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Boston Red Sox Rumors
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.
SUNDAY: Sandoval’s camp will also meet with the Giants, Blue Jays and White Sox, Cotillo reports.
SATURDAY: The Red Sox will meet with Pablo Sandoval and agent Gustavo Vasquez at the GM meetings in Arizona next week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish was the first to report the scheduled meeting. The Red Sox reportedly headed into the offseason with Sandoval and Chase Headley as their top priorities. Sandoval rejected a qualifying offer from the Giants last week, and is instead reportedly seeking a nine-figure deal, possibly for six years. Cafardo notes that, along with the Red Sox and Giants, the Blue Jays and White Sox currently seem to be the most interested in Sandoval.
Boston would want to use Sandoval as its third baseman, Cafardo reports, although he notes that, unlike the Giants and other NL teams, the Red Sox could also eventually use Sandoval at DH if his physique prevented him from staying at third. The switch-hitting Sandoval’s ability to hit from the left side would also be a benefit for Boston. With Sandoval in the Majors, the Red Sox could send Will Middlebrooks, who can still be optioned, to Triple-A Pawtucket.
Here are the highlights of the latest rumors column from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe:
- The Red Sox don’t “hate” Yoenis Cespedes, despite a previous report that indicated otherwise. But Cafardo suggests Cespedes didn’t do enough work on his defense after arriving in Boston, and his offense wasn’t enough to compensate for it. Cespedes has only one year left on his contract, but it’s not clear whether, or when, the Red Sox will deal him.
- Cafardo says he got “a minute of straight laughter” when he asked if the White Sox might trade Chris Sale.
- The Red Sox and Athletics could discuss a Jeff Samardzija trade. Cafardo speculates Red Sox shortstop prospect Deven Marrero could be a potential piece, given that the A’s appear to be about to lose Jed Lowrie (to free agency) and already lost Addison Russell (when they traded for Samardzija in the first place).
- Now that they’ve acquired Hank Conger, the Astros could listen to offers for fellow catcher Jason Castro. Castro hit just .222/.286/.386 in a disappointing offensive season in 2014. He has two years remaining before free agency.
Here’s the latest from Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, who answered questions today on MLB Network Radio (via WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford):
- Many teams have asked the Red Sox about their outfielders, Cherington says. That includes Yoenis Cespedes, about whom there have been recent trade rumors. Cherington says the Red Sox will have open minds about trades, but that “there is no particular player that we’re looking to move, including Cespedes.”
- Cherington says the Red Sox’ previous relationship with Jon Lester might make him easier as a potential free agent target this offseason, mostly because they won’t have to do the due diligence with Lester that they might with another big-ticket free agent. In any case, Cherington likes the team’s chances of upgrading the rotation this offseason, either in the free agent market (where Lester, James Shields, Max Scherzer and others are available) or in trades.
- Cherington says the Red Sox are likely to speak with Pablo Sandoval‘s agent Gustavo Vasquez, but adds, “[W]e’re going to talk to a lot of agents next week.” Cherington does note, however, that the fact that Sandoval is a good third baseman who can hit left-handed means there’s an “obvious link” between Sandoval and the Red Sox.
The Dodgers‘ front office shakeup isn’t over yet. As Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles reported first, the Dodgers announced that they have hired Gabe Kapler as their farm director and Padres scouting director Billy Gasparino as their new director of amateur scouting (All Twitter links). Additionally, the team will hire Red Sox special assignment scout Galen Carr, per Saxon, though his role in the Dodgers’ front office is yet unreported. The Dodgers, of course, have already poached Andrew Friedman from the Rays (president of baseball ops) and Farhan Zaidi from the A’s (GM) in addition to hiring former Padres/D’Backs GM Josh Byrnes as their new senior VP of baseball ops. The new-look group is made up of some of the most respected executives from around the game.
Here’s more from the game’s Western divisions…
- On a conference call with Padres season-ticket holders last night, general manager A.J. Preller spoke candidly about the team’s interest in Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas (Twitter link): “We’ve had the chance to see Yasmany Tomas and we’re in the process of determining his value for the Padres. We’re in the game.” San Diego has been said to be one of the front-runners for Tomas, and he’d certainly provide the team with some much-needed offense if he lives up to the hype surrounding him.
