Boston Red Sox Rumors

Boston Red Sox trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Minor Moves: Teahen, Pridie, Kelly, Worth, Francisco

Former Royals infielder/outfielder Mark Teahen has retired from baseball, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Now 33 years old, Teahen last appeared in the Majors in 2011 and most recently split the 2013 season between the D-Backs’ minor league system and indy ball. Teahen had an outstanding 2006 season in which he batted .290/.357/.517 with 18 homers and 10 steals, but he was never able to repeat that success. Teahen eventually found himself the recipient of a three-year, $14MM extension with the White Sox that provided the bulk of his $21MM career earnings. All told, he will finish his career as a .264/.327/.409 hitter in 3171 plate appearances.

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Outfielder Jason Pridie and right-hander Merrill Kelly have signed with the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The 31-year-old Pridie has received cups of coffee in each of the past three seasons but accrued most of his big league service time with the 2011 Mets when he batted .231/.309/.370 in 236 PA. He’s perhaps best known for being part of the trade that sent Delmon Young to Minnesota and Matt Garza to Tampa. Kelly, on the other hand, has spent his entire career with the Rays organization. He’s posted a career 3.40 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 527 1/3 innings and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2014.
  • Former Tigers infielder Danny Worth has signed a minor league deal with the Diamondbacks, reports MLive.com’s Chris Iott. Worth received offers from multiple clubs, including one who had interest in him as a pitcher, Iott adds (Worth pitched twice in 2014 and actually throws a decent knuckleball). The 29-year-old Worth is a career .230/.293/.295 hitter with Detroit and a .242/.320/.350 hitter at the Triple-A level.
  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports (via Twitter) that the D-Backs have also signed former big league outfielder Ben Francisco to a minor league deal. Francisco, now 33 years of age, didn’t see big league action in 2014 but has a career .253/.323/.418 batting line in parts of seven big league seasons.
  • Eddy also tweets that the Red Sox have signed right-hander Nestor Molina and catcher Luke Montz to minor league deals. Molina struggled in parts of three seasons in the White Sox’ minor league system after being acquired in the Sergio Santos trade. Montz is a 31-year-old veteran with 56 big league plate appearances and a .232/.318/.456 batting line in parts of four seasons at the Triple-A level.
  • The Royals have signed infielder Gabriel Noriega, tweets Eddy. Noriega is described by Eddy as a slick fielder who made a couple of Royals Top 30 prospects lists. The 27-year-old hit .275/.299/.360 between Double-A and Triple-A in the Mariners organization last year.
  • The Marlins have acquired righty Craig Stem from the Dodgers to complete the Kyle Jensen trade, Miami announced. Stem reached Double-A last year at age 24, but struggled mightily upon his promotion. The Dodgers are now expected to designate Jensen for assignment to clear room for the signing of Brandon McCarthy, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • First baseman Clint Robinson has joined the Nationals on a minor league pact, Ryan Walton reported on Twitter (and Robinson himself confirmed through a tweet). The 29-year-old has scant MLB experience, but torched the PCL with a .312/.401/.534 line over 499 plate appearances last year.
  • Dan Johnson is set to reach a minor league deal with the Astros, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. Johnson is 35 and has not reached triple-digit MLB plate appearances since 2010 (and 2007 before that), but owns a lifetime .281/.401/.509 slash at the Triple-A level.
  • The White Sox have added lefty Zach Phillips on a minor league deal, Eddy reports on Twitter. As Eddy notes, the South Siders have been loading up on LOOGY depth this offseason. The 28-year-old has seen sporadic big league action, with 15 2/3 innings to his credit over 2011-13, and spent some time last year playing in Japan.
  • The Indians have added catcher Brett Hayes and corner outfielder/first baseman Jerry Sands on minor league deals, Eddy tweets. Hayes has appeared in six-straight big league seasons, though he’s never seen more than 144 plate appearances in a season. Sands, 27, has mostly played at the Triple-A level in recent seasons, but did get 227 plate appearances in 2011 (.253/.338/.389).
  • After being non-tendered, Jose Campos (Yankees) and Gus Schlosser (Braves) have returned to their prior organizations, Eddy reports on Twitter. Both righties have moved into swingman roles in their organizations, though Campos has yet even to reach High-A while Schlosser saw 15 games in the big leagues last year.

Lester, Epstein, Hoyer On Cubs Deal

“It’s not every day the best free agent goes to a team that finished in last place,” Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said today at the press conference announcing starting pitcher Jon Lester‘s new six-year contract.  Epstein later explained, “We knew early on that if we signed Jon Lester, it would be about belief. It was because he would believe in us, believe in our future, and believe that winning a World Series with the Cubs was a unique opportunity.”

