Daniel Nava was one of the Red Sox’s best hitters last season, batting .303 with 12 homers, a .385 on-base percentage, and an .831 OPS in 134 games, but he’s off to a 10-for-67 (.149) start this year and Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports that Boston has decided to demote him back to Triple-A.
Boston benched Nava regularly throughout the playoffs in favor of Jonny Gomes, so it’s perhaps not a huge shock that they’re unwilling to give him a longer leash now. Still, at age 31 and coming off a very good season as a lineup regular the move to the minors is definitely a surprise.
Shane Victorino being on the verge of returning from the disabled list allows the Red Sox to make a change in the outfield, where they’ll presumably go with Victorino, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Grady Sizemore as the regulars and use Gomes versus left-handed pitching. And it seems likely that a few teams will give the Red Sox a call to see if Nava is available in trade.
Free agent right-hander Ervin Santana picked up a minor league deal with the White Sox, according to various reports Friday. Per Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com, Santana will make $4.33 million if he manages to crack the major-league roster this spring. Any official confirmation from the team is still dependent on the results of a physical.
The veteran righty hasn’t seen any action in MLB for some time. He was laid low by prolonged discomfort in his right middle finger last spring, and underwent a capsular release/debridement procedure that kept him off the mound for all but 24 2/3 innings of his 2018 campaign with the Twins. When healthy, however, he’s been as durable and productive as they come. Santana earned his second career All-Star distinction in 2017 and pitched to a 16-8 record in 33 starts with three shutouts, a 3.28 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 7.1 SO/9, and 2.9 fWAR through 211 1/3 innings.
Barring further complications with his pitching hand, the 36-year-old should be a stabilizing force for the White Sox’ rotation in 2019 — assuming he can beat out southpaw Manny Bañuelos and right-handers Jordan Stephens and Dylan Covey for a back-end role, that is. According to FanGraphs, the club’s starters ranked worst in the league in 2018 with a collective 5.07 ERA, 5.18 FIP, and 3.1 fWAR.