We’re having another baby. That helps us out tremendously.
HAPPY IT WAS THE RED SOX?
I’m as excited as anybody, honestly. I don’t know how you couldn’t be. You’re in the annual running for making the playoffs and have a realistic chance for winning the World Series. I think the group of guys, I’ve always heard great things about the guys on this team, the front office. You have dedicated ownership and front office guys dedicated to winning annually. So it’s exciting. I’ve always, always loved going to Boston, pitching in Boston. It’s a trip my wife comes on every year as well. We both really like the city and the stadium. Obviously, it’s a very special place.
TALENT ON RED SOX ROSTER
That’s kind of the cherry on top. You look at the talent on this team as a whole – not only just the pitching staff but as a whole – you’ve got some young guys, you obviously have a veteran leader and one of the best in the game in [Dustin] Pedroia leading the charge, you can’t ask for much more. You have guys in the bullpen who can lock it down. On paper, it looks good. I know we’ve still got to go out there and do it, but there’s no reason not to be excited right now.
HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW DAVID PRICE, RICK PORCELLO?
More so with Price, just seeing each other during the summer. He was actually the first one to reach out to me, welcoming me and saying, hey, let’s go, welcome to the Sox and let’s get it rolling. It’s an honor. You look at these guys, Porcello, he lives down here in Southwest Florida as well so that’s nice. Not only the guys that they are, but heck, David Price won the Cy Young a few years ago, obviously Price this year. Being in that company is nice.
THOUGHTS ON BEING IN THIS ROTATION
Yeah, I think that’s the main thing, the good thing in all of this. I can definitely see a competition between all of us. Not only us three, but everybody. [Drew] Pomeranz, [Eduardo] Rodriguez, pushing each other, trying to be better and just making each other better. It would be nice, regardless of who’s pitching on what night. the next night, we have as good if not a better chance all the way down the line. It’s nice, but not only that, but it takes some pressure off of everybody. Just go out there and pitch because you don’t have feel like you have a huge weight on your shoulders to win this game for sure, 100 percent. It alleviates the pressure that might build on some guys.
|Can Tyler Thornburg break uneasy trend for Red Sox trading for late-inning relievers? Dave Dombrowski thinks so||12.06.16 at 12:31 pm ET|
Joel Hanrahan (elbow). Mark Melancon (performane). Andrew Bailey (elbow). Carson Smith (elbow). All seemed like good ideas at the time, and all found their careers taking a turn for the worse once immersed in Boston.
Next up: Tyler Thornburg.
The pitcher that the Red Sox scouted while with the Brewers is right in line with what Dave Dombrowski was looking for. He has the stuff and experience to pitch in the eighth and ninth innings, while possessing a contract that doesn’t allow for free agency until after the 2019 season.
But, with the aforementioned history of relievers for the Red Sox, there is always a wary eye to be cast. In this case, the trepidation is born from Thornburg’s right elbow injury that made him miss six months in 2014 and was treated with Platelet Rich Plasma injections.
“We feel good about it,” said Dombrowski of Thornburg’s health. “We looked at the medicals, reviewed them very thoroughly. It’s one of those situations where it looks like the PRP worked and like how it’s supposed to be. Last year, he didn’t miss any time. Pitched back to back days and held his velocity all year long so we feel good about it.”
Thornburg’s over-the-top delivery might lead some to continue their concern, but it also has paved the way for devastating movement on a fastball that lives between 94-97 mph. And with the results garnered after a permanent move to the bullpen in 2016, it wasn’t a tough sell for the Red Sox.
“He is somebody that we like a great deal,” Dombrowski told the local media at the MLB Winter Meetings, Tuesday morning. “We scouted him very thoroughly last year. He has nasty stuff. Did a good job for Milwaukee in closing games at the end of the year. We feel he’s a guy that projects to be a quality eighth-inning individual for us that can also close a game if needed. He gets lefties out as well as righties. He was what we were looking to try to find. We feel we gave up some good young players but it’s also a situation where I think stabilizing the bullpen for us in that eighth inning role has really been a necessity, something we really put our focus on. Now at the back end, you have guys like [Craig] Kimbrel and you have Thornburg and then you’re in a position where guys like [Joe] Kelly and [Matt] Barnes and [Heath] Hembree, in addition to anyone from the left-hand side.”
Dombrowski explained that the Red Sox’ interest in Thornburg dated back to before he became the Brewers’ closer for the final month of the season, with talks not really gaining traction until recently.
