Boston Red Sox Offseason Tracker: Latest Trade Rumors, Free-Agency News
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But do they want to?
Indications are that they'd rather not. The Red Sox got themselves in a lot of trouble by recklessly throwing money at players they perceived to be stars in recent years, so they can be excused if they don't want to make the same mistakes all over again.
It's more than likely that the Red Sox will have a quiet winter this year. Their offseason could consist of making small moves with low risk and the potential for high reward. If so, hiring John Farrell away from the Toronto Blue Jays to be the team's new manager could prove to be Boston's biggest offseason acquisition.
Regardless of what the Red Sox end up doing this winter, there will be much for the denizens of Red Sox Nation to keep track of. They can do that by checking back here every once and a while, as this will be a home for Sox-related news, rumors and some speculation throughout the offseason.
The freshest updates will be right out in front.
Red Sox 'Highly Unlikely' to Sign Kyle Lohse
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Feb. 7 at 12:25 am ET
Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio pondered aloud the other day that the Red Sox might be a fit for Kyle Lohse.
They're not, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford spoke with a major league source who said it's "highly unlikely" that the Red Sox will be the team to pluck Lohse off the free-agent market.
The Red Sox have already made one major pitching investment this winter, signing Ryan Dempster to a two-year contract worth $26.5 million. They won't be making another in this case because their rotation is already full enough. But more importantly, they won't be going after Lohse because of his ties to draft-pick compensation.
Same old stuff, really. The Red Sox appear to be done shopping, and it's doubtful that they'll break the bank for a player tied to draft-pick compensation now after avoiding doing so all winter.
Red Sox Invite Lyle Overbay to Spring Training
Sarah Glenn/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 31 at 4:30 pm ET
The Red Sox have found their insurance for Mike Napoli at first base.
According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox have extended a non-roster spring training invite to veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay.
Overbay is coming off a season in which he played in only 65 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves. He had a .727 OPS, though he did do well against right-handed pitchers, posting a .751 OPS in 116 plate appearances.
In addition to his ability to hit right-handed pitching, Overbay is also generally solid on defense. If he were to make the team, the Red Sox could use him as a left-handed platoon partner for Napoli at first base and as a late-inning defensive replacement.
The Red Sox said they were going to add depth at first base, and now they have. They're not risking anything with this signing, which is a nice change of pace.
UPDATE: Friday, Feb. 1 at 12:50 pm ET
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Overbay will make $1.25 million with another $250K in performance bonuses if he makes the team.
Red Sox Will Probably Add Depth at First Base
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 11:45 am ET
The Red Sox have Mike Napoli slated to play first base on a regular basis in 2013, but beyond him all they have is Mauro Gomez.
According to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, Red Sox manager John Farrell understands that depth at first base is an issue, and he says the team is likely to address it before long.
"The one area that we probably need to get a feel for is at first base," said Farrell. "We fully expect Napoli to be ready to go, but if a need were to arise at that position, I think we'll probably have some additions before camp opens up in that area, so that there will be protection provided at first base."
Pickings on the free-agent market with spring training just around the corner are slim, but there are options out there for the Red Sox. They could go after Casey Kotchman, or perhaps Aubrey Huff.
If the Red Sox don't like their free-agent options, they may look to the trade market. Worse comes to worst, they could always make Daniel Nava into a first baseman.
First base depth isn't necessarily a clear deal-breaker for the Red Sox, but it could be given Napoli's health issues. If his hip condition impacts him and robs him of playing time in 2013, the Red Sox don't want to be standing there without an able replacement.
Ryan Sweeney Signed to Minor League Deal
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Friday, Jan. 25 at 8:50 pm ET
Well, this is a bit of a surprise.
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Red Sox have signed lefty-hitting outfielder Ryan Sweeney to a minor league deal. The Red Sox had non-tendered him in December after he posted a .675 OPS for them in 63 games.
Sweeney got off to a strong start in 2012, batting .311 with a .784 OPS over his first 40 games. But he suffered a concussion in May and then hurt his hand when he punched a door in July. He didn't play in August or September.
However, Sweeney is a valuable player because of his ability to play all three outfield spots, and the Red Sox needed to find a lefty-hitting outfielder after today's news that Ryan Kalish needs surgery on his right shoulder. He'll miss spring training.
If Kalish's injury hasn't cleared up by the start of the season, it's possible that Sweeney will break camp with the big club.
Red Sox Finalize Mike Napoli's Deal
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 1:35 am ET
It's officially official. Mike Napoli is a member of the Boston Red Sox.
The deal, as has been reported, is for one year and $5 million. It includes incentives that could up the total value of his contract to $13 million. The Red Sox designated Chris Carpenter for assignment to make room for Napoli on the 40-man roster.
The biggest reveal of the day was exactly what's up with Napoli's hips. It turns out that he has a condition known as avascular necrosis, which occurs when there is a loss of blood to a bone, causing it to weaken.
Napoli said he wasn't even aware of the issue until the Red Sox stumbled upon it during his physical in December, and he insists that it's not an issue for him now.
"As of now, I don't have any symptoms from it," Napoli said. "I'm on medication to help me get through it. I haven't had any symptoms from it. I played with it last year, and there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to be there Opening Day and be a starter Opening Day."
Sox GM Ben Cherington said he expects a healthy season from Napoli in 2013, and he clarified that Napoli's hip issues aren't necessarily an immediate concern.
"We're a long ways from Bo Jackson, and Bo Jackson's circumstance was entirely different, from what we understand," said Cherington. "From all the information we have, there's a very good prognosis and no reason to think Mike won't be a huge part of our 2013 team."
There's only one catch: Napoli won't catch in 2013. The Red Sox decided that he would be kept out of the crouch once they found out something was up with his hips.
Cherington didn't want to say it, but Napoli's hip issues are pretty clearly more of a concern than, say, no concern at all. That the Red Sox don't want him catching is a sign that they don't think his hip will be OK regardless of the situation he's in, and their unwillingness to commit to him for more than one year is an indication that they think Napoli is playing on borrowed time.
You can't help but feel for Napoli. If he's telling the truth about not feeling anything with his hip, then he just missed out on a multi-year deal for close to $40 million because doctors happened to spot something in an X-ray (or whatever it was).
After this season, he may not get another chance at a multi-year deal.
Other Players Avoiding Arbitration
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Saturday, Jan. 19 at 3:00 pm ET
The Red Sox, like every other team, took care of quite a few contracts on Friday.
According to Rod Bradford of WEEI.com, the Red Sox avoided arbitration with Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Bailey, Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller and Franklin Morales, in addition to Jacoby Ellsbury, Joel Hanrahan and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Aceves will make $2.65 million, a raise over the $1.2 million he made in 2012. After making $3.9 million in 2012, Bailey will make $4.1 million in 2013. Bard will make $1.8625 million after making $1.6125. Miller will make $1.475 million after making $1.04 million. Morales will make $1.4875 million after making $850K.
On Saturday, Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Red Sox have also gotten something done with Craig Breslow, who had filed for arbitration:
Breslow gets 2 years plus option with Boston. Guaranteed $6.25m. Max on deal is $10.15m. Pending physical.— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) January 19, 2013
Cot's Baseball Contracts has Boston's 2013 payroll just south of $150 million, but that's without Breslow's deal factored in. He should put the Red Sox in the $150 million range.
The Red Sox were at $175 million on Opening Day last year, so they'll be saving money in 2013 unless they sign a major free agent.
And I wouldn't count on that.
Red Sox Avoid Arbitration with Joel Hanrahan
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Jan. 18 at 4:35 pm ET
Having already avoided arbitration with Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox have now avoided arbitration with new closer Joel Hanrahan.
According to Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com, Hanrahan will make $7.04 million in 2013. He made $4.1 million in 2012, so this is a very nice raise for him.
Hanrahan should get another raise next winter when he hits free agency if he stays on the course he's been on the last two years. In a total of 133 appearances, Hanrahan saved 76 games and compiled a 2.24 ERA for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The one red flag where Hanrahan is concerned is how much he struggled with his control in 2012. He walked 5.4 batters per nine innings after walking only 2.1 batters per nine innings in 2011.
If he gets his control straightened out, Hanrahan should be a shutdown closer for the Red Sox this year.
Red Sox Avoid Arbitration with Jacoby Ellsbury
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Posted: Friday, Jan. 18 at 1:35 pm ET
The Red Sox won't be going to arbitration with Jacoby Ellsbury this year.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Ellsbury and the Red Sox have agreed on a $9 million salary for the 2013 season:
ellsbury gets $9M. #redsox— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 18, 2013
Ellsbury made a little over $8 million in 2012, so he's getting about a $1 million raise here. That sounds about right after he was limited to 74 games in 2012 due to injury. He struggled when he was healthy, posting a mere .682 OPS.
There's no overstating just how huge the 2013 season is going to be for Ellsbury. If he stays healthy, he could return to the form he showed in 2011 and put himself in line for a monstrous free agent contract. If he doesn't stay healthy, he may end up taking a pay cut from his $9 million salary in his next contract.
Then there's the possibility that Ellsbury will stay healthy, but only show the form that he showed in 2008 and 2009 when he was all speed and no power. If that's what happens, he may be only be in line for a contract similar to the one Angel Pagan got from the Giants this winter.
We shall see.
The Mike Napoli Saga Is over
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 17 at 12:45 pm ET
It's over. The Red Sox have signed a first baseman.
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, Mike Napoli and the Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal worth $5 million. It includes incentives that could push the total worth of the deal to roughly $13 million if Napoli doesn't have to hit the DL with any sort of hip injury.
Napoli initially agreed to a three-year, $39 million deal with the Red Sox back in early December. For the two sides to go from that to a simple one-year deal worth $5 million is obviously a big step down.
For the Red Sox, this is a good thing. The amount of risk they were going to take just went from a lot to very, very little. They'll have quite the hole at first base if Napoli's hip acts up in 2013, but at least they'll only be out $5 million.
On the flip side, they stand to get a huge season out of Napoli that will only cost them $13 million. They could then either look to re-up with him or make him a qualifying offer and hope that he signs elsewhere.
The one-year deal has its advantages for Napoli too. If he shows he can be healthy and productive even with his questionable hip, he'll re-enter the market next year at the age of 32. He may still yet end up with a multi-year deal.
It took a while to get done, but this is a reasonable conclusion for both sides.
Red Sox Avoid Arbitration with Jarrod Saltalamachia
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 17 at 12:45 pm ET
Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the Red Sox will not be going to arbitration.
According to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, Salty and the Red Sox have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million. That's a nice raise over the $2.5 million he earned in 2012.
He earned it. Salty only hit .222 with a .288 on-base percentage, but he did lead the Red Sox with 25 home runs over a career-high 121 games.
However, Salty is going to have to make more strides in what will be his walk year in 2013 if he wants to put himself in a position to earn a long-term contract. His patience and plate discipline need to get better, and he could stand to improve his defense and game-calling as well.
The Red Sox will have options to turn to if Salty struggles in 2013. They signed veteran backup David Ross early in the offseason, new first baseman Mike Napoli can do a bit of catching and Ryan Lavarnway is standing in the background as well.
The Red Sox could give Lavarnway a shot at the first sign of trouble with Salty, just to see what he can do.
Mike Napoli's Deal Nearly Complete?
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Posted: Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 1:05 pm ET (Update below)
The Mike Napoli soap opera may soon be over.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Napoli and the Red Sox have made progress towards a completed contract. They're supposedly working towards a "new deal," an indication that the three-year, $39 million contract Napoli initially agreed to has either been altered or maybe even tossed aside in favor of a completely different contract.
The Red Sox are keeping their options open, but Napoli is still their top choice for their vacancy at first base because of how well he fits at Fenway Park. His career 1.107 OPS at Fenway Park is the highest ever for a right-handed hitter.
If all goes well, his deal could be finalized next week.
Napoli's hip is a concern, but I assume that his final deal will carry significantly less risk for the Red Sox than the contract he initially agreed to. The Red Sox may be getting damaged goods, but their mistake is likely to be short-lived and not overly harmful if Napoli's contract does indeed end up being a mistake.
Actually completing a deal with Napoli is probably going to be seen as a defeat by a not-insignificant number of fans. There have been rumors of the Red Sox pursuing the likes of Mike Morse, Adam LaRoche and others who would have been acceptable alternatives to Napoli. And as more time has passed, the more it has seemed like Napoli might actually be Boston's worst option for first base.
The upside of signing Napoli, however, is definitely going to be there when his deal is done. And if the risk is low, the Red Sox will have little to lose and much to gain.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Jan. 16 at 5:30 pm ET
Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM says that it will be a one-year agreement:
The Red Sox and Mike Napoli have nothing to report but they continue to make significant progress towards a ONE-YEAR agreement— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) January 16, 2013
If so, the big question is whether there will be any options or if this will be a simple one-year agreement with no strings attached.
Mike Napoli and More First Base Notes
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 10 at 10:00 pm ET (Update below)
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington went on WEEI Thursday night and he offered another non-update update on the Mike Napoli situation:
No, there's nothing to update. We're, I think as everyone knows, one of our goals this offseason was to add offense at first base. We haven't been able to really do that officially yet. We're still talking and when you're talking, there's hope for a resolution. But nothing to report right now. ... We have had dialogue [with Napoli]. It's one of those situations, out of respect to Mike and the process, I'm not going to get into detail. Whenever we're talking and there's dialogue, it means we're hopeful of being able to do something but we just don't know yet. We'll see how it plays out.
While that situation remains stuck in limbo, the word from Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe is that the Red Sox have checked in on other options. That means Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak, who is expendable after their trade for Kendrys Morales, and free agents like Nick Johnson and Casey Kotchman.
However, Cafardo warned that Napoli will be signed in the end. Though it's taking forever, a union between him and the Red Sox is still a matter of "when" more than it is a matter of "if."
Neither side has anywhere else to go at this point. Napoli can't risk pulling away from the Red Sox and trying his luck with another team, and the Red Sox won't be able to do better than him on the free-agent market if they pull away.
UPDATE: Friday, Jan. 11 at 6:05 pm ET
Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM has a real update on Napoli's situation:
Red Sox would like to shorten their deal with Napoli to one-year to make sure the hip will be ok for 2 or 3 seasons without a lot of DL time— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) January 11, 2013
This explains the delay, and it makes me skeptical that something is going to get worked out. It's hard for Napoli to go from having a three-year deal in front of him to having a one- or two-year deal in front of him.
The Red Sox can always back away. And if they do, expect them to pursue the opportunity discussed on the slide after this one.
Red Sox in Contact with Nats About Mike Morse
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Friday, Jan. 11 at 3:00 pm ET
This was inevitable.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Red Sox are among the teams in contact with the Washington Nationals about slugging first baseman Mike Morse, who became expendable this week when the club re-signed Adam LaRoche to a two-year contract.
Morse is a clear alternative to Mike Napoli for the Red Sox's opening at first base, who still hasn't signed more than a month after agreeing to a three-year, $39 million contract offer. Medical issues are holding his deal up, and the two sides don't seem to be close to a done deal.
LaRoche offered the Red Sox an excuse to walk away from Napoli and still land an impact first baseman. With him signed, Morse now represents the best excuse for the Red Sox to walk away from Napoli.
They have the assets to go get him if they want. Rosenthal puts the likely asking price at young talent and possibly a left-handed reliever. The Red Sox have plenty of young talent, and they have a pair of lefty relievers to offer in Andrew Miller and Craig Breslow. Franklin Morales could also be in play.
Morse would be a short-term option for the Red Sox, as he's due to hit free agency at the end of 2013. If he were to have a strong year, however, the Red Sox could make him a qualifying offer and get a draft pick after watching him sign with another team.
Most (all?) of the first base alternatives brought up since Napoli's deal first hit a snag have been pipe dreams, but not this one. This one's real.
Red Sox Scout Javier Vazquez
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Jan. 3 at 1:00 pm ET (Updates below)
Here's a fun name drop for you: Javier Vazquez. Remember him?
The Red Sox sure do. Vazquez didn't pitch in the majors in 2012, but he's looking to make a comeback in 2013 and Victor Ramos of Solo Beisbol reported on Twitter (in Spanish) that the Red Sox will be giving Vazquez a look in Puerto Rico on Friday.
Rob Bradford of WEEI.com has heard the same thing, and he notes that Vazquez has been showing off a 92-93 MPH fastball in workouts. Boston scouts will see him make a start in the Puerto Rican Winter League on Friday, so that velocity might not necessarily be there.
Still, this is a case where Boston's interest might lead to something. Vazquez is not ancient at the age of 36, and he pitched pretty well with the Marlins in 2011, posting a 3.69 ERA and logging 192.2 innings in 32 starts. If he has something left in the tank, he'd be a good guy for the Red Sox to bring aboard as an insurance policy for their rotation.
Granted, Vazquez's career track record in the American League isn't strong, so it's not like the Red Sox would be signing up to have a surprise Cy Young winner in their midst. If Vazquez were to sign with Boston, expectations for him wouldn't be high.
But given the options that are still out there on the free-agent market, the Red Sox could do a lot worse for rotation depth.
UPDATE: Saturday, Jan. 5 at 2:20 pm ET
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has an update on the situation:
FanGraphs tells us that Vazquez averaged just over 90 miles per hour with his fastball when he last pitched in 2011. It seems his year away from the game may have done him some good.
Assuming those guns were accurate, of course.
UPDATE No. 2: Thursday, Jan. 10 at 10:00 pm ET
According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox scouted Vazquez again on Wednesday night. He supposedly hit 95 miles per hour on the gun.
However, a source indicated that Boston is only "just continuing to scout him." There may be no real interest.
Boston Writers on Mike Napoli
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Posted: Sunday, Jan. 6 at 7:10 pm ET (Update below)
It's been about a month since Mike Napoli and the Red Sox agreed to terms on a three-year, $39 million contract, but he still hasn't signed.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe went asking around about what may be going on, and he heard from a source "who has been through this" that the situation is probably in the hands of the doctors.
...there was likely something found (we know it’s a hip) in the medical records that are shared by the union and all teams. The team does its own MRI, and then the player gets a second or third opinion. The doctors are probably discussing the severity of the issue and what language should be put in place to protect the team.
The only thing I question is why doctors would just now be determining what kind of language belongs in Napoli's contract. From the outside looking in, you get the feeling that the Red Sox have already laid out terms and that Napoli and his people are being resistant.
But that's just me taking a wild guess, so take it for what it's worth.
If the Napoli situation fails to lead to a done deal, Cafardo dropped an interesting name the Red Sox could pursue: Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau. He's in the final year of his contract, and he's supposedly feeling a lot better than he was this time last year.
The Twins aren't really looking at contending in 2013, so you wonder if they'll deal Morneau if they get a favorable offer.
UPDATE: Monday, Jan. 7 at 7:15 pm ET
Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe has an update on the situation:
In other words: Status quo.
Red Sox Have Checked in on Bobby Abreu
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Dec. 31 at 7:05 pm ET
If I may utter a phrase that isn't heard often this time of year in the baseball world: Now here's an interesting rumor.
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Red Sox have worked out Bobby Abreu in Venezuela. Could they and the 38-year-old veteran be business partners in the near future?
Probably not, no. Bradford indicated that the workout was simply a case of the two parties doing their due diligence, and it's not clear as to whether Abreu would be open to playing first base.
And that—assuming that the club eventually comes to an agreement with Mike Napoli—is really the only position where the Red Sox have a clear need for a left-handed stick. Abreu has never played first base before, and he may not be willing to start now at his age.
To be sure, Abreu's bat would be a nice addition. He doesn't have any pop left, but he proved to be as patient as ever as a member of the Dodgers in 2012. He only hit .246, but his OBP was .361.
But unless he's willing to take a job as a part-time first baseman, there's probably not a fit here.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 6:30 pm ET
According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, it is indeed unlikely that the Red Sox will sign Abreu. A major league source described their looking into him as mere "background work" and "nothing more than a scouting assignment."
No Extension Talks for Dustin Pedroia Yet
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Friday, Dec. 28 at 7:45 pm ET
It was reported in November that the Red Sox were eyeing an extension for star second baseman Dustin Pedroia. Since then, there's been nothing doing.
