Enrique Hernández Agrees to One-Year Contract Extension with Boston Red Sox

Enrique Hernández will be seeing red (s0x) for another year…

The Boston Red Sox have signed the 31-year-old Puerto Rican professional baseball utility player to a one-year contract extension, keeping the outfielder in the city where he starred in the 2021 postseason.

Enrique HernándezThe Red Sox did not disclose financial terms of the deal that runs through 2023, but sources told ESPN that the extension is worth $10 million.

A hip-flexor injury sidelined Hernández for more than two months this season and contributed to his struggles on the field after his career year in 2021. Hernández is batting .219 with a .637 OPS and has only six home runs in more than 300 plate appearances in the final season of a two-year, $14 million contract.

Hernández was due to hit free agency this winter and was coming off a season in which he hit .250/.337/.449, played elite defense in center field and compiled 4.9 Baseball-Reference wins above replacement (and 4.1 from FanGraphs).

“We like good players,” Boston manager Alex Cora said before Tuesday night’s game at Tampa Bay. “What he brings to the organization, defensively, in the clubhouse, and offensively he’s a lot better than what he’s shown this year. He’s a great example for those kids in there. It’s important to retain this type of player.”

In the Red Sox’s run to the cusp of the World Series last year, Hernández was the team’s best player. In the American League Division Series against the Rays, he batted .450 and slugged .900 with two home runs. He nearly equaled those numbers in the AL Championship Series, hitting .385/.407/.846 with three solo homers.

“To me, winning is the most important thing,” Hernández said Tuesday. “I want to win in Boston. Last year was a little taste of it, and it was a surreal experience. Just the passion of the fan base. I want to be able to experience winning the World Series in Boston.”

Hernández said in his talks with Chaim Bloom that the Boston team president promised him that the Red Sox “were going to be way better next year.”

Originally projected to be a super-utility player, Hernández emerged as a defensive stalwart in center field for Boston, though that hasn’t stopped the Red Sox from also using him at shortstop and second base this season. The right-handed-hitting Hernandez also played first and third base and both corner-outfield spots in Los Angeles, where he spent six seasons with the Dodgers.

Hernández, who was drafted in the sixth round by Houston in 2009 out of his native Puerto Rico, was set to be one of a slew of free agents for the Red Sox, who are expected to have one of the busiest offseasons in baseball. Currently in last place in the AL East at 67-69, Boston faces a winter in which star shortstop Xander Bogaerts is expected to opt out of his contract and starters Nathan EovaldiMichael Wacha and Rich Hill, plus reliever Matt Strahm, will be free agents.

The Red Sox will have less than $60 million committed to their 2023 payroll if Bogaerts opts out. They also could look to extend 25-year-old MLB All-Star third baseman Rafael Devers, who is set to hit free agency following the 2023 season.

Tampa Bay Rays Rookie Wander Franco Makes “Electric” MLB Debut

It appears the sky’s the limit for Wander Franco

In his Major League Baseball debut, the 20-year-old Dominican professional baseball player started at third base, doubled, homered, drove in three runs and showed a flair for the dramatic with a curtain call in the Tampa Bay Rays‘ 9-5, 11-inning loss to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.

Wander Franco

Franco, who walked in his first MLB plate appearance in the first inning, tied the game at 5 in the fifth with a 362-foot homer that drove in Kevin Kiermaier and Yandy Diaz.

 

He showed confidence — and some swagger — on the base paths and electrified the crowd at Tropicana Field.

 

Called up from Triple-A earlier in the day, Franco raised his right arm as he neared the plate and lifted both arms while crossing the plate to a roaring crowd when he connected in the fifth off Eduardo Rodriguez and drew his first curtain call in the majors.

 

“In that at-bat I actually knew I was going to hit a home run because that was the pitch I was looking for,” Franco said through an interpreter. “I ended up getting the pitch that I was looking for and I was able to help the team out.”

Franco pointed toward his father, who was at the game, while crossing the plate. His father, meanwhile, reacted with pure joy when the home run was hit.

Franco got the ball back and plans to display it at his home in the Dominican Republic.

