Last week the Red Sox made a bit of a surprising move when they designated Chris Mazza for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for the addition of Martín Pérez. Mazza was by no means great in 2020, but he was a solid bit of rotation depth who figured to play an up-and-down role in 2021. Well, that move makes a little more sense now as they were able to flip the righty, along with Jeffrey Springs, who was DFA’d on Tuesday, to a division rival for a pair of minor leaguers. According to Alex Speier, Boston has sent the two pitchers to the Rays in exchange for two prospects, including catcher Ronaldo Hernández.
Red Sox and Rays are close to swinging a trade that would send Jeffrey Springs and Chris Mazza to Tampa Bay for C Ronaldo Hernandez and another prospect.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) February 17, 2021
Adam Berry, the Rays beat reported for MLB.com, reports Nick Sogard will be the second piece coming to Boston in the deal.
Source confirms this Rays-Red Sox trade is in the works. Other prospect going to Boston will be Nick Sogard, the Rays’ 12th-round pick in 2019. https://t.co/QxBn33OIom— Adam Berry (@adamdberry) February 17, 2021
As for Springs and Mazza, it’s not terribly surprising that neither is staying in the organization at it seemed both would be at least somewhat likely to be claimed on waivers. Pitching depth will be at a premium this season, and after Joel Payamps got picked up it was clear that any semi-useful pitcher with options would be able to find a home. So to that extent, it’s much better to work out a trade in which you get something back rather than losing players on waivers.
It’s obviously an interesting wrinkle that this deal not only comes against a division rival, but also Chaim Bloom’s former employer. The Rays are in the midst of their window right now, so it makes sense that they would prefer the veteran pitchers to the prospects, particularly given how much pitching they’ve lost this winter as well as how deep their farm system currently is.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, add a bit more depth to a farm system that needs plenty of it. Hernández is entering his age-23 season and played in High-A in 2019. The catcher hit .265/.299/.397 for a 104 wRC+ at the level. Baseball America ranked him as the number 13 prospect in Tampa’s system this year and indicates that while he makes a lot of contact he struggles with selectivity and thus swings at pitches that are difficult to drive. Defensively, he has a strong arm but needs to work on his receiving.
Hernández was added to Tampa’s 40-man last winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, so the Red Sox will have to make a move to clear space for him. I’d expect him to begin the year in Double-A with potential to get up to Worcester by the end of the year if all goes well.
As for Sogard, he is an infielder who was selected in the 12th round back in 2019. He spent that season in short-season ball, hitting .290/.405/.313 while splitting time between shortstop and third base. He’ll be 23 for most of the upcoming season and will likely serve as infield depth on either Salem’s and Greenville’s roster.
All in all, it’s hard to complain about this deal. There was a case for keeping Mazza and Springs, but at the same time those roster spots were needed. That Boston was able to turn expendable players into more depth on the farm, including at a position of need with Hernández, is a positive.
Update (10:20 AM ET)
The trade is official. Kevin Plawecki was placed on the COVID list, which opens up a spot on the 40-man for an indefinite amount of time. Of course, more important than the roster spot is hoping that Plawecki recovers quickly and fully.
Catcher Kevin Plawecki today was placed on the COVID-19 Related Injured List.— Red Sox (@RedSox) February 17, 2021