Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Image
The Red Sox made another trade with a division rival, shipping pitchers Chris Mazza and Jeffrey Springs to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for catcher Ronaldo Hernandez and infielder Nick Sogard. It’s another case of Bloom trading for the future over menial present returns. Springs was recently Designated For Assignment to make room for Hirokazu Sawamora and Mazza had been DFA’d a few days ago to make room for the Martin Perez signing. Clearly the Rays felt both pitchers would not make it to them via waivers, so they went out and traded an actual prospect in order to jump the line. Mazza and Springs were both considered expendable by the Sox, which shows how much the pitching depth has improved since last season. The Rays continued their offseason plan of “add as many cheap pitchers as possible” to go along with Rich Hill, Colin McHugh, Chris Archer and Michael Wacha. So what exactly do the Sox get in Ronaldo Hernandez and Nick Sogard?
Hernandez was the Ray’s top catching prospect, ranked at #15 overall by MLB’s 2020 list (2021 hasn’t been released yet) and #23 overall on FanGraphs 2021 list. He’ll likely slot into the Red Sox top 15-20 once the deal is finalized. Hernandez was signed out of Colombia in 2014 by the Rays, and was slowly climbing the minor league ladder. In 2018 in Low-A he hit .284/.339/.484 with 21 HR’s and in 2019 in High A he struggled a bit to hit .265/.299/.397 with 9 HR’s. As the above video shows, he was impressive at the Rays Alternate Training Site, launching that home run off of major league arm Trevor Richards.
Sogard was drafted in the 12th round of the 2019 draft and hit .290/.405/.313 in Short Season A-Ball. He’s noted for his solid defense at 2B/SS/3B and showed a very good eye walking 39 times in 63 games. He also was 20 for 23 stealing bases, but stolen bases can be inflated in that low of a league because the catching defense and pitcher pickoff moves are inconsistent. You can steal a lot of bases with decent speed if you have a good eye for pitching moves or know the catcher behind the dish. On the down side he didn’t show much power with only 5 extra-base-hits and only slugged .360 in 3 seasons of college ball.
Hernandez is projected to be a bat first catcher, albeit with a very strong arm, and capable of launching 20+ home runs if he can get his swing timing down. Sogard is more likely an organizational player who could be a useful defensive bench player in the future. Bottom line is Hernandez is a very exciting prospect with a high ceiling but an equally low floor. He is currently on the Rays 40-man, so a corresponding move will need to happen to make room for him on the Red Sox currently full 40-man roster.