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Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe examines Dan Duquette’s unusual journey to becoming the Orioles‘ GM. A Boston-area native, Duquette realized his dream at 36 years of age when he was named GM of the Red Sox, but that came to an abrupt end in 2002 when he was dismissed by new owners, only to see the Sox — anchored by a number of players he drafted or acquired — win the World Series two years later. Duquette spent 10 years away from the game, coaching his kids’ teams, founding a league in Isarael and running a college summer team, Abraham notes. Duquette revealed to Abraham that he was offered multiple jobs that he turned down — including a position with the Braves and an adviser role with the Red Sox — because he believed he’d get another crack at a GM role. Duquette feels the time away has made him friendlier and put things into perspective; his cousin, Jim Duquette (an analyst for MLB Network), says there are distinct differences between how Dan was with the Red Sox and how he is with the O’s. He isn’t bothered as much by “little things” and is less guarded. “Baltimore isn’t Boston. It isn’t New York. That aspect has been good for him. He doesn’t take himself so seriously,” said Jim.
More from the AL East…
- Mike Napoli has dealt with injuries to his finger, back and toe, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, but despite all of those issues he’ll be undergoing surgery for a different procedure on Nov. 4 . Napoli will undergo Bimaxillary Advancement surgery in an attempt to end a career-long battle with sleep apnea. “I’ve tried numerous things and none of them worked,” Napoli told Bradford via text. “Dental mouth piece, CPAP machine, medicines … It’s just gotten to the point where I have to get this done.”
- The Yankees have had serious dialogue about hiring Padres senior VP of baseball operations and former Mets GM Omar Minaya, multiple sources tell Newsday’s Erik Boland. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the team would be interested in Minaya in a scouting or advisory role — not as a replacement for farm director Mark Newman. As Boland notes, GM Brian Cashman has brought former GMs into the fold before, hiring Kevin Towers as a special assignment scout in 2009 and hiring Jim Hendry to fill the same role since 2012.
- Recently fired Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long is generating quite a bit of interest from other clubs, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). To this point, Long has already spoken with the Mets, Braves and Blue Jays, including a meeting with Mets GM Sandy Alderson. The D’Backs, Brewers and Pirates are all possibilities as well, per Feinsand.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington chatted with reporters just minutes ago and it’s no surprise to hear his admission that the club was not expecting Xander Bogaerts to struggle to this extent in 2014 (via Tim Britton of The Providence Journal on Twitter). Still just 21, Bogaerts has slashed .226/.293/.339 in 472 plate appearances this season. Earlier this week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote that the struggles of Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. have left many around the game wondering how good each player truly is. Here’s more out of Boston..
- Peter Gammons (Twitter links) cautions not to read much into waiver trade bites on Bogaerts, Clay Buchholz, Brock Holt, Joe Kelly, Yoenis Cespedes, Christian Vazquez, Burke Badenhop, Mike Napoli, Will Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava, Junichi Tazawa, and Koji Uehara.
- Cherington said that he won’t be resistant to trade prospects this off-season, “for the right guy,” tweets Jason Mastrodonato of The Springfield Republican. He added that the club has never been opposed to dealing prospects, but such decisions are “contextual,” tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- The GM wouldn’t give much on the team’s interest in Rusney Castillo. “We are one of many teams interested. That’s all I’ll say,” the GM said, according to Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at some of the recently suggestions put forth by Red Sox chairman Tom Werner to help make the game more marketable to young people.
“Too many people are leaving games in the sixth and seventh innings because they can’t watch 3½-hour games, so they’re leaving the game at the point where the game should be getting exciting,” Werner said. “You wouldn’t make a 3½-hour movie. The NFL makes changes almost on an annual basis. They’re considering making the extra point from 35 yards rather than from the 8-yard line… I respect tradition, but I don’t revere it.”
Among Werner’s ideas: instituting a pitch clock, limiting the number of times a batter can step out of the box, and putting a cap on the number of catcher and pitching coach visits to the mound. More from today’s column..
- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson could be on the hot seat and there has been a lot of speculation about Joe McEwing, a third base coach with the White Sox, or Mike Aldrete, the bench coach for the Cardinals. If Gibson is canned it would mark Tony La Russa‘s first big decision but GM Kevin Towers would also likely to have a say.
- In a chat with Cafardo, David Ross spoke glowingly of the amenities or “little things” that the Red Sox do for their players and Cafardo wonders if that could keep Jon Lester in Boston beyond this season. Lester’s family was always taken care of the team’s traveling secretary and while other teams can offer similar services, the consensus among players who have been multiple places is that Red Sox and Yankees are the teams that offer more to their players.
