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Boston Red Sox Rumors
Here’s the latest on Pablo Sandoval, with the newest items at the top of the post…
- The Marlins and Yankees have yet to express any interest in Sandoval, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Both teams were cited as possible suitors for the Panda’s services before the offseason began.
- Sandoval could be something of an underrated value, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier compares the slugger to past comparables in similar free agent situations.
- Sandoval’s market seems to be down to the Giants and Red Sox, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Boston is “weighing other options” and in need of a “big play” to dislodge San Francisco as the favorite to sign the Panda. Rosenthal cautions that things could change rapidly, of course, if another team sees an opportunity to get into the bidding. The White Sox and Blue Jays have also been linked to Sandoval this offseason but their “interest seems limited.”
It would be “the longest of long shots” if the Yankees acquired Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus this offseason, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Andrus’ eight-year, $120MM extension begins in 2015 and the Yankees aren’t interested in paying that type of superstar money to a player who hasn’t yet delivered on that level. “You would have to hope he turned a big corner if you took on that contract,” an executive tells Feinsand. “If he never gets any better, that’s a lot of money for a good — but pretty ordinary — player.” Ironically, the Yankees’ long-standing interest in Andrus was part of the reason why Texas extended him in the first place, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s worth noting that Andrus has opt-out clauses in his deal after both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, so the financial commitment may not quite be as lengthy as it seems.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- There isn’t any truth to reports that the Orioles made a three-year, $30MM offer to Billy Butler, a member of the organization tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. While the O’s have had interest in Butler, Kubatko feels the team wouldn’t spend that much on a full-time DH.
- The Orioles will meet with Nick Markakis‘ agent Jamie Murphy today, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter). The O’s are still seen as the favorites to sign Markakis, though the Blue Jays and other teams are interested in the veteran outfielder. Earlier this week, Murphy said that the Orioles weren’t one of the several teams he planned to speak with about his client during the GM Meetings.
- Though Yoenis Cespedes‘ name has frequently been mentioned in trade rumors, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) that those rumors aren’t “based in any sort of evidence. We’re happy to have him. We felt like as we were building a lineup for next year, adding that power element in the middle of the lineup was critically important to us. So now that we have it, we’re not really anxious to give it away. We believe he’s very important in 2015, and 2015 is very important to us.”
- Cherington spent “an extended period of time” talking with Jon Lester‘s agents last night, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets.
- The Rays interviewed Giants bench coach Ron Wotus about their managerial opening yesterday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Of the ten candidates on the Rays’ list, the team still has to speak to Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville and Kevin Cash before getting into the second round of interviews.
- In other AL East news from earlier today, we published a collection of Blue Jays notes, the Yankees signed lefty Jose De Paula and the Orioles are shopping right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.
Talk about the market’s top free agent, Max Scherzer, has been scarce to this point, but agent Scott Boras tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he’s not worried about the quiet air surrounding his client. “Premium free agents are rarely talked about at the GM meetings,” Boras said. “This is an owners’ decision. Every GM wants him. There’s always a place for him on every team. The issue is not whether the player is wanted. The issue is whether the owner will make the commitment to try to win the World Series.” Heyman’s piece contains many examples of the litany of stats Boras will use when pitching Scherzer to owners around the league. The Tigers are said to love Scherzer, but indications at this time are that they’re out on Scherzer. That, of course, could change as the offseason progresses, though one Tigers source told Heyman that Boras’ counteroffer to the team’s six-year, $144MM extension offer was “way, way” north of that sizable $144MM sum.
A few more notes on some free agents…
- While many top free agents take their time to see how the market plays out, a source tells MassLive.com’s Jason Mastrodonato that Jon Lester is willing to sign as soon as the right offer presents itself, “whether it is tomorrow or April 1.” While the Red Sox are known to have a preference to shy away from commitments of four-plus years to pitchers in their 30s (following their five-year deal for John Lackey), GM Ben Cherington implied that the team might be willing to make an exception for Lester, noting that it’s never been a hard policy.
- Andrew Miller‘s agent, Mark Rodgers, tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that he plans to be “methodical” in discussions with teams and doesn’t envision signing a contract in the near future. Miller is open to pitching in a setup capacity for a contending team with an entrenched closer, but he’s also generating interest from teams in need of a closer.
- The Twins prefer to add a right-handed bat to their outfield this offseason, and while Torii Hunter has been listed in connection to Minnesota, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that Alex Rios is another name to watch.
