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MLB rumors: Red Sox sign former top prospect; Edwin Encarnacion intends to play in 2021

This coming Friday is the deadline for teams to set their 40-man roster for next month’s Rule 5 Draft. The deadline usually brings a few minor trades as clubs get their rosters in order. It has been a slow start to the hot stove season otherwise. Here are the latest rumors and rumblings.

Encarnacion intends to play in 2021

Veteran slugger Edwin Encarnacion intends to play next season, reports MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The soon-to-be 38-year-old really struggled in 2020, hitting .157/.250/.377 with 10 home runs in 44 games with the White Sox. Encarnacion started just one of the team’s three postseason games and was removed for a pinch-hitter after two at-bats in the game he did start.

The universal DH is not yet official but it should be at some point before spring training, which would go a long way to helping Encarnacion find a job for next season. Despite his track record as one of the game’s premier sluggers — Encarnacion has hit the second most home runs (345) since 2010, trailing only Nelson Cruz (362) — Encarnacion’s age and 2020 performance make him a candidate to settle for a minor-league contract this winter rather than a guaranteed deal.

Pirates getting calls about Brault

The Pirates are getting trade inquiries about left-hander Steven Brault, according to MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Brault was one of the few bright spots for Pittsburgh in 2020, throwing 42 2/3 innings with a 3.38 ERA and 38 strikeouts. His 49.1 percent ground-ball rate was comfortably above the MLB average as well. Brault is under team control through 2023 as an arbitration-eligible player.

As good as he was this past season, Brault does come with a few red flags. His 12.4 percent walk rate was among the highest in baseball and in line with his career average (11.4 percent), and his spin rates are unimpressive. There’s a decent chance the 28-year-old’s trade value will never be higher than it is right now. With a thin free-agent pitching market, the Pirates would be smart to shop Brault around this winter.

Arihara likely to be posted

The Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan are likely to post ace righty Kohei Arihara at some point prior to Thanksgiving, reports MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Once posted, MLB teams will have 30 days to negotiate and complete a contract with Arihara, and they will owe the Fighters a posting fee based on the contract size. Here is the posting free structure:

  • $25 million contract or less: 20% of contract value
  • $25 million to $50 million contract: $5 million plus 17.5% of amount over $25 million
  • $50 million contract or more: $9.375 million plus 15% of amount over $50 million

Arihara, 28, threw 132 2/3 innings with a 3.46 ERA and 106 strikeouts during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Last year he had a 2.46 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 164 1/3 innings, and was a finalist for the Sawamura Award, the Cy Young equivalent in Japan. Arihara throws four pitches (fastball, cutter, slider, splitter) and is “regarded as possessing an MLB-caliber repertoire,” according to Morosi.

Trevor Bauer is clearly the No. 1 starter on the free-agent market, with Charlie Morton and Masahiro Tanaka representing the second tier now that Marcus Stroman has accepted the qualifying offer. Arihara is a younger alternative to Morton and Tanaka, albeit one that is unproven in MLB. The Mariners gave Yusei Kikuchi a four-year deal worth $56 million two years ago, which could serve as a contract benchmark for Arihara.

The Nationals have signed lefty Sam Clay to a one-year major league contract, the team announced. Clay, 27, has never pitched in the big leagues. He threw 69 1/3 innings, almost all in relief, between Double-A and Triple-A with the Twins in 2019, posting a 3.25 ERA with 72 strikeouts. Clay spent 2020 at Minnesota’s alternate site and will compete for a bullpen spot with Washington in spring training.

The Red Sox have signed former Padres outfield prospect Michael Gettys to a minor-league contract, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Gettys, 25, is a former second-round pick, though strikeouts have held him back at the minor-league level. He authored a .256/.305/.517 batting line with 31 home runs in 128 Triple-A games in 2019 and spent 2020 at San Diego’s alternate site. Gettys has huge raw power and Boston will try to help him make more contact so he can tap into that power at the MLB level.

Chernoff emerging as favorite for Mets job

Cleveland GM Mike Chernoff has emerged as the favorite to become the Mets president of baseball operations. Cleveland has not yet given Chernoff permission to interview with the Mets, though that is expected to happen soon. Teams typically do not block executives from interviewing for promotions. Chernoff grew up just outside New York City and declined to interview with the Mets for their GM job two years ago, though obviously new owner Steve Cohen makes the franchise much more desirable now.




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