John Lackey Rumors
If it is fair to label the Yankees' hot start as a surprise in spite of the team's history and payroll, then certainly the same should be said of the Red Sox. With a win today, the team noted in a press release, the Sox would move to an even 30-20, good for its best start since 2008. Let's check in on the team that sported the fourth-highest Opening Day payroll:
- Perhaps the biggest surprise in Boston is starter John Lackey, whose five-year, $82.5MM deal has long been viewed as a major drag on the organization. After a terrible 2011 season, Lackey missed 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Now, explains John Tomase of the Boston Herald, a "vintage" Lackey is back throwing in the mid-90's and hitting his spots. He has thrown to a 2.72 ERA over 39 2/3 innings this year, and is sporting an enviable 9.1 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. He is producing ground balls at a strong 53.6% clip, and his performance is backed up by a 2.92 FIP and 3.03 xFIP. While it remains unlikely that the Red Sox will ultimately get full value for their investment in the 34-year-old righty, the remainder of the deal is starting to look much more palatable. In addition to the $15.25MM Lackey will be paid this season, he is under contract for 2014 at a $15.25MM rate. More importantly, as Ben Goessling recently noted at ESPNBoston.com, Lackey's TJ procedure triggered a 2015 team option at the league minimum. In addition to generating cap and luxury tax benefits for the Sox, that option year could be an incredible bargain if Lackey maintains anything remotely close to his current performance.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier wraps up his three-part look at Red Sox ownership and management by documenting changes in the relationship between the club's baseball operations department and its ownership/upper-management. He notes that principal owner John Henry, in particular, has been increasingly assertive. According to Henry, "Over time, I've become less of a chain-of-command guy because the issues in professional sports have become so financially oriented -- there aren't that many issues that don't have a financial component that are of real substance. Having a stronger presence, in my view, was needed. I'm more hands-on than I was." I recommend a full read of this piece, along with the first two segments, as there is much more valuable material than can be passed along here.
- One benefit of Boston's miserable 2012 season, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, is that the club will have its first top-15 selection in the amateur draft in fifteen years. Sitting at number seven, Boston will have an opportunity to score a talented youngster to go with the high-upside prospects (and massive salary relief) that it picked up last season in last year's stunning blockbuster trade with the Dodgers. Past years have seen such impact big leaguers as Prince Fielder, Troy Tulowitzki, Clayton Kershaw, and Matt Harvey snagged with the seventh choice. While Britton discusses the possibility of the Sox going after an arm, several recent mock drafts have the Red Sox landing a bat, such as North Carolina's Colin Moran or Georgia high schooler Clint Frazier.
The Dodgers lead the NL West by the slimmest of margins (half a game) over the Giants, but their American League counterpart isn’t so well-positioned. The Angels are just two games above .500 after losing four games in a row and they’re now 4.5 games behind the Wild Card leaders. Here's the latest on Los Angeles' two teams...
- Catcher A.J. Ellis explains how this year's trade deadline unfolded from the point of view of the Dodgers’ players in a guest column at Buster Olney's ESPN.com blog. Ellis acknowledges that players refresh MLBTR in search of news as the trade deadline approaches. "Few of us would admit to religiously checking websites like MLBTradeRumors and Twitter feeds looking for rumors, but we do," he writes.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times would not be surprised if the Angels try to engage the Red Sox in trade talks about a possible John Lackey for Vernon Wells deal this offseason (Twitter links). Wells, who has $42MM on his contract after 2012, could be a fit in Fenway Park, DiGiovanna writes. Lackey, who pitched in Anaheim from 2002-09, has $30.5MM remaining on his contract after 2012.
- The trade that sent Zack Greinke to Anaheim hasn't worked out as well as expected for the Angels, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel writes. Greinke has a 6.19 ERA in five starts since being traded.
- Boston has yet to make a contract offer to David Ortiz but the sides are expected to speak soon, possibly tomorrow, a source familiar with the talks told Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.
- The Red Sox will begin to interview managerial candidates early this week, starting with Pete Mackanin and Dale Sveum, according to WEEI's Rob Bradford.
- With Bud Selig looking more likely to intervene in discussions between the Red Sox and Cubs on Theo Epstein compensation, ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider link) predicts that the Sox won't get much for their former GM. Olney writes that the league has attempted to "tamp down the perceived value of executives," and that a huge return for Epstein wouldn't be consistent with those efforts.
- A source tells Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald that the Red Sox attempted to convince John Lackey to get Tommy John surgery as early as April, but the right-hander refused.
- In his weekly column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo surveys executives and evaluators, asking whether a club might sign David Ortiz to play first base this winter. The answers ranged from "no way" to "he's athletic enough to be able to pull it off."
- From the team's perspective, there's no rush to try to lock up Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term extension, argues Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
The Red Sox introduced Ben Cherington as their executive VP and general manager this afternoon. Cherington says the Red Sox will have a very good team in 2012 and discussed Boston's managerial search and other offseason plans. He also announced that John Lackey will undergo Tommy John surgery. Here are the details:
- Cherington wants a new manager with a strong voice who cares about players and can collaborate with the front office. He says the team will start interviewing candidates soon. The Red Sox have several candidates in mind for first round interviews, but they haven't asked permission to interview any of them yet. Previous managerial experience would be a plus, but it's not necessary.