LesterpostAccording to Epstein, the ability to contend for Lester’s services was a culmination of “a pretty quick rebuild” due to the hard work of the Cubs’ scouting and player development people.  The Cubs now possess a trove of young position player talent, including Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Addison Russell, and Kyle Schwarber.  Epstein considers the Lester signing a transition to a point where the team is “clearly very serious about winning a World Series.” Lester agreed, telling the crowd,“I can tell you honestly, I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think they were going to win in 2015.”

Lester said the chance of winning a World Series with a team that hasn’t done so since 1908 “just adds that little extra for me.”  Questioned on the topic later, Epstein admitted the team’s long history of losing actually helped them sign Lester.  “We’re not hiding the ball. The fact that we haven’t won in so long helps define who we are. It adds meaning and resonance to what we’re trying to accomplish here, and I think it attracts players who aren’t afraid of that challenge and want to be here for the right reasons and it definitely attracted Jon Lester.”

The Cubs’ front office and ownership gave Lester the largest contract in franchise history, a reported $155MM deal with a seventh-year vesting option and a full no-trade clause.  It didn’t take long for Epstein to concede to the no-trade clause, a rarity for him.  “I don’t usually like those, but when you’re talking about a free agent of this caliber who had just gotten traded to Oakland as a result of having a team that relied on some young players and ended up with a disappointing performance, it would have been really hard to sign him without a no-trade given the unique circumstances involved here. In the spirit of the negotiation, it was something that we initially objected to but didn’t keep the fight up too long because it was outside the spirit of the connection that we were trying to make.”

Epstein went up against his and Lester’s former employer, the Red Sox, in negotiations that went down to the wire at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.  The Red Sox topped out at a reported $135MM offer, though they didn’t help their cause four months earlier by trading Lester, Jonny Gomes, and cash to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes and a competitive balance pick.  When Bob Nightengale of USA Today asked Lester whether it would have been a lot harder to leave Boston had he not been traded, the lefty replied, “Yeah, I think so. I think there’s always that unknown when you are traded. Obviously that’s the unknown of going to a whole different coast, a whole different organization, a whole different philosophy. I think going there prepared us for this time. I think if you finish out the year in Boston and you get down to this decision, I think it would be a lot harder. Not to say it wasn’t hard as it was. But I feel like that broke that barrier of, ‘Well, I wonder if I can play for another team.’ And I think we answered those questions.”

Though Lester’s deal with the Cubs was consummated at last week’s Winter Meetings, it was the product of more than a month’s worth of courting.  The Cubs sent Lester a 15-minute video on the first day of free agency, talking about the team’s future.  Epstein and company experienced a turning point in a mid-November meeting, after which they felt “unmistakable momentum.”  That momentum never waned, even through tense late night negotiations with Lester’s agents at ACES.

For his part, Lester said he enjoyed initial meetings with teams, but the second phase of actually making a decision was not fun.  Much has been made of Lester’s long relationship with Epstein and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, dating back to the pitcher being drafted out of high school in ’02.  Both sides agreed that the comfort level and trust helped.

Does the Lester signing mean the Cubs are all-in for 2015?  As Epstein described it, “We’re very much all-in for our future, and the future starts in 2015.”  Asked whether the team is interested in trade targets with only one year of remaining control, Epstein answered, “Yeah, if they were priced accordingly. Obviously those players carry less value in our minds than players you can control going forward.”

The Cubs have already spent almost $180MM on free agents Lester, Jason Hammel, Jason Motte, and Tsuyoshi Wada, and they also traded for Tommy La Stella and well-paid catcher Miguel Montero.  I talked to Hoyer about remaining potential areas for upgrade, and he said the Cubs may attempt to add an outfield bat, given the youth of the team’s current group.  Asked if there’s room for another starting pitcher, Hoyer replied, “Potentially. We’re not going to sit here and say we’re done. I think we’re very comfortable going forward right now with what we have, but obviously the winter’s not over yet, there’s a lot of guys out there and we’ll certainly be engaged on some of those guys.”

The Epstein rebuild has taken three years to reach this point, and the team’s president said today that the Cubs’ “incredibly patient” fans “truly deserve a pitcher and a person of this caliber to call their own.”  Lofty expectations have been set for Lester, who appears ready for the challenge.


Cubs, Red Sox Complete Felix Doubront Trade

The Cubs and Red Sox have completed last summer’s Felix Doubront trade, the clubs announced. Boston will add infielder Marco Hernandez as the player to be named later.