Here’s the latest on the Red Sox:
- An executive with another team says that Boston is “all-in” on third baseman Pablo Sandoval, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN.com. GM Ben Cherington discussed the team’s interest with reporters today. “We’ve met with several [agents], including [Vasquez], and had good constructive conversations with a lot of guys already,” he said. “All those conversations will continue. I don’t expect anything to happen this week, or maybe in the near term. This may play out. I expect many [conversations] to continue over the next few weeks.”
- Cherington says that the Red Sox have no hard and fast rule against giving long-term deals to slightly older starting pitchers, Edes reports. “It’s never been a hard policy,” he said. “We’ve made exceptions, and I’m sure there will be another exception. It’s a case-by-case thing.” As for Lester, specifically, Cherington said that he is “interested in having a conversation with him” and has some added comfort level given the team’s familiarity with Lester. “We need to add to our rotation,” Cherington added. “He’s obviously a known commodity, a proven guy in our market. He’s of obvious interest.” Both Cherington and fellow GM Jed Hoyer of the Cubs foresee a slow-developing market for starters, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
- The Sox are open to discussing a contract extension with manager John Farrell before the start of the year, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. As things stand, Farrell is under contract for 2015 with the club holding an option for another year.
- Boston still sees Jackie Bradley Jr. as a future everyday center fielder, Cherington tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. After a productive season in the field and sub-par campaign at the plate, the 24-year-old has perhaps lost some of his luster, though that could be in part due to expectations that raised wildly last spring. “I do think there are some teams that think of him that way — as they should,” Cherington said. “We think of him that way. We don’t know on what date that will happen, but we certainly still think of him that way — as an everyday-caliber center fielder.”
Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas will celebrate his 24th birthday on Friday, and it will surely be a happy one given the lucrative contract on the horizon. Yesterday, agent Jay Alou explained the Phillies’ standing in the Tomas derby, telling reporters including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, “There are several teams that I could say are frontrunners, but yes (the Phillies are one of them).” Surprisingly, the Phillies have yet to make a formal offer, but Alou says, “It will all get going soon.”
Today’s Tomas rumors…
- Tomas is drawing interest from the Orioles, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal also notes on Twitter that the chase for Tomas is still heating up, with two teams set to visit him in the Dominican next week and others still weighing pursuit.
- The Royals have entered the Tomas sweepstakes, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Royals don’t feel that Tomas has the same type of advanced hitting skills that countryman Jose Abreu brought to the division-rival White Sox, but they have a need for a right fielder and feel his defense is at least adequate. The Royals like Melky Cabrera as well but Tomas would allow them to preserve their first-round pick, whereas Cabrera received and rejected a qualifying offer from Toronto.
- The Phillies, Padres and Giants have each seen Tomas three times, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He also reports that agent Jay Alou rejected an eight-year offer (though he doesn’t specify the value), preferring a five to seven year term to get Tomas onto the open market again around his age-30 season. The Mariners also like Tomas but aren’t expected to outbid other clubs, according to Heyman.
- Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers aren’t likely to sign Tomas. Starting pitching is said to be the team’s top priority, and sources tell Wilson that the Rangers have informed Alou that their resources will be dedicated to that goal.
- How about the $100MM figure that has been bandied about for Tomas? “I don’t know where that came from, but he’d be happy and I’d be happy,” says Alou. In my September profile of Tomas, I posited a seven-year, $105MM contract. More recently, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports went with eight years and $100MM, an agent who spoke to Heyman said seven years and $93MM, and a GM said eight years, $100MM. Eight years is an interesting call, because that would mean Tomas would be giving up a potential valuable free agent season. Seven would be more aligned with typical MLB service time for a top prospect, who can put in just shy of seven years before reaching free agency if called up a few weeks into the season.
- Yesterday, Jorge Arangure Jr. had an excellent profile of Tomas for Vice Sports. In it, Arangure said Tomas will likely choose a team from the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, and Padres, who have all scouted the player several times. Tomas’ Dominican-based trainer Raul Javier, asked when the player would sign, replied, “Very soon.”
The Rays are nearing an agreement with St. Peterburg mayor Rick Kriseman that will grant the team permission to explore new stadium sites in Hillsborough County, report Stephen Nohlgren and Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times. Kriseman would like to finalize an agreement within the next month and “definitely before Christmas” so he can present the plan to City Council. If the Rays do leave for a new Hillsborough stadium, the city of St. Petersburg would be entitled to monetary compensation, as the Rays’ current lease at Tropicana Field runs through 2027.
