Boston Red Sox Rumors
Signed 11 days ago, Roberts struggled in his limited time in Boston, hitting safely only twice in 22 plate appearances and drawing three walks against seven strikeouts. Roberts' a one-year, MLB deal was not guaranteed, tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal, so the club will only be on the hook for the approximately $61K he has already earned. As the 33-year-old looks for a new job, he will hang his hat on his defensive versatility and solid lifetime stats against lefties (.261/.337/.435).
12:19pm: Hanrahan isn't yet negotiating with anyone but is expected to start taking offers next week, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). Some teams have requested to see Hanrahan's medicals.
FRIDAY, 11:24am: The Twins aren't one of the teams talking contract with Hanrahan, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. There is similarly "nothing brewing" between Hanrahan and the Mets, The Record's Matt Ehalt reports. The Astros, meanwhile, weren't at the tryout at all, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter link).
THURSDAY: Upwards of 20 teams were on-hand today to watch free-agent right-hander Joel Hanrahan's showcase at the University of Tampa today, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (More specifically, ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that there were 16 to 18 clubs on-hand). Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that Hanrahan's agents at Reynolds Sports Management are already discussing a contract with multiple clubs after what proved to be a strong audition.
Among the attendees, according to Heyman, were the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Royals, Rockies and Indians. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins were in attendance as well, while MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers, too, were one of the clubs in attendance. Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com adds (also via Twitter) that the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays were present.
Hanrahan appears to be ahead of schedule, Heyman writes, as he was throwing as hard as 93 mph despite being just 11 months removed from Tommy John/flexor tendon repair surgery. Scouts told Heyman that Hanrahan looked "fit and healthy," while another who attended told Cafardo (Twitter link) that Hanrahan "looked great." Wolfson's tweet also mentions that Hanrahan looked impressive.
A two-time All-Star, Hanrahan posted a 2.59 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 229 1/3 innings with the Pirates from 2009-12 before a trade that sent him to Boston last offseason.
Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron provides an interesting look at team age, weighted for anticipated playing time. The unsurprising result is that the oldest current MLB roster belongs to the Yankees. With the Red Sox and Blue Jays also falling in the top five, and the Rays landing in the top half with what Cameron calls a "sneaky old" roster, the American League East would appear to be the most veteran-laden division in the game.
- The loss of pitchers Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, and Jeremy Hellickson has exposed the fact that the Rays are thin on pitching depth in their system, says Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (Twitter links). Gammons notes that, despite having five of the first 79 picks in the 2010 draft and a whopping ten of the first 60 choices in 2011, the only major leaguer to have emerged from those additions is infielder Derek Dietrich (who, of course, has since been dealt for fellow infielder Yunel Escobar).
- Looking at the bigger picture for the Rays, the club is still looking for a location to target for a new ballpark, as the Associated Press (via ESPN.com) reports. One possibility is to land in the city after which the club is named. "Tampa is obviously very, very attractive on the list," said club owner Stuart Sternberg, "and we expect to at some point, hopefully sooner, look there as well as some other parts of the region." The organization still needs to undertake "a full-out exploration" of possible sites in the area, including Tampa and St. Petersburg, Sternberg said. Tampa's current lease -- at the St. Petersburg-located Tropicana Field -- has often been noted as a significant hindrance for the team's spending capacity, and runs through the 2027 season.
- Injuries to the middle infield have not changed the Yankees' stance on Stephen Drew, according to principal owner Hal Steinbrenner. As MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom reports, Steinbrenner said that he is "pretty content with [the Yankees'] infield right now," especially given the early returns on some of the club's lower-profile offseason additions. "I'm happy with a couple of our Minor League free-agent signings -- [Yangervis Solarte] and [Dean Anna]. Jeter has been healthy. So far, I'm pretty content with where we are, but I will always analyze options." (Anna was actually acquired via trade, though certainly he was the same type of addition.)
- The Yankees are also enjoying the excellent early showing from Michael Pineda, who was picked up in a rare swap of highly touted young talent. (Jesus Montero, of course, went to Seattle in that deal.) Continuing a strong Spring Training run, in 12 innings over two starts, Pineda has allowed just two earned runs and has struck out 12 batters while walking only two. As Tony Blengino of Fangraphs writes, a full return to form for Pineda would be "basically unprecedented in baseball history," with the one notable exception of another outstanding young pitcher who returned from an early-career shoulder injury to post a Hall-of-Fame career: Jim Palmer.
