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Brown, 28, saw action in three games and made just one plate appearance in this year’s stint with the Red Sox. Brown has spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A Pawtucket, where he posted a slash line of .226/.294/.452. Over parts of five seasons at Triple-A, the outfielder has hit .249/.326/.459.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at some of the recently suggestions put forth by Red Sox chairman Tom Werner to help make the game more marketable to young people.
“Too many people are leaving games in the sixth and seventh innings because they can’t watch 3½-hour games, so they’re leaving the game at the point where the game should be getting exciting,” Werner said. “You wouldn’t make a 3½-hour movie. The NFL makes changes almost on an annual basis. They’re considering making the extra point from 35 yards rather than from the 8-yard line… I respect tradition, but I don’t revere it.”
Among Werner’s ideas: instituting a pitch clock, limiting the number of times a batter can step out of the box, and putting a cap on the number of catcher and pitching coach visits to the mound. More from today’s column..
- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson could be on the hot seat and there has been a lot of speculation about Joe McEwing, a third base coach with the White Sox, or Mike Aldrete, the bench coach for the Cardinals. If Gibson is canned it would mark Tony La Russa‘s first big decision but GM Kevin Towers would also likely to have a say.
- In a chat with Cafardo, David Ross spoke glowingly of the amenities or “little things” that the Red Sox do for their players and Cafardo wonders if that could keep Jon Lester in Boston beyond this season. Lester’s family was always taken care of the team’s traveling secretary and while other teams can offer similar services, the consensus among players who have been multiple places is that Red Sox and Yankees are the teams that offer more to their players.
- Ross tells Cafardo that even though there have been no contract talks with the Red Sox yet, he would like to return. Boston would certainly love for him to keep working with Christian Vazquez, but Ross’s recent bout with plantar fasciitis has slowed him. Ross is finishing up a two-year, 6.2MM deal.
- Daniel Nava drew interest from the Tigers and had interest from the Royals before they traded for Josh Willingham, but he has yet to be put on waivers. It’s not a certainty that he’ll clear and but the Red Sox will likely put him on revocable waivers later in the month to see what type of interest he’ll get. The Sox’ outfield looks crowded next season with Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino, Yoenis Cespedes, Mookie Betts, and Brock Holt all in the mix so it makes sense to see what can be had for Nava.
- In a separate tweet, Cafardo reports Nava, Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, and Will Middlebrooks have been placed on revocable waivers.
FRIDAY, 8:22pm: One factor in Castillo’s possible impact on the current season is his visa situation, Sherman notes (Twitter links). He has yet to obtain a work visa, which he will need by the end of the month in order to achieve postseason eligibility.
3:50pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Castillo and his reps at Roc Nation began looking over offers today. He points out that interested contenders will be urgent to sign him in order to get him on a pro roster in advance of Aug. 31 (players acquired after that date are ineligible for the postseason). However, Sherman notes that several non-contenders are interested in Castillo as well due to his status as a 27-year-old that won’t require draft pick compensation. Sherman lists the Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers as “major players” for Castillo (all links to Twitter).
7:59am: A source with knowledge of the situation told George A. King III of the New York Post earlier this week that Castillo has already received offers from some clubs and will sift through all of his offers this weekend, with a goal of making a decision next week. As King notes, if Castillo is to play in the Majors this season, he will need to sign quickly, as he’ll likely require at least a brief tour through the minors before joining a Major League club.
WEDNESDAY: 7:41pm: The Red Sox are “expected to be aggressive” on Castillo, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, who also hears that Castillo will begin narrowing the field to the highest bidders in the coming days.
5:00pm: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo is said to be wrapping up his one-on-one workouts with interested teams and will narrow the field of interested teams in the coming days, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter). Not surprisingly, Sanchez notes that the field will be narrowed to the highest bidders.
Castillo, 27, held a showcase last month that drew scouts from 28 of the 30 Major League teams, and attendees left with generally favorable impressions. Reports from the showcase explained that Castillo showed surprising power, speed that was perceived as anywhere from “very good” to “outstanding” (depending on the scout) and an average throwing arm that some felt was his worst tool.
The Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Mariners, Orioles and Cubs were all said to have private workouts scheduled for Castillo, and the Astros were said to be trying to schedule one as well. Sanchez tweets that the Tigers have shown interest as well, though it’s not certain to what degree Detroit is interested. The White Sox, Giants, Blue Jays and Braves have all been listed as potential suitors since Castillo’s showcase as well, while the Twins are said to find his price tag too high. At this time, Sanchez tweets that there’s no favorite, as the field is “wide open,” but that will likely change in the days ahead as Castillo and his representatives at Roc Nation Sports weigh their offers. (Speaking of Roc Nation, fans interested in Castillo can check out a new highlight video of his showcase that was produced by Roc Nation and set to music by – who else? — Jay-Z.)
In an appearance on WAAF’s Hill-Man Morning Show, Jon Lester explained recent comments that he wouldn’t necessarily go to the highest bidder this offseason (via WEEI’s Rob Bradford). “…I don’t need to go to the highest bidder if that isn’t going to make me happy,” said Lester. “I’m not going to just take the highest bid, the money, the most years just because it’s in front of you. … I make decisions based on me and my family and is this place — whether it’s Boston or one of the other 29 teams – is this place going to be good for me and my family?” Lester did note that he could still end up signing the highest bidder, of course, but the happiness of his family will be the top priority. Lester also repeated that he doesn’t have any hard feelings toward the Red Sox, and he discussed his farewell to owner John Henry as well.
Here’s more from the AL East…
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos appeared on Sportsnet 590 The Fan with Mike Wilner and Ben Ennis today, and Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith provides some of the highlights. Of particular note was the fact that Anthopoulos said top prospect Daniel Norris could be a factor out of the team’s bullpen in September if he continues to pitch well. The 21-year-old Norris has skyrocketed up prospect rankings this year on the heels of a 2.25 ERA with 11.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 108 innings across Class-A Advanced, Double-A and Triple-A.
- Nicholson-Smith also writes that the Blue Jays have made several waiver claims this month, but none have resulted in the acquisition of a new player. The team isn’t expected to make a trade today, but it will need to clear a roster spot for the returning Edwin Encarnacion. Nicholson-Smith notes that the Jays are willing to cut ties with out-of-options players, and Anthopoulos has expressed some frustration with Juan Francisco‘s strikeout tendencies. However, he adds that the Blue Jays do value Francisco’s left-handed power.
- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner isn’t committing to bringing back longtime general manager Brian Cashman in 2015, but the Yankee GM tells George A. King III of the New York Post that he’s not bothered by the situation. “That’s the process,” said Cashman, whose contract expires after the 2014 season. “There isn’t much to say at this point. That’s for another day.” Steinbrenner’s comments to King were of a similar nature, as he chose to focus on the season at hand rather than the future of his GM.
- Steinbrenner also says he’s had no recent conversations with Alex Rodriguez, writes MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch, but the Yankees are expecting A-Rod to return in 2015 following his 162-game suspension. The 39-year-old former MVP has three years and $61MM remaining on his contract.
AUG. 13: Major League Baseball owners are confident that they will emerge from tomorrow’s vote with a new commissioner, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
However, in a full-length column earlier this morning, Nightengale explained the divide between frontrunners Manfred and Werner, with some Manfred supporters telling Nightengale they feel they have at least 20 owners committed to Manfred. Sources in the Werner camp tell Nightengale that there will be at least 11 votes for Werner, and another eight were undecided.
Brosnan, too, has his supporters, according to Nightengale, but they fear that he doesn’t have a realistic chance at winning the vote. If Brosnan doesn’t receive enough votes on the first ballot, he could bow out and throw his support to Werner. In that scenario, Brosnan could end up serving as deputy commissioner to Werner.
In the video atop his article, Nightengale speculated that no consensus would be reached. All of this speculation, of course, came prior to each finalist giving a one-hour presentation to MLB owners today at their quarterly meetings, so things may have changed.
Sources have also told Nightengale that there was to be a fourth candidate among the finalists — former Yale University president Richard C. Levin. However, Levin withdrew his name late in the process. Nightengale wonders if MLB will try to convince Levin to reconsider in the event that the owners aren’t able to reach a vote tomorrow.
AUG. 5: The search committee formed to identify a successor for Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has narrowed the candidates down to a list of three finalists, reports USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. MLB chief operating officer Rob Manfred, MLB vice president of business Tim Bronson and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner are the candidates, according to Nightengale.
MLB owners will vote on the trio at next week’s quarterly owners meetings, and if 23 or more owners can agree on a candidate, that candidate will be named as Selig’s successor. Of course, Selig is set to remain in office through the end of his term — January 24, 2015. He is expected to remain involved in baseball in a limited capacity, Nightengale writes.