That's probably because there really is nothing doing. Here's Pedroia on WEEI on Thursday night:
I don’t think [extension talks are as of yet] anywhere. I haven’t talked to my agents that much. I saw [the report that the Sox would like to discuss an extension]. That definitely, it made me smile. Obviously, I want to be a Red Sox my whole career and play in that city, turn this whole thing around to get back to where we were my first couple years there. I’m going to leave that up to [GM Ben Cherington] and everybody else, and my agents. I try to stay out of it. I think the Red Sox know I’m an emotional guy. My agent definitely does. I try to let them do their job and me, stick to being a psycho on the baseball field.
Pedroia is signed through 2014 with an option for 2015, but inking him to an extension makes just as much sense now as it did in November.
The Red Sox want to get Pedroia locked up before Robinson Cano sets the market for star second basemen in free agency, and Pedroia himself should be interested in getting paid before his injury issues in 2010 and 2012 turn into something more significant.
You never know with extension talks, but the pieces fit pretty well here. I'd expect something to get done.
The Red Sox Probably Won't Be Signing Adam LaRoche. Seriously.
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Friday, Dec. 28 at 7:35 pm ET
We all know the story. The Red Sox's negotiations with Mike Napoli have hit a snag. In the meantime, they've kept discussions with free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche open.
But don't expect those discussions to actually go anywhere. Here's Peter Gammons:
amidst the spins, Red Sox not interested in three years and surrendering all the ramifications of draft pick on and for LaRoche— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) December 28, 2012
In other words, LaRoche is too rich for them in more ways than one.
So why continue to flirt with him?
Probably just to give Napoli something to think about. If he were to get the sense that the Red Sox are serious about LaRoche, he could be more willing to compromise with them at the negotiating table.
Also, the Red Sox are doing what any smart team would do in their situation: They're keeping their options open.
And in case you're wondering why draft picks are so important to the Red Sox, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com took care of that matter. He took time to point out just how often draft picks linked to free agents produce star players.
The Red Sox, evidently, would rather not miss out on any if they can help it.
Red Sox Indeed Working on Contract Language with Mike Napoli
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 3:15 pm ET (Updates below)
It's already been reported that the Red Sox had discovered a problem with Mike Napoli's hip, and that the two sides seemed to be working on putting some protective language in his contract.
Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM reports that this is exactly what's going on:
BoSox continue to work through "hip" language wNapoli but haven't gotten to where the terms were going ;continue to stay in contact wLaRoche— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 27, 2012
Not much of an update, to be sure. But if language is what the two sides are working on, that means that the Red Sox haven't torn up the offer they made Napoli and urged him to accept a different offer worth fewer years, less money, or both.
As for LaRoche, I still think you have to take his role in all this with a grain of salt. The Red Sox are probably just keeping their options open, and they may also be trying to light a fire under Napoli.
LaRoche surely would be a good substitute for Napoli at first base, but he's older by two years and the Red Sox would have to surrender a draft pick to sign him. Napoli is a better fit for the organization's plans for the future.
UPDATE: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 4:40 pm ET
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, "at least" one other team has been in contact with Napoli ever since his deal with the Red Sox hit a snag. It is believed that no other team has offered him a contract, but there have certainly been talks.
Those hoping for a deal between the Red Sox and Napoli to get done can look on the bright side. This means that the Red Sox aren't the only team that's still interested in Napoli despite his health red flags.
UPDATE No. 2: Friday, Dec. 28 at 12:50 pm ET
Boston assistant GM Brian O'Halloran did an interview on WEEI on Thursday, in which he confirmed that first base is an "area of focus" for the Red Sox. He declined to address any specific free agents, though he did say that the Red Sox have been "in touch with a number of free agents."
Not much of an update here. Mike Napoli will play first base if the Red Sox manage to sign him, but for now first base is wide open. Of course it's an area of focus.
Red Sox Talking to Adam LaRoche
Mike McGinnis/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 27 at 12:30 am ET
Maybe the Red Sox are thinking a deal with Mike Napoli won't get done after all.
As first reported by Boston reporter Jen Royle, the Red Sox are still kicking the tires on veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche:
Two sources tell me the Sox are going after Adam LaRoche, who's seeking a three-year deal. Third source says he won't budge on the years— Jen Royle (@Jen_Royle) December 26, 2012
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has confirmed that this is indeed the case. However, he's also heard that the Red Sox still view LaRoche as an alternative, not as a primary target.
The Red Sox can make LaRoche their primary target if they want. Their deal with Napoli is still not official, and the club's silence regarding the situation could be taken as a sign that things aren't necessarily speeding towards a conclusion.
Or this could just be a case of the Red Sox trying to light a fire under Napoli to take a deal for fewer years, less money, or both. LaRoche would be a defensive upgrade at first base over Napoli, to be sure, but the Red Sox may prefer Napoli anyway because of his power potential at Fenway Park.
Also, signing LaRoche would mean forfeiting a draft pick, and the Red Sox have thus far avoided such signings.
So I wouldn't expect the Red Sox to suddenly jump ship and go for LaRoche. They may just be keeping their options open here, and there's also the possibility that this report will light a fire under the Nationals and convince them to give LaRoche what he wants.
The Stephen Drew Signing Is Official
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 3:30 pm ET
Today is a day for making things official, apparently.
Not long after making a trade for All-Star closer Joel Hanrahan official, the Red Sox officially announced that they have signed shortstop Stephen Drew:
#RedSox today signed SS Stephen Drew to a 1 yr. contract through 2013 season.— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) December 26, 2012
Drew will make $9.5 million in 2012 with incentives that could make his contract worth $10 million in the end.
The hope for the Red Sox is that Drew can get back to being the player he once was after spending 2012 getting back into the swing of things following a major ankle injury in 2011. He managed just a .657 OPS in 79 games, though his performance did pick up in the 39 games he played as a member of the Oakland A's.
Whatever offense Drew provides is going to be better than the offense Jose Iglesias likely would have provided as the club's starting shortstop. He can field better than Drew, but he can't hit better than, well, anyone.
Joel Hanrahan Trade Official
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 1:05 pm ET
It's official. The Red Sox have themselves a brand new closer.
Hanrahan is the star player of this trade, as he's saved 76 games over the last two seasons while compiling an ERA of 2.24. He's an upgrade over Andrew Bailey, who was (and still is) a big question mark for 2013 after his injury-ruined 2012 season.
Brock Holt is a second baseman who appeared in 24 games for the Pirates in 2012. He posted a .292/.329/.354 slash line, and he has a slash line of .317/.381/.427 for his career in the minors.
As for the players going to Pittsburgh, the Red Sox didn't need to keep Mark Melancon since they were looking at making their bullpen deeper with Hanrahan, nor did they have much incentive to keep him after his rough 2012 campaign.
Melancon is likely to be better off back in the National League, where he compiled a 2.85 ERA in parts of two seasons with the Houston Astros.
The Red Sox got both Ivan De Jesus and Jerry Sands in their big trade with the Dodgers, so give them credit for turning the two of them into an impact reliever like Hanrahan.
Stolmy Pimentel, meanwhile, has a good pitcher's frame and good stuff, but his results got worse and worse as he moved through Boston's system. He may have better luck in Pittsburgh's system.
In all, the Red Sox aren't giving up anything they're really going to miss in this trade, and that's a win for them. But since Hanrahan is going to hit free agency after the 2013 season is over, the Red Sox are going to have to win right away to make this trade worth the trouble.
Presumably, they know this. And if so, this trade is a sign that they like their chances.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 3:15 pm ET
As if there was any doubt, Red Sox manager John Farrell confirmed to Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM that Hanrahan will be the team's closer in 2013:
Somewhere out there is a guy who's not thrilled about this. Sources say his last name is Bailey.
Red Sox Acquire Joel Hanrahan
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Saturday, Dec. 22 at 1:35 pm ET (updates below)
It sounds like the Red Sox may have a new closer in the near future.
However, a source told Edes there is "still work to be done." Seems legit seeing as how, you know, the trade isn't done yet.
Hanrahan features typical closer stuff in a hard fastball and a nasty slider, but his command was all over the place in 2012. His BB/9 jumped up from 2.10 in 2011 to 5.43 in 2012, and Hanrahan also gave up eight long balls after giving up only one in 2011.
Hanrahan's 2011 season was probably too good to be true. If he comes to Boston, he shouldn't be expected to post an ERA under 2.00 with a small walk rate again. He's more likely to post an ERA in the high 2.00s or the low 3.00s, and many of his save opportunities would likely be of the dramatic variety.
Still, he's more of a sure thing than Andrew Bailey.
UPDATE: Saturday, Dec. 22 at 2:15 pm ET
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has some scoopage:
My guess is that the Pirates don't want Jose Iglesias for the same reasons the Red Sox don't trust him. Dude can field, but he can't hit.
Either way, it sounds like this could be a big one.
UPDATE No. 2: Saturday, Dec. 22 at 7:45 pm ET
According to Jon Heyman, this trade is happening:
Hanrahan trade is 6-player deal as constituted. 4 to pitts, 2 to bos.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 22, 2012
The terms of the trade aren't available yet, but Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM says that Stolmy Pimentel and Jerry Sands are involved.
UPDATE No. 3: Sunday, Dec. 23 at 2:25 pm ET
This trade still isn't final, and Jon Heyman says the delay has to do with the final piece of the puzzle:
Word is, still some discussion about final player or 2 in hanrahan deal. Not expected to derail it, but may delay past xmas— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 23, 2012
The final player of the deal may or may not be Mark Melancon. Gordon Edes has reported that he could be included, but John Tomase of the Boston Herald has heard from Melancon himself that he has yet to be informed of his inclusion in any deal.
UPDATE No. 4: Monday, Dec. 24 at 2:25 pm ET
Evan Drellich of MLB.com has heard that this deal is on hold until after Christmas:
Joel Hanrahan trade between Red Sox and Pirates won't be done until after Christmas, source says. Confirms @jonheymancbs from earlier— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 23, 2012
So there's that. Have a Merry Christmas, everyone.
UPDATE No. 5: Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 12:50 pm ET
According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the deed is done:
He went on to tweet a rough list of players going to Pittsburgh:
Stand by. More coming.
Mike Napoli's Hip Is the Culprit
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Dec. 21 at 1:25 pm ET
Mike Napoli's signing is still not official, and now we know why that may be.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, Napoli has a problem with one of his hips. The problem was bad enough to convince the Seattle Mariners to back off, and the Texas Rangers may have also been wary of it.
What worried these clubs either didn't worry the Red Sox, or they just weren't aware of it before they offered him three years and $39 million.
It's possible that Napoli will still get that deal, though at this point it's fair to expect that it will contain special language protecting the Red Sox from any future medical issues. It's also possible that the Red Sox and Napoli could agree to a restructured deal, perhaps one for less money, fewer years, or both.
Napoli doesn't have much leverage either way, as this situation has certainly gotten the word out to other teams that all is not well with his body. If the Red Sox try to talk him down, it's not like he can back away and go get a better deal from another club.
In fact, it's a wonder that the Red Sox themselves haven't backed away and pursued somebody else to play first base, such as Adam LaRoche or Nick Swisher. Signing either of them would require the club to give up a draft pick, but the per-year dollars would be roughly the same and neither player would come with significant medical red flags.
Suffice it to say that Red Sox Nation hopes the club knows what it's doing. So do the Red Sox, probably.
Trade Notes: Joel Hanrahan and Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Dec. 21 at 1:15 pm ET
Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the trade winds are blowing and they're always cool...
Or something like that. The word is that the Red Sox are weighing a couple different options on the trade market, one of which is a deal for Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Joel Hanrahan.
According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, the Red Sox have engaged in trade talks with the Pirates regarding the All-Star closer. The Pirates are supposedly looking for a starting pitcher, and the Red Sox may be willing to give them either Franklin Morales or Alfredo Aceves.
The Pirates, however, may prefer Felix Doubront. Seeing as how he has many years of controllability left and Hanrahan is a reliever who is due to hit free agency next winter, that wouldn't be a very wise transaction on the part of the Red Sox.
But this all may be water under the bridge anyway. The Pirates signed veteran left-hander Francisco Liriano to a two-year deal on Friday, thus taking care of their need for a quality starter. It's possible that they could just keep Hanrahan and take their chances with him in 2013.
Elsewhere, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has this to report on Boston's catcher situation:
#redsox had some inquiries on saltalamacchia but it appears they may go to spring w/ 3 catchers (plus napoli, maybe)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 20, 2012
The Red Sox could just be biding their time here. With A.J. Pierzynski signing with the Rangers on Thursday, the catching market is devoid of quality starters. The Red Sox are in a position to capitalize if there are any teams out there desperate to land a starting catcher.
We're talking about teams besides the Yankees, of course. It would be nice if the Red Sox could rob them blind in a trade for Salty, but the odds of the two sides doing business are about equal to those of the world actually ending today.
Andre Ethier and More Outfield Notes
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 20 at 3:15 pm ET
Dreaming of seeing Andre Ethier in right field for the Red Sox in 2013?
Well, you can forget it. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has some scoopage:
#redsox inquired about andre ethier at the start of winter & were told "not available.'' more evidence he's staying in LA— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 20, 2012
Hard to see how he would fit now anyway with Shane Victorino in town to play right field. One possibility would be to trade Jacoby Ellsbury for Ethier straight up, but there's not a ton of sense to a trade like that. The Dodgers may not be willing to trade several years of Ethier for one year of Ellsbury, and the Red Sox may not think that Ethier is that good.
For that matter, are the Red Sox even looking for another outfielder? Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald has heard that they're not necessarily desperate to find one:
#RedSox not ruling out adding another OF, but feel "comfortable" with Ryan Kalish or Daniel Nava as LH-hitting 4th OF/platoon-mate for Gomes— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) December 20, 2012
Kalish is a guy I'd like to see get a shot. He showed some real potential back in 2010, but he hasn't been healthy enough over the last two years to show it again. He's still only 24, so it's way too soon to write him off as a lost cause.
But the Red Sox may have already done so. In saying that they're willing to go with Kalish or Nava as a platoon partner for Gomes, they may just be trying to hide their desperation, such as it is (or may be).
Joel Hanrahan on Boston's Radar
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 7:00 pm ET
Here's your latest "the Red Sox are interested in" rumor.
Hanrahan saw his ERA increase nearly a full run between 2011 and 2012, which was thanks in part to the fact that his walk rate increased from 2.1 per nine innings to 5.4 per nine innings.
The trade-off is that his strikeout rate also increased, from 8.0 per nine to 10.1 per nine.
The Red Sox could package a couple players around a young pitcher to acquire Hanrahan, but they have some competition out west in the Los Angeles Dodgers. They like Hanrahan too, and they have a couple of excess starting pitchers to offer the Pirates in a trade.
Hanrahan is due to be a free agent at the end of the 2013 season, so he'd like be a rental if the Red Sox were to acquire him. Since they already have a closer in Andrew Bailey, they may not be willing to pay the price for Hanrahan if the Dodgers force them into a bidding war.
If they're going to pay a heavy price for a reliever, they'd be more likely to break the bank for Rafael Soriano than to trade for Hanrahan. But that's just me speculating.
Updates on Cody Ross and Jacoby Ellsbury
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 12:15 am ET (Update below)
The Red Sox, surprisingly, are still in on Cody Ross.
This according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, who says the Red Sox are insisting that they're still interested in Ross, who hit 22 home runs with an .807 OPS in Boston in 2012. He wants a three-year deal, though, and there's no space for him in Boston's outfield after the signings of Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino.
One American League GM suggested that the Red Sox “may be trying to deal Jacoby Ellsbury and then sign Ross after they move Victorino to center.” It could happen, but in recent days all signs have pointed towards Ellsbury staying put because of the lack of favorable options on the trade market.
As for a potential Ellsbury for Andre Ethier swap with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cafardo has heard from a Dodgers official that that's not happening.
No surprise there. Ellsbury's value is low and he only has one year left before free agency. Ethier's value isn't any higher, but he's locked up through 2017 with a vesting option for 2018.
In summary, what's basically happening is that the status quo is holding for now. There won't be space in Boston's outfield for Ross until Ellsbury is traded, and it still sounds like that's not going to happen.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 3:50 pm ET
Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com has it straight from Ben Cherington that Ellsbury won't be traded.
As with all "he won't be traded" rumors, take this one for what it's worth. Ellsbury could be traded any minute if the right offer comes along.
But since it's unlikely that the right offer will come along, I wouldn't count on it.
Latest Non-Update Update on Mike Napoli
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 3:45 pm ET
Technically, Mike Napoli still isn't a member of the Boston Red Sox.
The contract Napoli agreed to is still being tweaked, and Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald has the latest on the situation straight from Ben Cherington:
Cherington on Napoli: "Still working through some issues, and we'll continue to do so. ... Until something's done, it's not done." #RedSox— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) December 19, 2012
So yeah, status quo.
Remember, the way in which the process is being dragged out doesn't necessarily mean that Napoli won't eventually sign. The Red Sox have been down this road before with J.D. Drew and John Lackey, and both of them ultimately ended up signing.
It's likely that Napoli will too. Indications are that the Red Sox are worried about his health, but they can ease that worry by either reworking Napoli's deal or by putting some special language in it.
Red Sox Not Involved with Nick Swisher
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 1:25 pm ET
It was rumored that Nick Swisher was going to wait for Josh Hamilton to sign before making a decision on where he would play next. Now that Hamilton has signed with the Angels, Swisher is making the rounds.
According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, Swisher won't be visiting Boston any time soon. The Red Sox say the have "nothing planned" in regards to a face-to-face meeting.
No real surprise here. There's no fit for Swisher in Boston with Shane Victorino in right field and Mike Napoli slated to play first base once his contract is finalized.
However, Napoli may be a pretty big "if." If things between Napoli and the Red Sox break down, the Sox could turn to Swisher as a Plan B option for first base.
Swisher is a right fielder by trade, but he's handled his own pretty well at first base in the past. This was especially true in 2012, as Swisher saw a fair amount of time at first base while Mark Teixeira was injured.
But for now, nothing's happening. And if the Red Sox do decide to cancel their agreement with Napoli, Swisher may have already signed.
Nick Cafardo on Jose Iglesias, Other Things
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 11:10 pm ET
With Stephen Drew signing with the Red Sox on Monday, you may have guessed that Jose Iglesias doesn't feature prominently in the club's plans for 2013 anymore.
You'd be right. According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, Iglesias "seems" to be headed back to Triple-A, as it's the Red Sox don't seem to think he can hit enough to be an everyday player.
As for why the Red Sox haven't just traded Iglesias, Cafardo says that it's not an issue of his availability. He's always been available, but no teams have come calling for him.
That's not much of a surprise, as other teams are surely just as aware of Iglesias' problems at the plate as the Red Sox are. He has 10 hits in 74 career at-bats in the majors, and he has a .626 OPS for his career in the minor leagues.
As for other players who may be in play for the Red Sox, Cafardo said that Cubs right-hander Matt Garza may be an option and that free-agent closer Rafael Soriano is on the club's radar.
Soriano would be an upgrade over Andrew Bailey, but Scott Boras is looking to land him a monster contract. It would be odd for the Red Sox to sign Soriano to a big contract after they've handed out so many relatively modest contracts already.
Garza would be an upgrade for the club's rotation, but the price for him is likely to be high. He has modest career numbers, but he has value because of his youth and his experience in the AL East.
If the Red Sox are going to pay a high price in a trade for a starting pitcher, I'd expect them to aim higher than Garza.
Another Drew Comes to Boston
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Monday, Dec. 17 at 11:15 am ET
First it was J.D. Drew. Now it's Stephen Drew.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Red Sox have agreed to sign Drew to a one-year deal worth $9.5 million. ESPN's Buster Olney notes that Drew's deal also includes $500K in performance bonuses.
Drew has missed a lot of time over the last two seasons due to a gruesome ankle injury he suffered in 2011. He returned to hit just .223 with a .657 OPS in 79 games this year with Arizona and Oakland.
However, Drew did show some signs of life after he was traded to the A's. He upped his OPS from .601 to .707, hitting five home runs in 152 at-bats.
His defense won't be as good, but Drew will give the Red Sox more offense that Jose Iglesias would have (granted, that's not saying much). His presence will also allow the Red Sox to develop Iglesias in the minors for one more year if they wish.
