Boston Red Sox Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

Rick Weiner@RickWeinerNYFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2013

Boston Red Sox Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

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    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    While the rest of Red Sox nation gets to bask in the glory of the team's third World Series crown in the past 10 years, GM Ben Cherington has to preemptively end his celebration and get to work in piecing together a roster capable of defending that championship.

    Boston faces the potential loss of a number of key pieces, most notably CF Jacoby Ellsbury and 1B Mike Napoli, both free agents who are sure to garner interest from multiple teams on the open market. Will the World Champs pay market price to keep their own established stars or look to the open market and their farm system for replacements?

    It's going to be a pivotal offseason for Cherington and Co,, and right here is where you'll be able to find the latest rumors and rumblings about the BoSox as the offseason rolls along.

    While the post date will always show as October 31, simply click through the slides to see what the rumor mill is spitting out.

Boston's Own Free Agents and Done Deals

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    All the juicy rumors and analysis follow, but consider this your one-stop shop for all the comings and goings in Boston this winter, including the status of the team's own free agents.

    Red Sox Free Agents

    RHP Andrew Bailey (Dec. 2: Non-tendered)

    SS Stephen Drew

    CF Jacoby Ellsbury (Dec. 3: Signed a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees)

    RHP Joel Hanrahan

    OF Ryan Kalish (Dec. 2: Non-tendered; Dec. 13: Signed minor-league deal with the Cubs)

    LHP Jon Lester (Nov. 1: Team picked up $13 million option)

    SS/2B John McDonald

    1B Mike Napoli (Dec. 6: Re-signed)

    C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Dec. 3: Signed a three-year, $21 million deal with Miami)

    LHP Matt Thornton (Nov. 2: Team declined $6 million option)

    Done Deals

    Nov. 22: Acquired RHP Burke Badenhop from Brewers for LHP Luis Ortega

    Dec. 3: Signed C A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year, $8.25 million deal (Analysis)

    Dec. 5: Signed RHP Edward Mujica to a two-year, $9.5 million deal

    Dec. 6: Re-signed 1B Mike Napoli to a two-year, $32 million deal

    Dec. 14: Signed RHP John Ely to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training

    Dec. 17: Signed RHP Shunsuke Watanabe to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training

    Dec. 18: Acquired IF Jonathan Herrera from Rockies for LHP Franklin Morales and RHP Chris Martin

Stephen Drew: Free Agent Without Multiple Suitors?

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Update: Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 4:53 p.m. ET

    CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets that the Red Sox are still talking to Drew and want him back.

    Much like the negotiations with Mike Napoli, the Red Sox seem to be optimistic that they'll be able to work out a deal with last year's starting shortstop.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 2:30 p.m. ET

    The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo says that Drew's market "isn't as extensive" as many predicted that it would be, leaving the Red Sox feeling like they have a good chance to retain him.

    As previously mentioned, re-signing Drew would push Xander Bogaerts to third base—and likely push Will Middlebrooks out of Boston.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 7:54 p.m. ET

    A guest on WEEI 93.7 FM earlier today, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that the team will do "anything it can" to bring Drew and Mike Napoli, the team's two top remaining free agents, back for 2014, according to Alex Speier.

    Bringing Drew back would likely signal the end of Will Middlebrooks time in Boston, as Xander Bogaerts is going to play everyday in 2014 and, with Drew at shortstop, would push Middlebrooks out of the third base job.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Friday, Nov. 15 at 12:09 a.m. ET

    In a conversation with reporters, including the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham, GM Ben Cherington disputed reports that Drew is absolutely not returning to Boston in 2014:

    “That’s not something I’ve been told (Drew not returning). We’re still talking with him and we’d like to have him back. We’ll see what happens.”

    --End of Update--

    Update: Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 4:08 p.m. ET

    ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes says that it has become clear that Stephen Drew will not be returning to the Red Sox in 2014, as he will find a better deal than what the Boston is willing to offer him elsewhere.