“This took place as far back in the summertime when they didn’t want to trade him,” Dombrowski said. “So right after the season going into the (GM) meetings when we start placing some phone calls. They were not interested in trading Thornburg. Then at the end of the GM meetings [Brewers general manager] David Sterns asked me, ‘Well one guy we have interest in as kind of being a key guy is Travis Shaw.’ Then when they signed [Eric] Thames they kind of backed off a little bit at that time. Then kind of rekindled once we got the deal. I think it was me that called them last week after the deal was made, the CBA deal was done, to touch base. We’ve been on the phone numerous times over the last five days starting back when I was in Boston to arriving here and then yesterday we had numerous conversations and trying to get the thing done.”
As for one of the relievers the Red Sox were counting on to reverse the trend of previous reliever transactions, Carson Smith, Dombrowski is optimistic the righty will be ready to contribute just about a year out from his Tommy John surgery.
“Some people and he are shooting to be ready for Opening Day. That’s what he would hope and he would like,” Dombrowski said. “And his progress has been good to date. But in my own mind, I really have tried to say more of June 1, which is about a year. And not even to put a specific date on that but I really don’t want to put any rush to have him pitch the eighth inning for Opening Day, for example. Having depth out there can only be beneficial. We saw what it did for us last year. All of a sudden we have Kimbrel and Thornburg and Kelly and Barnes and Hembree from the right-hand side. Carson Smith comes back, that’s a great situation to have.”
|Dave Dombrowski: Red Sox not changing approach toward prioritizing finding short-term deal for bat||12.06.16 at 12:04 pm ET|
The acquisition of reliever Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers (in exchange for Travis Shaw and minor leaguers Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington), the Red Sox will be on the hook for whatever it costs to sign the first-year arbitration-eligible reliever. It presumably leaves the team wit about $6-7 million before bumping up against what they planned on maxing it’s payroll at heading into the season.
The Red Sox could now presumably make a deal involving starter Clay Buchholz, who is owned $13.5 million this season, and make a run at a high-end bat to help fill their DH/first base hole. But, speaking to the local media at the MLB Winter Meetings, Dombrowski said he is staying the course.
“It clearly now defines what our payroll spending will be for our setup guy. It puts us in a position where we have that type of knowledge of where we want to know,” Dombrowski said. “But I’m also not in a position to change our mindset that we want to go big dollars for a first baseman-slash-DH. It does give us the knowledge of where we need to go. Now we can kind of focus on other things.”
Dombrowski went on to say the Red Sox are indeed looking for a player who preferably hits from the left side and plays first base. Both free agents Mitch Moreland and Pedro Alvarez fit that description and have been linked to the Sox.
“I don’t know that we really have that person on board,” he said. “Brock Holt has played over there. We’ve talked about playing Pablo over there at some point. I can’t tell you 100 percent this would be the guy. It’s something we need to explore.”
|Source: Red Sox acquiring reliever Tyler Thornburg from Milwaukee||12.06.16 at 9:37 am ET|
OXON HILL, Md. — The Red Sox have seemingly taken care of their top offseason priority.
According to a major league source, the Red Sox have acquired hard-throwing relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers. Multiple outlets report that the Red Sox will be sending the Brewers infielder Travis Shaw, minor-leaguer infielder Mauricio Dubon and minor-league reliever Josh Pennington.
The 28-year-old Thornburg totaled a 2.15 ERA in 67 appearances for the Brewers in 2016, saving 13 games. He struck out 90 batters in just 67 innings, walking 25.
Thornburg, a third-round selection by Milwaukee in the 2010 draft, throws his fastball between 94-97 mph. He has had issues with his right elbow, having been shut down for a six-month period during the 2014 season, but found success (and health) once the Brewers committed to him as a reliever last season. (For more on Thornburg’s health, click here.)
Thornburg won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season. He is entering his first offseason of arbitration-eligibility.
(The Boston Herald was first to report a trade between the teams was happening, and the inclusion of Dubon. The Boston Globe was first to report the inclusion of Travis Shaw. Baseball America was first to report the inclusion of Pennington. FoxSports.com was first to report that Thornburg would be headed to the Red Sox.)
|Red Sox notes: Dave Dombrowski prioritizing finding 8th-inning reliever, will wait out designated hitter market||12.05.16 at 8:00 pm ET|
And that bit of news was just part of the eyebrow-raising that Dave Dombrowski’s meeting with the media elicited Monday evening.
