The Red Sox announced early Saturday morning that the club acquired reliever Brad Ziegler from the Diamondbacks for minor league pitcher Jose Almonte and middle infielder Luis Alejandro Basabe. To make room for Ziegler on the 40-man roster, the club moved catcher/outfielder Blake Swihart to the 60-day disabled list.
Ziegler, 36, did not pitch on Friday night against the Giants. He has saved 18 games in 20 chances with a 2.82 ERA and a 27/15 K/BB ratio in 38 1/3 innings. Strikeouts aren’t really his thing, as his 16.4 percent strikeout rate is the 14th-lowest among qualified relievers. Ziegler succeeds by inducing ground balls. His 63 percent ground ball rate is the seventh highest among qualified relievers.
Ziegler will likely set up for Craig Kimbrel in the Red Sox bullpen. Kimbrel, however, was not available on Friday due to soreness in his left knee. In the event Kimbrel would need to go on the disabled list, Ziegler could get the chance to close over Koji Uehara, who has been the club’s closer in recent years but owns an ugly 4.83 ERA this season.
Almonte, 20, has spent the season with Single-A Greenville, compiling a 3.91 ERA and a 45/13 K/BB ratio in 53 innings.
Basabe, 19, has also spent year with Greenville, batting .311/.414/.471 with four home runs, 24 RBI, 39 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 271 plate appearances. Luis Alejandro Basabe has a twin brother in the Red Sox system, Luis Alexander. Alexander was rated the club’s eighth-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. Alejandro was not ranked.
Braves outfielder Jeff Francoeur went on Buster Olney’s ESPN podcast on Thursday and said that he estimates 90 percent of major leaguers would like stiffer penalties for players caught using performance-enhancing drugs, as Jerry Crasnick notes.
“The system is flawed. There’s no other way around it. Guys get docked 80 games (pay) or whatever it is. Yeah, that’s a lot of money. But if you sign a $60 million deal and you’re losing maybe $5 million, it’s worth it for a lot of these guys. It stinks because there are buddies of mine who were basically battling these guys for jobs. It’s just unfair.
“I know a lot of guys that have been busted, and they’re good people. I like them a lot. But at the end of the day, they’re cheating the system.”
Major League Baseball’s drug testing program has levied increasingly harsh penalties for players who test positive. Currently, first-time offenders receive an 80-game suspension while second-time offenders sit out 160 games and third-time offenders are banned for life.
Per Crasnick, 57 minor leaguers and 12 major leaguers have tested positive since January. Two-time All-Star Dee Gordon is the highest profile player this year to get caught.
Francoeur realizes that, in asking for harsher penalties, he is putting more power in ownership’s hand, something which the Players’ Union wouldn’t like. However, he said, “I think we have to start listening to the majority of the players, and not the other way around.”
Francoeur also doesn’t buy the excuses of players who test positive and say they unknowingly took the substances. The outfielder said, “For me, the only thing I’ll drink is the protein shakes that MLB gives us. They tell us in spring training, ‘Don’t take it if it’s not certified.’ If you go to GNC and get some bogus stuff, how stupid can you be? That’s your own fault. (I hear players say), ‘I don’t know how this got in me.’ Well, watch what you put in your body.”
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Red Sox have scouted Phillies starter Jeremy Hellickson. Hellickson is one of “many rotation options” the Red Sox are considering.
The Red Sox recently demoted Clay Buchholz to the bullpen. David Price has been inconsistent all year and owns a 4.64 ERA. To make matters worse, the club is now relying on Sean O'Sullivan at the back of the rotation.
Hellickson, 29, has been solid for the Phillies, posting a 3.92 ERA with a 93/27 K/BB ratio in 105 2/3 innings. He’s owed the remainder of his $7 million salary for this season and is eligible for free agency at season’s end.
The Phillies enter Thursday’s action at 40-46, which isn’t bad considering the preseason expectations for the team. However, the organization would happily relent Hellickson for anything more valuable than the draft pick compensation they would get after making a qualifying offer to the right-hander.