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Report: Yankees will not pursue Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields, Pablo Sandoval

11.04.14 at 10:59 am ET
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It’s no secret the Red Sox will be very active this offseason in their pursuit of free agents.

Usually the Yankees are as well, but according to a N.Y. Daily News report, the Yankees have no plans to target four free agents the Red Sox could be potentially going after — Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields and Pablo Sandoval.

The report says the Yankees are interested in bringing back two of their own free agents in pitcher Brandon McCarthy and third baseman Chase Headley. Since they were traded to the Yankees during the season both players cannot be offered a qualifying offer. McCarthy went 7-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 14 starts after being traded to the Yankees from the Diamondbacks, while Headley hit .262 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 58 games after coming over from San Diego.

The reason why the Yankees might be shying away from those four big-names is the $450 million the team spent on Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury as free agents last offseason.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

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Terry Francona agrees to 2-year contract extension with Indians

11.04.14 at 8:56 am ET
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Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona was under contract with the Indians until following the 2016 season, but now he will be around a little longer as the Indians and Francona have agreed to a two-year contract extension through 2018. The contract also includes club options for 2019 and 2020.

Francona has managed the Indians for two seasons and led them to a 92-70 record in 2013 before falling in the Wild Card play-in game. He did win the 2013 American League Manager of the Year Award. This past season the Indians finished with a 85-77 record, but missed the playoffs. He now has 1,206 career wins, the fourth-most wins among active big league managers.

The Indians are the third team Francona has managed. He spent four years with the Phillies from 1997-2000 before spending eight seasons and winning two World Series titles with the Red Sox from 2004-11.

Here are Francona’s thoughts on the extension:

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Red Sox lose infielders Carlos Rivero, Jonathan Herrera

11.03.14 at 4:21 pm ET
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Jonathan Herrera

Jonathan Herrera

The Red Sox parted with a pair of utility depth options on Monday, as Carlos Rivero was claimed on waivers by the Mariners and Jonathan Herrera (who finished the year on the disabled list due to surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow) was outrighted off the 40-man roster, a move that will make him a free agent as of 5 p.m. on Monday.

Rivero, signed to a minor league deal last offseason, spent the final five weeks of the year in the big leagues. He stepped to the plate just eight times, going 4-for-7 with two doubles and a homer as well as a walk, giving him a career .571/.625/1.286 line with a 1.911 OPS — the highest career OPS in major league history by a player with at least six plate appearances. Though he played just third base in the big leagues, Rivero played shortstop, third and left field in the minors for the Sox with Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this year.

Rk Player OPS PA From To Age G AB H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG
1 Carlos Rivero 1.911 8 2014 2014 26-26 4 7 4 2 0 1 1 0 .571 .625 1.286
2 Keith McDonald 1.788 11 2000 2001 27-28 8 9 3 0 0 3 2 2 .333 .455 1.333
3 Zach Britton 1.750 8 2011 2014 23-26 119 8 5 1 0 1 0 1 .625 .625 1.125
4 Hal Haydel 1.667 6 1970 1971 25-26 35 6 3 1 0 1 0 2 .500 .500 1.167
5 Ray Rippelmeyer 1.667 6 1962 1962 28-28 18 6 3 1 0 1 0 1 .500 .500 1.167
6 Dan Kerwin 1.611 9 1903 1903 28-28 2 6 4 1 0 0 2 0 .667 .778 .833
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 11/3/2014.

Herrera was acquired last winter in a deal with the Rockies for left-hander Franklin Morales. He was expected to serve as a utility backup, with the switch-hitter offering the team a left-handed alternative to spell Xander Bogaerts (short), Dustin Pedroia (second) and Will Middlebrooks (third). In sporadic playing time, Herrera hit .233/.307/.289 in 104 plate appearances. With the emergence of Brock Holt, Herrera was optioned to Pawtucket in the summer. He played well in Triple-A, hitting .309/.350/.382 in 13 games, but didn’t play after leaving a game on July 26 due to what proved to be bone chips in his elbow that required season-ending surgery in August.

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Red Sox change course, conduct private workout for Yasmany Tomas

11.03.14 at 4:58 am ET
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After initially deciding not to conduct a private workout for Yasmany Tomas, the Red Sox ended up partaking in an exclusive viewing of the Cuban outfielder, Sunday.

According to a major league source, the workout — which was held at the Red Sox Academy in the Dominican Republic — was executed partly out of convenience, with Tomas needing a place in the area to continue his preparation.

Following the workout, Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, tweeted out a photo of his client:

The likelihood of the Red Sox becoming of a major player for the 23-year-old still appears slim. There is some concern in the organization regarding Tomas’ swing-and-miss totals while playing in Cuba, and the right-handed hitter would seem to offer even more duplication for an already crowded outfield.

The Phillies are consistently mentioned as one of the teams most interested in Tomas.

Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo had high praise for his former Cuban teammate when asked out Tomas’ skill-set in September.

“He’s a really high quality baseball player, and a really good person,” Castillo told WEEI.com through translator Adrian Lorenzo prior to the Red Sox’ series finale against the Pirates. “He’s got a ton of power. For his physique, he actually moves pretty well. He’s pretty quick for a big guy.”

For more on Castillo’s analysis of Tomas, click here.