- Ross tells Cafardo that even though there have been no contract talks with the Red Sox yet, he would like to return. Boston would certainly love for him to keep working with Christian Vazquez, but Ross’s recent bout with plantar fasciitis has slowed him. Ross is finishing up a two-year, 6.2MM deal.
- Daniel Nava drew interest from the Tigers and had interest from the Royals before they traded for Josh Willingham, but he has yet to be put on waivers. It’s not a certainty that he’ll clear and but the Red Sox will likely put him on revocable waivers later in the month to see what type of interest he’ll get. The Sox’ outfield looks crowded next season with Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino, Yoenis Cespedes, Mookie Betts, and Brock Holt all in the mix so it makes sense to see what can be had for Nava.
- In a separate tweet, Cafardo reports Nava, Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, and Will Middlebrooks have been placed on revocable waivers.
The Red Sox, Rangers and Phillies are all struggling this season but for different reasons, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe touches on each team’s situation in his weekly Sunday notes column. Boston’s young talent (as either lineup upgrades or trade chips) puts them “in the best shape” according to one AL executive, while Rangers GM Jon Daniels intends to address his team’s injury-riddled rotation at the deadline. Philadelphia seems to be in the toughest shape of the three given that they both have a number of hard-to-move expensive veterans on the roster, plus Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley haven’t seemed willing to waive their no-trade clauses.
Here’s some more from Cafardo’s latest…
- The Red Sox have received some calls about Mike Napoli. The first baseman has spent some time on the DL this year but is still hitting .265/.386/.432 with 10 homers in 316 PA. The two-year, $32MM contract that Napoli signed last winter carries some limited no-trade protection. Though Napoli’s bat makes him an attractive commodity, I’d be surprised to see the Sox move him given their own need for power hitting both this season and beyond.
- A recent Marlins slump led to a renewed series of calls about Giancarlo Stanton, and Miami GM Dan Jennings again reiterated that Stanton isn’t for sale. Cafardo notes that the Stanton trade rumors won’t die down until he signs a big extension with the Marlins, something that seemed unlikely two offseasons ago when he was upset by the club’s fire sale trade with the Blue Jays. Now, however, Jennings says, “I think some things have changed for Giancarlo. He’s taken a leadership role here. He knows we’re serious about winning and how much we want him to be part of that. He’s seen the team come together and the young talent developing around him.”
- Jennings told Cafardo on Friday that the Marlins would look to be trade deadline buyers if they were within five or six games of the NL East lead going into the All-Star break, and the GM was meeting with owner Jeffrey Loria this weekend. Miami sits 6.5 games behind the tied Nationals and Braves heading into today’s action.
- It seems unlikely that the Rockies will deal Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez since owner Charles Monfort feels moving either star would negatively hurt Colorado’s ticket sales and TV ratings. “Monfort centers everything around Tulo and Cargo,” a Major League source tells Cafardo. Dick Monfort, the other half of the club’s ownership team, recently said there were no plans to deal wither Tulowitzki or Gonzalez.
The Giants received some tough news tonight, as young first baseman Brandon Belt suffered a broken thumb on a hit-by-pitch, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly tweets. San Francisco does have internal options, Baggarly writes, with recent signee Travis Ishikawa and career minor leaguer Adam Duvall on the team’s Triple-A roster. Among currently active players, outfielder Michael Morse has spent significant time at first. The best bet in the immediate term, Baggarly says, is for Buster Posey to shift from behind the plate.
Here’s more from San Francisco and some other western division clubs …
- Even before Belt’s injury, the Giants were already looking forward to some roster moves with righty Matt Cain and lefty David Huff nearing returns from the DL. As Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes, the club will probably not try to sneak one of their so-far-outstanding relievers through waivers. Instead, outfielder Juan Perez and pen arm George Kontos will likely lose their spots since they can be optioned down.
- Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin is nearing a return, which could come on the team’s upcoming road swing, reports Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Quentin signed a three-year extension in the middle of the 2012 season that guarantees him $27MM through 2015 and includes a $10MM option ($3MM buyout) for 2016. While Quentin has done nothing but hit when healthy — he had a 145 OPS+ last year in a half-season of work — injuries have limited his time on the field. Sporting a league-worst 67 wRC+, San Diego will no doubt hope that Quentin can begin to make good on his contract. But with the club buried well back in the NL West, a healthy and productive return from Quentin could hypothetically make him a trade target this year or next.
- Former Rangers backstop Mike Napoli said today that he thought about returning to Texas before re-signing with the Red Sox, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. “If there was any other place I’d be happy playing,” said Napoli, who has since converted to first, “it’d be Texas.” Though the Rangers showed interest in Napoli last November, he told his agent that he preferred to stay in Boston. “I don’t think it ever got to where push came to shove,” Napoli said of talks with his previous team.