For Drew, this deal is a chance to build his value with a strong year and then try to land a multiyear deal next winter. His last truly productive season was in 2010, but he's still only 29 years old.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Dec. 18 at 3:15 pm ET
Jon Heyman has an update on Drew's $500K performance bonus:
Drew hasn't reached 500 plate appearances since 2010, but he should be able to do so in 2013 if he stays healthy.
Sounds Like Jacoby Ellsbury Is Staying
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Dec. 17 at 2:55 pm ET
The Red Sox have done their best to build a quality ballclub this winter. They don't look like a World Series contender, but they could be a playoff contender if things go their way.
After all that's gone on, it wouldn't make much sense for them to trade Jacoby Ellsbury. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is saying that they're not even trying:
#redsox have been rebuffing ellsbury inquiries so far. can't blame em. great talent, draft pick after '13. would take haul— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 17, 2012
From a simple PR perspective, this makes sense. The Red Sox have done their best to convince Red Sox Nation that 2013 will be better. They'd thus have a hard time explaining an Ellsbury trade, as he has the talent to be Boston's best player next season.
This also makes sense from a baseball perspective. The demand for center fielders has dried up, and Ellsbury's trade value is low after the season he just had. The atmosphere just isn't right for the Red Sox to make a killing in an Ellsbury trade.
For now, it makes far more sense for the Red Sox to keep Ellsbury and then to reassess the situation in the middle of the season. He's either going to be a star player on a contending team, or trade bait likely to be moved at the deadline.
If he stays through the 2013 season, the Red Sox will make him a qualifying offer and then go from there.
Stephen Drew Still on Boston's Radar
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Sunday, Dec. 16 at 11:20 pm ET
With all their major needs taken care of, the Red Sox are pretty well set. Only minor moves are needed from here on out.
A shortstop upgrade could be next on Ben Cherington's checklist, and ESPN's Jayson Stark says that Stephen Drew is still in play:
#RedSox have some interest in Stephen Drew, sources say. Appear to see him mostly as a one-year stopgap as Iglesias & Bogaerts develop.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 16, 2012
The trouble with this idea is that Drew may not be willing to accept a one-year contract. Even after missing much of the last two seasons recovering from a brutal ankle injury, he may be on the lookout for a multiyear deal.
The fact that the Red Sox are still looking at Drew says a lot about how high their confidence in Jose Iglesias is. They could turn him loose in 2013 just to see what he can do, but they don't seem to view him as an everyday shortstop.
If the Red Sox were to sign Drew and then have Iglesias prove them wrong, the bright side of inking Drew to a one-year deal is that he would be easy trade bait. Cherington could figure he has nothing to lose one way or the other.
Nick Swisher Cool on Red Sox
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Friday, Dec. 14 at 12:50 pm ET
Judging from all the reports, the Red Sox can picture Nick Swisher in one of their uniforms.
That road may only go one way, though. Here's this from Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe:
Swisher, I've been told, has never viewed Boston as a likely landing spot.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) December 13, 2012
It's easy to see why he would feel this way now after the club's agreements with Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, but why would he have felt this way before?
You'd have to ask him. The Red Sox had legit needs in right field and at first base, two areas where Swisher could have filled in. They also had more than enough money to offer him. It certainly looked like a great fit once upon a time.
So your guess is as good as mine. It could be that he just wants to remain loyal to the Yank...BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Sorry, I can't finish that sentence with a straight face.
What's Up with Mike Napoli?
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 11:05 pm ET (Updates below)
Sitting there wondering why Mike Napoli's signing hasn't been made official yet?
According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the plan was for the Red Sox to formally introduce Napoli on Tuesday, but decided to nix the event. He apparently started undergoing his physical on Monday morning, and it may not be complete yet.
Or it could be that a problem has been discovered. Such is the gist of this tweet from Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com:
For those asking about Napoli, no response from any of the parties involved for the last 2 hours. Makes you wonder— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) December 12, 2012
Interesting. Very interesting.
It's not like Napoli doesn't have a history of injuries. He was out for over a month in 2012 with a bad quad, and he missed several weeks in 2011 with an oblique problem. He also seriously hurt his ankle during the playoffs.
So maybe, just maybe the Red Sox have seen something that they don't like, or that at least requires a closer look.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 12:55 pm ET
It doesn't sound like there's anything to panic about. Here's an update from Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com:
Source: Too strong to say #RedSox's deal with Napoli is in "jeopardy." Some issues still to work through.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2012
And another from Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com:
Red Sox are trying to work through some issues on Mike Napoli deal according to a major league source but nothing resolved yet.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 12, 2012
It's worth noting that it took almost two months for the Red Sox to finalize J.D. Drew's deal a few years back, as language had to be added that would protect the Sox from Drew's troublesome right shoulder.
The same thing may be happening with Napoli's deal.
UPDATE No. 2: Thursday, Dec. 13 at 6:50 pm ET
According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, Ben Cherington kinda-sorta-not-really updated Napoli's status at Shane Victorino's introductory press conference on Thursday.
We’re working through some things in regards to another player. As it’s been our policy, until every sort of aspect of the agreement is resolved, we’re not going to comment on it publicly. We’re at a point where we’re still working through some issues. Every time we sign a free agent to any kind of guaranteed deal, there’s a number of things you have to come to an agreement on and get resolved. Some of its contract language. Some of its terms and money, et cetera, and then, there’s a physical. And until all those things are resolved, we can’t comment on it.
Reading between the lines, it sounds like the Red Sox are indeed trying to tweak Napoli's contract in case of future health woes.
Red Sox to Sign Ryan Dempster
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 13 at 4:40 pm ET
Ryan Dempster shall be a Red Sox in 2013.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com first reported the terms of his deal with the Red Sox, which is for two years:
Sources: Dempster close with #RedSox on two-year, $26.5 million free-agent contract.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 13, 2012
He then said it's all done except for the physical:
Dempster and #RedSox are in agreement, pending physical.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 13, 2012
Dempster supposedly turned down a two-year offer worth $25 million from the Red Sox, so by holding out he earned himself an extra $1.5 million. Job well done.
Dempster will presumably be slotted in the No. 3 spot in Boston's rotation behind Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz and in front of John Lackey and Felix Doubront. The Red Sox will be happy if they get 200 innings from him, but they shouldn't expect anything better than an ERA in the 4.00s.
He did a lot better than that in his time with the Cubs in 2012, but the American League turned out to be a much better match for him than the National League.
Red Sox Going Hard After Ryan Dempster
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 1:05 pm ET
The Red Sox have a need for a middle-of-the-rotation starter, and it sounds like they've tabbed Ryan Dempster as the best man for the job.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has the latest:
Source: #RedSox, Dempster in serious discussions. No deal yet; still possible he could sign elsewhere.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2012
This may be one of those updates that's not really an update. "Serious discussions" sounds sexy, but that doesn't necessarily tell us that the two sides are progressing towards a deal. As Rosenthal noted, it's just as likely that nothing could happen.
The Red Sox could do a lot better than Dempster, but they could also do a lot worse. They're not looking for an ace, and Dempster is much cheaper than guys like Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse.
The big concern is that Dempster didn't pitch very well upon coming over to the American League at the trade deadline in 2012, posting a 5.09 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP in 12 starts. AL hitters hit him hard, as his opponents' slugging rose from .324 as a Cub to .470 as a Ranger.
Dempster would be an upgrade over what the Red Sox currently have, but only because they basically have no other options for the spot he would occupy. Signing him to a reasonable deal wouldn't be foolish given the going rate for top starters, but it's doubtful that Dempster would be able to outperform his new deal.
UPDATE: Thursday, Dec. 13 at 11:35 am ET
This may be happening. Here's the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com:
Sources: Dempster, #RedSox close.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 13, 2012
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe has heard from a pair of rival GMs that the Red Sox may be willing to go as long as three years in a contract for Dempster. The third year could either be guaranteed or an option year. He's already turned down a two-year offer from the Red Sox.
Sox Not in Pursuit of R.A. Dickey
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 8:15 pm ET
The Red Sox currently don't have any plans to acquire a new knuckleballer.
According to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe, the Red Sox are not after New York Mets Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey:
Red Sox are not one of the teams pursuing RA Dickey. At least not until they know if they can land Ryan Dempster.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 12, 2012
The Red Sox were said to be in on Dickey once upon a time. During the winter meetings, Adam Rubin and Joe McDonald of ESPN.com reported that the Red Sox were one of eight teams eyeing Dickey, and that the Mets liked top prospects Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Boegarts.
If the Mets actually asked for the two of them in a trade, I can see why the Red Sox said no. They're in no position to deal their best youngsters for a short-term option like Dickey. If they're going to trade top prospects for pitching, they had better get someone young and controllable.
If the price for Dickey drops—and that's a big if—the Red Sox could get back in the mix. They could part with a couple of expendable prospects and then look to sign Dickey to a short-term extension. With him at the top of their rotation, they could contend sooner than expected.
For now, they can be forgiven for setting their sights a little lower.
Outfield Notes: Nick Swisher and Jacoby Ellsbury
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 12 at 1:15 pm ET
Boston's outfield appears to be set, but things could easily change if the Red Sox trade Jacoby Ellsbury. If they do that, they could move Shane Victorino to center field and target Nick Swisher for right field.
But Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says not to count on it:
barring a trade (& ellsbury deal very unlikely), #redsox OF is set. so no swish.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 12, 2012
However, it may not take an Ellsbury trade to make room for Swisher in Boston. With Mike Napoli's deal suddenly on shaky ground, the Red Sox may soon have a need for a new first baseman. Swisher can fill in there just as well as he could in right field.
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Red Sox have remained in contact with Swisher's people throughout the offseason, even after they signed Victorino. Swisher is a clear alternative to Napoli if his deal falls apart, as well as lefty-hitting first baseman Adam LaRoche.
If Napoli's contract ends up working out, both Swisher and LaRoche are likely to be completely crossed off Boston's list of possibilities. An Ellsbury trade would open the door for Swisher again, but it sounds like the Red Sox aren't liking what they could get for him in this market.
Sox Still Eyeing Nick Swisher and Josh Hamilton
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 5:30 pm ET
The Red Sox have done a lot of shopping already this winter, but it doesn't sound like they're done yet.
According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, the Red Sox are one of four teams still looking at Nick Swisher, but they only view him as a fallback plan in case they're unable to sign Josh Hamilton.
The Red Sox may covet Hamilton, but Edes says they're not willing to offer him more than a three-year deal. Hamilton apparently doesn't want to a contract for any fewer than four years.
Swisher still seems to be a better fit for the Red Sox due to his switch-hitting abilities and because of the fact he can play both the outfield and first base. He wouldn't bring the Red Sox as much power as Hamilton, but he'd surely bring them more versatility.
Swisher is said to be seeking a five- or six-year deal, however, and that may be too long for the Red Sox. They've only handed out shorter deals this offseason, and Swisher isn't getting any younger.
Still, if the market pushes Swisher towards a four-year deal, the Red Sox have to be considered the favorites to sign him. Likewise, they'll be able to outbid anyone if the market pushes Hamilton to accept a three-year deal.
I've been skeptical about the idea of the Red Sox signing Hamilton, but even I have to admit that a three-year deal would be nothing to panic about. If he were to turn into a liability, the nightmare would be short-lived.
Sandy Rosario Is a Red Sox Again
Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 11 at 12:40 am ET
Because baseball is such a weird sport, Sandy Rosario is a member of the Red Sox again.
The club announced on Monday that it claimed Rosario off waivers from the Oakland A's. He had been designated for assignment on Nov. 30, two days after the Red Sox had traded him to the A's. Before that, they had DFA'd him, and before that they had claimed him off waivers from the Miami Marlins.
So in a span of a couple weeks, Rosario has claimed off waivers twice, designated for assignment twice and traded once.
There's a step in there I may be missing. The point is that it's been a long and winding road for Rosario to this point in the offseason, and there are still several months to go until spring training.
When it's time for pitchers and catchers to report, my guess is that Rosario will be approaching a monolith in the far reaches of space.
Red Sox Still in on Ryan Dempster
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Dec. 7 at 7:00 pm ET
The Red Sox have given their lineup a face lift, but their starting rotation still has a glaring hole in it.
Options on the free-agent market are dwindling, but Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune says that the Red Sox are still in on veteran right-hander Ryan Dempster:
If the Red Sox are looking for a sturdy, relatively low-cost hurler who they could use as a No. 3, they could do worse than Dempster.
They could also do a lot better. Dempster didn't take very well to the American League in 2012, and he may be demanding too much money after making $14 million. The Red Sox have shown a willingness to overspend this winter, but they shouldn't go over two years in an offer to Dempster.
But they may have to. The Red Sox haven't been in much of a hurry to round out their rotation, and they may become desperate if their options continue to dwindle and Dempster remains unsigned.
If it comes to that, expect him to get three years and $39 million, because of course he will.
UPDATE: Saturday, Dec. 8 at 1:05 am ET
According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, the Red Sox made Dempster a two-year offer worth $25 million that he turned down. The word is that he may not settle for anything less than a three-year deal.
Within the article, Edes mentions that the Red Sox could turn to Kyle Lohse if he is willing to accept a three-year deal.
Red Sox Acquire Graham Godfrey
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Dec. 7 at 3:15 pm ET
The Red Sox announced today that they have acquired right-hander Graham Godfrey from the Oakland A's to complete the trade that sent right-hander Sandy Rosario to Oakland in late November.
Godfrey made 10 appearances (eight starts) for the A's in 2011 and 2012, compiling a 5.09 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP. He was selected in the 34th round of the draft in 2006 and has spent the vast majority of his career in the minors.
Hey, more organizational depth is never a bad thing, am I right?
Red Sox Finally out on Josh Hamilton?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 1:20 pm ET
With Jonny Gomes penciled into left field, Jacoby Ellsbury into center field and Shane Victorino into right field, Boston's offense appears to be set for the moment.
Does this mean we can finally remove the Red Sox from the Josh Hamilton equation?
For now, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says the answer is yes:
#redsox are "not focusing on" josh hamilton. (maybe josh should have stayed home.)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 5, 2012
Heyman noted in a report on Hamilton's situation that the Red Sox certainly have shown interest, but they don't really have room for him now with their outfield all set for 2013.
Of course, things could change. There are whispers that the Victorino signing may have been a precursor to an Ellsbury trade. If he is dealt, the Red Sox will have an opening in their outfield and a need for an impact hitter.
Based on what the Red Sox have done this offseason, it's fair to assume that they have no interest in signing Hamilton to a long-term deal. Any deal between them and Hamilton is likely to be more in the four-year range than the seven-year range. Maybe five years at the most, or four years with an option for a fifth.
That may be the best Hamilton can do on this market. If so, all the Red Sox would have to do in order to lure him is offer him more per year than he's worth.
Even despite their recent activity, the Red Sox still have the payroll space to do this. They're not in on Hamilton now, but they probably shouldn't be considered completely out of the running.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 11:50 pm ET
According to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, Ben Cherington and John Farrell met with Hamilton on Monday in Nashville.
This, of course, was before they signed Shane Victorino. Make of it what you will.
UPDATE No. 2: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 9:20 pm ET
Jon Heyman has some more water to throw on the Hamilton-to-Boston rumors:
So yeah, unless Ellsbury is traded, this isn't happening.
Update on Jacoby Ellsbury
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 5:35 pm ET
Jacoby Ellsbury is on the block. Or maybe he isn't. It depends on who you ask, really.
Either way, indications are that the Red Sox could trade Ellsbury if the right offer comes along. And with the demand for center fielders continuing to dwindle with today's trade of Ben Revere to the Philadelphia Phillies, Alex Speier of WEEI.com suggests the right offer may not come along.
It is worth adding that, according to an industry source familiar with the team’s thinking, the Sox would only consider trading Ellsbury if doing so offered a meaningful way of addressing the team’s need for a quality big league starter in 2013. Thus far, while the Sox have received some interest in Ellsbury, offer(s) have been built around prospects rather than sufficient rotation help for 2013 to justify a deal.
No surprise here, right? The Red Sox seem to want a good top-of-the-rotation or middle-of-the-rotation starter for Ellsbury in a trade, and they don't have much leverage to ask for one. Ellsbury's value is pretty low after his down season in 2012, and contenders that may be willing to do business aren't about to sacrifice a starter to gamble on Ellsbury for one year.
As such, it's likely that he's staying put.
Koji Uehara Signs with Red Sox
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 1:00 pm ET
The Red Sox are pillaging the Texas Rangers.
According to Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News, the Red Sox agreed to terms with free-agent right-hander Koji Uehara on a one-year contract on Thursday. The deal is pending a physical.
Bullpen depth wasn't a huge area of need for the Red Sox this winter, but in Uehara they've acquired one of the more underrated relievers in the league. He has a 2.36 ERA in 145 appearances over the last three seasons, as well as a WHIP of 0.77.
Uehara's best asset is his control. He has a combined BB/9 of 1.1 over the last three seasons, and a K/BB ratio of 10.76.
Among relievers, that 10.76 K/BB ratio over the last three years ranks No. 1 by a mile.
Uehara should be a good eighth-inning setup man for Andrew Bailey. If Bailey struggles in the closer's role, John Farrell could turn to Uehara as a replacement.
Say what you will about the other moves the Sox have made this winter, but this is a good one.
...But I reserve the right to change my mind once the financial terms of the deal come out.
Red Sox Still in on Nick Swisher
The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 5:50 pm ET
The Red Sox signed Shane Victorino to play right field on Tuesday, but that doesn't mean they're out of the market for Nick Swisher.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, the Red Sox are still interested in Swisher, as they have been all along this winter. The difference now is that something would have to happen before they could make a move on him.
Namely, they'd have to trade Jacoby Ellsbury. That would allow Victorino to slide over to center, leaving an opening for Swisher in right field. In all likelihood, the two of them would be penciled in as an outfield duo for the next few years.
And that would be risky. Victorino's career took a turn for the worse in 2012, and he may not be far off from being a mere platoon outfielder. The Red Sox are already gambling on him, and they'd be gambling even more if they were to trade Ellsbury and move Victorino to center field.
A better idea would have been to spend on Swisher to play right field rather than Victorino.
Red Sox Listening on Jacoby Ellsbury AND Jon Lester
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 1:30 pm ET
We've heard that the Red Sox are open to trading Jon Lester, and we've also heard that they're open to trading Jacoby Ellsbury.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, both players are popular trade targets at the Winter Meetings:
However, nothing seems to be imminent. This may be because ESPN's Buster Olney says that the Red Sox aren't desperate to move either player:
Rival official on Red Sox: "Boston is listening on... Ellsbury and Lester, but not motivated to move them unless teams overpay."— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2012
The Red Sox probably aren't going to get their wish, as now is not the time for teams to overpay for either Ellsbury or Lester. Lester is coming off the worst year of his career, and Ellsbury is coming off his second injury-ruined season in the last three years. Plus, he's a free-agent-to-be.
If the Red Sox don't get an offer they can't refuse for either player, they'll do the smart thing and hold on to them. They can always trade Ellsbury away as a rental if he ups his value with a hot start in 2013, and Lester is controllable through 2014. There's no real hurry for him to be traded.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 9:45 pm ET
According to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, Ben Cherington isn't tipping his hand in regards to Ellsbury:
Ben: trading Ellsbury "not our intent. We're expecting him to have a good year in 2013 and be a big part of what we're doing."— Tim Britton (@TBritton_Projo) December 5, 2012
This is GM speak for "Why the hell should I tell you what we're really up to?"
Red Sox Looking at Eric Chavez
Leon Halip/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 5 at 12:40 am ET
One by one, Boston's roster needs are disappearing. Since the offseason began, they've signed a backup catcher, a righty-hitting left fielder with power, a catcher/first baseman hybrid with even more power and a switch-hitter with speed to play right field.
The newly acquired Mike Napoli is the catcher/first baseman hybrid, and indications are that he's going to play first base more often than he's going to catch. The Red Sox would do well to find a left-handed hitter who could platoon with Napoli at first base, though, and Eric Chavez may be a leading option.
According to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, the Red Sox view Chavez as a "potentially strong fit" for their 2013 roster. Now would be a good time for them to strike, as Chavez is coming off a year in which he posted an .845 OPS and hit 16 home runs in limited action with the New York Yankees.
