Rays Trade Ronaldo Hernandez To Red Sox In Exchange For Two More Pitchers
The Rays continue to amass pitchers in the leadup to the 2021 season. The Red Sox continue to add prospects in hopes of brighter days ahead.
The AL East rivals hooked up for a trade on Wednesday morning. Boston sent relievers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to Tampa Bay in exchange for catching prospect Ronaldo Hernandez and infield prospect Nick Sogard.
Mazza and Springs were both designated for assignment in recent days after the Red Sox re-signed Martin Perez and signed Japanese free agent Hirokazu Sawamura. Hernandez was once a top catching prospect for the Rays and even made the Futures Game in 2019, but has seen his stock drop.
Chris Mazza, RHP
Mazza went 1-2, 4.80 in nine appearances for the Red Sox last year and even made six starts as their rotation situation became desperate. He bounced between starting and relieving in the minors and was able to reach five innings in two of his starts last year, but for all intents and purposes he’s a reliever who can provide some length and an occasional spot start rather than a true starter. Mazza primarily pitches with his upper-80s cutter and his low-80s slider is a swing-and-miss pitch. His low-90s sinker has been hit hard in the majors, so he really has to rely on his secondaries. Mazza’s walk rate was high last year, but he’s shown above-average control for most his career. If he can continue to hone his cutter and slider, he gives the Rays a long-relief option who can start in a pinch.
Jeffrey Springs, LHP
Springs has spent parts of the last three seasons in the majors but has altogether been an ineffective relief option on second-division teams. He has a 5.42 ERA in 59 appearances while largely being the last man out of the bullpen for below-.500 Rangers and Red Sox teams. Springs is a lefty, but he’s not particularly effective against hitters from either side. Lefties have hit .333 with an .886 OPS against him in his career, while righties have hit .269 with an .842 OPS. Springs’ low-90s sinker and low-80s slider tend to get left over the middle of the plate and get crushed as a result. His changeup has improved to keep righthanded hitters more in check, but it’s really his only effective pitch. His sinker has shown some swing-and-miss qualities, so if the Rays can get him more on the edges of the plate as opposed to over the heart of it, he may be able to carve out a low-leverage role in their bullpen.
RED SOX ACQUIRE
Ronaldo Hernandez, C
Hernandez’s 2018 breakout season with low Class A Bowling Green has started to fade into the background, but his trade in a swap for a designated for assignment player is still a surprisingly low return for a catcher with significant power potential. Hernandez was not a particularly good fit in a Rays organization that emphasizes receiving ability far above offensive contributions from its catchers. Hernandez struggles as a future fringe-average receiver and will have to improve in this facet of the game to earn an everyday role in the majors. His power comes from a very pull-heavy approach that may be exploited by more advanced pitchers. That said, Hernandez has plus power and a plus arm and he’s only 23, so he has a chance to refine some of his current issues. He’s a very useful addition to the Red Sox farm system as a catcher to develop. And if MLB eventually goes to computerized ball-strike calls, his biggest liabilities will largely diminish. Hernandez had to be added to the 40-man roster before the 2020 season and has used one option. He will head into 2021 having not played above high Class A.
Nick Sogard, 2B
Sogard is the cousin of long-time MLB infielder Eric Sogard. A 12th-round pick in 2019 out of Loyola Marymount, Sogard can play all around the infield, with enough savvy to be playable at shortstop. The switch-hitter has shown solid on-base skills to go with a contact-heavy approach in college and in his 2019 pro debut. He projects as a utility infielder who may hit enough to climb the ladder. Being traded away from Tampa Bay should help him, as he was sitting behind a long list of middle infield prospects with the Rays.