If David Price isn't traded, "almost every baseball person one talks to mentions the Rays as the team to beat in the American League," Peter Gammons writes in his latest piece for his Gammons Daily website. Price has stayed in the fold despite multiple trade rumors this winter, with the Rays instead adding roster depth instead of moving another cornerstone player for prospects. The depth and continuity carrying over from 2013 is a big factor for Evan Longoria, who notes that "for the first time since I’ve been here, we have almost everyone back. We have a team that is going to play together two years in a row.”
Here's some more from around the AL East…
- The Rays' "laid back environment" was a key reason why Mark Lowe chose to sign a minor league deal with the club, MLB.com's Bill Chastain reports. Lowe notes that his choice came down to the Rays and Indians this winter, as those were the two clubs who "pushed the hardest" for his services. Tampa manager Joe Maddon said that the Rays originally tried to sign Lowe during the 2012-13 offseason.
- Jhonny Peralta said the Yankees offered him a three-year contract and the opportunity to play third base, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). The Yankees were Peralta's preferred Big Apple team since the Mets only offered him a two-year deal that Peralta described as "not really good." Of course, Peralta overcame the stigma of his 50-game PED suspension last season to sign a four-year, $53MM contract with the Cardinals as their everyday shortstop.
- Mike Napoli rejected a qualifying offer from the Red Sox last fall and the slugger felt the draft pick compensation limited his free agent options, Napoli tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “It’s tough because it’s kind of holding you back,” Napoli said. “You get (to free agency) and it should be all the teams that want you. The way it is now, if a team doesn’t want to give up a pick, they’re not going to be interested.” It ended up being something of a moot point for Napoli, as he openly wanted to return to Boston and re-signed for a two-year, $32MM deal.
- There isn't any new news about David Ortiz's contract talks with the Red Sox, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. The two sides apparently haven't had any further negotiations since their initial meetings two weeks ago. (Cafardo shared some more items about the AL East in his regular Sunday column, as reported earlier.)
- Quintin Berry talks to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford about why he signed with the Orioles and how he appreciated his time with the Red Sox last season, though the Sox didn't push too hard to re-sign him. “Supposedly [they tried] a little bit, but I know they had a couple of things in mind they wanted to do, some guys they wanted to try and give experience to,” Berry said. “So I just wanted to test the market and see what else I could do." Berry signed a minor league deal with the O's in January.
Last week, the Red Sox agreed to terms with Mike Napoli on a fresh two-year deal that will reportedly pay him $16MM per season. Of course, the veteran slugger had plenty of suitors, and one was said to have given him a three-year offer. I asked Napoli if a three-year deal was floated to him by another club and while he declined to give details, he said that the market for him was quite robust.
"There were a lot of teams actually," the 32-year-old said on this afternoon's conference call. "I'm not going to give any specifics but it ultimately came down to, I told my agent, I wanted to come back to Boston and play there and get something worked out."
This year's go-round through free agency went a whole lot smoother for Napoli than it did last year. After initially agreeing to a three-year, $39MM guarantee with the Red Sox, Napoli's physical revealed that he has avascular necrosis (AVN) in both hips. As a result, his contract was renegotiated down to a one-year, $5MM deal with $8MM of incentives (which he reached). I asked Mike if he was glad to have a simpler path to a new contract this offseason, one that has everything tied up neatly in advance of Christmas.
"After going through what I went through last year, it was definitely a relief to just go through this and it was fairly easier than last year and ultimately I'm happy to be back and I wanted to be someplace where its comfortable and somewhere where we can win," Napoli said.
The re-working of Napoli's deal last winter to adjust the terms and add language regarding his hip condition took about two months to get done. This time around, GM Ben Cherington says that there was no need to hash out any conditions regarding the hip issue.
"It's a two year guaranteed deal, I won't get into the specific language and details but there's no special coverage or anything like that related to the hip. Mike is healthy and we're thrilled that he's going to be a big part of our club for the next couple of years and beyond," said Cherington.
While Napoli's deal is official, Red Sox fans are wondering about the long-term future of franchise cornerstone David Ortiz. Cherington opted not to discuss Big Papi at length after he disclosed that he is seeking an extension to take him beyond the 2014 season. Before steering the focus back to Napoli, however, Cherington reiterated his desire to see Ortiz finish his career in Boston.
DEC. 12: Napoli will receive $16MM in each year of the deal and has a limited no-trade clause, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
DEC. 6: The Red Sox have agreed to terms with Mike Napoli, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports (Twitter link). The contract is a two-year deal worth $32MM, according to CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam (via Twitter). The slugger confirmed his return on his own Twitter feed, saying "The beard is coming back to Boston!!!" Napoli is represented by Brian Grieper.
