With Smoltz looming, will Red Sox cash in Penny?

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John Smoltz’s final minor-league rehab start was rained out last night,
so instead he’ll take the mound at Triple-A today and also push back
his Red Sox debut slightly. Here’s what manager Terry Francona had to
say about his impending arrival:

After he pitches, we’ll sit down with Smoltzy and just make sure
we’re all on the same page. When I say on the same page, he’s been
tremendous. We are on the same page. But, again, when you activate
somebody, there has to be another move. He understands that. Our next
move is to wait for him to get done pitching, sit down with him, see
how he comes through his start, and then we’ll go from there.

In other words, the Red Sox’s rotation is already filled with five
veteran starters and one of them–or perhaps more accurately Brad
Penny–will likely be given the boot for Smoltz. Of course, Penny shut
out the Yankees for six innings last night and afterward replied “I don’t want to do that” when asked about possibly moving to the bullpen to make room in the rotation for Smoltz.

On the other hand Smoltz indicated last week
that he’d be willing to fill whichever role the Red Sox ask of him, so
convincing him to work his way into the rotation gradually by perhaps
skipping starts or working as a reliever could be an option if the team
wants to delay a decision on Penny (and see first hand what type of
stuff Smoltz has these days).

Another option is, of course, trading Penny. He certainly hasn’t
been great so far, but Penny has a 4.10 ERA and 38/9 K/BB ratio in 48.1
innings since a poor April and there are obviously plenty of teams that
could use him in their rotation. If the various rumors are true the Red
Sox have definitely been shopping Penny around, but the situation is
complicated somewhat by the fact that he can veto any trade through
Monday.

Unless they can find good value in a trade for Penny the Red Sox may
be best off keeping both pitchers around for a while, provided that
Smoltz was truthful about his role flexibility. Assuming that Smoltz
will jump right into the mix and remain healthy for the rest of the
season is far from safe and there’s no reason to give up an asset like
Penny for a rotation switch that may not even prove to be a significant
upgrade.

Braves ink Blaine Boyer to a minor league deal

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 2:  Relief pitcher Blaine Boyer #48 of the Milwaukee Brewers delivers to home plate during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on October 2, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.

Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.

Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.

Report: Rays nearing a deal with Shawn Tolleson

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 18: Reliever Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the eighth inning at Busch Stadium on June 18, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.

Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.