    This isn't really surprising news, considering that the Red Sox have Xander Bogaerts ready to step into the position on a daily basis.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Monday, Nov. 11 at 9:55 p.m. ET

    Red Sox GM Ben Cherington will meet with Drew's agent, Scott Boras, to discuss what the agent's expectations are regarding a new deal for the veteran shortstop, per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.

    Considering that Boras has previously referenced the eight-year, $120 million extension that Elvis Andrus signed with the Rangers back in April when discussing Drew with the media, it's hard to see where there's any chance of the sides being anywhere close to one another in those expectations.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Monday, Nov. 11 at 3:48 p.m. ET

    As expected, Drew turned down Boston's qualifying offer, according to the Boston Globe's Pete Abraham.

    It's highly likely that Drew's time with the Red Sox has come to an end, with the team having Xander Bogaerts ready to play on a daily basis. Boston will receive a compensatory draft pick when Drew signs a deal with another team.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Friday, Nov. 8 at 11:47 a.m. ET

    CBS Sports' Jon Heyman also reports that Drew is going to turn down Boston's qualifying offer and test the free agent market, pointing to comments by agent Scott Boras as evidence of why: "Drew is in the top five offensively and defensively at his position. You can't find a guy with that package."

    Boras also addressed speculation that Drew would only get a three-year deal on the open market, making sure to take a shot at those doing the speculating along the way: "A three-year deal, for a 30-year-old free agent, really? Are these writers aware of what Elvins Andrus signed for?"

    Chances are that we've seen the last of Drew in Boston, as the team can go into 2014 with Will Middlebrooks at 3B and Xander Bogaerts at SS with little reservation.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Thursday, Nov. 7 at 7:35 p.m. ET

    Despite John Farrell's wishes, Peter Gammons quotes an unnamed GM who says that Drew will not accept the team's qualifying offer and plans on testing the free agent market:

    GM:"Forget Stephen Drew accepting the $14M. Scott(Boras) already has set up a number of meetings on Drew for Tuesday at the GM meetings."

    With a dearth of quality shortstops on the free agent market (Jhonny Peralta is the only other one on Drew's level), this doesn't really come as much of a surprise. While this certainly lowers the chances of Drew returning to Boston in 2014, it certainly doesn't close the door altogether—at least not yet.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 10:01 p.m. ET

    If manager John Farrell has his way, Stephen Drew will be Boston's starting shortstop once again in 2014, as he explained during an interview on WEEI's Salk and Holley Show. Via WEEI's Alex Speier:

    Our approach towards our team is always going to be one to build the greatest depth, not only to the 25-man roster but guys below that. Stephen Drew is a very good shortstop. I know there will be people who say what’s the infatuation with him based on the postseason performance. But he’s a darn good shortstop. He had a very strong year for us. He’s a left-handed hitter. Otherwise, we would have an entire right-handed hitting infield, which creates further balance in the lineup going forward.

    I can’t sit here today and say that he’s going to be back here. Personally, I’m hopeful he’s back. It buys us some time, whether [Xander Bogaerts] is the guy going forward next year at shortstop or if he’s at third base.

    While multiple teams have been linked to Drew, the 30-year old shortstop may not be able to land a multi-year deal from another team that exceeds an annual value of more than $14.1 million, the salary he'd earn with the Red Sox next year if he accepts the qualifying offer that the team extended to him on Monday.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Monday, Nov. 4 at 3:11 p.m. ET

    The Red Sox have extended a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer to Stephen Drew, according to the team's official Twitter account.

    --End of Update--

    Despite getting little offensive production out of him in the playoffs, Heyman also reported that the Red Sox will extend a qualifying offer to Stephen Drew.

    Drew, 30, hit a combined .111 (6-for-54) with two extra-base hits and four RBI in 16 playoff games, mustering an embarrassing .344 OPS. With top prospect Xander Bogaerts ready to start at either shortstop or third base, keeping Drew around could signal the end of Will Middlebrooks' tenure with the Red Sox. While Drew may be seeking a multiyear deal, it wouldn't be surprising if he took the lucrative qualifying offer instead. 