Shortly after the committee formed back in May, reports indicated that White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf — a longtime Selig backer — was surprisingly resistant to the idea of Manfred succeeding Selig as commissioner. Manfred has long been thought to be Selig’s preferred choice as a successor.
Giants president Larry Baer, Disney chief executive Bob Iger, Braves chairman Terry McGuirk, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman have all been thought to be candidates at various points since the committee has formed.
In an interesting discussion with Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, Red Sox reliever Burke Badenhop discussed his use of the Pitch F/X tool at BrooksBaseball.net. Velocity, vertical movement, strike zone plots, and release point are among the pieces of information that Badenhop utilizes to evaluate his outings.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Jon Lester may be playing in Oakland, but he knows his time there will almost certainly be short, as John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports. Looking ahead to the free agent market, the lefty said that the Red Sox made clear that they intend to pursue a return. “At the end of the season, [the trade is] not going to change my mind about going back there if they are aggressive and competitive and do the things they say they’re going to do,” Lester said in reference to his long-time club. “They told me, ‘We’re going to be aggressive. You’re going to get blown out of the water by some of these [other] offers,’” said Lester, who maintains that the sticker shock will not be the most important factor for him. “I’m not going to the highest bidder. I’m going to the place that makes me and my family happy. If that’s Boston, it’s Boston.”
- Of course, Lester should have no shortage of suitors, in large part due to the fact that he has been outstanding this year. Indeed, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes, Lester has set himself up for free agency with as good a walk year (thus far) as any recent starter.
- After failing to extend Lester last offseason, the Red Sox will soon face a similar situation with regard to the man he was traded for, Yoenis Cespedes. As Alex Speier of WEEI.com writes in discussing the possible parameters of an extension for Cespedes, it seems somewhat curious that Boston would have chosen him as the return if it did not have at least some hope of locking him up past 2015 (especially since Cespedes will not be eligible to receive a qualifying offer). Though his power is undeniable, the 28-year-old’s overall value has lagged his visibility to an extent. Regardless, he seems quite likely to draw plenty of attention in free agency, and Speier suggests that comparables could include B.J. Upton (five-year, $75MM free agent deal) and Hunter Pence (five-year, $90MM late-season extension). Of course, as Speier notes, a full season in Fenway could provide Cespedes the opportunity to post some outlandish numbers and boost his value.
- Orioles third baseman Manny Machado seems destined for a DL stint but, more importantly, appears to have avoided another major knee injury. The club announced yesterday that a MRI revealed a right knee ligament sprain, saying that further update would be forthcoming today. Executive VP Dan Duquette said that the club had not yet decided whether it would shop around for additional options at the hot corner, but will make that assessment when more is known on Machado’s timetable, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports on Twitter.
- The Blue Jays announced yesterday that righty Neil Wagner will undergo Tommy John surgery. Wagner, 30, has been hit hard in ten games with Toronto on the year, though he was playing at the Triple-A level at the time of the injury. He has not matched his successful 2013, when he worked 38 frames of 3.79 ERA ball in the majors and dominated at Triple-A (2 earned runs in 23 2/3 innings).
Though Daniel Nava has yet to be placed on waivers, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, he’s already begun to draw trade interest from the Royals and Tigers as the AL Central frontrunners each search for a bat to add to their lineup (Twitter link).
The 31-year-old Nava is hitting just .248/.327/.310 this season, but he carries a significant platoon split and would likely see his overall numbers improve were he to face only right-handed pitching. Nava is a switch-hitter by trade, but his lifetime .207/.287/.300 batting line as a right-handed hitter is unimpressive, to say the least. However, he boasts a .289/.384/.422 triple-slash in his career as a left-handed hitter and is slashing .276/.360/.346 from that side of the dish in 2014. Beyond that, Defensive Runs Saved is a fan of his career work at both outfield corners. Ultimate Zone Rating doesn’t like his glove in left field but has been positive regarding his work as a right fielder.
The Royals could look at Nava as a upgrade (both offensively and defensively) over veteran Raul Ibanez, who has batted a paltry .193/.233/.386 in 60 plate appearances since returning to the team. While Nava’s struggles from the right side make it seem counterintuitive to suggest that he could form a platoon with Nori Aoki, Kansas City could make such an alignment work. Nava could receive the bulk of playing time against right-handed pitching because Aoki, despite being a lefty swinger, has much better career numbers versus southpaws. He’s hit lefties at a .337/.410/.404 clip in 2014 and a .311/.363/.396 clip since jumping from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball to the Major Leagues.
