The Red Sox are continuing to demonstrate a patient approach when it comes to free agency as they wait to learn what new changes the latest collective bargaining agreement will bring about, reports WEEI’s Rob Bradford. With Boston’s luxury tax payroll not far off from the current $189MM threshold, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is one of several top decision-makers from around the league that is waiting to determine exactly how much wiggle room he’ll have with regard to the luxury tax barrier before spending. As Bradford points out, while teams like the Astros (signing Josh Reddick, trading for Brian McCann) and Cardinals (signing Brett Cecil) have already spent at a notable level, those clubs aren’t anywhere near the current luxury cutoff. Bradford notes that a bat to help offset the loss of David Ortiz as well as an eighth-inning reliever remain the top targets for Boston.
Elsewhere in the AL East…
- As a followup to Roch Kubatko’s report that the Orioles aren’t showing any inclination toward trading Zach Britton, ESPN’s Buster Olney argues (Insider subscription required) that GM Dan Duquette should be very open to doing just that. The price of relief pitching around the league is rising, Olney notes, and Britton’s projected $11.4MM salary isn’t all that prohibitive, especially to the big-market clubs that are looking for elite relief help this winter. Controlled for two more seasons, Britton could fetch the Orioles enough young talent to immediately plug multiple holes on the roster while also bolstering the farm system. The Orioles might not be offered enough to make the deal palatable, Olney notes, but with three top-tier relievers on the market (Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Melancon) but far more suitors looking for dynamic late-inning arms, the Orioles should at least be dangling Britton on the trade market to see if an overwhelming offer surfaces.
- Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News opines that the Yankees should focus on Mike Napoli rather than Carlos Beltran if they’re eyeing a veteran bat to spend time at DH. Napoli, like Beltran, can be had on a short-term deal — likely two years at the most — and would provide some insurance at first base for Greg Bird, who is returning from shoulder surgery. Beltran can’t offer that luxury, Feinsand notes, and at age 40 he might be looking for a more clear-cut World Series contender than the Yankees.
- Although Tim Beckham was sent home by the Rays at the end of the 2016 season, prompting some to speculate that his time with the team could be drawing to a close, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote this weekend that Beckham now looks to be part of the 2017 picture, thanks largely to his defensive ability. Topkin also expanded a bit on Tampa Bay’s interest in Jason Castro, noting that while the catcher’s agent told him recently that the Rays are “in the thick of things” with regard to Castro, it’s not characteristic for the Rays to win a free-agent bidding war. A three-year commitment north of $20MM seems unlikely to come from the Rays, Topkin writes, which leads him to wonder if the team might instead pursue a trade for Miguel Montero, assuming the Cubs would be willing to include some salary in the deal.