With Steven Wright agreeing, Red Sox have nine left for arbitration
As the clocked ticked toward Friday’s afternoon deadline for major league players and teams to file salary arbitration figures, the Red Sox came to agreement with another player Thursday.
The Sox avoided arbitration with pitcher Steven Wright, agreeing on a $1.375 million salary for 2019.
The knuckleballer appeared in 20 games last season, going 3-1 with 2.68 ERA. He had a WHIP of 1.248, striking out 7.0 and walking 4.4 per nine innings.
Wright, 34, was on the roster for the AL Division Series but was removed because of inflammation in his knee. Last year was his sixth with the Red Sox.
His signing left the Red Sox with nine players who are arbitration-eligible and had not reached agreements as of Thursday: Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Rodriguez, Brock Holt, Sandy Leon, Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, and Blake Swihart.
The Red Sox earlier reached agreements with a pair of righthanded relievers, Tyler Thornburg ($1.75 million) and Heath Hembree ($1.3125 million).
The hours prior to the deadline usually feature a wave of agreements.
However, for any players who do not come to terms, there will be an arbitration hearing to determine whether they receive the salary suggested by them or the team for 2019.
The outcome is based on whether the player deserves a salary above or below the midpoint of the two proposed salaries. So, if Player X filed for $20 million, and a team filed for $10 million, and the arbitration process found the player to be worthy of a $15.1 million salary, the player would receive $20 million.
The Red Sox, after not going to any arbitration hearings from 2002-16, have gone in each of the last two years. They won their case against lefthander Fernando Abad before the 2017 season, and Betts won his case and a salary of $10.5 million (against a club filing of $7.5 million) last year.
Former Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks, 30, is retiring after 10 professional seasons, including parts of six in the majors.
Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury to his left leg during spring training with the Phillies in 2018 and missed the entire season. He debuted with the Sox in 2012 and had an .835 OPS over 72 games. He then hit 17 home runs for the 2013 team and started 90 games at third base.
Middlebrooks was traded to the Padres before the 2015 season and later played for the Brewers and Rangers.
Middlebrooks married former NESN reporter Jenny Dell in 2016. They have a three-month-old daughter.
10 are invited
Spring training will feature a powerful crowd at the hot corner.
The Red Sox announced the addition of 10 nonroster invitees, a group headlined by third baseman Bobby Dalbec, ranked by Baseball America as the team’s top prospect. Dalbec hit .257/.361/.588 with 32 homers (tied for fourth-most in the minors) and 70 extra-base hits (second-most in the minors) for High A Salem and Double A Portland in 2018.
The 2016 fourth-round selection will join 40-man-roster members Rafael Devers and second-ranked prospect Michael Chavis as third basemen in big league camp, giving the team three players age 23 or younger with significant power potential.
Dalbec and Chavis likely will also see time across the diamond at first base during spring training. They’ll be joined there by another prospect with a nonroster invitation, Josh Ockimey, who hit .245/.356/.455 with 20 homers in 117 games for Portland and Triple A Pawtucket last year.
Two other top-10 prospects — righthander Mike Shawaryn and shortstop C.J. Chatham — are among the invitees, as is outfielder Rusney Castillo, who appears destined for a sixth straight season in Pawtucket, and outfielder Bryce Brentz, who signed a minor league deal to return to the organization with which he spent his first eight pro seasons before landing in the Mets organization in 2018.
Shawaryn, a 2016 fifth-rounder out of the University of Maryland, was 9-10 with a 3.44 ERA, and 8.0 strikeouts and 2.3 walks per nine innings for Portland and Pawtucket last year. Though he performed well out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League, he’s expected to get stretched out as a starter to open this year. Nonetheless, Shawaryn enters the season as a big league depth consideration for either the rotation or bullpen.
Chatham, a 2016 second-rounder, split 2018 between Single A Greenville and Salem after missing nearly all of 2017 with injuries. He hit .314/.350/.389, showing the ability to make steady contact while playing strong defense at shortstop — a combination that suggests at least a future righthanded utility infield bat, with a chance to emerge as an everyday up-the-middle infielder, particularly if he makes strength gains that unlock greater power.
Behind Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox have few righthanded-hitting shortstop options in the system, helping to explain why the 24-year-old will get a look in camp despite never having competed in the upper levels of the minors.
The invitees also include catcher Austin Rei, outfielders Tate Matheny and Cole Sturgeon, and utility infielder Chad De La Guerra.
Joe Oliver will manage Portland after three years in Salem; hitting coach Lee May Jr. and pitching coach Paul Abbott will remain in Portland.
Corey Wemberly will move up to manage Salem after spending last season with Lowell. Iggy Suarez will return to Single A Greenville, and former Red Sox minor leaguer Luke Montz will manage Lowell.
Ryan Jackson, who served as Reds hitting coordinator from 2012-16, will be the Red Sox’ new field coordinator; infield coordinator Andy Fox will also serve as assistant field coordinator. Darren Fenster, who spent last year as the Portland manager, will serve as outfield and baserunning coordinator, a position held by McMillon in recent years.
The Red Sox are reconfiguring their pitching oversight. The role of pitching coordinator, long held by Ralph Treuel, will be split into pitching coordinator for logisitics (Treuel) and pitching coordinator for performance Dave Bush, with Bush working with upper-level pitchers on data-driven approaches to pitch development, usage, and strategy. Bush will be assisted in the lower minors by former Red Sox minor leaguer Shawn Haviland.
The Sox also hired Paddy Steinfort — the director of performance and leadership development with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers — as a minor league mental skills coach.