|12.10.16 at 4:15 pm ET|
Today he is a police officer.
The 32-year-old, who last pitched professionally as a member of the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox in 2016, graduated from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police academy Friday. The New York native was one of 79 graduating in the ceremony.
Varvaro joined the Red Sox prior to the 2015 season, coming over from the Braves for minor league pitcher Aaron Kurcz.
The righty, who pitched in a combined 123 games with Atlanta from 2013-14, only saw action in nine games for the Red Sox before being designated for assignment. It was discovered that Varvaro was pitching with a torn flexor tendon in his pitching arm, resulting in season-ending surgery.
Varvaro re-signed with the Red Sox prior to last season, totaling a 2.83 ERA in 18 relief appearances for the PawSox. But on June 19 he announced he was retiring from professional baseball to pursue a career in law enforcement.
|12.10.16 at 3:20 pm ET|
According a major league source, the player the White Sox were asking for in addition to Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech was third base prospect Rafael Devers. It wasn’t until Devers was taken out of the equation by the White Sox that a deal for Sale was completed, with Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz ultimately going to Chicago in the deal.
It wasn’t the first time the White Sox had asked for Devers, with the 20-year-old’s name first surfaced in a potential Sale deal just before the non-waiver trade deadline. A source confirms that major league talent was also asked for by Chicago during July negotiations, which wasn’t the case this offseason.
With Moncada gone, Devers becomes an even more vital part of the Red Sox’ future, with little depth behind current third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
After a slow start with Single-A Salem last season, Devers finished strong. The lefty hitter managed a .326 batting average with seven home runs and .906 OPS after the All-Star break, finishing hitting .282 with a .779 and 11 homers in 128 games.
The Red Sox also have another power-hitting third baseman in their system with Bobby Dalbec, who was a fourth-round pick out of the University of Arizona in last year’s draft. The righty-hitting Dalbec tore up the New York-Penn League during his pro debut, hitting .386 with a 1.101 OPS and seven homers in 34 games with short-season Lowell.
|12.09.16 at 12:08 am ET|
According to multiple sources, Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan. The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.
When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.
Such a move would be viewed as another unorthodox appointment by Trump, who named former World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon to serve as the administrator of the Small Business Administration Wednesday.
Yet Valentine’s history, and connections to Trump and Japan, make the possibility of such a decision very real.
The former Red Sox manager has known both Trump and his brother, Bob, since the early 1980’s. He is also very close to Anthony Scaramucci, who is part of the Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee. And it was New Jersey governor Chris Christie who, according to a source, first surfaced Valentine’s name for the position.
The connections don’t stop there.
Valentine is still very popular in Japan, having managed the Chiba Lotte Marines for seven seasons, becoming the first U.S. born manager to win the Japan Series with a championship in 2005.
During the former big leaguer’s time in Japan, the Ambassador to Japan was Tom Schieffer, who also was president of the Texas Rangers during Valentine’s tenure as manager with the team. (Caroline Kennedy is the current ambassador, having been appointed by President Barack Obama in 2013.)
Valentine is friendly with current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who, like the former All-American, attended the University of Southern California.
A few other elements that may help Valentine’s case include Japan prioritizing bringing baseball back for the 2020 Summer Olympics, along with the athletic director’s familiarity with SoftBank Hawks owner Masayoshi Son. Son recently announced after a meeting with Trump that SoftBank would be investing $50 billion in America’s technology sector.
Valentine is also close with McMahon, who serves on the board of trustees at Sacred Heart (where a new student commons building is named after the former WWE executive).
Another recognizable name who served as Ambassador to Japan is former Vice-President Walter Mondale, who manned the post during President Bill Clinton’s administration, from 1993-96.
|12.08.16 at 8:19 pm ET|
Uehara has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal worth “around” $4.5 million to pitch for the Cubs. In Chicago, he would serve as one of the set-up men for newly-acquired closer Wade Davis.
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said at the just-completed MLB Winter Meetings that his club did recently extend an offer to Uehara. Since then, however, the Sox traded for set-up man Tyler Thornburg to round out their bullpen.
The 41-year-old Uehara impressed after coming back from a torn pectoral muscle, not allowing a run in any of his 11 appearances after the injury. He finished his fourth season with the Red Sox totaling a 3.45 ERA in 50 appearances.