Hernandez, 22, played last year at the High-A level, slashing .270/.315/.351 over 486 plate appearances with 22 stolen bases (against eight times being caught on the basepaths). He has been with the Cubs organization since signing as an amateur out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager.

The 27-year-old Doubront ultimately made four solid starts for the Cubs after heading over in the mid-season swap. He is expected to work from the pen next year while providing rotation depth.



Rosenthal On Padres, Upton, Smith, Nats, Haren

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has updates on a number of situations around the league in his latest pair of columns. Here are some highlights from his most recent work…

  • The Padres are interested in a wide array of hitters, but they’re “all over” Justin Upton, Rosenthal hears. However, now that they’re set to acquire Matt Kemp, the Padres don’t want to trade Andrew Cashner, Ian Kennedy or Tyson Ross, which might make a deal difficult to line up. They could possibly follow the Howie Kendrick-for-Andrew Heaney model and offer six years of a top prospect such as Austin Hedges or Matt Wisler.
  • Seth Smith is drawing interest from the Mariners and Orioles, among other clubs. Trading Smith would be an easier route for the team to take than moving one of Carlos Quentin or Cameron Maybin, neither of whom has much (if any) trade value. The Padres, however, gave Smith assurance that he wouldn’t be dealt this offseason when he signed a two-year, $13MM extension in early July. Then again, that assurance came before GM A.J. Preller had been hired.
  • The Nationals recently offered the Mariners both Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond in exchange for right-hander Taijuan Walker and shortstop Brad Miller, according to Rosenthal. However, the Mariners balked at giving up six years of Walker and five of Miller for just one year of Zimmermann and Desmond at a combined total of $27.5MM. Washington also discussed Zimmermann with the Red Sox.
  • The Marlins could look to trade Dan Haren if he doesn’t want to pitch for them in 2015, Rosenthal tweets. Haren made his preference to pitch on the West coast (specifically near his wife and two young children) clear when he signed with the Dodgers. At the end of the 2013 season, he discussed the difficulty of pitching across the country from his family with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, and more recently he said he planned to retire if traded out of the area. Rosenthal notes that the Marlins spoke to Haren the night of the trade, and their preference is for Haren to pitch for their club in 2015. The Angels, who would represent one logical trade partner, given Haren’s geographic preference, have said they won’t be trading for him.

AL East Notes: Red Sox, Rasmus, Craig, Blue Jays

With research revealing the strike zone has dropped by the diameter of a baseball over the last few years, the Red Sox have targeted pitchers and hitters who can control that area of the plate, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval is one of the best lowball hitters in the game. Hanley Ramirez, meanwhile, is a lifetime .346 hitter in the lower third of the zone. On the pitching side of the equation, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson are all above average in ground ball/fly ball ratio, with Masterson (1.33) standing as one of the most extreme examples in the game.

Elsewhere out of the American League East:

  • The Orioles are being pushed to take Colby Rasmus on a one-year deal, tweets Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. Earlier today, we learned the Cubs have met recently with Rasmus and are one of several teams to show interest in the free agent center fielder.
  • MLB.com’s Richard Justice profiles Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Allen Craig as an overlooked trade candidate, noting the 30-year-old, who has been hobbled by foot injuries the last two years, is a driven and serious man obsessed with putting his career back on track. The Marlins and Brewers have been linked to Craig so far this offseason.
  • With Melky Cabrera coming to terms with the White Sox, the Blue Jays will receive a compensatory pick after the first round, lessening the blow of forfeiting the 18th overall selection for signing Russell Martin, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.

Cafardo On Hamels, Astros, Howard, Craig

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that teams second guessing themselves is just a regular part of the offseason.  A lot of folks are second guessing the A’s, but manager Bob Melvin has confidence in GM Billy Beane.

We’re looking to get a little bit younger, yet if you want to look back to the end of 2011 and leading into 2012, we traded our last three All-Stars in [Trevor] Cahill[Andrew] Bailey, and [Gio] Gonzalez and we ended up winning the division,” said Melvin. “We’re looking to compete again. This isn’t something where we’re breaking it down and moving in a different direction. The players that we’re getting back we like. There’s always a balance here for us in that we have to look down the road. We lost quite a bit of talent the last couple of years, making some trades. Billy is about as good as it gets as far as being able to handle that balance and keep us competitive currently, yet also having to look down the road for the future.”

More from today’s column..

