Weekend News and Notes: Bogaerts, Molina, and More

Another one of the top free agents for next offseason went off of the board today, as the Red Sox extended their star shortstop Xander Bogaerts on a seven-year deal worth $132 million.

The contract includes his $12 million salary agreed upon for the 2019 season through arbitration, meaning it is actually a six-year deal worth $120 million. The deal also includes a $20 million vesting option for the 2026 season that will vest if he reaches 535 plate appearances in the 2025 season. There is also an opt-out clause following the 2022 season. His average annual salary will be $20 million.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the deal for the Sox. As I expressed a few months ago, I believed that the best way for the Red Sox to avoid an inevitable rebuild was to begin restocking the system now. Unfortunately, not only did they add hundreds of millions of dollars in future payroll, but they essentially forfeited two compensation picks (as they also extended Chris Sale). While this move seems likely to help them out for the 2019 and probably 2020 season, it could become something of a handicap a few seasons down the line. It also could impact their ability to retain their best player, Mookie Betts.

Otherwise, today was a rather slow day. To update a few stories from the previous few days, Hunter Strickland will be out for “at least a couple of months” which is exceptionally unfortunate, as the rest of the Mariners’ bullpen isn’t necessarily exciting in any way, shape or form. I would imagine that Anthony Swarzak will get the vast majority of the save opportunities in his absence. Furthermore, knowing Jerry Dipoto, he could very well make a trade to fill the spot.

Furthermore, Pat Valaika will indeed be recalled to take Daniel Murphy‘s spot on the roster. He will serve in a bench capacity while Ryan McMahon seems likely to be the everyday first baseman. Also coming out of Colorado is the announcement that righty Rayan Gonzalez has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Double-A Hartford. Gonzalez is a relief prospect who has really struggled badly over the past few seasons, both in terms of performance and health. Over 17.1 innings of Double-A ball last season, he posted a 5.19 ERA and a 5.93 FIP. He allowed 2.08 HR/9, and while walking 4.15 batters per nine innings.

Garrett Cooper landed on the disabled list with a left calf strain after going 0-7 in three games last season. Peter O’Brien will return to the Marlins’ after being beaten out by Cooper in camp. The former top prospect seems likely to join the Marlins’ starting line-up as the primary right fielder. It isn’t known just how long Cooper will be sidelined.

The Indians brought in another major league veteran on a minor league contract, as they re-signed utility player Ryan Flaherty.  The seven-year major league veteran hit rather well in camp, slashing .243/.333/.459 with two home runs and a 5:7 walk to strikeout ratio. The 32-year-old has logged innings all throughout the infield, the outfield corners and on the mound throughout his career while boasting above average production at second. While he was assigned to Triple-A out of the gate, he could see major league time in short order, as the Indians are currently without both Jason Kipnis and Francisco Lindor, and relying on a combination of Brad Miller, Max Moroff and Eric Stamets. Flaherty gives them a solid back-up plan in case any of them struggle.

The Orioles made an excellent signing, bringing in former Mets’ top prospect, Marcos Molina on a minor league deal. I rated Molina 20th in my top minor league free agent rankings. The 24-year-old righty struggled in 2018, posting a 6.94 ERA over 81.2 innings pitched. He was suspended through the end of the 2018 season, but it essentially just prevented him from signing after his release from the Mets. I think Molina has a legitimate future in the major league, whether it be in the rotation or bullpen. He has decent control, and has done well managing fly balls. It’s an interesting pick-up with some high upside.

Finally, the Angels sent right-handed pitcher Jesus Castillo outright to Double-A after he cleared waivers. Honestly, I’m genuinely shocked that he cleared waivers, seeing as how he’s a 23-year-old starter with two minor league options. He throws a low 90’s fastball while offering a solid curveball and a change. His control is excellent, he hides the ball very well and has excellent movement on his stuff. I consider him a strong candidate to be a major league starter by the end of 2020.

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