Uehara’s run with the Red Sox was remarkable, with the righty finishing the four years with a 2.09 ERA while going 86 for 98 in save opportunities. During that span opponents hit just .179 against him, with the Sox going 183-62 in his appearances. He also struck out 308 and walked 37 in that span.
Uehara would end up making $26.5 million with the Red Sox, having signed a one-year deal with a team option, followed by his two-year, $18 million contract.
Along with Davis, Uehara figures to be finishing off games with relievers Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon.
|12.08.16 at 5:42 pm ET|
The Red Sox opened the offseason hoping to add a left-handed hitting first baseman to provide some lineup balance and give Hanley Ramirez a chance to stay fresh at DH. On Thursday, they introduced him.
The signing of Mitch Moreland may have been overshadowed by the Chris Sale blockbuster, but the Red Sox still have big plans for the Gold Glover, who agreed to a one-year, $5.5 million deal.
“Against right-handed starters, Mitch would be the first baseman,” said manager John Farrell on a conference call. “That gives us the flexibility to DH Hanley in that spot. We’re certainly open to his at-bats growing in number against left-handers. Last year was his best year against left-handers in his big league career. With Mitch getting everyday at-bats against right-handed starters at first base and Hanley moving to the DH spot alignment, we also have the ability against a quality left-handers that Hanley would go back to first base and then we have the ability to rotate some guys through the DH spot. His versatility, his strengths as a player are many. We feel this is a very good fit in a number of ways.”
Moreland, 31, is coming off a disappointing season that saw him hit .233 with 22 homers and a .720 OPS. However, in 2015 he hit .278 with 23 homers and an .812 OPS.
He still had multiple options in free agency as a low-cost bounce-back candidate, but chose Boston because of the roster and atmosphere.
“I had a couple options, but really just the whole fact that it’s a place I really wanted to play,” he said. “Getting the opportunity to come here and be a part of that winning environment, being a part of a winning environment and having a chance to go out and play for a championship is huge to me personally. This is a great option.
“What they were able to do last year, you knew you were in for a fight when you were playing these guys. It was a gritty group of guys that had a ton of talent. I like to think of myself as that type of player, as a gritty type player. Hopefully I felt like I could fit in here and move forward and try to help out and make that goal happen of winning a championship. That’s the main goal as far as playing this game for me. I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity here.”
|12.08.16 at 10:50 am ET|
Josh Rutledge wasn’t gone for long.
The infielder, outrighted off the 40-man roster in November, rejoined the organization on Wednesday when the Red Sox selected him from the Rockies in the Rule 5 draft.
Rutledge must remain on the big league roster or be offered back to Colorado.
“We did try to re-sign him,” Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters at the winter meetings. “He just thought his opportunity to play at the big-league level at this point would be more [elsewhere].”
Rutledge, 27, gives the Red Sox a right-handed utility infielder to complement the left-handed Brock Holt, as well as some short-term insurance at third base against Pablo Sandoval. He has hit .276 in parts of two seasons with the Red Sox.
He underwent knee surgery in August, which ended his season, but the Red Sox see a role for him in 2017.
“It lines up for him to be with our club,” Dombrowski told reporters. “We know him. We like him. It looks like there is a path for him.”
The Red Sox lost two players in the Rule 5: Triple-A right-hander Justin Haley to the Angels, and Double-A outfielder Aneury Tavarez to the Orioles.
|12.08.16 at 10:40 am ET|
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was a guest of the Hot Stove Show on Wednesday night to discuss the Chris Sale trade and his general approach to the winter meetings, and he made it clear that despite trading prospects at a steady clip since arriving, he plans for the Red Sox to contend, “for the next 10 years.”
Asked if he’d be comfortable trading any more top-flight prospects after shipping Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, to the White Sox for Sale, Dombrowski sounded a note of caution.
“I’d really prefer not to and I don’t think we really have to do that at this point, because we’re pretty deep,” he said. “But you never can tell what happens. You have to be careful. I mean, we have given up a lot of guys, but I also think we have a really good big league club. But you don’t want to just keep giving up those guys on a consistent basis.
“Our goal is to not only be good for the next three or four years, but our goal is to be good for the next 10 years. One of the challenges for us at this point, and we talked about it — the reason we have the talent we have here is because of the people in the room and their staffs. We have those people still with us with their staffs. It’s a challenge to them to go find those same type of talents. So I do think we can continue to do that.”
