Boston Red Sox Rumors


AL East Links: Murphy, Romine, Rays, McGowan

MLBTR's Offseason In Review series continued earlier today with my look at the Orioles' winter moves, covering everything from the Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz signings to the lack of progress on extensions for Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters.  Here's some more from around the AL East...

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews) that he's "hearing from a lot of people about" catchers John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine.  The Yankees have been shopping their catching depth for weeks, and now that Francisco Cervelli has won the backup job, Murphy and Romine could be more expendable.  Cashman, however, doesn't feel pressure to move either players.  "They’re assets. We’re not in any position where we have to do anything, but if something made sense, we’d consider it. But right now, we’re happy with what we’ve got," Cashman said.
  • Rays manager Joe Maddon told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that he has informed Wilson Betemit and Jayson Nix that they won't be making Tampa's Opening Day roster, in order to give the two players extra time to find another Major League opportunity.  The two veterans signed minor league deals with the Rays earlier this winter and have the ability to opt out, though Betemit told Topkin that he would play for Tampa's Triple-A affiliate if he couldn't find a roster spot elsewhere (Topkin believes Nix feels the same way).
  • Mark Lowe is also open to returning to the Rays, the veteran right-hander tells Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.  Lowe's family lives in the Tampa area and he praised the Rays organization, saying that he would be willing to pitch at Triple-A unless, like Betemit and Nix, he finds a job with another team.  The Rays granted Lowe his release earlier today after he was also told he wouldn't make the 25-man roster.
  • The Blue Jays' decision to make Dustin McGowan their fifth starter raises concerns about whether McGowan is up to the task both performance-wise and health-wise, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi writes.  Since McGowan made the rotation almost by default given how the Jays' other options struggled, Davidi wonders "if he and the Blue Jays are playing a game of Russian Roulette with his career" by returning McGowan to a starting role before he's even fully stretched out.  The injury-plagued McGowan missed three of the previous four seasons with shoulder and knee surgeries but pitched effectively over 25 2/3 innings out of the bullpen in 2013. 
  • Corey Brown didn't invoke the opt-out clause in his minor league contract with the Red Sox and will report to the club's Triple-A club, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports.



Article XX(B) Free Agents Update: Wednesday

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.

Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.

MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is today at 11am central time. By the deadline, teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:

  • Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
  • Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
  • Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline and send him to the minors.

Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top).  

  • The Red Sox released left-hander Rich Hill this morning and then re-signed him to a new minor league contract, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports.  Presumably this move was made so the Sox could keep Hill and avoid paying the $100K bonus.
  • Ramon Santiago has been informed that he's made the Reds roster, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The 34-year-old will serve as the team's utility infielder.



AL Notes: Lester, Drew, Twins, Astros

Red Sox free-agent-to-be Jon Lester says the six-year, $144MM deal the Tigers reportedly offered Max Scherzer would be "hard to walk away from," Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal tweets. Lester says there's no news concerning negotiations for his own contract but that the two sides continue to talk, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The Red Sox are reportedly trying to resolve Lester's contract situation by Opening Day, either by signing him or by suspending negotiations once the season starts. Here are more notes from around the American League.

  • The Twins have "done their homework" on Stephen Drew, although it remains very unlikely that they'll sign him, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson tweets. The team watched Drew in a workout more than a month ago.
  • The Twins added Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes this offseason, but they planned to spend even more money, assistant GM Rob Antony tells Phil Miller of the Star Tribune (via Twitter). "We were trying to give money away," Antony says. They were not able to sign any position players to significant contracts, however.
  • Astros manager Bo Porter says one reason the team hasn't set its rotation yet is because it has the top waiver priority, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets. That suggests the Astros could wait to claim a starting pitcher to insert into their rotation.



AL Notes: Almanzar, Athletics, Blue Jays

After a busy transactional day yesterday, here are some American League notes that we did not quite get to:

  • The Orioles are trying to decide what to do with Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar, who looks to be unlikely to make the club's Opening Day roster. One possibility is a trade of the rights to the former Red Sox third base prospect, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. But that scenario could be complicated by the fact that Almanzar is dealing with a knee problem that will require an MRI, as MLB.com's Adam Berry reports. Of course, if Almanzar were to require a DL trip to start the year, it would offer Baltimore some added time to sort things out. Manager Buck Showalter said the team would not use the injury as pretext, however, emphasizing that Almanzar would only go to the DL if the injury required it.
  • The Athletics raised some eyebrows by spending significant cash on relievers this offseason, taking on the salaries of Jim Johnson ($10MM) and Luke Gregerson ($5.065MM) while committing $7MM to Eric O'Flaherty over two years. For the notoriously tight-fisted, analytical ballclub, this spending pattern led to an obvious question: what edge had GM Billy Beane found this time? As Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports, the explanation may be fairly simple. With limited payroll to add to a ready-to-win roster, the club simply got the best "bang for its buck (Beane's words) while avoiding long-term commitments. Of course, as Passan notes, the team also knows that allowing Johnson to rack up the saves will result in arbitration savings on in-house relievers like Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle.
  • With just days remaining until the deadline to settle on an Opening Day roster, the Blue Jays still have several roster battles taking place. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes, there still seems to be plenty of wiggle room in the final composition of the Toronto club. The rotation has two spots in play given J.A. Happ's struggles, the middle infield mix could be impacted by the recent injury to Jose Reyes, the backup catching situation is still not finalized, and the fourth outfielding spot is suddenly open to a last-minute competition between Moises Sierra and the newly-added Matt Tuiasosopo. Of course, as Nicholson-Smith notes, options will play a big role in the final determinations and no MLB roster is static throughout the season.



