With the Red Sox seeking a new leader for their baseball department and the Cubs in free-fall mode, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe makes a case for a Theo Epstein-Sox reunion. Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, served as the Red Sox’s general manager from 2002 until he left for Chicago in 2011. The Cubs have been a power for the majority of Epstein’s tenure there, and though this season has gone south for the club, there’s no indication he’s interested in leaving. Epstein’s under contract through 2021 on the record extension he signed with the Cubs in 2016. Nevertheless, the Red Sox “will want to see if they have a chance of reeling in some of the biggest fish in the executive seas,” Speier reports, and Epstein would certainly qualify.
- The next person who calls the shots in Boston may have a decision to make on right-hander Rick Porcello, who’s due to become a free agent. In all likelihood, though, Porcello will reach the open market on the heels of a difficult season. The former AL Cy Young winner spoke to Rob Bradford of WEEI about his upcoming trip to free agency, saying: “You know my situation. You know what I’m headed into. I have no idea what is going to happen. We’ll see. Until you get to an offseason and you see what is going to be there for you don’t really know what is going to affect you.” Porcello, who will turn 31 in December, is wrapping up the four-year, $82.5MM extension Boston gave him when it acquired him from Detroit in 2015. For the most part, the deal worked out for the Red Sox, but the results haven’t been to either party’s liking this year. Porcello owns the game’s second-highest ERA (5.56) among qualified starters.
- The retiring Ned Yost is in his final few days as the Royals’ manager, but it appears it’s going to be several weeks before the club finds his replacement. The Royals don’t expect to hire Yost’s successor until their forthcoming sale from David Glass to John Sherman goes through, according to general manager Dayton Moore (via the Associated Press). The franchise might not change hands until November, the AP notes. “I would never hire a manager … without complete 100 percent support of my boss,” Moore said.
- Twins righty Tyler Duffey has somewhat quietly morphed into an elite reliever as this season has progressed. The 28-year-old hasn’t allowed an earned run since July 23 – a span of 22 1/3 innings in which he has struck out 22, walked none and allowed six hits. Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune credits the data-driven approach of Minnesota’s front office and pitching coach Wes Johnson for the rise of Duffey, who owns a 2.26 ERA with 12.61 K/9 and 2.26 BB/9 in 55 2/3 innings for the year. At the encouragement of Johnson and assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, Duffey has all but bagged his sinker – once his primary pitch – and has focused on elevating his four-seam fastball. Duffey told Scoggins he bought into the radical shift in approach “from Day 1.” The results, including an uptick in velocity and a dramatic increase in swinging-strike rate, have been impossible to argue with.