Red Sox

Red Sox get down to 25-player limit by sending Elias to Pawtucket

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Red Sox get down to 25-player limit by sending Elias to Pawtucket

BRADENTON, Fla. -- And then, finally, there were 25.

On their next-to-last day in Florida, the Red Sox got down to their Opening Day roster limit when they optioned left-handed starter Roenis Elias to Pawtucket.

The move validates that Steven Wright won the competition for the fifth starter in the rotation, and that Matt Barnes and Noe Ramirez have earned spots in the bullpen.

Elias, who seemed to be simulataneously competing for the No. 5 starter and a spot in the bullpen, will serve as a starter in Pawtucket, providing some depth for the rotation in case of injury or performance issues.

"This was competition in the rotation, which Steven has secured,'' offered John Farrell. "Looking at Roenis as a possible reliever, it's the things we've talked about it already: Who we're going to go up against. It's predominantly right-handed hitting lineups in the first three series (Cleveland, Toronto, Baltimore). A number of factors went into this.''

Elias had difficulty in his bullpen audition, getting shelled on one day's rest and discouraging the Red Sox from having him open the season as a reliever.

Meanwhile, both Barnes and Ramirez are stretched out sufficiently should the Red Sox need multiple innings from them early in the season. Lefty Robbie Ross Jr. could also fill that middle- or long-relief role.

Farrell is still undecided on whether Joe Kelly or Rick Porcello will line up as the No. 3 starter, but he was able to sketch out most of the pitching matchups for the first week.

David Price will pitch the first game in Cleveland on April 4. After an off-day, Clay Buchholz will pitch the second game on April 6. Either Kelly or Porcello will work the final game of the series, and the other will open the weekend series in Toronto the following night, April 8.

Price will come back on normal rest for the middle game, Saturday April 9, with Wright getting the road-trip finale on Sunday, April 10.

That leaves Buchholz as the starter for the home opener against Baltimore on April 11.

Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows could end up being Tampa Bay's Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek, thanks to killer trade

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USA Today Sports

Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows could end up being Tampa Bay's Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek, thanks to killer trade

Want to know how the Tampa Bay Rays are in first place? What might be baseball's best trade since Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocumb is a good place to start.

If you're consumed by the playoff runs of the Bruins and Celtics and a little turned off by baseball after watching the defending champs step on a rake and lose some teeth, it's possible you don't know much about Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows.

That's about to change. They're what Tampa received from the Pirates for former ace Chris Archer last July 31, and they've been difference-makers through the first three weeks of the season.

Glasnow, a 6-foot-8 right-hander with a 100 mph fastball and hammer curve that's reminiscent of Kerry Wood, is 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA while averaging a strikeout an inning. Meadows, meanwhile, is hitting .349 with six homers and 17 RBIs between left, right, and DH.

They're driving Tampa's blazing 14-4 start, which has produced an 8.5-game lead on the Red Sox as the teams begin a three-game set on Friday at Tropicana Field.

Anyone who saw this coming is a liar. Teams made 37 trades in the final week of last July, and this one didn't register as seismic. The Red Sox, for instance, acquired Nathan Eovaldi from the Rays for Jalen Beeks (now a solid lefty out of Tampa's pen, by the way), notable relievers like Joakim Soria, Ryan Pressly, and Zack Britton joined contenders, and the Nationals debated trading Bryce Harper right until the clock struck 4 p.m.

The Archer trade was considered a win for the Pirates, who were three games out of the NL wild card and also acquired Rangers closer Keone Kela in an opportunistic bid to leapfrog the Braves, Rockies, and Dodgers. The cost of two underachieving prospects didn't feel steep.

"The return for Archer right now is disappointingly light," wrote ESPN's Keith Law, "with two of the three players already named -- both former top prospects who have failed to pan out to date."

"I am a big fan of Austin Meadows," wrote Tommy Rancel of ESPN and The Athletic. "He can just hit. Not sold on Glasnow as a second piece unless the third piece is better than I'm expecting."

Even noted Rays fan Dick Vitale weighed in with uncharacteristic gloom.

"Is this the best we can get for a top of the rotation starter like @ChrisArcher22 with a friendly contract?" Dickie V. tweeted in declaring the deal decidedly not awesome.