Detroit’s interest in Nava isn’t entirely surprising, given the fact that Andy Dirks sustained a setback in his rehab from back surgery last week (as reported by MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Dirks reportedly strained his left hamstring, and the Tigers aren’t sure when exactly he will be able to get back into games. As such, Nava presents a solid option against right-handed hitters with solid corner outfield defense — a skill-set not dissimilar to that of Dirks. He could pick up some of Torii Hunter‘s at-bats against right-handed pitching, as the veteran outfielder has seen his numbers against right-handers decline (along with his once highly regarded defense). Hunter is hitting just .257 with a .294 OBP against righties this year, though his .438 slugging percentage and 181 isolated power mark against them are both plenty respectable.
As it stands, the Royals would have first crack at Nava on waivers, as they’re a half-game behind the Tigers in what has become a surprisingly tight AL Central race. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Nava would make it to either club, as he would first need to go unclaimed by the Rangers, Astros, Red Sox, Twins, White Sox, Rays, Indians, Yankees, Blue Jays and Mariners — in that order — to reach either AL Central contender. Nava will be arbitration eligible for just the first time this winter and is under control through the 2017 season, so it’s certainly possible that a different AL club would have interest in claiming him. The Indians, for example, who are just five and a half games back in the division, could claim Nava simply to block their rivals from acquiring him. There’d be little risk for Cleveland, given Nava’s modest $557K salary in 2014.
Here’s the latest news out of Fenway Park…
- Ben Cherington said the Red Sox “haven’t gotten to” the stage of exploring a contract extension for closer Koji Uehara, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports, though they’ll broach the topic in October. “He’s a guy who has done a great job for us, certainly one of the guys that we would love to have here. We’ll address that after the season,” Cherington said. As for Uehara, he is “happy and honored they feel that way…Boston has been good for me, but they are one of 30 teams I would consider.” As Abraham notes, there has been speculation that the Sox could extend a one-year qualifying offer to Uehara since they (unlike many teams) can afford spending approximately $15MM on a one-year deal for a closer.
- Jackie Bradley Jr.‘s offensive struggles have gotten to the point that WEEI.com’s Alex Speier is wondering about his long-term future with the Sox. While Bradley hit in the minors and was a heralded prospect entering the season, Speier finds little historical evidence to suggest that Bradley will be able to recover from his poor start and eventually become a decent hitter at the Major League level.
- If the Marlins are unable to extend Giancarlo Stanton and decide to trade the slugger, John Tomase of the Boston Herald feels “no team is better positioned” than the Red Sox to procure Stanton’s services given the number of top-flight prospects in Boston’s farm system. The Sox could add a Major League piece to the mix as well in Yoenis Cespedes, though he’d have limited value to Miami given that he can opt out of his contract after the 2015 season.
- Also from Tomase, the Red Sox are “realistic about their chances” of bringing Jon Lester back in free agency. Though Boston certainly intends to pursue Lester, the team’s reluctance to commit too much money to over-30 pitchers could see the Sox get outbid by another suitor.
In the latest edition of his Sunday column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the early struggles of Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. have left many around the game wondering how good each player truly is. Bogaerts’ youth makes his scuffles more understandable, but one NL adviser said that Bradley has fallen from a prospect that would be the centerpiece of a trade to a “throw-in.” The 24-year-old is a standout defender, but he’s hit just .208/.284/.303 in 470 big league plate appearances and has shown “absolutely no sign of the hitting getting better,” said the adviser. Boston will commit to Bogaerts for next year regardless of his finish, writes Cafardo, but he concludes that Bradley will have to show improvement over the final seven weeks in order to handed the center field job in 2015.
More from his column…
- In 30 years covering baseball, Cafardo says he cannot recall an instance of a team scouting another club as much as the Phillies scouted the Red Sox without pulling the trigger on a trade. The Phillies have continued to send scouts to all three of Boston’s post-deadline series, and Cafardo wonders if the team could be preparing for offseason negotiations regarding Cole Hamels. He hears that the Sox, Rangers, Angels, Dodgers and Cubs will be the big players for Hamels this winter.
