Red Sox “widely expected” to name Ben Cherington new GM

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Theo Epstein has reportedly agreed to a five-year, $15 million contract with the Cubs, which means the Red Sox are now in search of a new general manager.

However, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com that search won’t take long, as vice president of player personnel Ben Cherington “is widely expected” to replace Epstein as GM.

Cherington is from New Hampshire and has been with the Red Sox since 2002, previously sharing GM duties with Jed Hoyer when Epstein took a three-month break from the role in 2005.

McAdam reports that Cherington “has been in on a number of high-level meetings with team ownership since the Red Sox’s season crashed and burned on the final day of the season.”

I’m sure time will show that Cherington and Epstein are different in many ways, but the overall approach to team-building and player analysis probably won’t change a ton. After all, just a couple years ago I sat next to Cherington at a SABR convention presentation about assessing player value for midseason trades. It’s safe to say he’s a stat-head, just like Epstein and most of the Red Sox’s front office.

Felix Hernandez will miss 3-4 weeks with shoulder bursitis

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Mariners’ right-hander Felix Hernandez is looking at a 3-4 week recovery period, the team announced on Friday. Hernandez has been officially diagnosed with bursitis in his right shoulder after getting pulled from his last start against the Tigers on Tuesday.

It’s not the first shoulder issue the 31-year-old righty has dealt with during his career. Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times notes that Hernandez was previously diagnosed with bursitis during a minor league stint in 2005, several weeks prior to making his major league start for Seattle. This time around, however, the injury is coupled with a few years of not-so-sharp stuff, waning velocity and career-low numbers, and while it’s certainly not a worst-case diagnosis, it seems like greater cause for concern.

Without Felix, the Mariners will keep rolling with James Paxton, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ariel Miranda, Yovani Gallardo and Chase De Jong in their rotation. They’ll also keep Ben Gamel in right field, with starting right fielder Mitch Haniger expected to miss 3-4 weeks after sustaining a Grade 2 strain in his right oblique on Tuesday.

Rays acquire RHP Drew Smith from Tigers

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The Rays acquired minor league reliever Drew Smith from the Tigers on Friday, per a team announcement. The move will close the loop on the trade the two teams began in January for backup outfielder Mikie Mahtook.

Smith, 23, pitched his first full season in Single-A West Michigan in 2016, turning in a 2.96 ERA, 4.3 BB/9 and 11.5 SO/9 in 48 2/3 innings. The right-hander is still several levels away from making any impact on the Rays’ major league roster, but appears to be progressing steadily in two seasons of pro ball and has delivered two runs, four walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 11 2/3 innings at High-A Lakeland this season. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that he’ll be reassigned to the Rays’ High-A Charlotte this week.