To be fair, others praised the Rays for acquiring a pair of former ace prospects who had fallen on hard times. MLB.com had ranked Glasnow the game's No. 9 prospect entering 2017, while Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had both placed Meadows at No. 6.

But each had disappointed since, with Meadows exhibiting high contact rates but negligible power for a corner outfielder, and the 6-foot-8 Glasnow struggling to throw strikes with inconsistent mechanics.

Archer ended up going 3-3 with a 4.30 ERA, numbers in line with what he did in Tampa, but not nearly enough to lift the Pirates into the playoffs. They went 26-27 down the stretch.

Meadows and Glasnow didn't do much in their introduction to Tampa, either, with the former hitting .250 in 10 games and the latter going 1-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 11 starts. The scrappy Rays, with their crazy opener strategy and high-octane bullpen, very quietly won 90 games, setting the stage for their emergence in 2019.

The left-handed hitting Meadows bats leadoff and announced his presence by homering off of Houston's Justin Verlander to open the season.

"He's got the ability to do everything well,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash told the Tampa Bay Times. "He can run. He can run on the bases. He covers ground in the outfield. He's worked so hard on his defense to continue to gain ground. And then hit. Whether it's a quality at-bat, or hit for power, we've seen both. He's got a chance to be a pretty special player with this opportunity that he's earned to get going here in the lineup, and be a big part of our group."

Glasnow has benefited from working with Rays pitching coach Kyle Snyder, one of Terry Francona's favorites during their days in Boston, where Snyder won a World Series ring in 2007 as a reliever.

Snyder is also 6-8 and knows the challenges of repeating a delivery at that size. Glasnow has dominated hitters with his fastball-curveball-slider arsenal. The Red Sox will get a look at him opposite David Price in Sunday's finale.

"I was kind of in limbo — even within myself — in Pittsburgh," Glasnow told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I didn't know if I was going to be a reliever or a starter. But the Rays were just like, 'You're going to be a starter. We know what you can do. We've seen you pitch.' It made me kind of believe in myself. The Pirates gave me every opportunity to succeed. They gave me probably more than I even deserved, I guess, because 2017 wasn't a good year at all. It was just hard getting everything to click."

That hasn't been the case in 2019, not even remotely. More than 20 years after the Red Sox fleeced the Mariners to land a pair of stalwarts for a washed-up reliever, the Rays have potentially struck similar gold, and now they're everybody else's problem.

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Michael Chavis, top Red Sox hitting prospect, called up to big leagues

Michael Chavis, top Red Sox hitting prospect, called up to big leagues

 

Help is on the way for the struggling Red Sox offense, and it's in the form of their best hitting prospect.

Infielder Michael Chavis, who has had quite the tumultuous career since being selected in the first round of the 2014 draft, was summoned from Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, along with infielder Tzu-Wei Lin and will join the team in Tampa for a three-game series with the Rays.

They'll be taking the places of infielder Eduardo Nunez, who was placed on the 10-day injured list with a sore back, and right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, who was designated for assignment after one bad relief outing.

The big name is Chavis, a 23-year-old right-handed slugger who's hitting .250 with four homers and a .954 OPS at Triple-A Pawtucket. Drafted as a shortstop/third baseman, Chavis has played five games at second base this year, his pro debut at the position, and could be a possibility there with Dustin Pedroia, Brock Holt, and now Nunez each on the IL.

In a radio interview on Thursday with WEEI, Red Sox manager Alex Cora suggested that Chavis wasn't ready for second base in the big leagues.

"There are a few plays he needs to get better at," Cora told Ordway, Merloni, and Fauria. "We're comfortable with him making the routine plays. But there are other plays that come into play. He's a work in progress. He's getting close to what we want. You never know. Injuries come into play."

Chavis's debut comes after a whirlwind minor league career that saw him drafted 26th overall in 2014 before hitting just .223 in his full-season debut a year later. He looked like a potential bust in 2016, batting .237 between two levels of Single-A, before exploding in 2017 with 31 homers between High-A Salem and Double-A Portland.

He thwarted that positive momentum at the start of 2018, however, by testing positive for a banned substance and earning an 80-game suspension. He returned last year to mash nine homers in 46 games with a .919 OPS, earning the No. 2 spot on Baseball America's list of top 10 Red Sox prospects.

TOMASE: Dustin Pedroia looks like he's finished>>>

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