Jose Iglesias’ slick fielding drew rave reviews in Red Sox camp, so much so that there was some speculation (and comments from manager Bobby Valentine) about the 22-year-old prospect winning the starting shortstop job, but today Boston sent him to Triple-A and essentially handed Mike Aviles the gig.
There’s no doubt that Iglesias’ glove is big-league ready, but he was awful offensively at Triple-A last season, hitting just .235 with a .285 on-base percentage and .269 slugging percentage in 101 games. Any projection based on those numbers would be among the worst in baseball, so it makes sense for the Red Sox to give him more time to develop while turning the position over to Aviles.
Aviles is a career .288 hitter with a .737 OPS and offers plenty of versatility defensively, but he may be stretched as an everyday shortstop and it won’t be surprising if Nick Punto works his way into the lineup some based on his superior defense. Boston is no doubt hoping that they’ll simply be keeping the position warm for Iglesias, but it all depends on him showing some semblance of hitting ability.
Infielder Brett Lawrie successfully avoided arbitration and signed a one-year contract with the White Sox on Friday, per a team announcement. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman added that the deal was for $3.5 million, significantly lower than the $4.125 million Lawrie was paid by the White Sox in 2016.
The White Sox acquired Lawrie last December in a swap for minor league arms Zack Erwin and J.B. Wendelken. After splitting time at second and third base for the Athletics in 2015, Lawrie slotted in at second base and DH for the White Sox and batted .248/.310/.413 with 12 home runs in 384 PA. While it’s strange to see a healthy, fairly productive player receive a salary reduction in arbitration, Lawrie missed nearly half of the season with a strain in his left hamstring, though he’s projected to return at full health by the start of the 2017 season.
Left-hander Brian Duensing signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cubs on Friday, per a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman.
The free agent spent the bulk of his 2016 season with the Orioles after receiving a call-up from Triple-A Norfolk in early June. He underwent elbow surgery several weeks later when a freak bullpen injury revealed cartilage chips and inflammation in his pitching elbow, but recovered to finish the season with a 4.05 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings for the club. The Orioles utilized him for a final out during the AL Wild Card game, during which Duensing recorded a five-pitch strikeout in the ninth inning of their 5-2 loss to the Blue Jays.
The 33-year-old is currently expected to bulk up the Cubs’ left-handed relief corps, with fellow left-hander Mike Montgomery slated for the rotation in 2017.