“I felt super good,” he said through an interpreter. ”God sent me a surprise with all this.”

Franco even drew a nice ovation when he went on the field to run pregame, and got a partial standing ovation when the Rays’ lineup was announced over the public address system.

“Pretty electric player,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “Win or loss, we’re trying to win them all obviously, but it had to be a great day for Wander and his family. A talented player that’s going to be fun to watch in the coming months.”

Red Sox manager Alex Cora agreed.

“What a good player he is,” he said. “The way he controls the at-bat for how young he is. They have a special one.”

Franco hit .315 with seven homers and 35 RBIs in 39 games this season at Triple-A Durham.

Eduardo Rodríguez Named Opening Day Starting Pitcher for Boston Red Sox

Eduardo Rodríguez is getting a second chance to make a first pitch…

A year after a battle with COVID-19 denied him a chance to be the Boston Red Sox‘s Opening Day starter, the 27-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher is getting a do-over.

Eduardo Rodríguez

Manager Alex Cora made the announcement this week following Boston’s 9-1 spring training win over the Minnesota Twins.

Rodríguez threw an efficient 55 pitches, striking out six and giving up two hits and one earned run over five innings.

“Indeed, it’s going to be Eduardo. He’s one of the best out there,” Cora said of the left-hander. “He had a great season in ’19. Last year, he wasn’t able to pitch for obvious reasons. What he’s shown now, he’s healthy and he’s ready to go. … It was just a matter of time.”

Boston opens its schedule April 1 against the Baltimore Orioles.

Rodríguez went 13-5 for the Boston team that won a franchise-record 108 games and the World Series in 2018. He went into the next year at the bottom of the rotation behind Chris SaleDavid PriceRick Porcello and Nathan Eovaldi.

But Rodríguez had the best season of the group, going 19-6 with a 3.81 ERA to finish sixth in American League Cy Young voting. He made his major-league-leading 34th start on the final day of the season with a chance at 20 wins but did not figure in the decision. Still, he finished with career bests in wins, ERA, starts, innings (203⅓) and strikeouts (213).

With Sale recovering from Tommy John surgery, Rodríguez was in line to start on Opening Day in 2020 before testing positive for the coronavirus and being diagnosed with inflammation in his heart muscles. He said he couldn’t even complete a 25-pitch workout without feeling tired; on Aug. 1, just one week into the season, he was shut down for the year.

After putting the extended rest and recovery time to good use, he said he’s ready to take advantage of a chance he has yet to have during his five major league seasons.

Speaking prior to Cora naming him the starter, Rodríguez told reporters he would be honored to get the ball in the opener.

“If given the opportunity, I’m going to be so happy to do it because that’s something that everybody wants to do one time in their career,” he said. “If I have the opportunity this year, I’m going to really appreciate it. I’m going to love it.”

Boston Red Sox Rehire Alex Cora as the Team’s Manager

Alex Cora is back in Boston…

The Boston Red Sox have rehired the team’s 45-year-old Puerto Rican former manager,.

Alex Cora

Cora led the Red Sox to the 2018 World Series title but mutually agreed to part with the club amid the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal. He was suspended for one season by Major League Baseball for his role in the scandal.

Boston, which ended the 60-game shortened season with a 24-36 record, decided not to retain manager Ron Roenicke, who replaced Cora in January after serving on his coaching staff.

The Red Sox were not allowed to speak to Cora until after the World Series, which ended October 27. The lack of activity before then was a sign that they were focused on Cora.

Cora agreed to a two-year contract that has a two-year team option for 2023 and ’24, the team said.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to manage once again and return to the game I have loved my entire life,” Cora said in a statement released by the team. “This past year, I have had time to reflect and evaluate many things, and I recognize how fortunate I am to lead this team once again. Not being a part of the game of baseball, and the pain of bringing negative attention to my family and this organization was extremely difficult. I am sorry for the harm my past actions have caused and will work hard to make this organization and its fans proud. …

“Boston is where I have always wanted to be and I could not be more excited to help the Red Sox achieve our ultimate goal of winning in October.”

The team he returns to bears little resemblance to the one he last managed.