Here’s more from the AL East…
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette was named Major League Baseball Executive of the Year by The Sporting News, and he spoke with MLB.com’s Paul Hagen about the honor. Duquette, who narrowly edged out Dayton Moore of the Royals, said his focus from day one has been improving the club’s pitching staff. He also addressed the success he’s had in finding value from unheralded minor league signings, and how that success makes them an attractive destination: “…when players sign with us, whether it’s Triple-A or the big leagues, they know they’re going to get an opportunity.”
- Duquette tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that he has enough financial flexibility to sign both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz (Twitter links). He plans to meet with Cruz’s new agent, Diego Bentz of Relativity Sports, at the GM Meetings, and the book is not closed on Markakis returning even though he’s meeting with other clubs.
- The Red Sox are receiving a lot of interest in minor league shortstop Deven Marrero, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com (Twitter link). The 24-year-old was the club’s first-round pick back in 2012 and has an excellent defensive reputation, though he batted just .258/.327/.372 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014. The Mets, of course, are one team known to be looking high and low for a shortstop.
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal spoke with Sox GM Ben Cherington about interest in Marrero, and while he noted that there has indeed been interest, Cherington said it hasn’t been any greater than the interest he’s received in the past. Marrero has drawn steady interest over the years, according to Cherington. As MacPherson notes, however, Marrero is posting particularly strong numbers in the Arizona Fall League this year.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe discussed the possibility of the Red Sox acquiring Cole Hamels with Hamels’ agent, John Boggs, and came away with the belief that the team has a shot, even though the Sox are on Hamels’ no-trade list. Hamels doesn’t have any issue with Boston, writes Cafardo, though he’d likely use the no-trade clause as leverage to get his 2019 option picked up in advance, as Ken Rosenthal noted yesterday. The Phillies have scouted Boston’s system extensively and like many of their players.
- Cafardo also notes that the Sox are receiving quite a bit of interest in Yoenis Cespedes. Boston is “desperately” trying to keep an outfield spot open for Mookie Betts, making a trade of Cespedes possible.
- The Boston Herald’s John Tomase spoke with Cherington, who stopped short of labeling any of his prospects untouchable, but he made it clear that those who contributed in 2014 (e.g. Betts) are extremely unlikely to be moved, Tomase adds (Twitter link).
Could Jon Lester end up back with the Red Sox after all? “A well-connected baseball executive who has had conversations on the subject with the Red Sox” predicted to ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes that Lester would indeed re-sign with his old team. The exec thought the Sox could be willing to relax their policy against signing pitchers in their 30’s to long-term contracts by offering Lester a six-year deal worth at least $20MM per season. Unless Lester is still willing to give the Sox a bit of a discount, I would think it’ll take a lot more than six years/$120MM to outbid the field for Lester’s services — MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted Lester would receive, at minimum, a six-year, $147MM contract this winter. If the Red Sox were willing to give Lester a six/$120MM deal, I would think they would’ve just offered him that deal in extension talks last winter and avoided this entire situation.
Here’s some more from Fenway Park….
- The Red Sox have made calls about right-hander Justin Masterson and reliever Luke Gregerson, Edes reports in a separate item.
- Hanley Ramirez‘s apparent willingness to play third base or even left field has gotten him on the Red Sox radar, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman linked Ramirez to the Sox a few days ago, though both he and Rosenthal note that Pablo Sandoval is Boston’s first choice to play third base.
- The Red Sox haven’t yet called about Ervin Santana but they spent “the whole year” scouting him, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets.
- Even before the Mets signed Michael Cuddyer, New York still didn’t have any interest in trading for Yoenis Cespedes, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports.
The Red Sox are one of the 20 teams on Cole Hamels‘ no-trade list, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As Rosenthal notes, Hamels wouldn’t necessarily block a trade to Boston, but he may want a team to pick up his 2019 vesting option ($20MM) in order to waive the clause. That would take Hamels’ total guarantee from four years and $90MM to five years and $110MM, likely making him a bit less attractive as a trade target. Boston has been an oft-rumored potential trade partner should the Phillies decide to move their ace.
More from baseball’s Eastern divisions…
- Yasmany Tomas isn’t close to a deal of any sort, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, had a one-on-one meeting with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at today’s GM Meetings in Phoenix.
- The Mets saw Tomas, but their scouts didn’t love him and they’re not likely to go near the $100MM range to sign him, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He does note that the Mets are looking at outfielders on the trade market and willing to listen on Daniel Murphy again. However, the Mets have been underwhelmed by past offers for Murphy and may just hang onto him, as they’re comfortable giving Dilson Herrera more time to develop in the minors.