Red Sox decline option on Craig Breslow

10.31.14 at 2:28 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced that they’ve declined their $4 million option for the 2015 season on left-handed reliever Craig Breslow. The 34-year-old went 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA in 60 relief appearances this season, a marked departure from a six-year stretch that had established him as one of the most consistent left-handers in the game, with a 2.82 ERA while averaging 62 innings and 65 games a year. It was that track record that led the Sox to sign Breslow to the first multi-year deal of his career, a two-year, $6.25 million deal that included the 2015 option.

Breslow proved a pivotal part of the Sox bullpen in 2013, posting a 1.81 ERA in the regular season and then seven scoreless innings in the first two rounds of the postseason before he faltered in the World Series, retiring just one of the seven batters he faced in three appearances, at a time when he was running on fumes. That October run undoubtedly had a lingering toll in 2014, with Breslow frustrated by his inability to perform to his customary levels.

“I’ve never before had to play the last game of such a miserable season,” Breslow said on the final day of the season. “There were a lot of firsts this year. I’ve never struggled like this at any point of my career. I’ve never had a full season that ended up like this, especially one that had significant expectations going on. The best part of this season is that it’s done. …

“I’m not looking for sympathy. I recognize that in my mind, and I think quite pragmatically, 2014 was the complement to 2013. I wouldn’t undo any of that. I would gladly make that sacrifice. As much as this stinks, being able to contribute to a team that won a World Series is something that guys play for 20 years and never get a chance to do,” he added. “I think it’s kind of like I had the ultimate high of highs last year and the ultimate low of lows last year and in 2015 I’ll go back to being the same guy I was for six of the last seven years.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Ben Cherington: Yoenis Cespedes’ agent switch ‘not going to change position’ of potential new contract

10.30.14 at 8:56 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

It has been an interesting week for all things related to Yoenis Cespedes.

A report in the N.Y. Daily News came out saying with Cespedes switching agents to Roc Nation, that “increased” the chances of the Red Sox trading him this offseason with Roc Nation, like it did with Robinson Cano, seeking a larger, long-term contract.

The report also said, “[Cespedes] marches to his own drum and the coaches all hate him.”

Appearing on the Hot Stove show with Mike Mutnansky, Rob Bradford and Alex Speier, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington shot down both those claims.

When the Red Sox traded for Cespedes at last year’s trade deadline they knew his contract status — a free agent after the 2015 season without the chance to give him a qualifying offer. Cherington said Cespedes changing agents isn’t going change the Red Sox‘ stance of possibly signing him long-term.

“We evaluated [the trade] based on having him a year-plus,” Cherington said. “I think to put in anything more than that would have been presumptuous and not would have made sense in terms of our evaluation of that field versus the alternatives we had at the time. We look at it as OK we have him for a year-plus. Once we have him, we’ll get to know him and we’€™ll see if it makes sense to talk about a contract past 2015.

“So now that we’€™ve had him, we have a sense of who he is and the change in agents is not going to do anything to our perspective on that. It’€™s not going to change our position on it. Obviously right now he is under contract for next year and we are looking forward to having him in the lineup next year.”

Cherington, like manager John Farrell, was “surprised” by the report of the coaches not liking Cespedes.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I think most of the people in the office, and John — we were talking about all sorts of stuff each day to gear up for the offseason and we saw that and it was a surprise because of the words that were used and it was so far from anything any of us had heard. John said what he said and I would echo that.

“We were excited to get Yoenis at the deadline and he fit in very quickly we thought in the clubhouse. He’€™s an extremely talented guy, an important guy for our team, an important guy for our lineup. All we’€™re trying to do is put him in the best position to succeed and to maximize his ability. We think he has the ability to be a terrific impact player for us and in baseball for a long time. We’€™re trying to help him be that guy and we really enjoy having him. The article was surprising on that front.”€

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Is there life after 40 for Koji Uehara and big league relievers?

10.30.14 at 6:52 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

A case can be made that Koji Uehara’s one-year deal that included a second-year vesting option, signed as a free agent in December 2012, represented one of the best free-agent deals in Red Sox history. Uehara performed at a level of historic distinction in both the regular season and postseason in 2013, and despite a blip at the end of the 2014 season, he remained an All-Star-caliber closer.

The Sox’ interest in re-signing him was no secret. Still, the fact that the 39-year-old — who will turn 40 at the start of next season — ended up signing a two-year deal counts as a mild surprise.

Should it? Can the Red Sox bank on Uehara, in his age 40 and 41 seasons, performing at something along the lines of what he did as a 38- and 39-year-old?

Uehara is the ninth reliever since 2000 to have back-to-back years at ages 38 and 39 of an ERA that was at least 20 percent better than league average while working at least 40 innings in each season. He joins closers such as Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman along with a number of middle relievers such as Takashi Saito and Darren Oliver. As a group, in their age 38-39 seasons, those nine pitchers logged a total of 1,063 innings with a 2.50 ERA.

Of course, since Uehara hasn’t had an opportunity to pitch beyond his age 39 season, it’s only worth examining his eight predecessors. That group logged a combined 925 innings with a 2.61 ERA in their age 38-39 seasons.

How’d they do beyond that? The results were … mixed. Brian Shouse and Steve Reed were close to done; both pitched just one more season in the big leagues. Russ Springer was a bit better than average (an ERA+ of 107) over the two years, while Dan Plesac enjoyed continued effectiveness (118 ERA+, 3.49 ERA) in his ongoing role as a left-handed specialist.

But four of those eight — the ones who were elite in the first place — remained elite over the first two years of pitching into their 40s: Read the rest of this entry »

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