  • The Astros are a sleeper team in the Cole Hamels chase, Cafardo writes.  The Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, and Rangers are also interested in the Phillies left-hander, but Houston could join the bunch and the Giants may also be in if they can’t land James Shields.
  • The Phillies are trying to get teams interested in Ryan Howard, and a team source indicated to Cafardo that they are willing to pay a great majority of his contract to move him.  Howard is owed $60MM between 2015 and 2017, including a buyout.  The Rays and Orioles have DH needs and he could theoretically fit the bill.
  • Both the Marlins and the Brewers have active interest in Red Sox first baseman Allen Craig.  Craig, 30, had some strong years with the Cardinals before joining the Red Sox at last year’s deadline.
  • Agent John Boggs says that he’s having “discussions with several cubs” about client Ichiro Suzuki, though no deal is imminent at this time.
  • Dan Uggla’s agent, Terry Bross, was trying to market his client for a comeback at the Winter Meetings.  Cafardo hears that a lot of the 34-year-old’s decline may have had to do with an undetected concussion.

East Notes: Yankees, Red Sox, Lester, Nationals

The Yankees‘ restraint so far this offseason is to be commended, New York Daily News’ Bill Madden writes. The Yankees have kept top prospects like Luis Severino, Gregory Bird and Aaron Judge, and they’ve avoided risky big-money free agent contracts, suggesting they’ve “learned their lesson about trying to buy a championship as opposed to building from within.” Still, the Yankees need to find a starting pitcher after losing both Brandon McCarthy and Shane Greene. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino didn’t mince words today about the team’s failure to sign Jon Lester, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. “We didn’t succeed, so I don’t give us a very good grade,” said Lucchino. “We were trying, sincerely, to get him signed, and wanted him to come back here, but free agency is a special opportunity for a player, and it only comes up once or twice if you’re lucky in your career.” Lucchino again characterized the Red Sox’ $70MM extension offer from the spring — widely perceived to be an attempt to lowball Lester — as just a starting point for negotiations, but noted that offer didn’t create the dialogue the Red Sox hoped for. Lucchino said that the Red Sox’ $135MM offer was sincere, and that they would have been happy had he accepted.
  • With Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Tyler Clippard all eligible for free agency following next winter, the Nationals feel a strong sense of urgency about the coming season, MLB.com’s Andrew Simon writes. Friday’s trade of Ross Detwiler to the Rangers showed some Nationals that they and some of their teammates could be headed elsewhere soon. “Makes you realize we’ve got to get this going,” says Craig Stammen. “If we want to do it with this group, we’ve got to get it done as quick as possible. Hopefully, we’ll get it done next year.”
  • Nats exec Mike Rizzo says he’s striking a “delicate balance” between winning now and winning in the future, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes. Nonetheless, perhaps unsurprisingly, it sounds like the Nationals are going to take another serious shot at winning in 2015, despite the possible departures of so many core players after the season. “We have a good team we know that can compete to play meaningful games in October. We’re going to take that and run with it,” says Rizzo.

AL Notes: Cespedes, Mariners, Orioles, Howard

Trading Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier will likely cost the Tigers a draft pick, as MLive.com’s Chris Iott explains. Porcello and Cespedes are both free agents after the 2015 season, but the Tigers will not be able to extend Cespedes a qualifying offer. Cespedes’ will only have four years of service time, and so in order for his team to meet the requirement that he be a free agent after the season, he’ll have to be non-tendered. Non-tendered players can’t be extended qualifying offers. There are no such restrictions on Porcello (or most other pending free agents) being extended qualifying offers. So unless Porcello has a poor season (or re-signs with the Red Sox), the most likely outcome of the deal is that the Red Sox will get a draft pick as a result, and the Tigers will not. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik thinks he’ll be able to add an extra outfielder or two this offseason, Shannon Drayer of 710AM ESPN tweets. “I feel confident we will get something done,” he says. “There may be more than one thing.” The Mariners have reportedly made Melky Cabrera a three-year offer, and they’ve also had serious trade talks with the White Sox about Dayan Viciedo. Justin Upton is another possibility.
  • Another team looking for an outfielder is the Orioles, who seem more likely to sign one than to trade for one, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. Delmon Young and Michael Morse are possibilities, and so is Cabrera, but only if he’s willing to settle for less than four or five years. The Orioles were also connected to Colby Rasmus last week. Kubatko notes that the O’s spoke to the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but the Phillies offered a package that included Byrd and Ryan Howard. Howard, of course, is owed $60MM over the next two seasons, so taking on Howard’s contract just to get a good but not franchise-changing outfielder in Byrd would seem like a very tough sell for any team.