Dombrowski felt comfortable trading prospects because the core of his big-league club is so young, with 20-somethings Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, and Andrew Benintendi.
“We have a young major league club all in all,” he said. “We do have a little bit more than you’d think player-wise, because right off the bat I can say, well who’s close to playing in the big leagues? You could say well, [Rafael] Devers is pretty close. [Sam] Travis is close. [Blake] Swihart is close. Marco Hernandez is close. So you start to say, hey, there are four guys who are pretty good right there. You don’t really need to replenish many players that would be leaving in the near future with the big league club. We haven’t given up our draft choices for the last couple of years, so that group of players from last year will go out there and get another full year under their development and we like a lot of those guys, too.”
Dombrowski makes no apologies for going for it.
“But us being aggressive, that’s part of the advantage of being in the Red Sox organization,” he said. “We can make these moves at the major league level to get better, but at the same time you can also go ahead and replenish your farm system by being aggressive, by signing players, and making good decisions.”
|12.08.16 at 8:23 am ET|
But, according to teams talking with the Red Sox, Dombrowski has seemingly prioritized dealing Buchholz over Pomeranz. In fact, one source suggested the Sox aren’t currently showing any inclination that they want to move Pomeranz.
Pomeranz would most likely result in a bigger haul for the Red Sox considering the lefty’s age (28), affordability (he will make around $4 million in arbitration), and potential (the southpaw finished with a 3.32 ERA in 30 starts in 2016).\
Considering Buchholz’s strong finish to his 2016 season – managing a 2.98 ERA in his final eight starts after a return tot he rotation – there would appear to be some interest in the 32-year-old. The roadblock in moving the righty, however, might be the $13.5 million he is slated to make in 2017, the final year of his deal.
Considering his success in the bullpen last season, Buchholz could be considered as a reliever heading into 2017. But the likelihood using the veteran righty in such a role with his price tag, and without the perceived need for late-inning relief help, such a scenario doesn’t seem likely.
|12.07.16 at 6:56 pm ET|
OXON HILL, Md. — The dust has settled. Dave Dombrowski and Chris Sale have both explained their experiences during the pitcher’s trade to the Red Sox. And now the question can be asked: What did the Red Sox think of the scissors incident?
The issue in question was Sale cutting up the White Sox’s throwback uniforms last season in protest of having to wear the garb during one of his starts.
So, did it concern Dombrowski at all when acquiring his new ace?
“Well, I mean, I think you do your checking when you read that and see what you feel causes some things,” Dombrowski said during his meeting with the local media at the MLB Winter Meetings Wednesday night. “But after I’ve checked things out, not really, no.”
The conversation led to how the Red Sox viewed Sale’s personality and make-up, which of course was secondary to the talent offered by the 27-year-old lefty.
“There’s always an on-field and an away from the game,” Dombrowski said. “On the field, he’s as competitive as can be. He’s got an edge to him, a good edge. His teammates love him. I mean, I’ve seen him pitch so many times in my career being in the same division. I know we never liked facing him. And off the field, actually, I’ve heard a lot of pleasant things about him. He’s expecting his second child. He told me the due date is December 20. Doesn’t know that his wife will make it until then. But he lives 20 minutes or 25 minutes away from the ballpark in Fort Myers. He lives in the Naples area.
“I’ve heard tremendous things about him as an individual. And actually, it’s amazing because again, it’s a small world, he grew up in the Lakeland area. I remember meeting his father at a ballgame at times just by coincidence in the past. Not that that tells you about the individual himself. So, I’ve had a lot of connections throughout the time period. A couple of our guys know him very well in the organization and say really good things about him.”
|12.07.16 at 3:59 pm ET|
According to a major league source, the Sox showed strong interest in acquiring Royals closer Wade Davis before he was dealt to the Cubs Wednesday in exchange for outfielder Jorge Soler. (For more on that deal, click here.)
What derailed a deal was Kansas City’s preference of Soler over Red Sox infielder Travis Shaw, who was ultimately traded to Milwaukee with minor leaguers Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington for relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg.
Davis would have certainly added a unique dynamic to the back-end of the Red Sox’ bullpen, having totaled a 1.18 ERA over the last three seasons as one of the best game-enders in baseball. Davis has also been dominant during the Royals’ World Series runs, allowing just one earned run over 25 postseason innings.
The 31-year-old Davis saved 27 games for the Royals last season, and is owed $10 million in 2017, the final season of his current contract.
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