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Scott Boras holds court

11.10.09 at 7:46 pm ET
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CHICAGO — Agent Scott Boras met with a swarm of reporters in the lobby of the O’Hare International Airport Hilton early Tuesday evening, speaking on everything from the state of the game’s economy, to the futures of clients such as Matt Holliday, Johnny Damon, and Jason Varitek, and his relationship with the Red Sox front office.

The get-together lasted more than 30 minutes, and was a prelude to Boras meeting with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein later Tuesday night. With that in mind, here are some of the Red Sox-related highlights:

How would you respond to Jason Bay’s agent calling his client the free agent market’s most complete player?

I represent Matt Holliday and I’ll serve as an advocate. I don’t know what criteria he’s looking at, and that’s fine. All I can tell you is that I’ve been around baseball for a long time as a player and now as an agent and the reality of it that Matt Holliday is a complete player. That’s all I’ll say.

Regarding his relationship with the Red Sox front office

After this season I would say that the Boston Red Sox had a chance to sign Mark Teixeira before the New York Yankees did, because we gave them an offer. That’s the best I can do for owners, it really is. When you give them a chance to sign a player, that’s … the player was earnest in coming there at the time and he presented them with an offer they could have accepted.

Where do we stand with Jason Varitek?

I’m going to be talking with Theo and with Tek in the next day or so … I know Jason well enough to know not to speculate on what Jason is going to do.

What about Daisuke Matsuzaka’s approach this offseason?

He was noticeably different when he came back to Boston and he’s got a workout regime he’s carried on in Japan. I haven’t discussed his offseason schedule with him … I think players have to come in in great shape. Their talent is best served when they’re in great shape. Anything other than that I think it’s an issue both the players and their camp and the team and their camp should earnestly discuss if that’s not the case.

(Note: There is some discussion about Matsuzaka attending Athletes Performance in Arizona)

One quick note: Boras said he believes there are less than 30 franchise players in baseball.

The complete transcript to come …

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The general managers speak

11.10.09 at 6:28 pm ET
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CHICAGO — The media availability for the general managers took place in International Ballroom at the O’Hare International Airport Hilton late Tuesday afternoon. Here are some Red Sox-related items to come out of it:

– Mets general manager Omar Minaya wouldn’t address specific free agents, but did offer a glimpse into what his team might be looking for. While it was learned that New York most likely wouldn’t have interest in Jason Varitek if he chose not to accept the $3 million player option (needing a catcher to play on a more regular basis than Varitek might be ready for at this stage of his career), Corner outfielder — specifically Jason Bay — on the other hand, might be a different story.

While some reports suggest the Mets won’t go out and pay top dollar for one of the premier free agent bats, such as Bay, Minaya at least explained that the outfielder’s perceived defensive deficiencies wouldn’t be a deal-killer.

“Defense is important because it’s a pretty big ballpark. But the bottom line is that if you’re a corner outfielder you’ve got to have slug,” Minaya said. “I would put offense over defense right now in a corner outfielder.”

– New Toronto GM Alex Anthopolous showed an excellent ability to offer “I would rather not comment on that” every time a Roy Halladay question — or reasonable facsimile — was brought up. He did, however, offer this tidbit when it came to whether or not he would shy away from any potential deal with his own division: “If it’s apples and apples and I get two deals that are exactly the same, certainly I would not prefer to trade within the division. But if I have a stronger deal within the division and it makes this club stronger, that would certainly be the one that I would want to lean to.”

– Former Red Sox assistant GM, and current Padres GM, Jed Hoyer also didn’t want to go too far into the Adrian Gonzalez talk, but did say that he has talked to Gonzalez’ agent, as well as Gonzalez.

“We’re going to try and start a dialogue soon, obviously once that dialogue starts we’re not going to comment on it, but we are going to start that dialogue,” said Hoyer, who hadn’t met Gonzalez before being introduced at Petco Park just before being introduced as GM.

Hoyer also agreed that the exhaustive research the Red Sox did in targeting Gonzalez at last season’s trade deadline helped him get a head-start when it came to knowing the ins and outs of the first baseman.

“I think so. Certainly he’s one of those players everybody knows. He’s a superstar player. There’s no secret. But I do think so,” Hoyer said. “Certainly in July he was the object of the affection of Boston’s front office.”

Hoyer would not reveal if he was planning on targeting any more members of the Red Sox front office, but did say he was in the process of interviewing candidates throughout the GM meetings. “I’m trying to rush without hurrying,” he explained.