Chavez played third base and first base for the Yankees. On the Red Sox, he would probably be limited mainly to first base duty, with only occasional starts at third base in place of Will Middlebrooks.
However, Speier is correct in noting that the Yankees may be a more attractive option for Chavez. They have plenty of playing time to offer him at third base with Alex Rodriguez likely out until June, whereas the Red Sox only have a platoon opportunity to offer him.
The Red Sox could use their wealth to lure him. I mean, if they're will to spend nearly $40 million on Shane Victorino, then surely they can overpay to have Chavez for a year or two.
Red Sox Gearing Up to Trade Jacoby Ellsbury?
J. Meric/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 9:35 pm ET
With Shane Victorino signing with the Red Sox on Tuesday, Boston's plan seems to be to move forward with an outfield featuring Jonny Gomes in left, Jacoby Ellsbury in center and Victorino in right.
But Victorino could end up in center if Ellsbury moves. Not to another position, mind you. Another team.
Here's this from Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe:
Sources: #RedSox are open to idea of trading Ellsbury, playing Victorino in CF and signing C. Ross or another RF. Keeping doors open.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) December 5, 2012
But wait, there's more. Here's this from ESPN's Buster Olney:
Rival officials believe that the Red Sox are laying the groundwork for a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury, for the pitching they need.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2012
I want to say I'm surprised, but, well, I'm not.
It's long been speculated that the Red Sox would look to trade Ellsbury this winter, as he's going to be a free agent next winter and odds of him re-signing with Boston are slim. His value is nowhere near as high now as it was last offseason, but it's still high enough for the Red Sox to demand a solid starting pitcher for him.
And if trading Ellsbury for a starter has been Boston's plan all along, that could explain why the team has been so preoccupied with finding offense on the free-agent market rather than pitching.
Red Sox Sign Shane Victorino
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 5:15 pm ET
OK, this is more than a little surprising.
Red Sox front runners on Shane Victorino. Offered three year $38 mill deal.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 4, 2012
This is essentially the same deal the Red Sox just gave Mike Napoli, minus $1 million. If you want to get technical about it, it's actually $1.5 million, as Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has reported that the offer is really three years and $37.5 million.
Regardless, this is the kind of offer that makes you scratch your head. Didn't Victorino just post a .704 OPS in 2012, not to mention a .667 OPS down the stretch after he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers?
Yes he did, and the Red Sox want to pay him nearly as much money as the San Francisco Giants just paid Angel Pagan, who had a career year in 2012. In the words of Vin Scully, you talk about a roll of the dice...
Granted, the deal would be a steal for the Red Sox if Victorino were to recapture his prowess from 2008-2011. An average season for him in those four years consisted of an .800 OPS, 15 homers and 28 stolen bases, and he was still one of the better defensive outfielders in the league.
His 2012 performance suggests pretty clearly that he's already begun his decline. In offering him such a favorable deal, the Red Sox are clearly willing to gamble that he just had a bad year.
That's not a bad gamble to make, but $38 million will be a lot of money to swallow if they end up signing him and being wrong.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 9:25 pm ET
So yeah, it sounds official.
The Latest on Kyle Lohse, Anibal Sanchez
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 1:25 pm ET
The Red Sox have added some solid pieces to their offense in David Ross, Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli, but their starting pitching staff remains incomplete.
They may change that in a big way. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Red Sox are one of many teams interested in free-agent right-hander Anibal Sanchez:
Sanchez is the top pitching target on the market after Zack Greinke, in no small part because he proved he can pitch effectively in the American League and in the postseason after joining the Detroit Tigers in a July trade.
The concern with him is that he's not going to come cheap, as he could command a contract worth near or over $100 million. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com indicates that the Red Sox aren't too sure about giving him a contract like that:
#redsox interested in lohse. but they seem to be taking care of offense 1st. also like anibal but found price very high— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 4, 2012
Kyle Lohse would come cheaper than Sanchez, but maybe not cheap enough for the Red Sox. He has leverage to demand a rich contract after posting a 2.86 ERA in 2012, but his career track record says he's not worth a significant investment.
Regardless, I'd consider all doors to be open in regards to Boston's hunt for pitching. There are few free agents and trade targets who aren't in play.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 3:30 pm ET
Jon Heyman can confirm that the Red Sox are interested in Lohse, but notes that Lohse probably isn't going to sign until after Zack Greinke sets the market with his new deal.
Red Sox Interested in Brandon McCarthy
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 4 at 1:15 pm ET
Time for another "the Red Sox are interested in..." rumor. Yawn.
Wait...Actually, this one's pretty good.
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Red Sox are among several clubs expressing interest in Oakland A's free-agent right-hander Brandon McCarthy, who has a 3.29 ERA over the last two seasons.
McCarthy has always struck me as a perfect fit for Boston's rotation. He's a strike-thrower with a solid arsenal of stuff who has the ability to dominate on any given day.
Plus, he's a known sabermetrics fanboy, which makes him a good fit for the Red Sox because...well, just because.
The problem with McCarthy, of course, is that he can't stay healthy. He's only made 43 starts over the last two years due to nagging injuries. Most of them have been related to his right arm, but he missed the final month of the 2012 season after suffering a fractured skull when he was hit by a line drive.
Still, McCarthy's injury history makes him a good buy-low candidate, and the word from Slusser is that he's open to a one-year deal. He could be a low-risk, very high-reward signing for the Red Sox.
Shane Victorino in Play for Boston
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 10:10 pm ET
Shane Victorino has already been rumored as a potential target for the Red Sox. Here's the latest wave of rumors.
Shane Victorino very much on Boston's outfield radar. One of the OF's they're considering.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 3, 2012
Later Monday night, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported that the Red Sox are comfortable offering Victorino as many as three years.
Victorino could be a target for the Red Sox's opening in right field, or as a target for a guy to platoon with Jonny Gomes in left field. If the latter is the case, though, I wish the Red Sox luck signing him if they really want him, as Victorino surely prefers a full-time job.
Still, he's an interesting target. He's a good buy-low option after barely managing a .700 OPS in 2012. He just turned 32, and his career year in 2011 wasn't that long ago. You have to think he still has plenty of talent, and that 2012 may have just been a bad year.
Victorino would look good as a No. 2 hitter in Boston's lineup, in which case Dustin Pedroia would be freed up to bat third in front of David Ortiz and Mike Napoli, who agreed to terms with the Red Sox on Monday. Victorino could also fit lower in the order.
It's a good fit, but Victorino has plenty of other suitors and some of them no doubt have starting jobs in left or center field to offer him. That could keep Victorino from signing in Boston.
The Latest on Josh Hamilton
Cooper Neill/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 9:55 pm ET
Yes, Josh Hamilton is still being linked to the Red Sox. So it goes.
Earlier today, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com passed along what I like to call an "I wouldn't be surprised if" rumor:
Baseball source advises not to rule out the Red Sox on Hamilton: "They're the Boston Red Sox, and they have money.''— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) December 3, 2012
Ho hum. Edes' source isn't the first to say such a thing. If we're being honest, his opinion is no more valid than the last guy's opinion.
Fortunately, ESPN's Jayson Stark came to the rescue with a real report:
Source familiar with #RedSox thinking on chances they'll sign Josh Hamilton: "They're not zero percent. But they're not high."— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 4, 2012
That's more like it. As well as Hamilton would fit in left field and in the middle of Boston's lineup, his personal baggage and his contract demands have always cast him as a bad fit for the Red Sox. Evidently, they think so too.
However, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com came out on Monday night and reported that the Red Sox are interested in Hamilton...but only if it means signing him to a short-term deal. A four-year contract, for example, could be to their liking.
This is actually a not-so-crazy idea. Hamilton wants seven years, which is crazy, but a four-year deal wouldn't carry that much risk because he probably has a couple prime years left in him.
Because a short-term commitment like that is what the Red Sox are looking for, they may be able to lure Hamilton by stuffing a four-year contract offer with a ton of cash. An average salary of, say, $30 million could do the trick.
That's a lot of money for most teams. But considering how much payroll space the Red Sox have now and in the immediate future, it really wouldn't be much of a bother for them.
The Red Sox and R.A. Dickey
Marc Serota/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 5:50 pm ET
According to Adam Rubin and Joe McDonald of ESPN.com, New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson spent the first day of the Winter Meetings discussing trade options for Cy Young-winning knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
The Red Sox were one of the teams he talked to, but the price may be too high for Boston's liking. The word is that the Mets want top prospects Jackie Bradley Jr. and shortstop Xander Bogaerts in exchange for Dickey.
That's a lot to ask for a 38-year-old with one year left on his current contract. The Red Sox would have to sign him to an extension to justify a trade like that, and then they'd have to hope for more years like the one Dickey had in 2012. He won 20 games and led the National League in strikeouts and innings pitched.
In case you're wondering, it's highly, highly unlikely that the Mets would settle for Jarrod Saltalamacchia in a Dickey trade. You can take CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam's word for it:
Saltalamacchia would seem to be a piece in any talks for Dickey, but told that Mets believe they could do better at catcher. #RedSoxtalk— Sean McAdam(@Sean_McAdam) December 3, 2012
So yeah, it appears to be young, high-upside players or bust for Dickey.
Honestly, I think Alderson has set the bar way too high. He either needs to lower it or shut up and get something done with Dickey at the negotiating table.
Asdrubal Cabrera Open to Red Sox Trade, Club Has Made Offer for Justin Masterson
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 3:30 pm ET
The Red Sox have good excuses to use defensive whiz Jose Iglesias as their starting shortstop in 2013, but they're keeping their options open anyway.
One option would be to trade for Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, which may be possible even though Cabrera has the Red Sox on his no-trade list. Alex Speier of WEEI.com says that the 27-year-old would be open to a deal to Boston, and that his no-trade clause would not be an impediment.
As evidenced by back-to-back All-Star selections, Cabrera has plenty of talent. His problem is consistency, as his defense comes and goes and his hitting has faded in the second half of each of the last two seasons. He posted a .729 OPS in the second half of 2011, and a .676 OPS in the second half of 2012.
The Red Sox could gamble on Cabrera on the grounds that his struggles may have been related to Cleveland's struggles as a whole. He may be the kind of player who's great when a team is winning, and totally unmotivated when a team is losing.
Elsewhere, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com can confirm that the Red Sox are interested in former farmhand Justin Masterson:
So at the very least, we know that the Red Sox like Masterson enough to have actually made an offer for him. One thing they could do is promise to increase their offer, but only if they get Cabrera along with Masterson in a trade.
It's already been said that the Indians and Red Sox appear to be natural trade partners. Time could prove that notion to be a reality.
The Latest on Nick Swisher and Adam LaRoche
Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 1:25 pm ET
The Red Sox have agreed to terms with Mike Napoli. Now what?
Well, for starters, ESPN's Jayson Stark is probably correct in assuming that the Red Sox are probably out of the running for Adam LaRoche now that they have Napoli to fill in at first base on a semi-full-time basis:
Signing Napoli would take the Red Sox out of Adam LaRoche bidding. But Cody Ross, Nick Swisher & Shane Victorino still on their radar screen— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 3, 2012
As for Nick Swisher, he's still a fit for Boston's vacancy in right field, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Red Sox have turned their attention to him now that Napoli has agreed to sign:
#redsox talking to swisher now. A possibility.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 3, 2012
Signing Swisher would be a good next step for the Red Sox. He would bring some on-base prowess, some power and plenty of versatility to Boston's lineup, and he could play both right field and platoon at first base with the righty-hitting Napoli.
Swisher would surely cost a bit more money than Napoli (who signed for $39 million over three years), but the Red Sox should be more worried about years than dollars. Given the amount of payroll space they have to work with, money really isn't an issue for them.
UPDATE: Monday, Dec. 3 at 3:20 pm ET
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, Swisher may wait for Josh Hamilton to set the market with his next contract before agreeing to a deal.
The two are obviously not comparable players, but Swisher's thinking would make sense if this is true. He may stand to make more dollars based on the amount of money given to Hamilton.
Mike Napoli Agrees to Terms
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Posted: Monday, Dec. 3 at 1:15 pm ET
The Red Sox's primary free agent target has agreed to become a member of the Red Sox.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe was the first to report today's agreement between the Red Sox and catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli:
As we reported earlier Sox were going hard to get Napoli deal done and major league sources indicate they agreed to terms on 3yrs.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 3, 2012
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com then came through with the financial details:
Napoli has deal with red sox, 3 yrs, $39M— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 3, 2012
So they got him for three years after all. That's a bit of a surprise seeing as how Napoli was rumored to be looking for a four-year deal. It could be that the Red Sox offered him too much money to turn down, or it could be that he was really that enamored with the idea of going to Boston.
Whatever the case may be, you have to like this deal for the Red Sox. An average annual salary of $13 million is nothing for them given the state of their payroll, and they managed to avoid even a modest long-term commitment. Ideally, they'll be getting three prime years from Napoli for their $39 million.
They'll have to live with spotty defense, but they won't mind if Napoli gives them an OPS in the neighborhood of .800 and 25 homers on an annual basis.
Since he'll be moving to Fenway Park, though, the Red Sox can fairly expect around 30 homers per year out of Napoli. He's a perfect fit for Boston's home digs.
Brian Wilson Likes the Red Sox
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 11:50 pm ET
Two years ago, Brian Wilson led the National League with 48 saves and didn't allow an earned run in the San Francisco Giants' run to the championship.
Now he's a free agent looking for work after being non-tendered by the Giants, and the word from Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio is that he has the Red Sox on his list of possible targets:
Brian Wilson has interest in Giants, Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox according to source— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 1, 2012
For the record, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times has reported that the Dodgers aren't looking to sign Wilson, who underwent a second Tommy John surgery after recording just two appearances in 2012.
But he could be an interesting target for the Red Sox. Wilson could conceivably be had on a one-year contract similar to the deal Ryan Madson signed with the Los Angeles Angels, and the Red Sox could be a fit for him because they could use a Plan B in case Andrew Bailey doesn't pan out as the team's closer in 2013.
That could very well happen. Bailey has a strong career track record, but he posted an ERA over 7.00 in 19 appearances for the Red Sox in 2012. He missed the bulk of the year due to thumb surgery. If he were to stumble again in 2013, the Red Sox could be happy they had Wilson to fall back on.
Wilson, of course, was born in Massachusetts and raised in New Hampshire, so he's plenty familiar with Red Sox country. One assumes his roots have something to do with his interest in the club.
Whether or not the interest is mutual is the big question. The Red Sox may be fine with what they have in their bullpen, and they may not be in a hurry to add Wilson's quirky personality to their clubhouse.
No Catcher Trade Forthcoming?
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 10:30 pm ET
When the Red Sox signed David Ross to a contract a couple weeks ago, fans and writers immediately started speculating that the club would trade one of its catchers.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway, the two most obvious trade candidates, aren't putting much stock into the speculation.
“I haven’t talked to anyone about it,” Lavarnway said Saturday, via the Boston Herald. “The final roster is still so far away that you don’t know what’s going to happen. I have no control over it, at all, at this point, so I don’t think about it.”
Saltalamacchia also offered what was basically an equivalent to a verbal shrug.
“I don’t think too much into it. I look at it as an opportunity for me and David to work together," he said.
The one issue with the idea of the Red Sox possibly trading a catcher is that it seems to be contingent on the club signing Mike Napoli, who they've been rumored to be courting. If he does sign with Boston, somebody will have to go.
If Napoli doesn't sign with Boston, however, a move doesn't necessarily have to be made. It would be unorthodox for the Red Sox to move forward with three catchers, but they could be thankful for their depth seeing as how Salty is no sure thing on offense or defense and Lavarnway has yet to prove himself as a capable major league catcher.
Still, the market for catchers this winter will ultimately dictate what the Red Sox do. If they get an offer they can't pass up from a team that would rather not spend on a free-agent catcher, the Red Sox would be fools to pass it up.
Ben Cherington Open to Trading Jon Lester
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 10:20 pm ET
One of the juicier rumors to come along in the last few weeks was the one that had Jon Lester possibly going to Kansas City for Royals top prospect Wil Myers.
It doesn't sound like that rumor is going to develop into anything, but Sox GM Ben Cherington indicated on Saturday that we may yet see Lester traded this winter.
Here's what Cherington told Tim Britton of The Providence Journal:
Anything is possible, but certainly it's harder to do that, to subtract somebody from the rotation. We have a number of players that teams like. We're in a perhaps different situation than we have been in the past coming off the year we did. Maybe in light of that, teams not surprisingly are inquiring about things that maybe they wouldn't have in the past.
Look, we have to be open-minded; we lost 93 games. But our primary focus is to build the best team we can for 2013 and one that doesn't in any way get in the way of a great team for a long time. That's our focus, and that will guide us for the next several weeks. But you've got to be open-minded when you have a year like this, and we're trying to build a team that will sustain a level of success over a long period of time.
In essence, this is your garden variety "We're not trying to trade him, but teams are more than welcome to ask" answer.
And that's fine. Cherington needs to be open-minded where Lester is concerned, as he's at a point in his career where the Red Sox would be wise to jump ship on him if the right offer comes along.
Lester's trade value is low right now after his rough season in 2012, but the Red Sox may be able to get something for him because he's still only 28 and he's controllable through 2014. If they could get somebody like Myers, for example, that would be a no-brainer trade for the Red Sox.
But this obviously doesn't mean that the Red Sox should be willing to trade him for spare parts. Teams are going to be interested in Lester because he's a bounce-back candidate, and the Red Sox must (and presumably do) view him the same way.
If he's going to bounce back, why shouldn't it be for them?
Red Sox Non-Tenders
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Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 10:10 pm ET
The Red Sox announced their non-tenders on Friday, choosing not to tender contracts to outfielder Ryan Sweeney, lefty reliever Rich Hill and righty reliever Scott Atchison.
That Sweeney was non-tendered came as no surprise. He got off to a good start with the club after coming over from Oakland in the Josh Reddick-Andrew Bailey trade, but then he was undone by injuries. One of those was of his own making, as Sweeney broke his hand by punching a clubhouse door in late July.
It's highly unlikely that Sweeney will be back in Boston in 2013. According to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, however, Hill and Atchison could be brought back:
Cherington said Sox would like to see if there's a way to bring back Hill and/or Atchison, who were non-tendered Friday— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) December 1, 2012
Makes sense. Hill had a 1.83 ERA in 25 appearances for the Red Sox in 2012, and he's traditionally been tough on left-handers. Atchison had a 1.58 ERA in 42 appearances for the Red Sox, and has proved himself to be one of the more versatile relievers in the league.
The Red Sox could go other directions with their bullpen, but Hill and Atchison are both cheap options and the Red Sox know what they'd be signing up for with either or both them.
Sox Not Discussing Jacoby Ellsbury Trades
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Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 10:00 pm ET
Remember when fans figured that it was a given that Jacoby Ellsbury would be traded this winter?
Yeah, that chatter has died down quite a bit. This may be because the Red Sox themselves have been pretty firm with their insistence that Ellsbury will be sticking around in 2013.
Most recently, team president and CEO Larry Lucchino said on WEEI that the plan is still for Ellsbury to be patrolling center field for the Red Sox next season.
"He's our center fielder, and there's been no discussions with regard to him that I'm aware of," Lucchino said. "You don't know whether someone is going to come to you and make some kind of proposal but our plan is to have Jacoby Ellsbury as our center fielder this year going forward."
Boston's stance on Ellsbury isn't hard to decipher. They surely could trade him this winter, but his trade value is much lower than they'd prefer. Such is life seeing as how Ellsbury is coming off a season in which he was limited to 74 games and hit just .271/.313/.370.
The Red Sox must figure that his value has nowhere to go but up. If he reverts back to his 2011 form and the Red Sox are out of it by the deadline, Ellsbury could actually fetch more in a trade then than he could now.
There's also the off chance that he'll perform really well and force the Red Sox into considering re-signing him as a free agent after the 2013 season is over. It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Ellsbury is a goner either way, but much can change between now and next offseason.
Jon Heyman's Latest on Adam LaRoche, Shortstop Situation
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Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 9:50 pm ET
Many of Boston's biggest needs remain unfilled with the Winter Meetings set to get underway on Monday, including the club's vacancy at first base.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, it is believed that the Red Sox have offered Mike Napoli a three-year deal. He's looking for a four-year deal, however, and the word is that the Red Sox are reluctant to commit to him for that long.