- Red Sox hurler Jon Lester projects to be worthy of a six-year, $145MM deal in free agency, according to ESPN.com's Dan Szymborski. Other than sticking in Boston, Lester could draw interest from teams like the Cubs, Mariners, Giants, and Tigers, in Szymborski's estimation.
For some players, just getting the chance to play is the biggest hurdle. That certainly holds true for Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig, whose journey out of Cuba and into Major League Baseball is perhaps more astounding than anyone realized. Jesse Katz of Los Angeles Magazine provides a narrative of Puig's unbelievable tale.
Here are a few notes from around the game:
- The Yankees come in at a surprising second in the early-season defensive shift count, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). As Olney notes, that kind of decision requires organizational commitment on every level, and two offseason infield acquisitions -- Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts -- played an important part in the first discussions involving players.
- Red Sox players view hurler Jon Lester as worthy of the kind of huge payday that the club's front office seems somewhat unwilling to give him, Olney adds. The view from the clubhouse is obviously not likely to drive a decision, but Olney notes that players are keeping a keen eye on how the team's ace is treated.
- For Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, the big issue facing the club is health, George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press reports. He said that the team's bullpen depth at the minor league level is a strength, that the righty-heavy lineup was driven by having good options that happen to hit from that side of the plate, and that he was comfortable with the team's shortstop options -- especially with Eugenio Suarez and Hernan Perez available in the minors.
- The MLB blackout policy is harmful to the game's long-term development, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan traces the league's determined fight to maintain territorial blackouts and its connection to the local TV money that has had such a substantial impact on the MLB player market.
Needless to say, the season has gotten of to a rough start in terms of injury news. Offering some hope, perhaps, Baseball America's J.J. Cooper writes (answering a reader question) that two-time Tommy John patients have a better track record of recovery than is perhaps commonly thought. Here's the latest on a few situations around the league that have (or could have had) hot stove implications:
- Rockies starter Brett Anderson is expected to be out for a lengthy stretch with a broken index finger, as he will need four to six weeks to recover before rehabbing, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 26-year-old, who has had more than his share of injury troubles in recent campaigns, will undergo surgery to have pins inserted in the finger, according to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (via Twitter). Anderson was a major offseason acquisition for the Rockies, coming over in exchange for one-time top prospect Drew Pomeranz, who has been working out of the pen for the Athletics this year. Fortunately for Colorado, the team appears to have enough in-house options to cover in the meantime.
- Rays starter Matt Moore played catch today as he and the team assess whether the young lefty can avoid Tommy John surgery, according to a report from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. "Actually [trainer Ron Porterfield] said he threw okay," said manager Joe Maddon, "but I'm waiting to hear back from him what the final analysis is. Nothing yet. [Porterfield] said he turned it loose a little bit too, so we'll see. That was probably a good test for him. The word pain was not used. [Porterfield] told me he actually threw the ball pretty good."
- For the Phillies, starter A.J. Burnett intends to pitch through a hernia, and the team will finally welcome back reliever Mike Adams from the DL in the coming days, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. Adams was a major free agent addition last year, but threw only 25 innings of 3.96 ERA ball last year before going down to a labrum and rotator cuff tear. Adams' contract contains a $6MM club option for 2015 that would vest if he throws 60 innings this year, but that provision will be voided if he is not available on Opening Day next year because of the shoulder issues (since they arose before the end of the 2014 season).
- With the Yankees dealing with multiple injuries and uncertainty in the infield, the obvious question is whether the team will revisit the possibility of signing Stephen Drew. John Harper of the New York Daily News argues that the team should do just that, noting that Drew can upgrade up the middle this year while providing value in any future years he signs on for. But Wallace Mathews of ESPNNewYork.com reports cites a source who says that there is "no way" the team will sign Drew or fellow free agent Kendrys Morales.
- Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia got good news today, as he learned that his left wrist issues do not appear to be serious, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe reported on Twitter. As fellow Herald reporter Scott Lauber reported later this afternoon, an MRI showed no structural damage that would warrant concern. The team has confirmed the reports while adding that closer Koji Uehara has no structural damage in his shoulder, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal tweets.
"Sometimes you have to look underneath the surface and I tend to agree it has a lot to do with youth sports and travel teams and multiple travel teams and kids pitching to win when they're really young and throwing too many pitches. I think the more recent epidemic curiously might be tied to what they're doing before they even get here professionally."
Of course, Moore's injury is not the only injury facing the Rays' rotation, either. Jeremy Hellickson opened the season on the disabled list, and Alex Cobb is now out as long as six weeks after being placed on the DL with an oblique strain yesterday, writes Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. Here's more from the AL East...
- The Mariners' decision to designate Shawn Kelley for assignment last Spring Training rather than pay him $935K has proven to be the Yankees' gain, writes John Harper of the New York Daily News. Kelley was a vital part of the bullpen in 2013 and has stepped up for the injured David Robertson in 2014 thus far. Kelley's strong 2013 season is part of the reason that the Yanks didn't add a right-handed setup arm this offseason, writes Harper, as they believed the two-time Tommy John victim to be capable of handling the role of Robertson's primary setup man.
- Harper also looks at the predictably injury-riddled Yankees infield and opines that it's time for the team to call Scott Boras to get a deal done with Stephen Drew. As Harper points out, the Yankees ran out an infield of Kelly Johnson, Dean Anna, Yangervis Solarte and Carlos Beltran last night, and patchwork mixes like that simply won't cut it. He suggests a two-year deal for Drew, to play second base and provide insurance for Jeter this season before taking the reins at shortstop in 2015.
- While much is made of Jon Lester's coming free agency by the Boston media, the Boston Herald's John Tomase writes that Jonny Gomes is also in the final year of his deal, and he spoke with the part-time Red Sox outfielder about that scenario. Gomes admits that it's difficult to play in a walk year due to the results-oriented nature of the game, adding that he knows being a good clubhouse presence won't necessarily get him a job next year. Tomase writes that ideally, Gomes' preference is to stay in Boston.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier writes that Red Sox manager John Farrell isn't exactly thrilled with the early returns on baseball's instant replay system. "It's hard to have any faith in the system," said Farrell after being on the losing end of a pair of challenges this weekend. Saturday's call, in particular, looked to provide conclusive evidence in Boston's favor, but the umpires didn't agree. Said Farrell: "As much as they’re trying to help the human element inside this system, it seems like it’s added the human element at a different level."
The possibility exists that at some point this season, the Red Sox could field a lineup, along with a good chunk of their rotation and bullpen, that is comprised almost exclusively of players and pitchers who have played only for Boston, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. Thanks to the club's emphasis on homegrown talent, injuries/days off for David Ortiz, A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross, and Mike Napoli could make this idea a reality sometime this summer. Here's more out of the AL East..
- Two winters ago, the Red Sox were able to find success by overpaying free agents on an average annual basis while avoiding long-term deals, but they're mistaken if they think they can do the same with Jon Lester, writes Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. Boston reportedly offered the standout pitcher a four-year, $70MM contract extension before the start of the season.
- Rob Bradford of WEEI.com agrees that the Red Sox are making a mistake in their handling of the contract talks with Lester, as the southpaw has no real reason to take such a relatively below-market extension. Such a deal would also likely not sit well with the MLBPA, which Lester recognizes. "I don't want to be the guy where you sign a deal and then a guy like [Felix Doubront] comes up and says (sarcastically), 'Thanks Jon for helping me out.' That's the tough part," Lester said. "You've got to balance what makes you happy and still have to take into account where the Players' Association is, you have to take into account the market and what's fair, and then you do what makes you happy. If you're a little bit below market value and it makes you happy, who cares? If you're astronomically below market value, then that's where you need to look at it."
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe believes that the Yankees are the best bet to sign free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan. The former Pirates closer is set to audition for teams on Thursday in Tampa, Florida. The Mets, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Athletics, Red Sox, and Rays are also said to be among the teams with interest in the 32-year-old.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times looks at the Rays and their ability to keep their young players under team control. Of course, those type of deals aren't offered to all good young players, and not all accept it, not wanting to trade off larger future earnings for security. Right-hander Alex Cobb and outfielders Desmond Jennings and Wil Myers are among the young notables who don't have long-term pacts.