Matt Kemp: Red Sox Inquired About All-Star Center Fielder but Decide to Pass

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 10:49 p.m. ET

    Per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, the Red Sox have decided that Kemp isn't a fit at this time.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 8:43 p.m. ET

    The Red Sox are one of three teams, along with the Mariners and Tigers, that have spoken to the Dodgers about Kemp so far at the Winter Meetings, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    The Dodgers have let it be known that they are willing to include cash in any deal so that they can get a better return for their injured center fielder.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 5:11 p.m. ET

    ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes reports that talks between the Dodgers and Red Sox about a Kemp trade have not gotten serious, noting that a team source told him that they weren't going to.

    While it's all speculation on my part, the seeming lack of interest at this point on Boston's side may stem from this news from ESPN's Jim Bowden. Bowden spoke with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, who said that Kemp's leg is still in a boot and that the team didn't expect him to be 100 percent by spring training.

    --End of Update--

    Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 8:36 p.m. ET

    Could the Dodgers and Red Sox team up to pull off another blockbuster trade?

    According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, it's possible, as he reports that Matt Kemp is "in play" for the Red Sox. He goes on to note that the Dodgers would pick up some of the approximately $130 million that Kemp is still owed "in the right deal."

    Just how motivated the Red Sox are to acquire the oft-injured Kemp, who would replace Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, remains to be seen—as do the names of the players that could potentially head back to Los Angeles if a deal was struck.

    It's pure speculation, but with the Dodgers currently sitting with a void at third base, Will Middlebrooks could be part of the package.

    --End of Update--

    Friday, Nov. 22 at 1:38 p.m. ET

    The Red Sox checked in with the Dodgers about the availability of center fielder Matt Kemp, according to a report from the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.

    Clearly, the team has no confidence that it will be able to re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury—and lacks confidence in Jackie Bradley Jr.'s ability to handle the job on a full-time basis in 2014—and thus is exploring every possible option to replace him.

    As Cafardo notes, the 29-year-old Kemp still has six years and roughly $130 million that remains on his contract. That, along with a shaky history of injuries, which have limited him to a total of 179 games over the past two years, could be major obstacles to overcome in a potential deal.

    That said, if the Dodgers were to eat some of the money left on Kemp's deal, the Red Sox certainly have the pieces, both on the major league roster and in the minor leagues, to put an attractive package together that could land the two-time All-Star in Boston.

Carlos Marmol: Boston Interested in Former All-Star Reliever

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Monday, Dec. 9 at 6:24 p.m. ET

    The Red Sox are one of "three or four teams" interested in former Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, according to Gordon Wittenmyer from the Chicago Sun-Times.

    An All-Star with the Cubs as a setup man in 2008, Marmol's inability to command and control his pitches ultimately resulted in his demise, averaging nearly seven walks per nine innings of work from 2009 through 2013. 

    Traded by the Cubs to the Dodgers in July, Marmol finished last season with a 4.41 ERA and 1.63 WHIP, averaging 7.3 BB/9 and 10.8 K/9 over 49 innings of work.

Dec. 3: Signed C A.J. Pierzynski

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    Ed Zurga/Getty Images

    Age: 36

    Bats: L

    2013 Stats: .272/.297/.425, 17 HR, 70 RBI

    Contract Status: One year, $8.25 million

    Despite the wear-and-tear on his body, A.J. Pierzynski has been one of the more durable catchers in baseball over his 16-year career, catching at least 110 games a season since 2001.

    A career .322 hitter over 118 at-bats at Fenway Park, the two-time All-Star remains productive at the plate and is only one season removed from a career high 27 home runs and 77 RBI with the White Sox in 2012.

    Still solid defensively, Pierzynski's arrival signals the end of Jarrod Saltalamacchia's time in Boston, who was seeking at least a three-year deal that the team simply wasn't willing to offer to any free agent catcher besides Brian McCann.

    With catching prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart expected to be ready to contribute at the major league level as early as 2015, not blocking their path to the big leagues was as big a priority as finding a solid catcher to man the position in 2014.

    Boston accomplished that by signing Pierzynski.

