The Red Sox, amid the Alex Cora madness, have made a trade, albeit a very minor one. After designating Sam Travis for assignment following their signing of Kevin Plawecki and then having the first baseman clear waivers, he is now heading to the Rangers organization. In exchange, the Red Sox get left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Springs. To make room on the 40-man roster, Bobby Poyner has been designated for assignment.
The #RedSox today acquired LHP Jeffrey Springs from the Texas Rangers in exchange for 1B/OF Sam Travis.— Red Sox (@RedSox) January 15, 2020
To make room for Springs on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated LHP Bobby Poyner for assignment.
Springs, who is 27 and will turn 28 at the very end of the upcoming regular season, was a 30th round pick by the Rangers back in 2015 and he’s moved fairly quickly up the system since then, making his major-league debut in 2018 and tossing a total of 64 1⁄3 innings in the bigs over the last two seasons. He has spent the majority of his professional career as a reliever, spending 2016 and 2017 doing some swingman work in the minors. He also made two starts in the majors in 2018, though those were serving as an opener. He has all three minor-league options remaining.
Over the entirety of his major-league work, Springs has pitched to a 4.90 ERA with a 4.65 FIP and a 6.97 DRA. He has been an extreme fly ball pitcher in the majors (29 percent ground ball rate, per Baseball Prospectus), though the numbers weren’t as extreme in the minors. His stuff is good, striking out just shy of a batter per inning with a swinging strike rate that suggests he could improve upon that. On the other hand, he his control has been rough with a career walk rate over five per nine. He walked 6.4 batters per nine innings in 2019. Springs has actually shown reverse splits in the majors, though that seems to be small sample size noise given that he was better against lefties in the minors.
He also missed a big chunk of last season with a biceps injury that kept him out from mid-June until late-August. He leans most heavily on a sinker (curious for someone with his low ground ball rates), which sits around 91-92 mph, throwing it about 60 percent of the time. The pitch has been extremely ineffective in the majors and one wonders if the Red Sox may try to get him to throw a four-seam instead. Springs also offers a changeup and a slider.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox lose Travis from their minor-league depth. It’s not a crushing blow as Travis has never been able to make the leap up to the majors and show a consistent bat, but it’s a loss of depth all the same. They do have Michael Chavis and Bobby Dalbec as right-handed corner bats, as well as Nick Longhi and Tommy Joseph in Triple-A.
As for Bobby Poyner, he showed some potential in 2017 that led to him getting a spot on the 40-man roster for 2018, but he has regressed since then. Last season he saw his walk rate balloon to go along with a rough home run rate, and it was a combination that just didn’t work. He could slip through waivers and remain with the organization as left-handed depth in Triple-A.