Red Sox

Could an MLB players strike come in the middle of the 2019 season?

Could an MLB players strike come in the middle of the 2019 season?

When Red Sox spring training opened earlier this week, staff ace Chris Sale was candid about his own future in Boston, but also baffled that former closer Craig Kimbrel was still on the free agency market.

"It’s crazy to me,” Sale told reporters on Wednesday. “I don’t want to get too far into it with the politics of baseball and all that stuff, but [Kimbrel’s] as good as it gets. He 100 percent makes any team better that he plays for, right? And it’s crazy to think that there really hasn’t been a whole lot of traction with him."

And Kimbrel is far from the only. It's mind-boggling to think that two of baseball's biggest superstars, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, are still on the market as camps break -- and they're just two of more than 100 still out there unsigned. That could have long-term consquences, as St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright told Inside STL's Tim McKernan:

A mid-season walk-out could be a coup de grace for a sport already struggling with issues of ratings declines, falling attendance and players' marketability.

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Red Sox outright Sandy Leon to Triple-A after catcher clears waivers

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USA TODAY Sports

Red Sox outright Sandy Leon to Triple-A after catcher clears waivers

Sandy Leon is remaining in the Boston Red Sox's organization -- just not at the major league level.

The Red Sox outrighted Leon off the major league roster to Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday, meaning the veteran catcher cleared waivers.

Other teams had the option to claim Leon after he reportedly was placed on waivers Sunday, but it appears no club opted to pursue him.

As The Boston Globe's Pete Abraham points out, Leon could have declined the Red Sox's minor-league assignment and tested free agency but would have forfeited his $2.475 million salary if he didn't sign elsewhere.

Boston will open the season with Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart as its major league catchers, but Leon gives the club a proven depth option in the minor leagues. The 30-year-old hit just .177 last season but is a solid defensive catcher who has a close rapport with the Red Sox's pitching staff.

The Sox now have an open spot on their 40-man roster with two days remaining ahead of their season opener in Seattle.

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2019 MLB Predictions: MVP

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NBC Sports illustration

2019 MLB Predictions: MVP

Mookie Betts took home the American League MVP in 2018, but can he repeat the feat? NBC Sports MLB analysts make their predictions as part of our MLB Preview content all week.

Make sure to tune in Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the MyTeams app for a special season preview streaming show featuring analysts from around the country, including our own Trenni Kusnierek live from Seattle.

Click here for the gallery.