John Lackey Rumors
The news is coming in fast and furious today out of Orlando, where our own Steve Adams is on the scene. Here's the very latest out of the AL East..
- The Jarrod Saltalamacchia market remains quiet, but the Red Sox would take him back on a shorter deal, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. Meanwhile, Salty is looking for at least three to four years.
- More from Edes (link), who tweets that the Red Sox have used their time at the GM Meetings to gauge interest from clubs in their veteran starting pitchers, including John Lackey.
- A Yankees contingent, led by managing partner Hal Steinbrenner, met with the agents for Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Brian McCann and presumably other free agents at the GM Meetings, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Meanwhile, Steinbrenner has talked with Derek Jeter about the possibility of signing a starting shortstop and he is said to understand their position. The Bombers could be loaded with shortstop options in 2014: they like Drew and a possible signing of Brendan Ryan won't preclude them from making that happen.
- Scott Kazmir is high on the Orioles' list of free agent pitching candidates, tweets Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.
- The Red Sox need a catcher but don't want to block their prospects so Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (link) could see a two-year deal at a lofty rate for a backstop.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com explained why Lackey's average annual value isn't calculated any differently as a result of the minimum salary that he will earn in 2015. A clause in Lackey's deal calls for him to make the minimum with the Red Sox in '15 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
- Check out this morning's collection of news out of the AL East.
There have been rumblings that the Red Sox have interest in signing Carlos Beltran, but the New York Post's Joel Sherman points out that there's a problem with that idea. Beltran's knee injuries mean he probably needs to move to the American League so he can play DH at least some of the time. But if he did so in Boston, he'd be getting in the way of David Ortiz. They could play Ortiz at first base a bit more frequently, but they would prefer not to given Ortiz's advanced age (and, presumably, his defensive deficiencies). They could also sign Beltran to play him for about 130 games a season in the outfield, but that raises the question of whether they would prefer to sign Beltran to a big-ticket contract to have him be, essentially, a part-time player. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Mets will meet with Scott Boras this week to discuss the possibility of signing Shin-Soo Choo and/or Stephen Drew, Newsday's David Lennon tweets. Lennon also notes that if the Mets acquire a new shortstop, one possibility for Ruben Tejada, who was disappointing in 2013, might be a move to second base. It's unclear what such a move might mean for Daniel Murphy, who was one of the Mets' better position players in 2013.
- If the Braves lose Tim Hudson via free agency, they could do worse than to look into John Lackey of the Red Sox, the Atlanta Journal Constitution's David O'Brien tweets. The Red Sox have Lackey signed for $15.25MM in 2014. They also have an option on his services for 2015 at a league-minimum salary, thanks to a contract clause that gave the Sox an extremely cheap option if Lackey's existing elbow injury caused him to miss significant time. After a strong season in 2013, two years and $15.75MM looks like a bargain, which means Lackey should have significant value if Boston chooses to deal him.
Free agents are not allowed to negotiate with all 30 MLB clubs until 11:01 pm (CT) Monday, but agent Scott Boras says his phone was ringing off the hook regarding Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew within hours of the Red Sox winning the World Series, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Yankees will be the most interesting team during free agency, according to Cafardo, but will be hamstrung until a decision is made on Alex Rodriguez's appeal. Cafardo also lists the Phillies, Tigers, Giants, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rangers as active participants in the free agent market. In other tidbits from his Sunday Baseball Notes column:
- Both LA teams are interested in acquiring David Price from the Rays. The Angels may have a slight edge because they can put together package with bats like Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick while the Dodgers have an overstocked rotation.
- Joe Nathan should be of interest to both the Tigers and Yankees even though the latter seems to have settled on David Robertson as Mariano Rivera's replacement.
- There may be no better time for the Red Sox to trade John Lackey than right now.
- The Red Sox may consider re-signing Joel Hanrahan after he recovers from Tommy John surgery to provide protection for incumbent closer Koji Uehara.
- Franklin Gutierrez, whose $7.5MM club option was declined by the Mariners, is an intriguing player who can still perform at a high level when healthy. Staying healthy has been an issue for Gutierrez with six trips to the disabled list in the last four years.
- Johan Santana, whose $25MM club option was declined by the Mets, is another pretty good low-cost gamble.
While David Price has resigned himself to being traded, the Rays appear to be trying to figure out ways to make their ace the focal point of their pitching staff for many years to come, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo notes, however, the Rays' front office realizes it could be a losing battle, so a trade is likely with nearly half of baseball rumored to be interested in the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. "It's a big name, a big-time pitcher," one National League GM told Cafardo. "Even if you feel you don't need that level of pitcher, you look into it because he's so special and such a game changer. You do more than kick the tires. You try to make something happen, and I think you'll see teams that don't even need him step up." Here's more from Cafardo's column:
- The Red Sox will likely trade one of their veteran starters to make room for their young arms. Cafardo suggests Jon Lester and Jake Peavy could be available while Ryan Dempster, John Lackey, and Felix Doubront are also vulnerable.
- Jacoby Ellsbury is a perfect fit for the Mariners and Carlos Beltran likewise for the Orioles.
- Curtis Granderson will likely receive a qualifying offer from the Yankees and there's a strong possibility he would take it because he could post his biggest numbers at Yankee Stadium.
- The Dodgers will make Andre Ethier and/or Matt Kemp available this winter. Kemp will come with injury concerns, but that shouldn't prevent a team from taking a chance on his talent.
- James Loney has rebuilt his value with a strong season in Tampa (.299/.348/.430 with a 2.1 oWAR in 158 games and 598 plate appearances). Loney could find a market with the Rangers, if the Rays don't re-sign the free agent first baseman.
- Reds pitching coach Bryan Price appears to be the front-runner to replace Dusty Baker as manager in Cincinnati while Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr is in a strong position to take over from Davey Johnson, unless ownership wants a bigger name as its new manager.
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.