- The Rangers will be on the lookout for a backup catcher to pair with Robinson Chirinos this offseason, writes MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Sullivan looks at the crop of free agents and notes that A.J. Pierzynski, Gerald Laird and J.P. Arencibia have all played with the Rangers in the past, but he wonders if the team will spend a bit more money on a name like Nick Hundley rather than bringing in familiar faces.
- The Angels announced today that they have promoted Mike LaCassa to assistant director of player development and promoted Jonathan Strangio to manager of Major League Operations (Twitter link).
It’s been speculated that Hanley Ramirez‘s desire to play shortstop will temper the demand for his services on the open market due to his sub-par work at the position, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears that Ramirez is now telling clubs he’s willing to play third base or “wherever there’s a need.”
Just yesterday, ESPN’s Buster Olney speculated that opening up to the possibility of playing elsewhere on the diamond would likely enhance interest in Ramirez. If he’s open to playing third base or even left field, Ramirez’s suitors could indeed grow, although Ramirez has never played a professional game in the outfield in the minors or Majors, so clubs may be hesitant to drop him into that role with no prior experience.
Still, even a willingness to play third base off the bat will be food for Ramirez and could open his market to include the Giants and Red Sox, while a team like the Mariners could show more interest if they’re willing to bet on the fact that he can play a competent corner outfield. Heyman reports that the Red Sox have indeed been in contact with Ramirez, even if they’re currently more focused on Pablo Sandoval.
Earlier this week, ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Ramirez third among free agents, noting that he could still potentially play an above-average third base if he was willing to make the switch.
Blue Jays president Paul Beeston appears set to continue on in that capacity, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Of course, as Davidi notes, both Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos could face questions if a postseason berth is not in the offing in 2015. The front office will have at least $20MM to $30MM in free salary, Davidi reasons, which could be bolstered with a spending increase and/or move to shed some payroll obligations. As Davidi rightly notes, Toronto has a very clean balance sheet after this year, which could potentially leave the team with a big hammer to wield in free agency.
Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the AL East:
- The Blue Jays have a number of possible offseason targets on both the trade and free agent front, writes Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. Among them is Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who Toronto has “placed multiple calls on,” according to Nicholson-Smith — who, it should be noted, also recently reported that the Jays are on Kendrick’s no-trade list.
- Whether or not the Yankees are big free agent spenders this year remains to be seen, but the club’s financial muscle is flexed in many and disparate ways, as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs writes. Over recent years, New York has consistently controlled the market for minor league free agents, bringing bigger and better offers to the table for players like Yangervis Solarte. (In an interesting note to give context to this relatively minimal spending, McDaniel says a team source told him the team could break even financially even if it carried $500MM in total payroll obligations, including luxury tax costs.)
- The early set of rotation targets for the Yankees features names like Brandon McCarthy, Jason Hammel, and Chris Capuano, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. That jibes with another recent report suggesting that New York has no current plans to attack the arms at the top of the market.
- Free agent closer David Robertson, who is currently weighing a qualifying offer from the Yankees, is one of the most fascinating free agents to watch. Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that his sense is the club will be interested in exploring a multi-year deal with Robertson, but may not chase him at the top of the market and would be comfortable allowing him to walk.
- Another QO recipient, Nelson Cruz, told MLB Network Radio (via Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun) that a return to the Orioles is his preferred outcome. “No doubt it’s my first choice,” said Cruz. “I’d love to be back. I understand the business. I know they’re interested in bringing me back. Hopefully we can work something out.” Cruz was not willing to say he would take a lesser deal to stay in Baltimore, though it is obviously hard to fault him for not copping to that publicly — or, for that matter, for choosing the best contract offer he receives, if that ultimately proves to be the case.
- The Red Sox catcher of the future is Blake Swihart, not Christian Vazquez, opines J.J. Cooper of Baseball America. But the team need not decide now how it will sort out the presence of two highly-regarded young backstops. Instead, the team has the option of adding a veteran presence alongside Vazquez for the coming year while Swihart continues to develop in the minors. Assuming Swihart establishes himself as a big league regular, Boston will have plenty of time to assess whether it makes more sense to keep both players or deal one away.