- Boston's success in terms of free agent signings has "not [been] good enough," according to Cherington.
- Despite Boston's disappointing 2011 season, Cherington says the Red Sox have enough on and off of the field to succeed. "What I'm left with is a conviction that the Red Sox will be the best organization in baseball going forward," he said.
- The Red Sox would like to have David Ortiz and Jonathan Papelbon back, according to Cherington. They have had some initial dialogue with each player and they expect to continue discussions.
- The Red Sox will look to build pitching depth and could go for buy-low acquisitions.
- Cherington believes Marco Scutaro would be "very coveted" this offseason if he got onto the market. The Red Sox have a $6MM option for Scutaro that they'll likely pick up this offseason ($3MM player option, $1.5MM buyout).
- Cherington says he pushed hard to sign Carl Crawford and believes in him.
- The new GM discussed the importance of having top talent evaluators and vowed that the Red Sox will employ some of the top scouts in the game.
- Boston's farm system is "stronger and deeper than ever" at Double-A and below, Cherington said.
- Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino says the Red Sox hired a team player who is hungry for more success. "There is no one more prepared to take on the role of General Manager of the Red Sox than Ben,” he said. “He will hit the ground running, in full stride, and no one will outwork him.”
- "I've always believed in hybrid baseball executives and Ben is a hybrid baseball executive," Lucchino said.
- The Red Sox will soon announce promotions within their front office. Epstein has not asked Cherington about taking front office members with him to Chicago.
- Cherington is the first person from our list of GM Candidates to land a GM job. Here's my piece on Cherington from August 2011.
- Former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein discussed the Cubs and Red Sox at his introductory press conference in Chicago earlier today.
Red Sox righty John Lackey will undergo Tommy John surgery, new GM Ben Cherington announced today. WEEI's Rob Bradford reported Lackey's visit to Dr. Lewis Yocum earlier today, noting that the surgery causes a sixth-year option to vest for Lackey at the league minimum. This is a good thing for Boston - it reduces the average annual value of the contract from $16.5MM to $13.8MM, creating luxury tax savings.
Lackey had a disastrous 2011 season. His 6.41 ERA was the sixth-highest in baseball history over the last sixty years, given a minimum of 160 innings. He had a rough year with the media as well.
The Red Sox likely were not counting on Lackey for anything in 2012, but the surgery eliminates any chance of a bad contract swap.
When the Red Sox and manager Terry Francona parted ways, Blue Jays skipper John Farrell was the preferred candidate to manage the team, a major league source told Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe. There's conflicting information on how much the Red Sox have explored this possibility but they've internally considered a few managers and the one who would fit best would be Farrell. One source said the BoSox wouldn't want to give compensation to a division rival while another thought the issue already had been brought up and the discussions didn't get very far.
The Red Sox have been hesitant to turn to bench coach DeMarlo Hale for the job because of a feeling that he’s too close and tied into Francona, but Cafardo notes that Farrell also learned his managerial style from him. Farrell took the Toronto job because it appeared that Francona was deeply entrenched in Boston. Had he known that Francona and the team would part ways, Cafardo wonders if he would have stayed. Here's more from Cafardo..
- Free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins will have to back off from his desire for a five-year deal for the Phillies to seriously consider re-signing him. They probably won’t be interested in free agent Jose Reyes because of his price tag. If they don't retain Rollins, the club may find a cheaper stopgap to replace him such as Marco Scutaro if the Red Sox don’t pick up his option ($6MM club/$3MM player, $1.5MM buyout).
- Phillies right-hander Roy Oswalt could become available in free agency as he is due $16MM on a mutual option and the team will likely either buy him out for $2MM or try to negotiate a lesser deal. If he becomes a free agent, one major league talent evaluator said that he would be a great acquisition for anyone on a two-year deal, but obviously not at a $16MM rate.
- In the event that the Red Sox decide on Farrell and reach agreement with the Blue Jays, there are an endless number of candidates the team could hire to replace him. Those options include current bench coach Don Wakamatsu and third base coach Brian Butterfield.
- Since the Padres have allowed Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod out of their respective contracts, Cafardo wonders if they'd let Bud Black walk to become the Red Sox's next manager. Black could straighten out the pitching staff and got the most out of John Lackey as pitching coach for the Angels.
- Francona probably needs to sit out a half-year before taking on another managerial job sometime next season. In the meantime, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he took on a job as a special assistant. An American League GM said that the former Red Sox skipper would have "an endless number of opportunities" along those lines.
- DeMarlo Hale has a year remaining on his contract and eventually he'll meet with new GM Ben Cherington to determine his fate. Hale hopes to interview for the Sox managerial job and could also could be a candidate with the Cubs under Theo Epstein. Davey Johnson is still expected to return to the Nationals job but there may be an interview process and Hale will likely be a candidate given the strong backing he’ll receive from Nats special adviser Bob Schaefer.