Red Sox Rotation Notes: Masterson, Depth, Aces

The Red Sox and Justin Masterson believe the righty’s poor year in 2014 was the result of bad health and bad mechanics, and is likely to be the exception rather than the rule, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. “Last year was purely health. We tried to make corrections through mechanical type things because I wasn’t experiencing any pain, but I lost some flexibility and quite honestly a lot of other things,” says Masterson. “I have confidence this will probably be one of the best seasons I’ve ever had.” Heading into 2014, Masterson looked poised to land a big free agent contract, but instead he ended up with one year and $9.5MM, plus up to $2.5MM in incentives, with both he and the Red Sox gambling on a return to form this season. Here are more notes out of Boston.

  • In addition to Masterson, the Red Sox added Rick Porcello and Wade Miley this week. GM Ben Cherington is pleased with his team’s starting pitching depth despite giving up Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster in the Miley trade, WEEI.com’s Ryan Hannable writes. “We’ve been able to acquire the three starters that we have this week while still maintaining really what we consider the top end of our young pitching,” says Cherington, adding that the Red Sox “still have what we think is really good young pitching depth besides the five guys that will likely open the season in the rotation.” The Red Sox currently have Porcello, Miley, Masterson, Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly penciled into begin the season, with Brandon Workman, Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes, Edwin Escobar, and Eduardo Rodriguez queued up behind them.
  • As much depth as the Red Sox have, though, they don’t have anyone who could obviously be considered an ace. “[T]he whole No. 1 starter thing kind of is overrated,” Cherington says, via Britton. As Britton points out, though, to say otherwise right now might be seen as an insult to players like Kelly or Masterson, and by expressing satisfaction with the pitching they have, the Red Sox can take a stronger negotiating position if they want to try to trade for a pitcher like Cole Hamels or Jordan Zimmermann. Britton notes that most World Series winners in the past 20 years at least had a pitcher who had pitched like an ace at one time, although it’s also the case that aces can emerge quickly, like Corey Kluber did last season.

Red Sox Acquire Wade Miley

The Red Sox have officially added lefty Wade Miley in a trade with the Diamondbacks, the teams announced today. Right-handers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster, along with infielder Raymel Flores, make up the return for the D’Backs.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants

Miley has been the source of several rumors during these Winter Meetings, with the Rangers, Marlins and Blue Jays all with varying levels of interest in the southpaw.  Miley is projected to earn $4.3MM (by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz) in his first time through the arbitration process this winter, and he’ll be under team control through 2017.

Over the last three seasons, Miley has posted a 3.74 ERA, 2.66 K/BB rate and 7.1 K/9 while averaging an even 200 innings per year.  He has a 48.6% ground ball rate over his career, which will serve him as well at Fenway Park as it did at Chase Field.  Miley posted a 3.98 FIP, 3.50 xFIP and 3.67 SIERA in 2014, so the advanced metrics suggest that he was somewhat unlucky to produce his 4.34 ERA.

While Miley isn’t the durable lefty the Red Sox were hoping to land during the Winter Meetings, Miley is at least younger and far cheaper than Jon Lester, and he’ll slot into the Boston rotation alongside Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly.  Boston is undoubtedly still looking to acquire at least one or possibly two more starters for 2015, including a Lester-level ace in free agency or the trade market.

This is the second high-profile deal that De La Rosa and Webster have both been a part of, as the two righties were part of the trade package that Boston received as part of the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett blockbuster with the Dodgers in 2012.  As Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona points out, Diamondbacks senior VP De Jon Watson was in the Los Angeles front office when De La Rosa and Webster originally joined the Dodgers.

De La Rosa appeared in 30 games for the Sox (18 of them starts) in 2013-14, posting a 4.54 ERA, 2.16 K/BB and 6.4 K/9 in 113 innings.  With Boston openly looking to add top-level starting pitching this offseason and a number of highly-regarded pitching prospects in the minors, it seems as if De La Rosa may have simply been squeezed out of a job with the Sox.

Webster also struggled at the Major League level (a 6.25 ERA over 89 1/3 innings over the last two seasons) but has a higher prospect pedigree than De La Rosa.  Webster entered the year ranked as a top-100 prospect in the game, albeit over rather a wide range — he was ranked 46th by MLB.com, and 88th by Baseball America.  The righty posted strong minor league numbers and was described by the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook as having “outrageous” stuff “suggesting top-of-the-rotation potential” but there were big questions about his confidence and fastball command.

That brings us to Flores, a 20-year-old middle infielder who played at the low-A level last year in his age-19 season. Flores hit .282/.344/.354 over 233 plate appearances, adding 14 stolen bases and one long ball, but he is known primarily for his glove.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi first reported the deal (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of FOX Sports reported on Twitter that it was finalized. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter) and MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert (via Twitter) reported the inclusion of Flores.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.