- The Red Sox will have interest in bringing back right-hander Justin Masterson back to the organization as a free agent this winter.
- James Shields will be one of the most sought-after free agents on this year’s market, and while his age presents risk, one AL GM tells Cafardo that being older than Jon Lester and Max Scherzer actually has some appeal: “He’s thrown a lot of innings and pitched a lot of games and there’s always the possibility of breakdown, but the fact you might be able to get him at a shorter term reduces that big risk.”
- “The Phillies are just unreasonable in their demands,” an AL official said when discussing the trade market for Jonathan Papelbon. Still, that official feels that Papelbon will indeed be traded in August, though it may not happen until the end of the month when the Phillies will be forced to “get a bit more realistic.”
- The Red Sox want to retain Koji Uehara, but they don’t want to go as high as the approximately $15MM qualifying offer. It appears that Uehara wants to return, though Cafardo notes that the Orioles could be a factor, as the closer’s family makes its home in the Baltimore area.
- The Mariners‘ Chris Young just picked up his 10th win, but he tells Cafardo that the statistic doesn’t mean much to him these days. “Earlier in my career, I think it’s something I’d get excited about,” he said. “But at this point in my career, I know that wins are so far beyond a pitcher’s control. One day, the media will stop evaluating us on that.”
AUG. 9: The Yankees are ready to begin negotiating with Castillo, who worked out at their minor league complex Friday, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. The Yankees would want to use Castillo as a second baseman, with the outfield as a backup plan, King writes.
AUG. 6: While touring Wrigley Field on vacation, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith learned that the Cubs held a private workout for Castillo today (Twitter link).
AUG. 3: Castillo’s workout for the Mariners has been postponed and is expected to be rescheduled, tweets Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN.
JULY 29: Castillo, who worked out for the Phillies today, has set up a private workout with the Mariners on Sunday as well, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter). His one-on-one workout with the Red Sox is still set for Friday.
JULY 28, 8:29pm: Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that the Yankees indeed have a private workout scheduled with Castillo.
7:33pm: General Manager Jeff Luhnow says the Astros may schedule a one-on-one workout with Castillo, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
7:24pm: A source tells Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (on Twitter) that only the Phillies (on Tuesday) and the Red Sox (Friday) have private workouts set up with Castillo. However, private workouts are in the works for the Yankees and other clubs.
Unsurprisingly, the Twins are not among the teams looking to line up a workout with Castillo, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Minnesota likes Castillo, but the expected asking price is too rich for their blood.
3:11pm: Reports indicated that 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams were represented at Rusney Castillo‘s showcase over the weekend, and Ben Badler of Baseball America has the latest on the 27-year-old Cuban free agent. Castillo will have private workouts with the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies this coming week, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Orioles are also arranging a private workout.
Badler lists the White Sox, Mariners, Giants, Blue Jays, Cubs and Braves as other potential suitors. Because multiple teams have interest in getting a deal worked out quickly, however, there aren’t likely to be any further private workouts before a deal gets done, Badler writes. Additionally, Badler has posted some video footage from Castillo’s weekend showcase.
Multiple sources indicated to Badler that the Red Sox had the largest contingent on-hand Saturday for Castillo’s showcase. He notes that Jackie Bradley has more upside at the plate, and Mookie Betts might factor in as a corner outfield option in the long-term due to the presence of Dustin Pedroia, but Boston could be intrigued by Castillo as a corner option as well. He did play right field in Cuba, Badler adds.
The Yankees, meanwhile, could weigh the possibility of trying Castillo at second base, though they could have a corner spot open alongside Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner as well. Castillo played second base (and some third base) back in 2009-10, but scouts at the showcase weren’t overly impressed with his glovework as an infielder.
Center field is Castillo’s best position, Badler writes, so it stands to reason that the Phillies could view him as an upgrade over the light-hitting Ben Revere. Playing Castillo in center field allows him to maximize his best tool — 70-grade speed.
While the White Sox are very well-versed in the Cuban market — as evidenced by the presence of Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo on their roster — the presence of countrymen on their roster won’t influence Castillo, Badler hears. His decision will come down to financial terms.
Badler adds that the Giants also had a very strong presence at Castillo’s showcase, and he makes sense for them as their system has thinned following a trade for Jake Peavy and their continued interest in Ben Zobrist. The Cubs also had “a team” of evaluators on-hand to witness Castillo, who would bolster an already enviable crop of hitting prospects.