- Don't be surprised if Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum emerges as a top candidate for the Boston job.
The latest Padres rumors:
- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts met with Padres owner Jeff Moorad, Byrnes and Hoyer during the regular season finale, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com.
- Most baseball people expect Hoyer, not Byrnes, to join Epstein in Chicago, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
- The Padres have internally discussed the possibility of acquiring John Lackey from the Red Sox if Boston takes on most of the right-hander's salary, according to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Lackey pitched for the Angels when Padres manager Bud Black was the team's pitching coach.
- When Theo Epstein joins the Cubs, he'll likely bring along someone from the Padres front office, according to Center. GM Jed Hoyer, assistant GM Jason McLeod and senior VP of baseball operations Josh Byrnes are candidates to join Epstein in Chicago.
- Contract talks have begun between the Padres and Heath Bell, tweets Center. The Padres are aiming for a two-year deal with an option, while Bell wants three guaranteed years. He's never had a multiyear deal in his career. Center recently wrote that the Padres are in the two-year, $15-16MM range. If no deal can be worked out, the Padres must decide by November 23rd whether to offer arbitration to the Type A reliever.
- Theo Epstein wouldn't tell the people he'd want to bring to Chicago until he's officially part of the Cubs, a source close to Epstein tells Dan Hayes of the North County Times (Twitter link). The source believes recent rumors are "just speculation." Yesterday, SI's Jon Heyman reported that Epstein is interested in poaching some combination of top Padres executives Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod, and Josh Byrnes. Today, Heyman writes that Hoyer is "definitely in the mix for a job with the Cubs once Epstein officially goes to Chicago."
- Tom Krasovic thinks that if Hoyer joins the Cubs he'd bring McLeod with him. Byrnes, a favorite of Padres owner Jeff Moorad, would likely become San Diego's GM.
Here's the latest from Fenway Park...
- "People around the game [are] getting [the] idea that" Theo Epstein will likely remain as Boston's GM, reports Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Yesterday, Heyman reported that "a slight majority" of people around baseball believed Epstein would turn down a job offer from the Cubs.
- Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach is under consideration for the manager's job, reports Michael Silverman of the Boston Globe. Wallach "is still at the stage of being considered for an interview," according to several sources. Wallach's name was mentioned in connection with the open managerial jobs with the Dodgers, Marlins and Blue Jays last winter.
- A Padres official tells Tom Krasovic of the Inside The Padres blog that it "is not farfetched at all" that San Diego would consider a trade for John Lackey this winter. Krasovic thinks Lackey could benefit from pitching at Petco Park and reuniting with Bud Black, who was Lackey's pitching coach with the Angels. Krasovic proposes a trade that would require Boston to pay most of Lackey's salary, take Orlando Hudson in return and also send "a young big leaguer or a good prospect, or two" back to the Padres. It sounds lopsided in San Diego's favor, but given how low Lackey's stock has fallen, the Red Sox will have to meet similar trade criteria in any potential Lackey deal.
The Yankees and Rays are in the playoffs but the rest of the AL East is in offseason mode...
- Under John Henry's ownership, the Red Sox have fired three managers and each move seemed to work out for the club, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. General Manager Theo Epstein says that he plans to use the same process as he did when hiring Terry Francona eight years ago.
- The Orioles have lots of needs but finding a starter seems to be their top priority, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. Kubatko asked manager Buck Showalter if the club might go against their grow-the-arms philosophy and sign a pricey free agent starter and the skipper left the door open to the possibility.
- Speaking of Francona and the Orioles, don't expect the skipper to land in Baltimore, says Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. The O's will have a managerial spot open if Andy MacPhail leaves his position as president of baseball operations and Showalter moves up to that post.
- After giving lucrative deals to John Lackey and Carl Crawford, the BoSox are committed to getting them to turn things around in 2012, writes Michael Vega of the Boston Globe. Lackey signed a five-year, $82.5MM deal in 2010 while Crawford inked a seven-year, $142 million deal last December.
Two of the five AL East clubs made the playoffs, and both will begin their quest for the World Series later today. The Rays and Rangers play at 5pm ET, the Yankees and Tigers at 8:30pm ET. Let's round up some notes from the only division with four 81+ win teams in 2011...
- "It's a big priority, for obvious reasons," said Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to The Boston Globe's Michael Vega when asked about getting big money free agent signings John Lackey and Carl Crawford back on track. "We're going to leave no stone unturned, really, with all of our players and the organization as a whole."
- Orioles owner Peter Angelos is trying to convince Andy MacPhail to remain with the team in a decision-making or advisory role, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. MacPhail was expected to walk-away from the team after the season.
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post wrote about the Yankees and their transition from a team that relies on experience to one with youth in important spots.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo!Sports broke down Evan Longoria's walk-off homer in Game 162, which sent the Rays to the playoffs for the third time in four years.