Red Sox Extend David Ortiz Through 2015

USATSI_7801447The Red Sox have announced that they've signed David Ortiz to a one-year extension through 2015, with a team/vesting option for 2016 and a team option for 2017. Ortiz will reportedly receive $16MM next year, which (as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes on Twitter) matches the 2015 salary of Mike Napoli, the team's highest-paid player.

The options are designed to change in value based upon playing time (unlike the escalating terms of his prior deal, which were tied to time spent on the DL). For 2016, if Ortiz falls shy of 425 plate appearances the option will be a straight, $10MM club option. If he reaches that mark, the option vests and becomes guaranteed at $11MM. An additional $1MM guarantee is tacked on at each of the following PA thresholds: 475, 525, 550, 575, and 600. For the 2017 option, the value moves in the precisely the same way, except that it has no vesting element.

"With this agreement, we have near certainty that David Ortiz will finish his career in a Red Sox uniform, which is something we have all wanted and that we are all proud of," said Red Sox owner John Henry. "It is difficult to describe David’s contributions to our city both on the field and off the field, and we are so proud to have this ambassador of our game with us as he continues on this road to Cooperstown."

Though he's entering his age-38 season, Ortiz is fresh off yet another outstanding season at the plate in which he batted .300/.395/.564 with 30 homers in 600 plate appearances. Big Papi has been vocal about wanting to work out a one-year extension to remain with the club and has not shied away from telling reporters that he feels he's earned another significant payday as "The Man" in Boston's lineup at an age where many have been reduced to complementary roles. It's hard to argue that Ortiz's production isn't worthy of that salary, as he's been at least 34 percent better than a league-average hitter in each season from 2010-13, according to OPS+ and wRC+.

Via Twitter, ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes was the first to report the two sides had reached agreement on an extension. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported that Ortiz would receive $16MM in 2015. FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi tweeted the extension could include a club option for 2016, which would become a vesting player option based on plate appearances. Edes tweeted there was also an option for 2017. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first tweeted details of the vesting and escalator provisions of the option years, with Alex Speier WEEI.com reporting the full terms of the options. 

Steve Adams, Charlie Wilmoth, and Jeff Todd contributed to this post. Photo by USA Today Sports Images.



Red Sox Aiming For Lester Resolution By Opening Day

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is focused on resolving Jon Lester's contract one way or another this week prior to Opening Day, he told reporters including WEEI's Rob Bradford.  Though Lester has indicated a willingness to continue contract talks during the season if the two sides are close, Cherington prefers to wrap things up before the Red Sox open their season in Baltimore a week from today.

Lester, 30, is eligible for free agency after the season.



Quick Hits: Tigers, Pirates, Hill, Young

Fans shouldn't be angry over players' multimillion-dollar salaries, CBS Sports' Dayn Perry writes. That Albert Pujols is paid hundreds of millions of dollars to hit a baseball might seem frivolous, but exorbitant salaries for ballplayers and entertainers have been part of our culture for some time. "You might as well lament the tides of the ocean," Perry writes. Also, ticket prices aren't caused by high player salaries, but by demand. Fans are willing to pay high ticket prices (as they do even to college sporting events, where players are unpaid), so teams charge high ticket prices.  Here's more from around the big leagues.