Michael Young: Free Agent Contacted Red Sox, Team Intrigued

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 12:06 p.m. ET

    Seven-time All-Star Michael Young reached out to the Red Sox and Orioles, according to Peter Gammons, who says that the defending World Champions view the 37-year-old infielder as "interesting."

    Young split the 2013 season with the Phillies and Dodgers, hitting a combined .279 with eight home runs, 46 RBI and a .730 OPS. In 224 career at-bats at Fenway Park, Young owns a .250/.303/.388 slash line.

    Noted for his versatility and tremendous clubhouse presence, Young could serve as insurance for both Will Middlebrooks at third base and Xander Bogaerts at shortstop. Bringing Young aboard would likely put an end to any chance, slim as it currently may be, of Stephen Drew returning to Boston in 2014.

Red Sox Gauging Interest in Veteran Starters

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Update: Monday, Nov. 25 at 9:10 p.m. ET

    WEEI's Alex Speier was in attendance at the Wang Theater, along with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, as MLB previewed its World Series film. Cherington addressed the rumors that the team was shopping some of its starting pitching depth:

    We’ve had a number of conversations and I think it’s no secret, one area we have a little bit of depth in is the rotation. That’s an area other teams are sorting out, working through free agent options. Some of the free agents are starting to land, so I think that’s probably to become more clear for other teams, too.

    We’ll see what that means for us. I don’t know yet really what it means, other than we’ve had a lot of conversations. We know we’ll have to be compelled to do anything there because obviously a supposed surplus can turn into not one pretty quickly, so we want to be careful, not do something in the name of doing it, since there’s downside to doing that. We’ll see. We’ve had a lot of conversations.

    I wouldn't expect Boston to seriously consider moving one of its veteran arms until the Winter Meetings at the earliest, but more likely the team will sit and wait for the remaining starters on the market to find homes.

    At that point, teams who missed out on bolstering their rotations may be more inclined to make a significant offer to the Red Sox, one that Cherington may not be able to turn down.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Thursday, Nov. 21 at 5:04 p.m. ET

    In the wake of Jason Vargas signing a four-year, $32 million deal with the RoyalsPete Abraham of the Boston Globe makes an excellent point when it comes to the kind of return that the Red Sox should be able to get if they deal away one of their veteran arms:

    "If the likes of Jason Vargas can get four years and $32 million, the have valuable trade chips in Dempster, Peavy and Lackey."

    There's little argument that both Lackey and Peavy are better pitchers than Vargas while Dempster, despite his struggles in the American League, is a power pitcher with a track record of success.

    If Boston looks to move one of the three, it will be interesting to see what they can get in exchange.

    --End of Update--

    Update: Friday, Nov. 15 at 1:35 p.m. ET

    Peter Gammons spoke with a GM who gave his take on the market for Boston's veteran arms:

    “They can get more for Lackey than they can for Jake Peavy or Ryan Dempster,” says one GM. “Since his 2015 option is for the major league minimum, you’d be trading for a solid major league starter for two years at an AAV of around $10M. That should translate into a decent return for the Red Sox.”

    That could pose an interesting dilemma for GM Ben Cherington, should the team decide to move a veteran arm. Does he look to bring back the greatest return, or does he look to move the pitcher who, at this point, the team doesn't factor into the rotation for 2014?

    --End of Update--


    Update: Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 4:35 p.m. ET

    Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe spoke with GM Ben Cherington, who confirmed the earlier report from Gordon Edes and said that multiple teams have interest in some of the excess starting pitching that the Red Sox currently have under contract, though he offered no specifics.

    --End of Update--

    ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes reports that during the GM meetings in Orlando, the Red Sox spent plenty of time gauging other team's interest in their veteran starting pitchers, including John Lackey.

    Aside from Lackey, it's safe to assume that both Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy were among the names discussed with other clubs.

    Between Boston's plethora of young pitching in the system—players like Brandon Workman, Rubby de la Rosa, Allen Webster and Henry Owens, to name a few—along with the team's already reported interest in free agent starter Tim Hudson, moving at least one of the team's current veteran arms makes a lot of sense.