That may be why they're ramping up their pursuit of Washington Nationals free agent Adam LaRoche, who is expected to get a three-year deal on the open market.
LaRoche is older than Napoli, but he's a significantly better defensive player and is arguably a better offensive player. He's coming off a season in which he posted an .853 OPS and hit a career-high 33 home runs. LaRoche has topped 25 homers in five of his nine major league seasons.
Exactly how much longer LaRoche can play at a high level is certainly the biggest question mark where he's concerned, but it will be worth it for the Red Sox to assume the risk if he can be had for three years and at a cheaper rate than Napoli.
Elsewhere, Heyman notes that the Red Sox have checked in on Stephen Drew and Alex Gonzalez, but that the word is that they're telling teams that Jose Iglesias will likely be their starting shortstop in 2013.
They'll need a capable backup for him, though. Iglesias has an excellent glove, but it's still unknown whether he'll be able to provide any offense at the major league level. The Red Sox need to make sure they have a Plan B.
Mike Adams on Boston's Radar
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Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 9:35 pm ET
Bullpen help is the one thing that the Red Sox aren't in desperate need of, but it sounds like the club is keeping its options open anyway.
According to Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio, free agent reliever Mike Adams is on Boston's radar:
Adams is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.27 ERA and a 2.64 K/BB ratio in 61 appearances for the Texas Rangers. By numbers alone, he'd be a solid addition to Boston's bullpen.
However, there are some red flags. Adams may have had a solid season in 2012, but his numbers took a nosedive from where they were in 2011. He had a 1.47 ERA and a 5.29 K/BB ratio in a total of 75 appearances between his time with the San Diego Padres and the Rangers.
Plus, Adams had to have surgery in October to relieve his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a condition that causes neck and shoulder pain.
The market for Adams' services could be slow to develop due to all that happened to him in 2012. If it is still slow a while from now, the Red Sox could swoop him in and pick him up as a low-cost, high-reward option for their bullpen.
Sox Looking at Ryan Dempster
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Posted: Sunday, Dec. 2 at 9:25 pm ET
I was out of town these last few days, so you'll have to forgive me for being late to the party on this one.
Anywho, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has it on good authority that the Red Sox are interested in free agent right-hander Ryan Dempster:
"Expressing interest," eh? Is that the same as "are interested in?"
Probably, in which case this report should be taken for what it's worth. As I've stated many times before so far this winter, the Red Sox are interested in pretty much anyone.
Dempster is an intriguing option due to his experience, but there are some red flags where the Red Sox's interest in him is concerned. Though he was successful in the early portion of the 2012 season, posting a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts for the Chicago Cubs, Dempster didn't take to the American League so well. In 12 starts with the Texas Rangers, he posted a 5.09 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.
Plus, the Red Sox don't have a ton of incentive to give the 35-year-old Dempster a three-year deal. He doesn't have the youth or the upside to warrant that kind of commitment.
If he can be talked down to a reasonable two-year deal, though, something could get done. The Red Sox could do worse than Dempster for a No. 3 starter behind Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz.
Red Sox Have Also Traded Danny Valencia and Sandy Rosario
Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 3:50 pm ET
I posted something earlier about the trade the Red Sox have made that sent Zach Stewart to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but that's not the only trade Boston has made today.
As announced by the team, the Red Sox have also traded infielder Danny Valencia to the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations and right-handed pitcher Sandy Rosario to the Oakland A's for cash or a played to be named later.
Valencia played in only 10 games with the Red Sox and in 34 games with the Minnesota Twins in 2012. All told, he hit .188 with a .497 OPS.
Rosario appeared in four games with the Miami Marlins in 2012, and a total of 31 games in the minor leagues. The Red Sox claimed him off waivers in October.
Because he's going to the A's, Rosario will probably go on to win a Cy Young or something. Knowing the Red Sox's luck in trades with the A's, anyway.
Valencia looked like he had potential when he finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2010, but his skills have only diminished since then.
Zach Stewart Has Been Traded
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 1:10 pm ET
Oh Zach Stewart, we hardly knew ye!
The Red Sox acquired Stewart from the Chicago White Sox in the Kevin Youkilis trade in June. He made two starts for Boston, giving up 14 earned runs in 5.2 innings and picking up a pair of losses.
It's still too early in Stewart's career to call him a lost cause, but the Red Sox evidently didn't see any glaring evidence that they were better off holding on to him.
Boston's Master Plan
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Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 1:55 am ET
The Red Sox's master plan for this offseason doesn't involve Mike Napoli, Nick Swisher or Cody Ross.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, it involves Mike Napoli, Nick Swisher and Cody Ross.
Heyman says the Red Sox are in contact with all three players, and that all three of them are considered "in play." Ross could be had on a three-year deal, and Napoli may also settle for three years. It may take four to land him, though, and it will most likely take four to land Swisher.
Ross, obviously, would fit in either corner of the Red Sox's outfield. Swisher, however, could play in right field and at first base. Napoli is a catcher/first baseman hybrid.
If the Red Sox do land all three, they'd be getting plenty of offense. All three of them posted OPS's over .800 in 2012, and they combined to hit 70 home runs.
Well, the issue isn't so much the dollars the Red Sox would have to spend to land all three. The total cost would be expensive, but none of the three players are worth super-high annual salaries (unlike, say, Josh Hamilton). If the Red Sox want all three of them badly enough, they can sign all three of them.
But doing so would be stretching the Red Sox's apparent desire to be more disciplined with their spending. If they go for broke and sign all three of their top targets, it's going to be pretty obvious that somebody up high decided rebuilding slowly and carefully wasn't such a great idea.
Red Sox Asked About Joe Mauer
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Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 11:35 pm ET
Remember when the Red Sox didn't claim Joe Mauer on waivers in August and Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com praised them for showing restraint?
It seems he may have jumped the gun. Here's an interesting bit from Peter Gammons of MLB.com:
Red Sox inquired on Mauer in Sept., Oct., Nov..."not being traded" response. Period— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) November 28, 2012
So they didn't get him. But boy did they try.
Makes sense, right? Mauer is a .323 career hitter who led the American League with a .416 on-base percentage in 2012. He may not be an everyday catcher anymore, but the Red Sox's interest in Mike Napoli goes to show that they're not opposed to having a catcher/first baseman hybrid around.
Plus, Mauer's contract wouldn't be too much for them to take on. No contract would be too much for them to take on, really.
But this is still probably for the best. Mauer's great when he's healthy, but you can never count on him being healthy and the last thing the Red Sox need is another potential albatross contract.
Sox Open to Dealing Andrew Bailey
Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 4:05 pm ET
The trade that brought Andrew Bailey to Boston and sent Josh Reddick to the Oakland A's didn't work out all that well for the Red Sox. Reddick hit 32 homers and won a Gold Glove. Bailey was limited to 19 appearances by a thumb injury, and he pitched poorly when he was able to pitch.
Might they trade him? The word from ESPN's Buster Olney is that they could:
Rival teams say that Red Sox open to dealing Andrew Bailey--but because his value is currently low, odds of them trading him are pretty low.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 27, 2012
Bailey posted a 7.04 ERA and walked 4.7 batters per nine innings in 2012, so his value is certainly low for the time being. If the Red Sox trade him, they won't be getting anything close to what they gave up to get him.
So they may as well hold on to him. Bailey has been a quality reliever when he's been healthy in his career, as he arrived in Boston with a 2.07 career ERA and a career K/BB of 3.55. If he rediscovers his old form in 2013, the Red Sox will have a reliable closer on their hands.
And that, indeed, would be a nice change of pace from 2012.
No Extension for Jon Lester?
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Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 4:00 pm ET
Jon Lester is coming off the worst season of his career, and there are reports that the Red Sox have discussed trading him to the Kansas City Royals for their top outfield prospect.
As such, it's no surprise that the Red Sox haven't been talking to Lester about an extension. Such is the word from Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, who notes that Lester is about to enter the final guaranteed year of the five-year contract he signed in 2009. The Red Sox hold an option for him in 2014.
The Red Sox could make like the Tampa Bay Rays did with Evan Longoria and try to hammer out an extension for Lester while his value is down, but that wouldn't be such a great idea. Lester started trending downward in 2011, and he rarely showed flashes of his old self in 2012.
He's only going to be 29 years old in January, but the Red Sox would be fools to take it for granted that a big rebound year is in the cards for Lester. They should only approach him about a contract extension if he proves he can still pitch at a high level in 2013.
Or they could trade him before then. The Red Sox may not even be committed to Lester in 2013, much less beyond.
Mike Napoli a Priority for Red Sox
Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 3:45 pm ET
We know that the Red Sox have met with free-agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli, and indications are that they very much covet him.
According to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, not a whole lot has changed:
So before long, it's possible that the Red Sox could have a new addition for the middle of their lineup.
Napoli certainly has his shortcomings as a player, particularly on defense. But he's worth the trouble for the Red Sox because their lineup needs his thunder, and his swing is a perfect match for Fenway Park.
Also, the Red Sox probably figure it would be nice not to have to face him anymore.
There's no telling who the favorite in the Napoli sweepstakes is at the moment. One thing that's for sure is that the Sox can outbid anybody for him if they really want him that bad.
Red Sox in the Lead for Cody Ross?
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 3:40 pm ET
The Red Sox signed Jonny Gomes to a two-year contract last week, thus taking care of their need for a powerful right-handed corner outfielder.
However, the Gomes signing didn't necessarily take the Red Sox out of the market for Cody Ross. In fact, ESPN's Buster Olney has heard that the Sox are still the team to beat for his services:
Friends of Cody Ross believe BOS is in the lead in his neg. on 3-year deal. But sources say there haven't been new talks in last few days.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 27, 2012
Obviously, you have to take this for what it's worth. Unless Ross is a really, really trusting friend, he's not going to keep his friends filled in on the latest news from his ongoing search for a new contract.
Still, it's certainly possible that the Red Sox are in the lead. You get the sense that both sides know what the other wants, and the delay may be a matter of Ross trying to find a better offer on the open market.
As I've said before, he may not be able to find one. Ross is a good player, but his value is at its highest with the Red Sox because of how perfect a fit he is for Fenway Park. Other teams don't have as much of an incentive to offer him a favorable contract as the Red Sox do.
Then again, desperation can bridge many gaps. This year, teams may become desperate for cheap outfielders with power, and that's a bill that Ross fills relatively well.
Jon Lester for Wil Myers? It Could Happen.
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Nov. 26 at 8:35 pm ET
The Red Sox need an impact bat for their outfield, but there's a shortage of guys who can fill their needs on the free-agent market. Alas, the ones who can come with expensive price tags.
So instead of a free-agent signing, how about a trade for a young, talented, controllable outfielder? Somebody like, say, Kansas City Royals prospect Wil Myers?
According to Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star, the Royals have tossed around the idea of trading Myers for a much-needed starting pitcher. One of the pitchers on their radar just so happens to be Red Sox lefty Jon Lester.
Dutton says that the Red Sox are hesitant to do a Lester-for-Myers swap, and the Royals themselves are apparently on the fence about the idea. Reading between the lines, one assumes that the Red Sox are afraid of trading a veteran for a prospect and the Royals are afraid of trading a promising youngster for an expensive pitcher coming off a down year.
Still, you can see the appeal for both clubs. The Royals have secured two veteran starting pitchers this winter in Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie, but they need at least one more if they are to have a shot at contending in the AL Central in 2013. Lester could revive his career with the Royals much like Guthrie did upon joining the team in the middle of the year in 2012.
As for the Red Sox, they're building for the future these days, and Myers is a player with a very, very bright future. He hit 37 home runs with a .987 OPS in the minors this season, and was named the Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America and several other publications.
While the Red Sox can't really afford to part with starting pitching, they may not get another chance to trade Lester for a star prospect if his 2012 season was a sign of things to come. This is a case where they could be trading fool's gold for actual gold.
For now, no deal is close, and it's certainly worth noting that the Royals have also thought about trading Myers for James Shields. If I was Dayton Moore, I'd much rather have Shields than Lester at this point, and the Rays could use a good young hitter.
That potential deal could ruin everything if the Red Sox decide trading for Myers is in their interest after all.
UPDATE: Monday, Nov. 26 at 10:00 pm ET
Rob Bradford of WEEI.com has also heard that the Royals and Red Sox have discussed a Myers-for-Lester swap. He's also heard that the possibility of the Red Sox sending outfield help to the Royals was discussed, in which case the Red Sox would get some pitching in return as well.
Red Sox in the Mix for Shane Victorino
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Nov. 26 at 9:45 pm ET
One guy who has been largely overlooked to this point in the offseason is Shane Victorino. Makes sense when you consider the .704 OPS he posted in 2012. It makes less sense, however, when you consider the .847 OPS he posted in 2011.
But don't worry, Shane. The Red Sox see you.
The Red Sox and everyone else, apparently.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Red Sox are one of at least seven teams that are believed to be interested in Victorino. The word is that several teams see him as an option for a three-year deal.
Now, before we proceed any further, I'll offer a disclaimer to take this with a grain of salt. The Red Sox may be interested in Victorino, but that doesn't mean much. Judging from what the rumor mill has had to say these last few weeks, the Red Sox are interested in everybody. Even you, probably.
That said, Victorino could be an everyday option for the Red Sox in left field, with Jonny Gomes only playing against left-handers. They could even convince him to play right field alongside Jacoby Ellsbury.
On offense, he could bat second with Dustin Pedroia moving down to the No. 3 hole. It's not really his natural spot, but he actually has a higher OPS when he bats third than he does when he bats second.
Nevertheless, my presumption is that Victorino is looking to start in center field, which could rule the Red Sox out. If not, he could be a good bargain buy after the season he just had.
Boston's Interest in Mike Napoli Is Very Real
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Nov. 26 at 1:00 pm ET
Yes, it's true. Mike Napoli visited with the Red Sox in Boston this past weekend.
And no, this visit wasn't a case of the Red Sox just kicking the tires. The word from Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald is that the Sox very much covet the free-agent slugger.
The Red Sox have apparently felt that Napoli would be a perfect fit for their lineup and for Fenway Park for a long time now, and they are in "full-fledged pursuit" of him now that they finally have a chance to acquire him.
However, Silverman says it's unknown whether Napoli left town with a formal offer in hand, though numbers were no doubt exchanged at some point during his visit. Also, Napoli presumably left town knowing that the Red Sox would love to have him.
This could be problematic for the Texas Rangers. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com says the Rangers want Napoli back, but that they "want him to return on their terms." That probably means they want him on a three-year deal rather than a four-year deal.
The Red Sox may also want Napoli on a three-year deal, as Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM recently suggested. If so, that may be good news for the Seattle Mariners, who could lure Napoli away from Texas and Boston with a four-year offer. Given their constant lack of offense, they certainly have a little extra incentive to offer Napoli what he wants.
The one big advantage the Red Sox have here is money. They may not be willing to offer Napoli four years, but they could just choose to overpay him for three years and hope that he goes for it.
Either way, don't expect the Red Sox to let Napoli go without a fight. It sounds like they really want him.
Updates on Giancarlo Stanton and Others from Nick Cafardo
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Posted: Sunday, Nov. 25 at 1:05 pm ET
In case you're wondering, the answer is yes. The Red Sox are interested in Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
...But not surprisingly, it sounds like that can get in line.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago Cubs and many other clubs are inquiring about Stanton. He doesn't seem to actually be on the trade market, but clubs are asking anyway after the Marlins' latest fire sale trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.
If Stanton does become available, he's the kind of guy who would be worth giving up half the farm in a trade. The only problem is that Bud Selig may not allow it to happen, as he's supposedly watching the Marlins like a hawk. He might step in and squash a Stanton trade if one were to come to fruition.
In the realm of more realistic options, Cafardo says the Sox have had "ongoing negotiations" with Nick Swisher's people. It's becoming more and more apparent that he's not going to get anything close to Jayson Werth money, and he seems like a great fit for the Red Sox the more you think about it. They could use a switch-hitter with power who can play multiple positions, and it just so happens Swisher can fill their two biggest offensive needs in right field and at first base.
Pitching-wise, Cafardo says the Sox still have Anibal Sanchez on their radar. Many teams do, in fact, and now it seems to be a question of who's going to give him the six-year deal he's supposedly seeking. His suitors may prefer shorter deals.
For what it's worth, Cafardo is all in favor of the Red Sox spending big money this winter, and he floats Josh Hamilton, Joe Mauer and Troy Tulowitzki as primary targets.
I say that if the Red Sox are going to spend big money, it would be better if they spent it on several good players rather than one or two great players.
UPDATE: Monday, Nov. 26 at 6:30 pm ET
For what it's worth, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is hearing that the Red Sox are viewed as a fit for Nick Swisher, and that they apparently like his versatility.
Again, not really news. But still...
Mike Napoli in Boston This Weekend
Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 3:40 pm ET
Keep an eye out for a powerful free-agent catcher roaming the streets of Boston this weekend.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Texas Rangers free agent Mike Napoli is meeting with the Red Sox this weekend. Their interest in him seems to be serious, and they have at least two other teams to contend with for his services in the Rangers and the Seattle Mariners.
Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM reported recently that Napoli was looking for a fourth year from the Red Sox, which would seem to indicate that the Red Sox are ready to offer him a three-year deal. A deal like that would certainly fit with their desire to be disciplined with their spending.
One thing that's for sure is that Napoli would be a great fit for Fenway Park, where he has a 1.107 OPS for his career. He's also routinely crushed Red Sox pitching, and goodness knows the club would rather not deal with that anymore.
Napoli can play first base reasonably well, but he'd likely remain more of a catcher than a first baseman on the Red Sox. That means a trade would likely follow if the Red Sox were to sign Napoli, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia being the top trade candidate.
It's doubtful that Napoli will ever be as dominant again as he was in 2011, when he posted a 1.046 OPS and hit 30 homers in only 113 games, but the Red Sox could count on getting an OPS around .800 and 25 or so homers from him. That's the kind of production they'll gladly take in the middle of their lineup.
Nick Swisher on Boston's Radar
Posted: Saturday, Nov. 24 at 3:30 pm ET
The Red Sox need to find a right fielder and a first baseman this winter. But because they want to be disciplined with their spending and because pickings on the market are slim, maybe the best thing for them to do is find a guy who can play right field and first base.
“He is on their radar," said a source.
Two things to note here.
One, this isn't necessarily news. It's already been reported several times that the Red Sox have some level of interest in Swisher.
Two, it's safe to say that pretty much every free agent is on the Red Sox's radar in some way. They have many holes to fill and money to spend, so it stands to reason that they would look at anyone and everyone.
Still, something could get done here. Swisher was said to be seeking Jayson Werth money once upon a time, but a source told King that the best Swisher could get is probably a four-year deal worth $60 million. That's a deal the Red Sox can afford.
But would they rather have Swisher for four years and $60 million or Cody Ross for three years and $25 million? Or, in other words, is Swisher really worth twice as much money as Ross?
If the Sox value versatility, the answer is yes. If they value offensive production above all else, the answer is probably no.
Red Sox in on Mike Napoli
Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Friday, Nov. 23 at 3:45 pm ET
Mike Napoli has long been viewed as a potential fit for the Red Sox. Apparently, they feel the same way about him as the peanut gallery does.
According to Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio, the Sox are actively trying to draw Napoli to Boston:
Mike Napoli holding out for 4th year from Red Sox...meeting with Mariners who might be willing to give the extra year according to sources— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) November 22, 2012
So there's that, but a word of warning is necessary here: The Mariners absolutely have to be taken seriously as a threat to steal Napoli.
The Mariners need Napoli's power more than the Red Sox do, and Safeco Field won't necessarily scare him off seeing as how the fences are coming in next season. If the Red Sox want Napoli, they'll at least have to match Seattle's offer for him.
They might just be willing to do that. A lineup with Napoli and David Ortiz in the middle would look awfully nice, and goodness knows the Red Sox are probably tired of having to face Napoli.
Sox to Sign Jonny Gomes
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 5:55 pm ET
Well, it's not exactly an earth-shattering move, but it sounds like the Red Sox have a new player on their hands.
