Boston may still add a veteran closer to replace Jonathan Papelbon, but in the meantime they’ve picked up a potential ninth-inning option in right-hander Mark Melancon, who saved 20 games for the Astros this year.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Red Sox are sending infielder Jed Lowrie and pitching prospect Kyle Weiland to the Astros for Melancon, who logged 74 innings with a 2.78 ERA and 66/26 K/BB ratio at age 26 and is under team control through 2016.
Injuries and prolonged slumps have been the story of Lowrie’s career so far and despite showing flashes of a strong bat he’s 27 years old with a modest .252 batting average and .742 OPS. He’s also yet to play even 90 games in a season and there are some doubts about if he can handle being an everyday shortstop defensively, but the Astros need infield help and Lowrie has shown signs of being an impact player. He was expendable in Boston because of Marco Scutaro and slick-fielding shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias.
Weiland was the Red Sox’s third-round pick in 2008 and struggled in his big-league debut, but posted solid numbers in the minors and looks capable of developing into a mid-rotation starter.
Melancon is good and cheap and under team control for years to come, so acquiring him beats paying a premium for a “proven closer” like Francisco Cordero or giving up top prospects for Andrew Bailey, but he’s also a year removed from being at Triple-A and the Lowrie-Weiland haul is a good one for Houston.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.