  • Given the tone of the Tigers' press release on the Max Scherzer negotiations, it might not be a good time for Scott Boras to bring up Stephen Drew with the Tigers, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The Tigers have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for the free agent shortstop but the club's unusual step of issuing a press release on the end of talks with their star pitcher might indicate some soured relations between them and the top agent.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says his offer for Scherzer was the most he has ever offered a player that has been turned down, tweets Tom Gage of the Detroit News.  For his part, Scherzer says he wants to stay in Detroit long term (link).
  • Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) notes that one of the big talking points on the Prince Fielder trade was that it freed up money for the Tigers to sign Scherzer.  With a new deal for Scherzer currently off the table, Passan wonders if Detroit might shift their attention to Miguel Cabrera.
  • After winning 94 games and advancing to the NL Division Series last season, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wonders if the Pirates are candidates for regression this season.  Despite losing free agents A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau, the Pirates didn't make any splasy moves to replace them this winter. 
  • Left-hander Rich Hill can opt out of his deal with the Red Sox on May 15th, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.  
  • Agent Jon Fetterolf has left Williams & Connolly and is now running sports practice for the Zuckerman Spaeder firm, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.  
  • Right-hander Chris Young, ostensibly in the competition for the Nationals’ fifth starter spot, can opt out of his minor league contract if the Nationals do not add him to the 25-man roster by Thursday, a person familiar with the contract told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.



Cafardo On Davis, Hanrahan, Worley, Hill

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders why pitchers seem to be hitting the disabled list at a higher rate throughout the minor and major leagues.  Not only are young pitchers including Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Jarrod Parker, and Bruce Rondon undergoing Tommy John surgery this spring, but Medlen and Beachy are actually having the surgery for a second time.  “I think pitchers are getting abused at a younger age,” Hall of Famer Tom Glavine told Cafardo. “Most of them are max-effort guys, so it reaches the point where the stress finally causes a breaking point.”  More from today's column..

  • The Mets do not anticipate a deal involving first baseman Ike Davis.  The Mets resumed gauging interest in Davis last week but so far, no inquiries have really blown them away.  The Orioles are still among the clubs with interest.
  • Joel Hanrahan has shifted his training base to Tampa, moving toward his first showcase for teams, which should happen shortly.  The Red Sox have some interest in bringing back Hanrahan, but with teams like the Tigers, Orioles, and Yankees in need of back-end relievers, he probably won't wind up back in Boston.
  • Twins pitcher Vance Worley, who is out of options, was placed on waivers Friday, then outrighted to Triple-A when he cleared.  Minnesota may still deal Worley and a return to the Phillies would not be out of the question.



Jose Mijares Opts Out Of Deal With Red Sox

Jose Mijares has opted out of his deal with the Red Sox, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  Mijares signed a minor league deal with Boston in late January.

As MLBTR reported at the time of the signing, Mijares' deal included an March opt out clause that he could trigger if he did not like his prospects in Boston.  Had things worked out, the 29-year-old would have earned $1MM on the major league roster with another possible $1MM tied to games pitched.

Mijares spent last season with the Giants and even though his 4.22 ERA in 49 innings was the second-highest of his career, his rate statistics (9.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9) were strong.  Unfortunately, the left-hander suffered from a staggering .410 BABIP, the highest mark in all of baseball among pitchers with at least 40 innings.  Advanced metrics like FIP (3.05), xFIP (3.90), and SIERA (3.45) indicated that Mijares outperformed his ERA last year.



Quick Hits: Lester, Grossman, Moylan, White Sox

Very early this morning, the 2014 MLB regular season will officially begin, as Wade Miley and the Diamondbacks host Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers at 3:00am Central at the Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia. Here are a few notes from around the Major Leagues.

  • Considerations regarding the luxury-tax threshold will not affect the timing of potential extensions for David Ortiz and/or Jon Lester, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. In the past, the Red Sox might have waited to announce extensions until after Opening Day, because the average annual value of those extensions might have caused the team to go over the luxury-tax threshold that year. Now, however, the CBA stipulates that new extensions that begin in the future will not affect current contracts as long as the terms of those contracts remain the same. So, for example, if the Red Sox were to sign Lester to an extension, he would still only count his current $9.37MM against the luxury-tax threshold for 2014 as long as the extension did not change his 2014 salary.
  • Lester could allow extension negotiations to continue into the regular season under the right circumstances, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. "If you’re at the 5-yard line and you’re closing in on the thing, yeah, let’s spill it over (into the season)," he says. "But if we’re so far apart that it doesn’t matter, then no. That’s something you discuss when you get to that point."
  • Outfielder Robbie Grossman won't say whether he and the Astros are working on an extension, but he does tell the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich that he would have interest in one. "I’m from Houston. I want to be able to play for the Astros my whole career if possible, and that’s all I have to say." On Thursday, a report indicated that the Astros had discussed an extension with Grossman.
  • Astros NRI Peter Moylan has been diagnosed with a high-grade tear in the UCL in his elbow, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports. Moylan pitched 15 1/33 innings for the Dodgers last season.
  • The White Sox' farm system is on the rise, MLB.com's Jim Callis writes. That's thanks in part to an increase in draft spending in the past two seasons. Callis notes that their 2013 class, topped by first-round shortstop Tim Anderson, is "one of its most promising in recent memory." The White Sox have also increased their efforts to sign Latin American amateurs.









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