Hearing the #RedSox have a 2-year deal in place with Jonny Gomes, though no announcement yet from the team— Scott Lauber (@ScottLauber) November 21, 2012
Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio has also heard that the deal is done and is pending a physical.
Assuming the deal gets done, my first instinct is that Gomes won't necessarily be penciled into a starting role in left field. He's been a platoon player for the majority of his career, and my guess is that he'll be a platoon player once again for the Red Sox. He'll play primarily against left-handed pitching, which he tends to crush.
So expect the Red Sox to make more moves to round out their outfield depth chart this winter. In particular, don't be surprised if they bring in a lefty bat to complement Gomes.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 8:35 pm ET
According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, Gomes' deal is for two years and $10 million. Supposedly, that's twice what the A's offered Gomes in a two-year proposal in September.
The deal is all but done, but Slusser says it won't be official for another couple days due to Gomes' physical and paperwork. There's also some sort of holiday coming up.
Sox Have Narrowed Outfield Search to Cody Ross and Jonny Gomes
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 1:10 pm ET
According to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com, the Red Sox's search for outfield help has been narrowed down to two players: Cody Ross and Jonny Gomes.
That the Sox are still looking at Ross is obviously no surprise. He may want a little more money than he's worth, but the Sox have more incentive to pay him than most clubs due to how well he fits into Fenway Park. He had a .921 OPS in home games with the Red Sox in 2012, and a .684 OPS in road games.
Gomes is coming off a 2012 season that was a lot better than people realize. He was a platoon player who mainly played against left-handed pitching, but he posted an .868 OPS and he hit 18 home runs in only 333 plate appearances. As I pointed out in a recent article, he was one of the top players in the league in terms of wRC+.
McAdam says that the Sox have discussed a two-year deal for Gomes, but the parameters of their offer to Ross are unknown. Due to his track record as an everyday player, my guess is that the Sox are willing to offer Ross more money than they're willing to offer Gomes.
Elsewhere, it's worth noting that Ben Cherington told Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio on Tuesday that Josh Hamilton is still on the team's radar:
Ben Cherington told us that they are still pursuing FA Josh Hamilton calling him " a terrific talent" SXM 209/89— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) November 20, 2012
So there's that. I still think it's highly unlikely that the Red Sox will sign Hamilton unless he's willing to take a deal much shorter than the seven-year deal he's reportedly seeking. They're much more likely to go for players with the potential to outperform their contracts.
You know, guys like Ross and Gomes.
UPDATE: Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 1:30 pm ET
Things seem to be moving pretty quickly where Gomes is concerned. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald has heard that the two sides are actually pretty close to a deal:
I like it. Gomes won't be expensive and he'd give the Sox some thump, particularly against lefty pitching. If this gets done, it will be a shrewd move.
Sox Have Checked in on Kyle Lohse, Made a Strong Effort on Hiroki Kuroda
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 1:25 pm ET
It's no secret that the Red Sox are in the market for a starting pitcher. To fill the need, they're considering anyone and everyone.
So yeah, they've considered Kyle Lohse. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe confirmed in a chat with readers that the Sox have called about him.
However, he was quick to note that the 34-year-old Lohse may be a little too long in the tooth for the Red Sox. They may be especially scared off if he's looking for a three-year contract or something in that general ballpark.
The other issue with Lohse is that he's probably seeking more money than he's worth after winning 16 games and posting an ERA of 2.86 over a career-high 211 innings in 2012. His career did take a turn for the better upon joining the St. Louis Cardinals a few years back, but he entered the 2012 season with a 4.27 ERA as a Cardinal. Nothing special, really.
The Sox may have wanted him, but I doubt Kuroda ever seriously considered coming to Boston. He seems to be just as motivated by comfort as he is by money, and the Yankees could offer him both a sense of comfort and a better chance to win.
But hey, at least the Sox tried. It may seem like Ben Cherington is moving slowly, but you can rest assured that he's not doing much resting this winter.
Sox Looking at Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Drew?
Dave Reginek/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 6:35 pm ET
Because now's as good a time as any to give Jose Iglesias an extended look, shortstop isn't high on Boston's list of priorities this offseason.
But they might make a move for one anyway. Here's the latest from Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM radio:
But I'm not sure I get it for the Red Sox. Peralta is only signed through the 2013 season and he's not the kind of guy who would be an immediate extension candidate upon joining the team. He'd be more of a stopgap option, and a moderately expensive one with a salary of $6 million.
If the Sox are going to go with a stopgap at shortstop, why not just stick with Iglesias? He won't hit, but he's got an insane glove and he's only going to make a little over $2 million.
If anything, Stephen Drew coming to Boston would make more sense, as he could potentially be had on a two-year deal or a one-year deal with a player option. Something along those lines, anyway.
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Red Sox do have some interest in Drew. They could sign him and nix the questionable Peralta rumor altogether.
Ben Cherington Speaks Once Again
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 20 at 12:20 am ET
Maybe it's because he works in baseball in the city of Boston. Maybe it's because he's just plain talkative.
Whatever the explanation, Sox GM Ben Cherington does seem to be a little more open than most general managers. This week, he opened up to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe about a number of different topics, including the latest on free-agent outfielder Cody Ross:
We continue to talk. There’s really no other update then to say the door is open. We’re also talking to other guys and I presume he is talking to other teams. Those things have a way of starting to move once one of the dominos falls.
So the latest on Ross is that there is no latest. My best guess is that he knows what the Sox are willing to offer, and that they're not going to budge until he comes back and says he got a better offer somewhere else.
As for whether the Sox could trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway now that they have David Ross, Cherington refused to tip his hand.
“All three could contribute to our team; I expect that to be the case,” he said. “We have to see what happens.”
And then this, on the Sox's free-agent shopping philosophy and payroll plans:
There may not be one guy out there who is going to fill our needs. There are a number of players we have to look at. In theory, you can offer only so much to a player, even for only one year.
We believe we’re going to have a significant payroll and we’re going to be active in adding free-agent talent to the team. But you want the contract to make sense.
Sounds like he hasn't changed his mind about anything. If he's planning something big, Cherington is playing it close to his chest.
I still think you can count out Josh Hamilton, and the word is the Sox don't like Zack Greinke all that much. However, I think you can still count them as players for any of the second-tier free agents, such as guys like Anibal Sanchez and Mike Napoli.
Cherington has a lot of holes to fill and a lot of money to play with, so don't expect him to stay quiet for too long.
Sox Kicking Tires on Lance Berkman
Jeff Curry/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Nov. 19 at 7:35 pm ET
We have a new entry for the "Red Sox are interested in [Player X]" file.
According to Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle, the Sox are one of four teams showing interest in veteran switch-hitter Lance Berkman. The other three are the Astros, Rays and Phillies, and he says the four clubs are all in "tire-kicking mode."
He also said: “They feel like if I can stay healthy that I can help their ballclub, and obviously that’s flattering."
You can't help but wonder if the Sox view Berkman as a low-risk, high-reward option for their vacancy at first base. He'll be 37 in February and he only played in 32 games with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012, but he did manage an .826 OPS when he was healthy and he posted a .959 OPS with 31 home runs in 2011.
The Sox's cause is helped by the fact that they don't need a DH. We all know how Berkman feels about the DH, after all.
His disdain for the DH may (and I stress may) rule out the Rays and Astros, who are both in the market for a DH (the Astros are moving to the AL in 2013, remember). The Phillies can't offer Berkman a first base job due to the presence of Ryan Howard, so it could be that the Sox are the team to beat here.
Then again, there's always Berkman's other quote to consider.
“I’m waiting to be blown away by an offer,” he said. “If I’m not, I’ll be out (at Rice).”
Hmmm...Methinks the Sox aren't trying to blow anybody's, um, socks off this winter, especially not aging sluggers who come with injury risks.
As such, let's put Berkman in the "maybe" pile.
The Latest Josh Hamilton-to-the-Red Sox Silliness
Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 15 at 1:00 pm ET
After what they went through with Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, we can all agree that Josh Hamilton is the last guy the Red Sox want to spend money on, right?
I think most of us can, but the possibility of Hamilton joining the Red Sox is still too sexy for people to let go of. That's the best explanation I can come up with for Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com's latest report.
Heyman hasn't actually heard that the Red Sox are making a hard charge at Hamilton. What he has heard is that "some suggest to keep an eye on the Red Sox" and that "few wonder whether they may aim even higher" than guys like Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Cody Ross.
And then the obligatory quote from an anonymous GM: "Boston wants to do something big and it wouldn't shock me if they became players for Josh Hamilton."
John Henry, your response please.
"Improve the team,'' he said when asked what the organization's plans for the offseason were.
He later offered the headline-worthy quote, "We have a lot of flexibility."
All of this is supposed to make you believe that the Red Sox should be considered serious players for Josh Hamilton. What you should really do is take all of this with a gigantic grain of salt.
The Red Sox most certainly have the money to afford Hamilton. Per Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Sox only have about $60 million in salaries committed for 2013. That leaves them with way, way more than enough room to give Hamilton an annual salary of $25 million.
Shoot, they could even choose to front-load the heck out of Hamilton's new deal and go for broke with a seven-year contract. He supposedly wants one.
They would surely be getting an elite slugger if they were to sign Hamilton. However, they'd also be taking their desire to be more disciplined with their spending and slapping it across the face. They should know better than to hand out salaries of over more than $20 million, especially when the recipient comes with huge durability concerns.
Plus, Hamilton has never had to play in a market as intense in Boston, and that's a potential pitfall that the Red Sox don't want to have to deal with.
The Red Sox aren't idiots, so I'm guessing they know all this. As such, as intriguing as the possibility of Hamilton signing with the Red Sox may be, I feel comfortable going out on a limb and saying that it's by no means a realistic possibility.
UPDATE: Thursday, Nov. 15 at 11:55 pm ET
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, rumors of Boston's interest in Hamilton have been "overblown."
So says a source, anyway. The word is that the Red Sox are just as scared of the years that Hamilton wants as the next team.
This is my surprised face.
Sox Want to Extend Dustin Pedroia
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 15 at 11:50 pm ET
The Red Sox appear hesitant to spend big bucks this offseason, but there's a chance they will lock up a player to a long-term deal worth a good chunk of change when all is said and done.
Just don't be surprised if this one player is already employed by the team.
According to Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com, the Sox have decided that they should start thinking about locking up star second baseman Dustin Pedroia at some point this winter. It's apparently not an immediate concern, but the sides will make plans to sit down and talk before the offseason is over.
There's no hurry to get anything done, as Pedroia is signed through 2014 with an $11 million option for 2015. But since he's still only 29 with plenty of prime years still ahead of him, it's definitely in Boston's interest to make sure he sticks around well beyond 2015.
When Pedroia is healthy, he's a .300 hitter capable of getting his OPS as high as the .860 range, and he's a terrific baserunner and defender. He was the AL MVP in 2008, and he finished third in the AL in WAR in 2011, according to FanGraphs.
Beyond the quantifiable stuff, Pedroia is very clearly the heart and soul of the Red Sox. He's both a spark plug and an emotional leader.
My guess is that an extension for him would run the Red Sox at least $15 million per season. There'd be some concern with a contract like that seeing as how Pedroia has dealt with injuries in two of the last three seasons, but his durability isn't too much of a red flag. Since 2008, only six second basemen have played in more games.
Plus, as McDonald noted, Pedroia could be worth significantly more money depending on what Robinson Cano's next contract looks like. He's a free agent after the 2013 season, and odds are he's going to get a 10-year deal worth close to or over the $200 million mark. The Red Sox need to get to Pedroia before Cano's contract gets to his head.
Various Notes and Quotes Straight from Ben Cherington
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 15 at 1:15 pm ET
Alex Speier of WEEI.com was kind enough to transcribe the interview.
On whether the Blue Jays' big trade changes things for the Red Sox:
It makes it tougher for us in the division, no doubt, if it happens. Toronto’s improved themselves in 2013. I don’t think it changes what we do. We’re trying to build the right team for Boston, not just better for 2013, but that gives us a chance to be really good for a long time. It doesn’t change from that perspective.
Cherington said something to this effect earlier this week. One assumes that he's rattled and that he may feel some pressure to respond to the Blue Jays, but you have to credit the guy for wanting to stick to his guns. He's not going into panic mode, nor should he.
On whether the Sox will make a "splash" this offseason:
I think we’re going to make moves that are going to improve the team. It’s hard to say whether they’ll be defined as splashy moves or not. You never know. We’re going to take each opportunity case by case. There may be opportunities that are bigger in scale, that would fit that definition, that we feel are the right moves. We don’t know yet.
Translation: "Maybe, maybe not. Why would I tell you?"
Cherington said that the Sox have talked to Hamilton's agent. Here's what he said about Hamilton potentially being a fit in Boston:
We’ll see. I respect the talent, certainly. He’s been one of the more productive players in baseball. Beyond that, we’ve got to look at what alternatives we have. We know we’re going to have an outfield somehow. We’re going to do it in a way that we feel makes the most sense for us, not just in 2013 but moving forward.
This is neither a no nor a yes. This is another "maybe."
As for John Lackey, Cherington sounded optimistic about his chances of rebounding in 2013:
We’re going to work with John this offseason and this spring training to get him feeling as good as possible, then be there with him as he gets through those first few outings. My expectation is we’ll see a very good version of John Lackey in 2013, but it can take some time to not so much get on the mound and pitching in games, but to get sharp again.
His hopes may not be entirely displaced here. It's fairly clear in retrospect that Lackey was never right in 2011, when he posted a 6.41 ERA in 28 starts. If he's healthy, he could come a lot closer to the 4.40 ERA he posted in his first year with the Red Sox in 2010. The Sox will gladly take that so long as he pitches over 200 innings again.
Cherington touched on numerous other topics in his interview. I'd recommend giving it a read (or a listen), but don't expect to hear anything particularly spicy. He was as vague as ever.
Blue Jays' Mega-Trade Won't Alter Sox's Plans
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 15 at 12:10 am ET
The AL East got a massive shakeup this week, as the Blue Jays agreed to a trade with the Marlins that filled most of their glaring needs and then some.
The Blue Jays are getting two much-needed starting pitchers in Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, as well as two top-of-the-order hitters in Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio and an additional power source in John Buck. The deal, which was first reported by FoxSports.com, is not yet official, but it soon will be.
Now that the Blue Jays have gotten so much better, does Ben Cherington feel a need to respond?
Apparently not. According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, Cherington is going to stick to his plan for the offseason.
"We know we have a plan this offseason and we're going to see how much we can execute it," he said. "If that does happen it's not going to change what our plan is or our ability to execute it. We've started that and we'll continue to do that."
For what it's worth, Bradford reported on Wednesday that the Red Sox were actually in on Johnson and Reyes before the Marlins decided to do business with the Blue Jays. However, Boston's talks with the Marlins were only "preliminary."
My guess is that the Marlins wanted the Red Sox to take on more than just Johnson and Reyes. They may have agreed to hand over only those two if they couldn't do business with anyone else, but maybe that's when Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos picked up the phone and called the Marlins.
Sox in Contact with Jason Bay
Marc Serota/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 1:55 am ET
Jason Bay's departure from Boston didn't exactly work out. He played in only 288 games in his three seasons with the Mets, posting a .687 OPS and hitting just 26 home runs.
Now that Bay is a free man, might he seek a reunion with the Red Sox? ESPN's Buster Olney hinted it could happen:
The Red Sox are among the teams in contact with Jason Bay, as he considers his options for 2013. Looking for opportunity, familiarity.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 13, 2012
How serious is Boston's interest in Bay?
Well, the fact that the Sox are in contact with him doesn't really tell us much. It basically tells us that they're interested in him, in which case Bay's name can be added to a pile that's getting to be pretty high. The Sox have been rumored to be interested in pretty much everyone, as well they should be given the amount of work their roster needs.
Counting on Bay to solve any of the club's glaring needs would be foolish. He could conceivably fill the hole the Sox have in left field, but they don't want to trust a starting job to a guy who hasn't been able to stay healthy the last three years.
But if the Sox are eyeing Bay for a reserve role, signing him wouldn't be such a bad idea. It would be a classic low-risk, high-reward signing. Now's as good a time as ever for the Sox to covet moves like that.
Sox Looking at Shane Victorino
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Nov. 12 at 7:35 pm ET
The Red Sox have holes in both corner outfield spots, so it was probably just a matter of time before Shane Victorino popped up on their radar.
Sure enough, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick says that he has:
Victorino makes sense for the Red Sox because he's precisely the kind of free agent the team should be interested in nowadays. He's a buy-low player who could likely be had on a short-term deal with minimal risk.
Beyond that, Victorino makes sense for the Red Sox because he could step in and play left field alongside Jacoby Ellsbury in center, which would make for a pretty good defensive outfield combination. He could also step in and bat second, where he has a .787 career OPS, with Dustin Pedroia moving down to the No. 3 hole.
Or Victorino could bat a little lower in the order. He has a .788 OPS in his career when batting fifth, and an .862 OPS when batting sixth.
Victorino managed just a .704 OPS in 2012 between his time in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. He was particularly ineffective upon joining the Dodgers, posting a mere .667 OPS in 15 games.
The one bright side of Victorino's 2012 season is that it saw him steal a career-high 39 bases. He still has speed to burn, which is probably his best bargaining chip at this point.
Mike Napoli Now at the Top of Sox's Wish List?
Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Monday, Nov. 12 at 12:40 pm ET
In regards to the Red Sox and their plans, the rumor mill has been all over the place so far this offseason. They've been linked to pretty much everyone.
But at this moment, the rumor mill seems focused solely on Boston's catching situation. The Sox created something of a logjam at catcher by signing David Ross, but they may actually add another catcher in the near future.
The Sox have been linked to Mike Napoli on several occasions this offseason, and Rob Bradford of WEEI.com says they're still interested in him even after signing Ross. What's more, ESPN's Buster Olney says that the Sox are taking their pursuit of Napoli quite seriously:
The Red Sox are doing extensive background work on Mike Napoli, who could fit them as C or 1B or combo 1B-C-DH vs. lefties.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 12, 2012
If the Red Sox were to sign Napoli, they could look to trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia right away and then move forward with Napoli and Ross penciled in to share time behind the plate in 2013.
That would likely suit Napoli just fine, as the word from Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald is that Napoli is looking to stay behind the plate rather than move to first base on a full-time basis. The Sox would no doubt use Napoli at first base, but the bulk of his playing time would likely come behind the plate.
Napoli wouldn't give the Red Sox a significant defensive upgrade at either position, but he could more than make up for his defensive shortcomings with his bat. Napoli is one of the top offensive catchers in the business when he's healthy, which he proved in 2011 by posting a 1.046 OPS with 30 home runs in only 113 games.
Even in a down year in 2012, Napoli still managed an .812 OPS and 24 homers in 108 games. The Red Sox would gladly take a few more "down years" just like that one.
Will Salty Be Traded Now That the Sox Have Ross?
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Nov. 12 at 12:20 pm ET
Catcher wasn't a big area of need for the Red Sox heading into the offseason, but that didn't stop Ben Cherington from adding to the club's depth at the position. He inked David Ross to a two-year contract on Saturday.
It was immediately suggested that another move may be forthcoming. Specifically, many are wondering whether the Red Sox will now trade Jarrod Saltalamacchia to clear up the logjam they have at catcher.
Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com reported over the weekend that a rival official said the Red Sox are indeed willing to listen to offers for Salty. Morosi's colleague, Ken Rosenthal, tweeted that Salty has actually be on the trade block for some time now:
For those wondering about #RedSox’s intentions at catcher, one rival exec says they’ve been shopping Saltalamacchia “for weeks.”— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 11, 2012
All of this makes perfect sense. Salty is getting to be a little expensive in arbitration, as he's due a raise this year after making $2.5 million in 2012. Given that, their newfound catching depth and the shortage of quality catchers on the free-agent market, the Red Sox have all the incentive they need to deal Salty.
One argument against the idea is that Salty seems to finally be coming into his own as a catcher. But is he really? He may have hit a career-high 25 homers in 2012, but he only raised his OPS five points from where it was in 2011. He still strikes out too much and walks too seldom.
Salty is also, at best, an average defensive catcher. He threw out only 18 percent of would-be basestealers in 2012, a very low figure for an everyday catcher.
