AL East rivals make Rule 5 Deadline moves
Wednesday was the deadline for teams to protect minor leaguers from December’s Rule 5 Draft, and the Red Sox protected five players. Everyone other team made decisions as well, of course, but more interesting for national purposes is who was taken off of rosters. While the Red Sox had plenty of room this year and didn’t have to clear space, that’s not a luxury most teams can afford. This is generally a day where some interesting players lose their roster spots, and Boston’s two biggest division rivals made some of the most prominent moves.
We’ll start with the Yankees, because why not. New York made some headlines on Wednesday by both releasing Jacoby Ellsbury and designating Greg Bird for assignment. Ellsbury, of course, signed with the Yankees after starting his career with the Red Sox — where he was robbed of an MVP in 2011 and played a critical role in the 2013 World Series season — and has seen his career decimated by injuries since. He hasn’t played in a game since 2017. Bird, meanwhile, came up in 2015 with some real promise, but similarly has been hurt by injury. New York is loaded with outfielders and has Luke Voit at first base.
Meanwhile, down in Tampa Bay, the Rays sent former top prospect José De León to the Reds in a deal to get the pitcher off their 40-man roster. They also designated former Giants up-and-comer Matt Duffy. De León was acquired from the Dodgers in 2017 as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he hasn’t really recovered since then. He’s thrown just 23 2⁄3 innings in his career to this point and 2020 will be his age-27 season. Duffy, meanwhile, was solid for Tampa Bay in 2018 but suffered through injury and general poor performance in 2019.
Sox Spin: Ellsbury obviously has some connection with the Red Sox with his ties here, and Boston does need outfield depth. There’s no real chance at a reunion — I’m not even sure Ellsbury plays anywhere again at this point — but as a bonafide Ellsbury stan I will not argue against it. As for Bird, he theoretically fits as a left-handed complement to Michael Chavis, Bobby Dalbec and/or Sam Travis at first base. I wouldn’t want to claim him and burn a 40-man spot because I am not convinced he can stay healthy or that he’s all that good. On a minor-league deal, though, I’d take the chance. As for the Rays guys, Duffy was good enough recently enough that people will ask about him, but he doesn’t fit for the Red Sox. While he’s played some middle infield in his career he’s primarily a third baseman now and Boston just doesn’t need help there right now.
Chris Martin signs in Atlanta
I could make some Coldplay puns here, but I don’t want to be that mean and also don’t know enough about Coldplay to do so effectively. So, I’ll just tell you Chris Martin, a right-handed reliever, has signed a two-year deal with the Braves. Martin will make $14 million over the life of the deal. The offseason has, unsurprisingly, been slow-moving thus far but this does make two bullpen additions for the Braves this winter. Well, sort of. They did add Will Smith, who was the best on the board. Martin is only sort of an addition since he finished last season with Atlanta after being acquired in a deadline deal. The righty tossed 55 2⁄3 innings between Texas and Atlanta in 2019, pitching to a 3.40 ERA, a 3.25 FIP and a 3.11 DRA. The Braves seem to really be going for it by actually making offseason additions to their bullpen, which is something they received criticism for not doing last winter.
Sox Spin: The Red Sox will presumably also be looking for relief help this winter, and Martin seemed like a really good candidate to target given their self-imposed payroll restrictions. Obviously that is no longer an option, but it does set a baseline for the market value this winter for a reliever on this good-not-great tier.
Orlando wants a baseball team
More specifically, Pat Williams, the founder of the Orlando Magic, wants to bring baseball to central Florida. This is obviously far away from being anything of note at this point as he is just starting a push to make this happen. That said, baseball is overdue for some sort of expansion, and failing that there are two teams in the Rays and Athletics who could be moving. The Rays in particular would make sense given how close they already are. In fact, they tweeted a statement on Wednesday that didn’t really help clear things up. Again, there’s really not much here and this was mostly just an excuse for me to post that statement, but it’s something to monitor.
Sox Spin: Anything to stop playing games at the Trop, am I right?