“There were not,” said the Red Sox president of baseball operations when asked if he was engaged with the pair of designated hitter candidates, at the MLB Winter Meetings. “We were aware of everything taking place, but we weren’t engaged in a situation to do that, because I really, [assistant general manager] Brian O’Halloran’s handled a lot of the phone calls. He’s kept me abreast of what’s going on. But we really had made the point that before we got into where we were going to allocate our dollars. We wanted to do that for a setup guy and see where that takes us and then make a decision from there.”
But what about that replacement for David Ortiz?
As turns out, Dombrowski and Co. are all in on finding that lock-down eighth-inning guy, an not in any huge rush to bring in another bat.
The plan right now is to put the majority of the Red Sox’ efforts into finding that late-inning relief pitcher. As Red Sox manager John Farrell explained, “I think our main goal is to identify a guy so it’s not so much a matchup situation. Turn it over to one guy in the eighth inning, regardless if he’s facing left-handed or right-handed hitters.”
So, what it means is that the Red Sox will be waiting to see what kind of bat falls into their price range after allocating resources for the reliever. It could even get to the point where no hitter of significance is brought in to fill a role most everybody thought would be a chief priority for the team heading into the offseason.
“I can’t say for sure, but, yeah, perhaps that would happen,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t think so. We’d bring somebody in, I think, but I can’t tell we’re 100 percent sure we’re going to do it because it’s going to be dependent upon who we can find and the dollars they’re looking for at the particular time.”
— Dombrowski spoke to the issue regarding the new luxury tax threshold, and the Red Sox’ perceived desire to not go over for a third straight season.
The new limit stands at $195 million, which the Red Sox stand about $15 million shy of. But with a desire to have some flexibility for in-season acquisitions, that actual budget for offseason moves might be in the vicinity of $8 million.
The first time the Red Sox went over they were taxed 17.5 percent (ending up being just under $2 million), with last year’s penalty coming in at 30 percent. Going over this year would mean they would be taxed on 50 percent of the number they exceed the threshold by. If they do not go over, the penalties reset.
“No, no. No. I don’t want to use the word ‘mandated,’ because that’s wrong” said the president when asked if ownership has instructed him not to go over the limit. “But I have an awareness of the penalties. I mean, I got the memorandum of understanding and the summary on Saturday night. Here they are if anybody has five minutes that you want to spend reading. It’s 133 pages of memorandum of understanding that is very difficult. I have read through it. I have skimmed through it, though, I don’t know that with a fine-tooth comb. I did make notes on it that I thought were very important so I understand going into the meetings where we stand. Obviously the basic agreement still has to be ratified. That doesn’t take place until December 15. But I think there’s an awareness that I wanted to have, and I think when you look at it. But I can’t tell you that last year that we went into the winter meetings I would’ve preferred to be below the CBT, too, but we just went above it because we thought that was the best way to win a championship at the time.”
— Dombrowski said the Red Sox aren’t locked into acquiring just a lefty hitter, or even a player who solely plays the infield.
That conversation led to one of the continued focal point for the Red Sox’ offseason: Getting production out of Pablo Sandoval.
“I think we’ll always strive to have a balance,” Farrell said. “I think the one thing that we ran into this past year was the three right-handers at the top of the order. We also produced the most runs in baseball. I think if you look at the way we stacked the lineup when we got into the postseason, it was a little bit of a mix moving Bogey to the six hole and sliding David up to the three hole. I think for us, one of the things, as I look at the lineup for next year, one of the keys for us is going to be Panda. That’s not to put it all on him, but here’s a left-handed bat who is a proven guy and has every opportunity to make a major impact on our team this year.”
— Dombrowski revealed the list of Red Sox players on the preliminary rosters for the World Baseball Classic.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Hanley Ramirez.
USA: Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., David Price, Rick Porcello (who has already said he will not participate)
NETHERLANDS: Xander Bogaerts
VENEZUELA: Eduardo Rodriguez, Sandy Leon
ITALY: Andrew Benintendi
— While Dombrowski wouldn’t comment on the Red Sox’ level of interest in Japanese star Shohei Otani, a 22-year-old who excels at both pitching and hitting and is scheduled to be eligible to play in the major leagues after the 2017 season, the president did offer an interesting comparison.
“I can’t speak specifically for him because I haven’t seen him play enough myself,” he said. “We have reports on him. Do I think a player can be a two-way player? Yeah. It could happen. Is it very difficult? Yes, but i’m not saying there’s not a player out there that can’t do that because some of them are rare, rare guy – Babe Ruth could do it. He was pretty good. It can be done.”
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