On the field, Salty is what he is at this point in his career. Off the field, what he is right now is expendable.
Red Sox Sign David Ross
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Nov. 12 at 12:00 pm ET
I'm admittedly very late to the party on this one, and for that I apologize. I was out of town this weekend, and I found it hard to update this tracker due to lack of access to a computer and my recovery from a marathon on Saturday.
At any rate, the Red Sox signed backup catcher David Ross to a two-year contract on Saturday. According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, Ross' pact with the Sox is worth $6.2 million.
Ross is coming off a season that saw him post a solid .770 OPS with nine home runs in 62 games for the Braves. He was Brian McCann's primary backup.
One of Rosenthal's sources said that Ross will be "more than a backup but not a starter" for the Red Sox, who also have Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway in their catching mix. It's possible that either one of them will be traded this offseason to clear up the logjam.
Creating a logjam may have been half of what Ben Cherington had in mind when he decided to pursue and sign Ross. Catching depth is something a lot of teams would love to have, and the Sox could be in a position to capitalize if a team loses a catcher to injury in spring training or early in the season.
For now, Boston's roster looks a little bit stronger, and that's good enough.
Why the Heck Are the Red Sox Looking at Michael Bourn?
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 9:35 pm ET
There have been reports that the Red Sox aren't looking to move Jacoby Ellsbury in a trade this winter. If true, then they're not going to be in the market for a new center fielder.
Then why the heck are they looking at the top center fielder on the free-agent market?
According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the Sox have shown some interest in Michael Bourn, who brings Gold Glove defense and elite speed to the table.
There are three possibilities here.
One: This is just another case of Ben Cherington being hyperactive and looking at anyone and everyone.
Two: Their interest in Bourn is legitimate. Perhaps they'll sign him and then look to move Ellsbury in a trade.
Three: Maybe they'll sign Bourn and move Ellsbury to left field, as they did a few years ago when Mike Cameron came aboard.
My best guess is that the first possibility is what's really going on here. It's clear enough by now that the Red Sox are leaving no stone on the market unturned, so why skip over Bourn without giving him a look too?
I'll say this, though: He'd be a much smarter investment for the Red Sox than Josh Hamilton. Bourn wouldn't bring any power to the table, but at least he'd be relatively cheap, more durable and maybe even more valuable than Hamilton in the long run.
Another thing that's for sure is that a Bourn signing would signal the end for Ellsbury in Boston one way or another. Either he'd be traded right away, or he'd be used as a left fielder for one year and then let go as a free agent.
But who knows? I've given up trying to predict Cherington. He's all over the map right now.
Where Do the Red Sox Stand on Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 9:20 pm ET
Thanks to their big trade with the Dodgers in August, the Red Sox have enough payroll space to afford any free agent they want. Even Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke.
But in case you haven't figured it out yet, it doesn't sound like the Red Sox are too keen on signing either one of them. This from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com:
#redsox don't see greinke as a fit for boston, still thinking a bit about hamilton. unlikely tho.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 9, 2012
To be fair to these guys, either one of them would help the Red Sox. Greinke would be the ace of the starting rotation by default if the Red Sox were to sign him, and Hamilton would replace the left-handed thump that the Sox lost when they traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers.
But yeah, it's hard to see anything happening on either front. Both Hamilton and Greinke would likely run the Red Sox about $25 million per year, and they aren't likely to hand out contracts like that now that they want to be more disciplined with their spending. Plus, both players would come with their share of risk. Especially Hamilton, who is about as durable as a punter playing linebacker without pads.
If you have your hopes up for the Sox to sign either of these players, get them down. Now.
Sox Have Kicked the Tires on Joakim Soria
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 9:10 pm ET
The Red Sox seem much more concerned with rounding out their starting rotation than their bullpen. But not surprisingly, they're leaving no stone unturned in regards to relievers anyway.
So go ahead and add Soria's name to the list of free agents the Red Sox have been linked to. If you can still reach the top, of course.
Soria had Tommy John surgery last April, but that hasn't stopped numerous teams besides the Red Sox from checking in on him. It would seem many clubs are intrigued about the notion that Soria may return to his All-Star form from 2008 and 2010 after signing a low-risk contract.
But it's hard to see him signing with the Red Sox. Their bullpen is already pretty loaded with the likes of Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller, Daniel Bard, Junichi Tazawa and others set to return in 2013, so they don't have much of a need for Soria. Even if they sincerely want him, he'll probably prefer to sign with a team that would want to give him a major role.
Thus, Boston's interest in Soria can be classified in the same way as their interest in many other free agents: Possible, but not likely.
Are the Red Sox Really out on Justin Upton?
Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 2:10 am ET
Late on Wednesday night, word came out that the Red Sox were out of the running for Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton.
But are they really?
Maybe not. Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic spoke to various executives at the GM meetings, and they helped him put together a list of suitors for Upton that included the Red Sox. Piecoro noted that the Red Sox made a strong push for him two years ago, and that they have trade chips to offer the Diamondbacks in Will Middlebrooks, Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz.
I'm skeptical. Just because the Red Sox made a push for Upton two years ago doesn't mean they still value him highly, especially seeing as how there's a new regime in place nowadays. Plus, I doubt the Sox are trading Middlebrooks, Lester or Buchholz for anyone.
But for what it's worth, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald noted on Twitter in a two-part tweet that Upton's no-trade clause wouldn't get in the way of him potentially joining the Red Sox. Here's part one:
BTW, not that #RedSox are currently expected to be players in Upton trade talks, but team is on Upton's no-trade list. That said, Upton...— Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) November 8, 2012
And part two:
Honestly, it's really hard to know what to make of Boston's involvement (or non-involvement) in the Upton sweepstakes. He'd certainly be a great fit for the hole they have in right field, but it's hard to see them doing business with the Diamondbacks if the asking price is Middlebrooks or Buchholz. And since the Sox don't have a shortstop to offer the D-Backs, it's unlikely that they could do a deal without involving either of the two aforementioned players.
Despite this, it seems everyone really wants the Red Sox to be in on Upton. This could just be a case of writers looking for headlines at the behest of their editors.
Sox Interested in Nick Swisher
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 1:55 am ET
The Red Sox know Nick Swisher pretty well from his time with the Yankees. Might they be preparing to get to know him even better?
Maybe. According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Swisher is on Boston's radar:
A lot of the teams interested in Nick Swisher value him for flexibility, because he could play 1B as well as the OF. Red Sox, Rangers, etc.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 9, 2012
In case you're wondering, Swisher is going to reject the qualifying offer that the Yankees made him last week, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. That means signing him would cost a draft pick, and it also means he's likely looking for more than $13.3 million per year.
Swisher would be a good fit in Boston. In fact, I wrote an entire article about how well he would fit in Boston, as his versatile bat would fit well in the lineup and he could help solve the club's problems both in right field and at first base. Believe it or not, he also actually has a higher OPS at Fenway Park in his career than he does at Yankee Stadium.
But is Swisher really worth the money he's likely to demand? He wants to be paid like a star, but is he really a star?
Well, I won't go so far as to call him a star. But he's a lot better than people give him credit for and he's a great guy to have in the clubhouse. He would fit pretty well with the culture-changing movement the Red Sox have going on, as he's a winning player who has a ton of enthusiasm for the game itself.
It's hard to tell exactly who the Red Sox are going to spend their money on in free agency this year, but Swisher stands out as being one guy who would be worth a significant investment if the club is going to make one.
Sox Looking at Both Anibal Sanchez and Hiroki Kuroda
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 1:40 am ET
The Red Sox are acting like they're not going to spend a ton of money this winter, but they just might if they're taken enough with Anibal Sanchez.
According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox are interested in the 28-year-old right-hander, who was in Boston's farm system once upon a time. Silverman also notes that the Sox are not the only team interested in him, which isn't the least bit surprising after watching what Sanchez did in the postseason.
If the Red Sox really want him, they're going to have to pay up. The word from Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com is that Sanchez is looking for a six-year contract worth around $90 million. He basically wants the same deal that C.J. Wilson got from the Angels last winter, except with an extra year tacked on.
If the Red Sox would rather not pursue a long-term partnership with Sanchez, they could always try their luck pursuing a short-term partnership with Hiroki Kuroda. Morosi says he's more than just on their radar:
Strangely enough, Kuroda may actually be the harder of the two for the Red Sox to sign. He seems to be very particular about where he pitches, so asking him to pick Boston over two places he knows well in Los Angeles and New York may be asking too much.
Sanchez makes more sense for the Red Sox, anyway, if for no other reason than because it doesn't make a ton of sense for the Sox to pursue a short-term deal with Kuroda when there's no guarantee they'll be able to compete in the short-term. If they were to sign Sanchez to a six-year deal, he'd still be around when the Red Sox are ready to contend for championships again.
If you ask me, the smart money is on the Sox signing neither of them. They're more likely to acquire an ace pitcher in a trade than they are via free agency.
Shin-Soo Choo and Justin Masterson on Boston's Radar
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 1:20 am ET
Among the things the Red Sox need the most this winter are a right fielder and a starting pitcher.
They may fill both needs by doing business with the Cleveland Indians. According to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Red Sox are interested in acquiring Shin-Soo Choo and former Sox farmhand/reliever Justin Masterson.
This doesn't come as even a slight surprise. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier this week that the Indians have been getting calls about moving Choo and Masterson (among others), and Heyman pointed out right then and there that the Red Sox were fits for both of them.
What's intriguing is that the Red Sox have the prospects to acquire both of them if they so please, as their farm system has developed into one of baseball's best over the last year. Now's not a bad time to do a deal like this either, as Masterson's value has been lessened by a down year and Choo's value has a cap due to his upcoming free agency.
Choo would add some thump to Boston's lineup, but Masterson has the potential to be the real prize of this potential deal with the Indians. He showed ace potential in 2011, pitching 216 innings and compiling a 3.21 ERA. Though he plummeted back to earth in 2012, he still features ace-level stuff.
The Red Sox wouldn't be out of their element in trying to get Masterson back on track. He came up through their system, and he worked under John Farrell when he was still the club's pitching coach in 2008 and 2009.
The Red Sox are no doubt pursuing several different trades at the moment, but don't be surprised if this one actually happens. The players are good fits, and the Indians and Red Sox look like natural trade partners.
Mike Napoli Also on Boston's First Base Radar
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 9 at 1:10 am ET
We know that the Red Sox are interested in Adam LaRoche as a potential solution for their vacancy at first base. We can add Mike Napoli to their list of options as well.
Courtesy of Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
Mike Napoli and Adam LaRoche on Red Sox first base radar.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) November 8, 2012
Hey, if you can't beat 'em, sign 'em. Am I right?
Indeed. Napoli has hit 15 homers in his career against the Red Sox, his most again any non-AL West team. He has a 1.107 OPS in his career at Fenway Park. It's no wonder the Red Sox wouldn't mind seeing him on their side for a change.
Plus, now's a good time to buy low on Napoli. He's not going to come cheap, but he'll certainly come a lot cheaper now than he would have this time last year when he was fresh off a season that saw him post a 1.046 OPS with 30 home runs in only 113 games. In 2012, he regressed to post an .812 OPS and hit 24 home runs in 108 games. He ran into injury troubles late in the season.
Playing Napoli at first base on a full-time basis could help keep him healthier. If he were to play 145 games or so in a single season, he could hit as many as 40 homers. Especially if he were taking aim at the Green Monster half the time.
Still, Adam LaRoche seems like a better fit for the Red Sox's opening at first base. He's a true first baseman, and a very good defensive first baseman at that. He's also uncannily reliable for 25 homers and right around 90 RBI when he manages to stay healthy for a full season, as he did in 2012.
The Sox can't go wrong with either Napoli or LaRoche, but I wouldn't be shocked to learn that LaRoche is their primary target.
Sox Have Checked in on Torii Hunter and Grady Sizemore
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 8 at 12:05 am ET
The Red Sox are out on Justin Upton and they probably won't go after Jason Bay. With those two possibilities nixed, what are their outfield options?
#RedSox have expressed interest in free agent OF Torii Hunter, checked in on free agent OF Grady Sizemore. Different circumstances each guy.— Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) November 8, 2012
It's not news that the Sox are interested in Hunter, but it's definitely news that they're interested in Sizemore.
The question that comes immediately to mind: Why?
The question is probably more like "Why not?" as far as the Red Sox are concerned. Sizemore didn't play at all in 2012 and he really hasn't been a relevant player since 2008, but he's still relatively young at the age of 30. He could be a very low-risk and potentially high-reward option for Boston's outfield.
Still, that's probably a pipe dream. The Sox are better off paying for predictable production out of Hunter than chasing the ghost of Sizemore's once-great career.
Red Sox out on Justin Upton
Ralph Freso/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 11:40 pm ET
When Justin Upton hit the trade block on Wednesday, many immediately fingered the Red Sox as a possible destination for the 25-year-old right fielder.
Well, it was fun while it lasted. Bob Nightengale of USA Today has heard that the Red Sox are already out of the running:
My best guess is that Arizona GM Kevin Towers told the Red Sox he wanted Will Middlebrooks, and that Ben Cherington said thanks but no thanks.
Either that, or the Red Sox were only ever curious and not interested enough to get involved.
Sox After Adam LaRoche
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 11:15 pm ET
The Red Sox need a first baseman, preferably a good defensive player with a lefty bat.
LaRoche is coming off a career year that saw him hit 33 home runs with an .853 OPS, and he was also a deserving Gold Glove recipient at first base. He's expected to decline the $13.3 million qualifying offer the Nationals made him by Friday's deadline.
If he does, any team that signs him will have to surrender a draft pick. LaRoche would be worth it for the Red Sox, though, as they don't have an answer at first base and they need some power in the middle of their lineup. Ideally, they'd get LaRoche to agree to a relatively short-term commitment. No more than three years, most likely.
Anything more than three years is probably too much for the Red Sox. They've preached disciplined spending ever since their big trade with the Dodgers in August, and giving the 33-year-old LaRoche a long-term deal wouldn't exactly be disciplined.
Furthermore, LaRoche may prefer the Rangers or the Nationals over the Red Sox because both clubs are clearly in a position to win right away. The Red Sox have a lot of work to do before they can claim the same.
Still, of all the first basemen on the free-agent market, LaRoche is the best fit for the Red Sox. We'll see.
Jason Bay, Justin Upton and the Future of Boston's Outfield
Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 10:10 pm ET
Basically what this means is that the Mets paid Bay to go away. Some of the money is going to be deferred, but he will get the $21 million he had coming to him.
So what does this have to do with the Red Sox?
Well, Bay is a free agent now that he's been bought out. He can sign with anyone, and Rod Bradford of WEEI.com has heard that he wouldn't mind reuniting with the Red Sox:
According to source Bay would be very interested in Red Sox if Red Sox interested. Despite controversy at end would welcome return— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) November 7, 2012
Before you freak out, Bay is in a position where he can't rule anybody out, so of course he's going to be open to joining the Red Sox. Plus, Ben Cherington told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that Bay hasn't yet been discussed as a possibility.
A much more intriguing option for the Red Sox is Justin Upton, who is once again on the trade block. Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald says that there is "little uncertainty" that the Red Sox will explore a trade for Upton.
And why not? They have a hole in right field that they need to fill, and Upton is a potential superstar who happens to have a team-friendly contract. He's signed through 2015, and his salary will max out at $14.5 million.
The Red Sox would have to give up some significant prospects to get him, but his deal wouldn't be a drain on their payroll.
A player of Upton's caliber could even help the Red Sox win as soon as 2013, especially if they hold on to Jacoby Ellsbury as they're apparently planning to do. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has reported that they'll listen to offers for Ellsbury, but that they can't afford to move him with their outfield situation already highly uncertain.
An outfield featuring Ellsbury and Upton would be pretty darn impressive, even if the experience only lasted for one year.
Jacoby Ellsbury May Be Sticking Around in 2013
Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 1:30 pm ET
If the Red Sox are going to make a blockbuster trade this offseason, it's probably going to involve Jacoby Ellsbury. Such has been the general consensus, anyway.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com would advise everyone not to count on this actually happening:
Things change, but #RedSox currently disinclined to trade Ellsbury with value down. Club figures he will be highly motivated in FA year.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 7, 2012
Two things come to mind here.
One, this could just be Ben Cherington trying to up the demand for Ellsbury with a little bit of gamesmanship. Ellsbury doesn't have much trade value after his down season in 2012, but he could still be moved for a suitable package of prospects if a team out there were to buy into the notion that Ellsbury is due for a huge 2013 season.
Or, Cherington could sincerely want to hold on to Ellsbury for the 2013 season. If Ellsbury is going to have a huge year, why shouldn't the Red Sox try to benefit from it?
If so, this would be an interesting play. It's hard to imagine the Red Sox being a legit contender in 2013 even if Ellsbury does revert back to his spectacular form from the 2011 season. And if he does, his free agent stock will go through the roof to a point where he'll actually be too expensive for the Red Sox.
Another possibility is that the Red Sox are hoping Ellsbury bounces back so they can trade him at the deadline when his value is at its peak. His value as a half-season rental could be even higher than his value right now as a full-season rental.
We'll see. There's really no right way to play the Ellsbury situation, but Cherington doesn't necessarily have anything to lose by being patient.
Sox and Indians Natural Trade Partners?
David Maxwell/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7:30 pm ET
This one belongs more in the "speculation" folder than it does in the "rumor" folder, but it's worth sharing anyway.
Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com thinks the Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians may do a deal this winter, noting that the two front offices know each other well and that new Tribe manager Terry Francona knows Boston's prospects well from his time as the Red Sox's manager.
Among the players the Indians could deal this winter are shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, right field Shin-Soo Choo, closer Chris Perez and starting pitcher Justin Masterson (pictured).
It's been suggested quite often in recent weeks that the Indians need to go into full-on rebuilding mode as quickly as possible, but they may not be willing to do that after hiring Francona to be their manager. He's not a rebuilding manager. He's a winning manager. And to win, he'll need talent.
Even still, the Sox would indeed appear to be a natural trading partner for the Indians if they do decide to blow up their roster. They have the prospects the Indians would need, and the players the Indians have to sell would fill areas of need in Boston.
Of the players the Indians could put on the block this winter, Masterson would be the best option for the Red Sox. He would fit well in the hole they have in their rotation, and he wouldn't be out of his element playing under John Farrell. He was still the club's pitching coach when Masterson was with the Red Sox in 2008 and 2009.
There's definitely a deal or two to be made between the Sox and Indians. It just depends on what the Indians want to do with their roster.
Sox Have Interest in Torii Hunter
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 12:40 pm ET
The Red Sox have re-signed David Ortiz. Their next move may be to sign one of his best friends.
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Red Sox have shown some interest in Angels free agent Torii Hunter, who is coming off a season in which he posted an .817 OPS while playing well above-average defense in right field.
The interest may be mutual, as Hunter is on record saying that he would be open to signing with the Red Sox so long as Ortiz is still in town. The two of them came up through the Twins organization at roughly the same time, and have remained close to this day.
"I'm open to anybody, especially if David is there," said Hunter in late August. "David is one of my guys. We were roommates in Minnesota and he's one of my brothers. He's one of my best friends in baseball. That makes it more impressive."
On Monday during the press conference to announce his new two-year deal with the Red Sox, Ortiz said that he had spoken with Hunter recently and that he had hinted that Boston would be on his mind.
"I talked to him the other day because he heard Texas was going to try and sign me, because his mind might have changed. He said, 'If I was going to think about Boston it is because you are there.' I told him not to worry," said Ortiz.
Because the Yankees have been reported to have an interest in Hunter, this could just be simple gamesmanship on the part of the Red Sox. They may just be trying to drive up Hunter's price tag, which would complicate matters for the Yankees given their desire to start getting their payroll down to a more reasonable figure by 2014.
But maybe not. Hunter could fill the hole the Red Sox have in right field, and he may actually end up being a more cost-effective option than Cody Ross. He supposedly wants a deal worth $25 million, which could make him too expensive for the Red Sox.
The one hurdle to the idea of Hunter coming to Boston is that he may prefer to play for a championship-caliber club. The Red Sox will still be quite a few parts short of championship quality even if they do manage to sign him.
If the Yankees offer Hunter the same money the Red Sox are offering him, my guess is that he would soon be wearing pinstripes.