- Sherman also reports that the Yankees are “intrigued” by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. The Yankees are trying to get younger and are hopeful of acquiring youthful players that may not have had their best season yet, and Andrus could fit that bill. However, they’re also wary of Andrus’ huge $120MM contract extension, which doesn’t even kick in until next season.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair that he won’t allow other teams to dictate his offseason. What he means by that, Blair explains, is that the Jays won’t wait to see where a certain player signs before pursuing another. Blair recalls the 2006 Winter Meetings, when Anthopoulos was an assistant GM to J.P. Ricciardi. Toronto was hamstrung at the Winter Meetings waiting to hear back from free agents Ted Lilly and Gil Meche, both of whom signed elsewhere in the end. According to Blair, there was some stark internal criticism about how the other team’s plans were held up by other clubs. Toronto’s priority is re-signing Melky Cabrera, Blair writes, but the Blue Jays are aware that his QO and past ties to PEDs could lead to a slow-developing market.
The Red Sox are in the “pole position” this offseason, writes MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince for Sports on Earth. The Sox, along with the Cubs, are the two clubs that feature excess offense and plenty of money to spare. For Boston, their area of depth is the outfield, where Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, and Jackie Bradley Jr. are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s no doubt the club needs to add pitching, and they can be expected to use their depth to do so.
- In a wide ranging article for GammonsDaily, Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons speculates about the Red Sox offseason, including the fate of Mookie Betts. In short, he’s not going anywhere. According to Gammons, he’ll fill an everyday role and bat atop the order as an on base threat with Dustin Pedroia. Other news sources have wondered if Betts could be used as trade fodder or start the season in the minors. Gammons discusses the club from top to bottom, so the full article is worth a read.
- In the same article, Gammons discusses two up-and-coming Sox prospects – Deven Marrero and Manuel Margot. Marrero is a potentially elite shortstop with offensive upside. Some scouts prefer him to Indians top prospect Francisco Lindor. Margot is a 20-year-old outfielder with plenty of speed and defensive capabilities. His hit tool and power are considered decent too. Either player could be used to headline packages for top pitchers like Cole Hamels, Jeff Samardzija, or Sean Doolittle.
- Contrary to previous reports, the Red Sox do not expect to meet with any players during this week’s GM Meetings, says Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Instead, they will meet only with teams and agents. While it’s been widely reported that the club and Pablo Sandoval planned a sit down, that meeting will be restricted to his agent Gustavo Vazquez. This isn’t cause for alarm – it’s a standard industry practice.
Jared S. Hopkins of the Chicago Tribune (subscription required) chronicles the travails Jose Abreu underwent in leaving his native Cuba for America. Full details of Abreu’s journey remain a secret (Abreu and his agents have declined to discuss his defection and an interview with Abreu’s mother, to which to she had agreed, was cancelled by one of the slugger’s associates), but Hopkins was able to piece together how Abreu and his brother-in-law took a boat from Cuba to Haiti in August 2013 leaving behind his young son and family, reaching out to the Orioles’ Henry Urrutia for help after leaving Cuba, and living in the Dominican Republic for three months before landing his $68MM contract with the White Sox. The article also delves into the role smugglers and their networks play in ferreting players out of Cuba for promises upward of 30% of the players’ first contract. Abreu is expected to be named the AL Rookie of the Year tomorrow.
In other news about Abreu’s White Sox and the American League:
- Earlier today, we learned the White Sox will meet this week with Pablo Sandoval‘s representatives during the GM Meetings in Phoenix. However, if the right third base upgrade cannot be found, the White Sox are comfortable with a platoon of Conor Gillaspie and Marcus Semien, reports CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes. The White Sox also have Matt Davidson on their 40-man roster, but Hayes notes the 23-year-old struggled in a homer-friendly park at Triple-A Charlotte (.199/.283/.362 in 539 plate appearances).
- The free agent expenditures by the Red Sox this offseason could be shaped by who will be available in free agency next winter, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. With a solid free agent class of starting pitchers and a dearth of third baseman next offseason, MacPherson opines the Red Sox may stretch the budget this year for Sandoval, Chase Headley, or Hanley Ramirez.
- Rays players are rallying around Dave Martinez to replace Joe Maddon as manager, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin.
- Within the same article, Topkin speculates the trade of left-hander Cesar Ramos was the first of what could be several moves by the Rays to create roster spots by dealing players who may be too expensive or no longer fit and receive something in return. Sean Rodriguez (projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz to earn $2MM through arbitration) could be one of those moves, according to Topkin.