Dr. James Andrews tells MLB Network Radio (via MetsBlog) that a number of factors have contributed to an increase in Tommy John surgeries throughout baseball. One issue is that high school pitchers are throwing too hard, and their ligaments aren't maturing quickly enough to keep up with their velocity. Year-round baseball is another issue, as is throwing breaking balls at a young age. High school pitchers who throw harder than 80-85 MPH also run the risk of having arm issues. Here are a few notes from around the American League.
- The Indians' trade of Shin-Soo Choo was one of GM Chris Antonetti's best deals, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. The Indians gave up Choo, a player they could not have afforded to keep, and the other players they dealt (Tony Sipp, Lars Anderson and Jason Donald) haven't proven consequential. The Indians received Trevor Bauer, who had a great first start of the season on Wednesday, and a good bullpen arm in Bryan Shaw. They also got Matt Albers, who pitched reasonably well last season before heading to the Astros as a free agent, and Drew Stubbs, who went to the Rockies for Josh Outman. Outman now joins Shaw in the Indians' bullpen.
- Sam Fuld isn't surprised that the Athletics designated him for assignment, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. "I guess the one good thing is that I have been bracing myself for it," says Fuld. Coco Crisp is now healthy, and Craig Gentry is back from the disabled list, which left little room for Fuld.
- The Red Sox' most recent $70MM extension offer to Jon Lester might seem low, but Lester himself is trying to keep it in context, John Tomase of the Boston Herald tweets. "They're trying to set up their business for the future. They're weighing risk," Lester says. "I can't just stand up and say, 'Pay me pay me pay me.'"
3:56pm: Lester says that he isn't ruling out the possibility that he will remain with the Red Sox, Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston tweets. "Why does it mean I'm out of Boston?" Lester says. "Things can definitely change.''
11:59am: The Red Sox' most recent extension offer to starting pitcher Jon Lester was for four years and between $70MM, Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan tweets, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports initially reported that the Red Sox had offered between $70MM and $80MM.
Lester is eligible for free agency after the season, and Rosenthal writes that sources tell him that Lester will not negotiate an extension again until the season is over. (The two sides ceased extension talks in late March, but it appeared then that they could continue talking during the season.)
Even an offer of $80MM would appear to be significantly below market for Lester -- Homer Bailey received six years and $105MM for the Reds, and Lester, who has a longer track record of success, would figure to make more on the open market. Rosenthal points out that the Red Sox' offer was below the $82.5MM John Lackey received from the team in 2009. The Red Sox have a "willingness to go higher" than their recent offer, Rosenthal writes, and they'll likely need to in order to sign Lester.
Here are a few tidbits from Ken Rosenthal's latest video from FOX Sports:
- There aren't many good third base options available this offseason (Chase Headley is available, and Aramis Ramirez has a mutual option), so retaining Pablo Sandoval makes sense for the Giants.
- Rosenthal wonders if the Pirates could sign either Stephen Drew or Kendrys Morales after the draft in June, at which point they wouldn't have to worry about the draft-pick forfeiture attached to each of them. After a quiet offseason, the Pirates should have the financial wherewithal to pursue a bigger-name player. In a tiny sample size, Jordy Mercer has not hit well so far this year as the Pirates' starting shortstop. The team is currently platooning Travis Ishikawa and Gaby Sanchez at first base.
- Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are off to good starts with the Cubs, who could trade either player by the end of July. The Cubs dealt Matt Garza and Scott Feldman in-season last year, and Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm the previous season.
- Tyler Thornburg is off to an excellent start out of the Brewers' bullpen, which makes clear why they were unwilling to trade him to the Mets this offseason.
- In a separate video, Rosenthal says that five teams bid upwards of $60MM for Jose Abreu: the White Sox, Astros, Rockies, Brewers and Red Sox. The Red Sox still wanted to keep Mike Napoli, however, which would have meant that Abreu might have started the season in the minors if he had signed with them. Abreu is currently hitting .273/.365/.659 in his first couple weeks with the White Sox.