Cody Ross Wants a Lot of Money
Jason Miller/Getty Images
Posted: Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 12:15 am ET
Cody Ross has been said to be seeking a deal similar to Josh Willingham's contract with the Minnesota Twins this winter.
It turns out that Willingham's contract is more like a starting point for Ross. ESPN's Buster Olney has heard that Ross is looking for more than $21 million over three years:
In Cody Ross's talks with the Red Sox, his side was looking for something in the 3-year, $25 million range.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 6, 2012
An .807 OPS and 22 homers make you worth more than $8 million per year. That's what Ross' camp thinks, anyway.
But will Ross actually get a contract worth $25 million?
Yeah, probably. Good contracts come to those who wait, and Ross eventually will cross paths with a team desperate enough for a slugging outfielder if he waits long enough.
I just highly doubt that Ross will end up back with the Red Sox if he refuses to budge from his apparent asking price. The Red Sox picked him up for cheap last offseason and probably figured he would re-sign with them for a reasonable price. Now that they know his asking price, it's a good bet that they'll just look to strike gold again with some other low-priced free agent outfielder.
It's still possible that Ross will return to Boston in 2013. I'd say it's just not likely anymore.
UPDATE: Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 12:45 pm ET
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the "primary stumbling block" in talks between Ross and the Red Sox is Boston's unwillingness to offer Ross a third year on a contract. That would suggest that they view him as a one- or two-year stopgap, perhaps with an option for a third year rather than a guarantee.
That's probably not going to get it done.
Rick Peterson Set to Be New Sox Pitching Coach?
Doug Benc/Getty Images
Posted: Monday, Nov. 5 at 6:50 pm ET
The Red Sox have hired a former pitching coach in John Farrell to be their new manager, but they still need a new actual pitching coach.
It sounds like the job may go to Rick Peterson. According to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, Farrell is "all in" on Peterson as his pick for the job, and a decision could come as soon as Tuesday.
I realize this isn't necessarily a free agency or trade rumor, but this will be a pretty big deal if it happens. Big enough to warrant a discussion here, anyway.
After what happened at the end of the 2011 season and throughout the entire 2012 season, it's safe to say that Boston's approach to pitching needs to be completely be redone. Having Farrell around once again will help, but a few new ideas wouldn't hurt.
That's where a guy like Peterson can definitely help. He takes a more scientific approach to pitching than most pitching experts, and this past year he put his skills to use as the Director of Pitching Development for a Baltimore Orioles team that managed to get quality innings from unlikely sources. That was largely Peterson's doing.
In Peterson's hands, Jon Lester may be great again and Clay Buchholz may get back on the path he began treading in 2010. He could also turn John Lackey into a serviceable pitcher again, and it's intriguing to think what he could do with young lefty Felix Doubront.
The Red Sox scored when they hired Farrell as their manager. If they hire Peterson too, they'll have the makings of a scary-good coaching staff.
David Ortiz and Red Sox Have a Deal
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 6:05 pm ET
The Red Sox have made David Ortiz an offer!
...A qualifying offer, that is.
Courtesy of Alex Speier of WEEI.com:
In a not-shocking piece of news, David Ortiz receives a qualifying offer from the #redsox.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) November 2, 2012
What this means is that the Red Sox have offered Ortiz a one-year deal worth $13.3 million. He can either accept it or reject it. If he rejects it and signs elsewhere this winter, the Red Sox will get a compensatory draft pick.
Odds are that Ortiz will not be accepting the offer, but that doesn't mean he's going to sign elsewhere if he rejects it. He can still return to the Red Sox on a multi-year deal to his liking, and it sounds like that's what's going to happen.
Rob Bradford of WEEI.com has heard that things are going well:
Ortiz-Sox "very close" per source— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) November 2, 2012
With free agents set to hit the open market at midnight, it really wouldn't be such a huge shock if Ortiz and the Red Sox came to an agreement before the end of the day.
UPDATE: Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:00 pm ET
I took a wild guess when I wrote that the Sox and Ortiz could agree to a new deal by the end of the day, but it may actually happen. Here's Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe:
You can expect the #RedSox to sign Ortiz before the night is out. Everything pointing that way, two sources said.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) November 2, 2012
In a few hours' time, Ortiz could officially be a Red Sox again.
UPDATE No. 2: Friday, Nov. 2 at 7:50 pm ET
According to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the numbers are all set:
According to source familiar with the negotiations, once finalized Ortiz deal will be for two years for at least $26 million— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) November 2, 2012
He added in a separate tweet that Oritz's deal could climb as high as $30 million with incentives.
UPDATE No. 3: Monday, Nov. 5 at 12:35 pm ET
The deal is official. According to Ian Browne of MLB.com, Ortiz's new deal is indeed for two years and $26 million. It includes incentives that could push his earnings to $30 million.
A press conference to formally announce Ortiz's new pact with the Red Sox is scheduled for 4:00 pm ET.
Cody Ross Speaks on His Situation
Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Sunday, Nov. 4 at 4:55 pm ET
Cody Ross did not re-sign with the Red Sox before the exclusive negotiating window closed late on Friday night. And if he is to believed, he and the Red Sox never really got close on a new deal.
"It hasn't been really what I would say close," Ross told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com on Saturday.
Ross said he and his agent have already gotten calls from several other teams since he hit the open market, but he's not about to shut the Red Sox out now that he's free to sign anywhere he pleases.
"It's not just [the Red Sox]," he said. "They had a ton of opportunities. We talked about this back in July and we couldn't work anything out up until the deadline. Now it only makes sense to listen to other teams. But obviously we're going to talk [with the Red Sox]."
The Red Sox also passed on making Ross a qualifying offer worth $13.3 million by Friday's deadline, which he says actually makes his value in free agency a little higher because whoever signs him won't lose a draft pick.
The best fit for Ross is still in Boston, and he has said repeatedly that he wouldn't mind staying. But at this juncture, it's not hard to imagine him getting a little too pricey out on the open market for the newly disciplined Red Sox front office.
At the same time, however, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise if it turns out that other teams don't value Ross as highly as the Red Sox, who know that his swing is perfect for Fenway Park.
It's going to be an interesting process, so stay tuned.
Sox out on Dan Haren?
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 11:10 pm ET
It looked for a while there like the Los Angeles Angels were going to trade Dan Haren to the Chicago Cubs for Carlos Marmol, but the deal fell apart. For whatever reason, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com says the Cubs pulled the deal off the table.
Might the Red Sox use this as their chance to swoop in and grab Haren?
According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, probably not:
Haren for Marmol trade is indeed off. Doesn't appear that Haren will end up with Red Sox, either.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) November 3, 2012
Haren seemed to be at the top of everyone's wish list for a while there, but now it looks like nobody wants him. That makes one wonder if teams are too worried about Haren's health to make a deal for him.
If so, that wouldn't be a huge surprise given all the issues Haren had with his back in 2012. He was limited to only 30 starts, and many of those were ineffective.
The Angels have until midnight ET to make a decision on Haren's $15.5 million option for 2013.
But if they don't want to trade for him, that's not the Red Sox's problem, is it?
Cody Ross to Test the Open Market
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 9:45 pm ET
It looks like David Ortiz is going to be back in a Red Sox uniform in 2013, but Cody Ross' situation is still up in the air.
One thing we know for sure is that Ross won't be inking a new contract with the Red Sox at any point in the next couple of hours. According to Alex Speier of WEEI.com, Ross will not sign before midnight and will thus enter the open market as of 12:01 a.m.
You could see this coming a mile away. The Red Sox do seem to want Ross back pretty badly, but he'll have more negotiating power if he shops his talents around among other teams in free agency. That's exactly what he'll do in the coming days and weeks, all the while raising his price tag higher and higher.
Such will be the idea, anyway. Ross probably won't lack suitors on the open market, but he may not find any teams willing to give him more than the Red Sox are willing to give him.
The Red Sox certainly should value Ross more than other teams given how perfect his swing is for Fenway Park. He slugged .390 on the road in 2012, but .565 at home with 13 of his 22 home runs.
There's still a pretty good chance that something gets done between Ross and the Red Sox. The only thing that will change with him set to hit the open market is that there's now little hope of the Red Sox re-signing him at a discounted price.
Sox Have Some Interest in Scott Baker
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 3:10 pm ET
More than anything, what the Red Sox need these days is pitching.
You can expect the Red Sox to be in on pretty much anyone and everyone this winter, including Minnesota Twins castoff Scott Baker. According to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com, the Sox are one of several teams that have some level of interest in the 31-year-old right-hander.
Baker didn't pitch at all in 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March. He was solid in 2011, however, going 8-6 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 appearances (21 starts).
Baker has a fairly mediocre career track record, but one thing that should appeal to the Red Sox is that he's nothing if not predictable. Baker has never posted a BB/9 higher than 2.3 in his career. His WHIP was between 1.17 and 1.20 in three out of four years from 2008 to 2011. He's routinely posted FIPs in the high 3.00s, according to FanGraphs.
And so on. You can tell that Baker definitely came up through Minnesota's system. The Twins have—or used to have, anyway—a knack for cranking out robot pitchers.
If the Red Sox do sign Baker, it won't be so they can slot him into their rotation right away. He'd likely be given a shot to earn a spot in spring training, but would likely begin the season in the minors. He'd then wait for an opening to emerge.
In a perfect world, Baker would become the next Ryan Vogelsong. If not, it would be no harm, no foul for the Red Sox given the kind of cheap salary Baker would surely be earning.
The Latest on David Ortiz
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 1:05 pm ET
It may be that their interest has lit a fire under Ben Cherington. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, what was once a "large gap" between what Ortiz wants and what the Red Sox want to pay him is starting to close:
Red Sox and Ortiz starting to close the large gap they had just 24 hours ago. News of Texas interest, reported by Ken Rosenthal, is real.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) November 2, 2012
With Ortiz set to hit the open market at midnight on Friday, it's possible that he and the Red Sox will have a deal in place before then.
But I doubt it. Ortiz has made it clear enough that he wants to return to Boston, but he's also made it clear that he's not about to take a discount in order to do so. It would make sense for him to hold off on agreeing to a deal with the Red Sox until he can sit down and talk with the Rangers, and then use those talks as leverage to get more money from the Red Sox.
However, are the Rangers a legitimate threat to lure Big Papi away from Boston?
Rosenthal and Cafardo both say that they are, and it certainly makes a ton of sense for them to sign Ortiz. They could lose Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli to free agency in the coming months, and they need to address a DH spot that wasn't productive at all in 2012. Per FanGraphs, Rangers DHs managed just a .297 wOBA, worst among AL teams.
The smart money is on Ortiz stick around in Boston, but don't count the Rangers out until his signature is on a contract.
Ben Cherington Hints at Plans for Pitching
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Friday, Nov. 2 at 1:25 am ET
If there's one thing the Red Sox need to do this winter, it's shore up their pitching staff. There's only so much a team can do with a 4.77 team ERA after all.
Ben Cherington understands this, and he confirmed on Thursday in a WEEI interview that patching up the club's starting rotation, in particular, is a priority. For that, he anticipates bringing in help from outside the organization.
Cherington said on WEEI that Sox want to add externally (trade or free agent) to rotation while protecting pitching prospects.— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) November 1, 2012
As for the team's bullpen, Cherington said that he won't rule out adding relievers from outside the organization. However, he also noted that the team has enough internal relief options both at the major league level and in Triple-A to get by.
His stance on the bullpen makes sense, as does his stance on the rotation. In fact, it wasn't much of a secret that the club will be keeping an eye out for starting pitchers this winter. The Sox will need to pick up at least one starter, and whoever they pick up can't be a low-risk, low-reward option. The Sox can't settle for any more Aaron Cooks or Vicente Padillas.
The Sox have already been linked to Angels right-hander Dan Haren. The list of free agents they might pursue includes Anibal Sanchez, Brandon McCarthy and Edwin Jackson, to name just a few.
It's obviously hard to tell what Cherington has in mind. About all that can be said is that it's a good thing that he didn't say "We think we're set" when discussing the team's pitching plans.
Is Something Brewing with the Angels?
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET
The Red Sox made one of the biggest trades in baseball history with a team from Southern California back in August. Might they do business with another SoCal team in the near future?
It's possible. The Los Angeles Angels have a couple of players they're looking to move, and the Red Sox are one possible trade partner for them.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Sox have some interest in right-handed starter Dan Haren:
Red Sox one of several teams in on Dan Haren.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) November 1, 2012
A short while later, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times speculated that the Angels could trade both Haren and left fielder Vernon Wells to the Red Sox in an exchange of bad contracts:
DiGiovanna's speculation made sense. Lackey is set to be Boston's most expensive player in 2013, and that's a troubling prospect seeing as how he's underperformed with the Red Sox. He's also coming off Tommy John surgery. Getting rid of him while also filling the club's needs in its rotation and in left field would be a victory.
However, don't count on it happening. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal has it on good authority that the Red Sox aren't interested in dealing for Wells.
Haren, however, does indeed seem to be in play for the Red Sox. The Sox would have to pay some or all of the $15.5 million Haren is set to earn in 2013, but he'll be worth that kind of money if he stays healthy and reverts back to the form he showed in 2011 when he logged close to 240 innings and compiled a 3.17 ERA.
If the Sox were to acquire Haren and get the 2012 version of him, the one that went 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA, it would not be a major disaster considering that it would only be a one-year partnership.
David Ortiz Slipping Away from the Red Sox?
Bob DeChiara-US PRESSWIRE
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET
It's hard to imagine the Red Sox without David Ortiz, but it's possible that Big Papi won't be back in Boston in 2013.
The reports that have come out regarding the contract negotiations between Ortiz and the Red Sox have generally been positive. As recently as Thursday morning, Nick Cafardo tweeted that the two sides were busy trying to bridge a mere "modest" gap at some point within the next 24 hours.
That may not happen. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com has it from a source that Ortiz is "likely" to hit the open market two days from now when all teams lose exclusive negotiating rights with their own free agents.
This doesn't mean the Red Sox won't be bringing Ortiz back, mind you. It just means that he'll have a little more leverage to play with because he'll be able to shop his services around to other interested parties.
But you never know. One of these interested parties could make Ortiz an offer he can't refuse. It's safe to assume that only American League clubs will be interested, but no doubt one or two teams out there would love to have an experienced DH who was one of the top sluggers in the league in 2012 before he got hurt.
My gut tells me that the Yankees will be involved in some way. Ortiz and his reps could begin talks with the Yankees just to light a fire under the Red Sox. But since the Bombers could use a good DH, it's not hard to imagine them actually making Ortiz an offer.
Still, Ortiz is probably going to end up back with the Red Sox. Everyone knows they're the best fit for him, and it's not just his bat the Red Sox need. They could use his presence in the clubhouse and his star power to help keep a disillusioned fanbase interested.
What's the Latest on Cody Ross?
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET
After a season in which he posted an .807 OPS and hit 22 home runs, the Red Sox would love nothing more than to bring back outfielder Cody Ross.
It once seemed like a lock that the Red Sox would bring back Ross. Now, not so much.
Rob Bradford reported earlier this month that talks between Ross and the Red Sox were gaining some momentum, but this was before WEEI.com colleague Alex Speier wrote that it could take a Josh Willingham deal for the Red Sox to re-sign Ross.
That, for the record, would be something in the neighborhood of three years and $21 million.
If the Red Sox stay committed to more disciplined spending, they may not be willing to craft a deal like that. They could let Ross walk and take a chance on another outfielder willing to take a one-year "prove it" deal, as Ross did last winter.
However, it's hard to imagine Ross leaving after the season he had in 2012. His swing proved to be an absolutely perfect fit for Fenway Park, as he hit 13 homers and posted a .565 slugging percentage in 66 home games.
If Ross can put up those kinds of numbers on an annual basis, $7 million a year for three years would be a fair deal for both sides.
For what it's worth, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe noted on Twitter that Ross was one of the players John Farrell had reached out to when he was hired as the club's manager. That could be a sign that the Red Sox are counting on having Ross around in 2013.
Any Chance the Sox Bring Back James Loney?
Tony Medina/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET
The Red Sox opened up a pretty huge hole at first base when they traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers in July. They'll need to plug it with a free agent or a trade acquisition before the offseason is over.
Is there any chance they might go the cheap route and just bring back James Loney to play first in 2013?
It's doubtful. Evan Drellich of MLB.com wrote last week that Loney isn't off Boston's radar entirely, but that the club does view him as a "Plan B" option for the time being. A source put the chances of him returning at less than 50-50.
Makes sense. Loney gave the Sox some good glove work after he came over from the Dodgers, but he only hit .230 with a .574 OPS. He hit .254 with a .646 OPS with the Dodgers before the trade. Between the two teams, Loney posted a career-worst .640 OPS.
So it goes for Loney. He peaked in his rookie season in 2007 when he hit .331 with a .919 OPS and 15 home runs in only 96 games. Ever since then, his bat has been average for his position.
There are some solid first basemen on the free-agent market for the Red Sox to pursue. They could give Mike Napoli a look if he's open to settling for a short-term deal, and they could also seek a reunion with Adam LaRoche. He's coming off the best season of his career and declined his mutual option with the Washington Nationals on Thursday.
Because the Red Sox have options at their disposal, it's pretty hard to imagine Loney re-signing this winter.
Andre Ethier a Fit for the Red Sox?
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET
The Dodgers have accumulated quite a few star players over the last few months. They've also accumulated quite a bit of payroll in the process. While they do have plenty of cash to burn, they might want to tone it down a bit and save some money.
They can do that by dealing one of their stars, and ESPN's Buster Olney says that Andre Ethier could be the guy to go:
Sources: Dodgers are open to the idea of dealing Andre Ethier. He signed a five-year, $85 million contract during the season.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 30, 2012
Take this with a grain of salt. While Olney may have heard that Ethier could be traded, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has reported that it's not going to happen.
Still, it's not hard to imagine Ethier moving. He has some solid trade value, and the five-year, $85 million extension he signed midway through the 2012 season is the kind of contract that a big-market club could take on.
The Red Sox could definitely take a contract like that on, and they'll have a spot for Ethier in right field if they are unable to re-sign Cody Ross. Jason A. Churchill noted in ESPN's rumor mill that the Red Sox could indeed view Ethier as a fit if they think he could handle playing defense in right field at Fenway Park (no easy task, that).
The trouble with Ethier is that his best days may be behind him. He has a solid .838 OPS for his career, but his OPS+ has been in the low 120s each of the last two years after consistently staying in the 130s between 2008 and 2010.
If the Red Sox were to take on Ethier's contract, they'd be rolling the dice on him being better. Essentially, they'd be doing an impression of the Dodgers.
So yeah, hard to see it happening.
Could the Red Sox Trade for David Wright?
Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Posted: Thursday, Nov. 1 at 2:30 p.m. ET
Right off the bat, there's no rumor here. This is pure speculation.
I'm noting it because it's a bit of speculation that has some legs.
The New York Mets picked up David Wright's option for the 2013 season this week, but that hasn't stopped all the chatter about Wright possibly being traded. If he doesn't sign an extension to stay with the Mets long-term, he most likely will be traded.
ESPN's Jim Bowden has the Red Sox at the very top of his list of possible trade partners for the Mets.
Bowden's reasoning is that the Red Sox have more than enough money to spend on Wright and that his swing would be a perfect fit for Fenway Park. The Red Sox could send Will Middlebrooks to the Mets as compensation, and perhaps one of their top starting pitching prospects as well.
I'm willing to put this one in the "maybe" pile.
Wright would be worth paying a high price for in a trade, and I'd also say he'd be worth signing to an extension. He has a reputation for being injury-prone, but he's played in over 155 games each of the last two seasons. He's coming off a year in which he hit .306 with his best OPS+ since 2007, and he should have been awarded the NL Gold Glove at third base over San Diego's Chase Headley.
Also, he's still in his prime. He'll turn 30 in December, meaning he should have a few more good years left in him.
However, a trade for Wright would not be unlike the trade the Red Sox made for Adrian Gonzalez a couple years ago, and that didn't work out so well. They may be hesitant to sacrifice the fruits of their farm system for a star player who will cost them a lot of money.
So, like I said, this one's on the "maybe" pile.