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Red Sox Notes: Mazza claimed; Longhi among eight minor-league signings

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Plus, a minor-league suspension

Miami Marlins v New York Mets Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The Red Sox had a few minor pieces of news on Friday. Rather than unnecessarily kill any virtual trees I figured we’d just get it all done in one post. So, yeah. Let’s do it.

Red Sox claim Chris Mazza off waivers from the Mets

The biggest piece of news was the latest addition to the 40-man roster, with right-handed pitcher Chris Mazza being claimed off waivers from the Mets. The 30-year-old has bounced around the majors his entire career. He was drafted by the Twins way back in 2011, and after being released by them in 2015 he has been with the Marlins, Mariners and Mets before getting to Boston. He made is his major-league debut last season, appearing in nine games and covering 16 13 innings. In that time he pitched to a 5.51 ERA, a 3.47 FIP and a 7.73 DRA. The FIP is good because he didn’t allow a home run, but the sample surely is not large enough to buy too much into that.

Through his career in the minors he has mostly pitched as a starter, generally posting low strikeout rates with solid walk numbers and a lot of ground balls. Mazza is a sinker/cutter/slider pitcher, and at least to this point he doesn’t really strike me as a guy whose stuff would play up all that much in shorter stints. Perhaps the Red Sox see something they can tweak to make him a viable major leaguer. More likely is that he is just another low-ceiling rotation depth option, of which every team needs plenty, and there’s a decent chance the Red Sox will try to sneak him through waivers at some point before Opening Day to keep him in the organization but off the 40-man. With Mazza currently on board, the 40-man roster is now full.

Red Sox sign eight to minor-league deals with spring training invites

It’s spring training invite season. With many of the big free agents off the board now, some of the smaller ones are deciding whether or not they’ll get major league deals and those who won’t are deciding which rosters give them the best chance to shine. The Red Sox signed eight free agents to minor-league deals with spring training invites on Friday.

  • Nick Longhi was a decently well-regarded prospect in the Red Sox system not too long ago. He was a high-bonus 30th round pick in 2013 who was traded to the Reds in 2017 for international pool money. He’s coming off a solid year at Triple-A, hitting .283/.336/.463. The righty can play first base as well as some corner outfield.
  • Jett Bandy has played parts of four seasons as a backup catcher, posting a career OPS+ of 73. He spent this past season in Texas’ minor-league system, playing in 71 games at Triple-A and slashing .231/.303/.430. He’s graded slightly worse than average defensively the last few years. He’ll likely play a similar role to that of Juan Centeno last season.
  • Mike Kickham is a former sixth round pick from the Giants who made their major-league roster in 2013 and 2014. He has not pitched at the highest level since then. He’s spent each of the last three seasons in Miami’s system, pitching to a 4.27 ERA over 86 13 innings last year with 84 strikeouts and 36 walks.
  • John Andreoli is a Worcester native who went to St. John’s in Shrewsbury before attending UConn. The former Cubs draft pick got some major-league time with the Mariners and Orioles in 2018, finishing that 67-plate appearance stint with a 53 OPS+. Last year he split the year between the Mariners and Twins organizations, all in Triple-A, and hit .255/.389/.449. He has played all three outfield positions.
  • R.J. Alvarez is a former third round pick who, like Kickham, made the majors in 2014 and 2015 but has not done so since. The right-handed reliever was most recently with Miami, pitching to a 4.70 ERA over 53 23 innings with good strikeout numbers but major struggles with the long ball. Of course, it was the PCL with the juiced ball, so use caution with those numbers.
  • Jantzen Witte has seemingly been in the upper levels of the Red Sox system for years, and after becoming a minor-league free agent this winter he’ll be back for 2020. Between Pawtucket and Portland this past year he hit .271/.333/.390 while playing first, second, third, left field, DH and even getting an appearance on the mound.
  • Domingo Tapia was signed to a similar deal last season but did not really do well enough in Triple-A to get called to the majors. He’ll give it another go in 2020 after pitching to a 5.18 ERA in Pawtucket last season over 66 innings.
  • Robinson Leyer is a player I have never heard of, which is strange because I read minor-league box scores literally every day and he spent some of the year in Boston’s system. Overall, he pitched 56 23 innings with two organizations (he was also with the Mariners) and across three levels, pitching to a 5.24 ERA with 71 strikeouts and 37 walks.

Elih Marrero suspended 50 games

Minor-league catcher Elih Marrero was one of four minor leaguers in baseball to be suspended on Friday for failing a drug test. Marrero will miss 50 games after testing positive for Amphetamine. Marrero, a catcher, was an eighth round pick by the Red Sox in the 2018 draft. After hitting decently with a .785 OPS in his first professional season (spent mostly in the GCL) he split last season between Lowell and Salem, struggling with a .205/.267/.311 line. Marrero was projected by Sox Prospects to start the season as the backup in Greenville.