Chaim Bloom is running the baseball side now, taking over last offseason just in time to part ways with Cora. He welcomed Cora back in a team statement Friday.

“Alex Cora is an outstanding manager, and the right person to lead our club into 2021 and beyond,” Bloom said. “The way he leads, inspires, and connects with everyone around him is almost unmatched, and he has incredible baseball acumen and feel for the game. …

“Because of all that had happened, I knew that I wanted to speak with Alex once his suspension ended, but I didn’t yet know if it made sense to consider him for the job as well. Our conversations were lengthy, intense, and emotional. Alex knows that what he did was wrong, and he regrets it. … He loves the Red Sox and the game of baseball, and because of that we believe he will make good on this second chance.”

Bloom’s other big move last offseason was to trade 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers along with David Price as part of an effort to get the Red Sox under the threshold for baseball’s competitive balance tax.

With Betts and Price gone, Chris Sale out with Tommy John surgery and Eduardo Rodriguez recovering from a COVID-19-related heart problem, the Red Sox finished in last place in the AL East.

But Cora also has hope for improvement in the 2021 season.

Sale is expected to return in the first half. J.D. Martinez, an MLB All-Star his first two years in Boston before struggling in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, is also under contract for at least one more year.

And the Red Sox have plenty of salary flexibility gained in the deal that sent Betts and Price to Los Angeles.

Cora replaced John Farrell as Boston’s manager after the team twice finished last under Farrell, despite winning the 2013 World Series with him. With Cora at the helm in 2018, the Red Sox raced to a 108-54 regular-season record and an easy win in the AL East. They led the majors with a .268 team batting average and 876 runs scored.

Boston then dominated the postseason with an 11-3 mark, posting wins over the Yankees and Astros in the AL division and championship series, respectively, before defeating the Dodgers in the World Series.

The Red Sox couldn’t sustain 2018’s success in Cora’s second season, finishing 84-78 and third in the division, 19 games behind the Yankees.

Cora, who worked as an ESPN analyst before leaving for the Astros, played 14 MLB seasons, including parts of four seasons with the Red Sox, winning the 2007 World Series with Boston. He also played for the Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, New York Mets and Texas Rangers before finishing his career with the Washington Nationals in 2011.

Alex Cora Agrees to New Deal with Boston Red Sox

Alex Cora is getting a much-deserved pay raise…

The 43-year-old Puerto Rican Major League Baseball manager, the Boston Red Sox‘s first-year manager, has agreed to a new deal with the team that includes a one-year extension through the 2021 season and, most likely, a significant raise. Terms have not been announced.

Alex Cora

Cora was one of the lowest-paid skippers in the MLB last season on his way to winning a franchise-record 108 games and the World Series.

“We have consistently been impressed by Alex at every turn,” said Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. “His knowledge of the game, ability to connect with our players, and his incredible instincts and decisiveness led us to an historic championship season. We know we are in good hands, and could not be more pleased to know he will be with us for the foreseeable future.”

“Alex did a tremendous job for our club all year long and we wanted to reward him for his efforts after an amazing season,” president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. “We are extremely happy that he will be with us and leading our club on the field.”

Last season, Cora made $800,000, tied with the Braves’ Brian Snitker and the Mariners’ Scott Servais for the lowest salary among managers to start the season.

Snitker won Manager of the Year in the National League, and Cora finished second in voting for the American League award.

“Since day one, John and Linda Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon, Sam Kennedy, and Dave Dombrowski have been incredibly supportive of me and my family, and for that I am extremely grateful,” Cora said. “For me, 2018 was not only historic, but it was special as well, both on and off the field. We have a great appreciation for our accomplishments this past year, but now our focus moves forward to the season ahead and defending our World Series title.”

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy and Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia, who retired following the season, all made $6 million last season.

Cora became only the second Puerto Rican-born manager in major league history, joining Edwin Rodriguez, who managed the Florida Marlins for parts of the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Cora was the fifth major league manager to win a World Series in his first season, joining Bob Brenly (2001, Arizona Diamondbacks), Ralph Houk (1961, New York Yankees), Eddie Dyer (1946, St. Louis Cardinals) and Bucky Harris (1924, Washington Senators).