From Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston comes word that the Red Sox have agreed to terms on a contract with right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler.
Sean McAdam of CSN New England heard Thursday that the Sox would not give the free agent righty anything greater than a one-year contract. It remains to be seen if they stuck to that.
Wheeler, 33, turned in a rock-solid 3.35 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 48.1 innings for the Rays in 2010, holding opposing hitters to a .207 batting average and .273 on-base percentage. He struck out 46 batters and walked only 16, showing good life on an arsenal of five pitches.
The 10-year MLB veteran should do well in a middle relief role next year in Boston.
The Red Sox also added free agent Bobby Jenks earlier this week to what should be a strong 2011 bullpen.
UPDATE: Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that Wheeler’s contract includes a vesting option for 2012 that can be triggered if the right-hander makes 65 appearances next season.
In a world where Scott Downs can command a three-year, $15 million contract from the Angels and Joaquin Benoit can score a three-year, $16.5 million deal from the Tigers, the Red Sox probably had to add that option year in order to secure a signature.
UPDATE: Steve Phillips of AOL Fanhouse has the financial terms. Both the one-year agreement and vesting option are worth $3 million. That option can be pushed to $3.25 million if Wheeler appears in 75-plus games.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP