Red Sox

Craig Kimbrel had zero free agent offers as of last month, Brock Holt says

Craig Kimbrel had zero free agent offers as of last month, Brock Holt says

As superstars like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper sign record-setting free agent contracts, Craig Kimbrel is still waiting for his payday.

The free-agent closer has been one of the biggest victims of a glacially-moving offseason, as teams seem unwilling to meet Kimbrel's lofty contract demands.

Just how dry is Kimbrel's market? Boston Red Sox utility man Brock Holt made a surprising admission Friday to the Boston Herald's Michael Silverman after catching up with his ex(?)-teammate earlier this offseason.

Holt said that when he got together with Kimbrel a month ago, he was stunned to learn that the free agent had yet to field an offer.

“ ‘I can’t even say yes to anyone because I don’t have an offer,’ ” is what Holt said Kimbrel told him back in Boston last month. And while Holt assumes Kimbrel has received an offer since then, he can’t be sure.

Part of the lack of action is on Kimbrel and his agent, who may need to drop their contract ask for teams to bite after initially demanding a six-year deal worth $100 million. It's also possible Kimbrel's agent has fielded calls from teams or had preliminary discussions without getting a formal offer.

But to Holt, Kimbrel's admission was disturbing nonetheless.

“The fact that we still have so many good players that haven’t signed is frustrating," Holt told Silverman. "If you’re a team, you want to put the best team on the field, and you’ve got guys like Craig Kimbrel out there who don’t have a job and you’re telling me you’re not going to be better with him on your team? So, it’s frustrating.”

Kimbrel turns 31 in late May, but he's still the top reliever on the market, a seven-time All-Star with a sparkling pedigree as one of the best closers ever.

So, who will sign him? The Minnesota Twins and Philadelphia Phillies reportedly have Kimbrel on their radar, while the Red Sox, despite insisting they've moved on, still can't be ruled out.

But the clock continues to tick on an elite free agent target with regular season baseball happening later this month.

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Kevin Pillar excited for 'amazing opportunity' with Red Sox

Kevin Pillar excited for 'amazing opportunity' with Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox made an under-the-radar move to add depth to their outfield earlier this week. They signed former Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants outfielder Kevin Pillar to a one-year deal to add a righty-hitting bat to their lineup.

Pillar has only been with the team for a short time. And his presence won't soon make the Red Sox fans forget about Mookie Betts. But he does seem motivated to find success in Boston.

"I think it's an amazing opportunity for me," Pillar said to reporters at the Red Sox spring training facility on Saturday. "I think anytime you get to put a Boston Red Sox uniform on, it's something to not take lightly. It's a historic organization, an organization that's always trying to win.

"I feel like I'm best suited for a team that's trying to win. My style of play is conducive for going out there and doing whatever it takes to try to get a win every day. And I'm excited for an opportunity to try and do that here."

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Pillar also seems comfortable with his teammates and is already building chemistry with the squad.

"Just in the day and a half I've been here, the guys have been very welcoming," Pillar said. "It seems like a close-knit group of guys and I'm excited to get this thing started.:

This certainly is encouraging for the Sox. Pillar is definitely bringing a good attitude to the job and being hungry to win should give him a chance to pan out as a successful signing.

Pillar will likely start the Red Sox season as the starting right fielder. Alex Verdugo -- the big piece acquired in the Betts trade and likely the future starter in right field -- may not be ready to start the season as he deals with a stress fracture in his back.

Pillar has mostly played center field during his career but stated that he's happy to move to right field to allow Jackie Bradley Jr. to continue to play his best position.

Last season, Pillar hit .259 and socked a career-high 21 homers while spending most of the season with the Giants. The Red Sox will hope that he can continue to supply power in the hitter-friendly confines of Fenway Park.

Stress fracture in back could delay the start of Alex Verdugo's season with Red Sox

Stress fracture in back could delay the start of Alex Verdugo's season with Red Sox

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox outfielder Alex Verdugo is recovering from a stress fracture in his back and probably won't be ready for Opening Day, though the Red Sox said Saturday they do not anticipate long-term issues.

Verdugo traces the injury to his first exposure to Tampa Bay's turf last May. An oblique strain exacerbated the issue, and he shut things down in August. He made one rehab appearance in September before feeling acute pain on his first swing, and he hasn't played since.

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"I was dealing with a little bit of stiffness, something I could get treatment on and work through it and then feel good," Verdugo said. "Then we played in Tampa Bay and obviously playing on the turf out there, I think it kind of just blew out my back a little bit as my first time really being on turf with metal spikes. And just after that, I felt a lot more discomfort."

Tests revealed an L-5 fracture, according to Verdugo. Manager Ron Roenicke said the Red Sox were aware of the injury before acquiring Verdugo from the Dodgers as the centerpiece of the Mookie Betts trade.

"It's healing nice and the images that he's taken through the offseason, it continues to heal," Roenicke said. "It's not healed completely, but it's in a progression where they're really liking how it's coming along. It's an injury that takes time. It takes a lot of time for this to heal. It's an injury that is fairly common in baseball because of the rotation – it's a rotation issue. So our trainers are familiar with it and we'll take him as the steps come, not only what the images show but his response to things."

Roenicke added that the Red Sox won't rush anything.

"To be honest with you, if everything goes right, he still may not be ready for Opening Day," Roenicke said.

That's OK with Verdugo, who's considering the big picture.

"We have something that we can draw out and kind of know the exact timeframe of it, whether it's to be ready for the start of the season or slightly after," Verdugo said. "We're not really sure. We're not trying to rush that. We don't want to give fans or give people false hope or just even a deadline that we miss again. So we're going to take our time and make sure that we're right. So that way, when I am playing, when I'm able to be in Boston, that it's the whole year and it's continuous."