Napoli's contact falls short of the three-year, $42MM deal that MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted he would receive this winter, though obviously Napoli's clear desire to remain with the World Series champions impacted his decision. Counting his $13MM salary from 2013 (in both base salary and incentives), Napoli will end up receiving $45MM between 2013-15 — well above the $39MM he was originally set to earn from Boston before he was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both of his hips, which caused the Sox to pull their multiyear offer and extend just the one-year pact.
The 32-year-old silenced all questions about his health by hitting .259/.360/.482 with 23 homers in 578 PA for the Sox last season, also posting big numbers in the ALCS during Boston's championship run. Napoli turned down a one-year, $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Red Sox earlier this winter and thus would've netted the club a compensation draft pick had he signed elsewhere, but now the club will have its starting first baseman back in the fold after already losing Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in free agency this offseason.
Earlier today, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that Napoli had received an offer from another club but his preference was to remain in Boston. The Marlins, Rangers, and Mariners were all rumored to be interested in Napoli's services. Texas was believed to have made Napoli a larger offer, Bradford and Alex Speier report, though sources later told them that the Rangers never made a formal offer. Napoli also turned down at least one three-year offer, according to Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith, but Napoli preferred to remain with the Sox and accepted their smaller deal.
Photo courtesy of Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports Images
We rounded up several Orioles rumors from Orlando right here, but the O's aren't the only AL East team making news. Let's check in on a few more items related to Baltimore's division rivals….
- Rays GM Andrew Friedman says he made some progress in talks today, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Topkin suggests the Rays have been meeting more with other teams than with agents.
- Friedman added that nothing is imminent for the Rays when it comes to the club's pursuit of a first baseman, tweets Topkin.
- A Red Sox source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link) that the team's discussions for Matt Kemp haven't reached the serious stage, and are unlikely to do so.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (Twitter links), that the Sox need "two guys to play shortstop" and that a handful of teams have inquired on Boston's starting pitching surplus. The club doesn't appear inclined to move a starter at this point though.
- The Red Sox are among one of three or four teams with some interest in Carlos Marmol, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, who cites the Brewers as another possible suitor (Twitter link).
- Mike Napoli's new two-year contract with the Red Sox includes a limited no-trade clause, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
- The Blue Jays are nearing an agreement to sell Thad Weber's rights to the NC Dinos in South Korea, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). Once the deal is finalized, it will reduce the Jays' 40-man roster count to 39 players.
Robinson Cano's blockbuster contract with the Mariners has generated the most headlines, but on another wild day of free agency, there's plenty of more news to go around. Here are some stray items about three of Friday's other major signings — Curtis Granderson's four-year deal with the Mets, Carlos Beltran's three-year deal with the Yankees and Mike Napoli re-signing with the Red Sox for two years.
- The fourth year seemed to be the sticking point between Granderson and the Mets, but GM Sandy Alderson made the decision on Thursday night to offer the extra year and received approval from ownership, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (all Twitter links).
- Granderson gives the Mets a much-needed outfield bat, ESPN's Keith Law writes, though with Granderson already showing signs of decline, Law figures the Mets are only really counting on him to produce in the first two years of his deal. 2015 could be the key year, as it appears the Mets are looking to contend once Matt Harvey is back from Tommy John surgery.
- Also from Law, he thinks Beltran improves the Yankees lineup but it's a risky three-year commitment to a player entering his age-37 season. An ESPN Insider subscription is required to read Law's pieces.
- The Royals were rumored to have been the mystery team who made Beltran a three-year, $48MM offer earlier this week but a source tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that those rumors were "not accurate." Kansas City's trade for Norichika Aoki on Thursday seemed to be a sign that they had moved on from the Beltran sweepstakes.
- That larger offer could have come from the Diamondbacks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the D'Backs offered Beltran a three-year deal worth more than the $45MM he received from New York. The signing would have boosted Arizona's payroll, and Piecoro wonders if the Snakes are willing to surpass the $100MM-payroll threshold to fill their needs this winter, or if they were just focused on Beltran in particular.
- Several members of the Red Sox roster urged the front office to up its offer to Napoli from two years/$30MM, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports. The players were responding to a rumor that the Rangers had made an offer "too good for Napoli to refuse," and the Sox indeed upped their offer to $32MM. The raise and the support from his teammates was enough to sway Napoli, who was already preferring to stay in Boston anyway.
- The Rangers actually never made a formal offer to Napoli, one source told Bradford.