Pirates GM Neil Huntington said he wasn’t surprised that Bay fared so well in the pressure of a place like Boston, predicting as much when trading the outfielder at the trade deadline of the 2008 season.

“As we got to know Jason we saw his tremendous character, that he was a tremendous guy and a tremendous teammate with a strong internal belief. So it didn’t surprise me to see Jason excel in Boston,” Huntington said. “I grew up in New England and I told Jason I thought he was going to be very, very successful there. It didn’t surprise me at all.”

Huntington recalled that Bay voiced a concern to the Pittsburgh front office in January, 2008, but viewed the displeasure as the outfielder prioritizing winning wherever his next long-term stay was going to take place.

“He cares about winning,” Huntington said. “He did everything well when he was with us. He wanted to believe we were moving forward as an organization and we were trying to win in Pittsburgh.”

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No Gold Gloves for Red Sox

11.10.09 at 4:10 pm ET
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CHICAGO — No member of the Red Sox came away with an American League Gold Glove this season, marking just the second time in the last five years that the Sox have come up empty in that department. Jason Varitek won one in 2005, Kevin Youkilis in ’07, and Dustin Pedroia in ’08.

Detroit’s Placido Polanco prevented Pedroia from winning his second straight Rawlings Gold Glove, claiming the award for the second time in his career. First-time winners included Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, Baltimore center fielder Adam Jones, and White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle.

Two Yankees claimed Gold Gloves, shortstop Derek Jeter (his fourth) and first baseman Mark Teixeira. Other winners included the Angels’ Torii Hunter, Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki, and Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer.

Read More: Hot Stove,

No change in instant replay for MLB

11.10.09 at 3:20 pm ET
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CHICAGO - Jimmie Lee Solomon, the Executive Vice President of Major League Baseball Operations, spoke to the media after meeting with the general managers. Discussed were …

Solomon said that instant replay was discussed, but it was decided that Major League Baseball would keep the current replay system. “We need to digest what we’ve got,” he said.

Solomon also cited Bud Selig’s careful approach to making major changes to the game, “The commissioner is hesitant to leap forward quickly and make modifications to our game,” Solomon said.

Also discussed was baseball’s World Cup; reworking the Arizona Fall League as get younger players in the league; potentially modifying first-year player draft to more accurately portray the teams’ previous season record or success.

The proposed change in the draft would include the postseason when making the draft order, instead of strictly going by the final regular season records.

More to come …

Read More: Hot Stove,

Putting the Lojack on Boras

11.10.09 at 1:18 pm ET
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As Comcast’s Sean McAdam just pointed out, Scott Boras just finished his workout in the downstairs gym at the O’Hare International Airport Hilton and insisted that Jason Varitek has not made any decisions regarding whether or not he will be accepting the $3 million player option. Boras said he will be talking to his client later Tuesday night.

Boras has insinuated that he will be holding court somewhere in the hotel lobby around 5 p.m. CST. That would come soon after the conclusion of  the general managers availability which takes place from 3:30-4:30 p.m. CST.

UPDATE: A representative from the Scott Boras Corp. has reiterated to WEEI.com that a report stating Varitek has chosen to accept the $3 player option is “erroneous” and the catcher continues to mull his options. Boras’ scheduled get-together might be a bit later than anticipated due to meetings, but will most likely still take place sometime early Tuesday evening.

Checking in on Wakefield and Chapman

11.10.09 at 11:51 am ET
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CHICAGO — Executives are in meetings all morning here at the O’Hare International Airport Hilton, leaving me in a desolate work room with just my computer and a free 10 oz Diet Pepsi that would have cost me $4 upstairs (no lie).

The schedule will allow for access to all the general managers starting at 4:30 p.m. EST, which will surely spawn a flurry of Tweets and the like starting about 5:30 p.m.

One thing I forgot to pass on Monday was that in my conversation with Tim Wakefield, he passed along what a difference the surgery on his back had meant. He said that the limp which he had been saddled with for the past few months was instantly gone once he could get out of his hospital bed.

“I feel great” Wakefield said. “I’m getting more strength in my calf and my hamstring. As a matter of fact, the doctor came in soon after surgery and I was doing laps around the nurses station with my wife with my IV without limping. It was that instantaneously.

“Dr. (Lawrence) Borges did a phenomenal job. He even said to me that he was surprised that I was pitching because the fragment they took out of my back was pretty big.”

I did run into one National League executive who was toying with the idea of watching Cuban free agent pitcher Aroldis Chapman in the Dominican Republic. (He is reportedly in Costa Rica right now. Ed. Note: Chapman’s representatives clarified that the pitcher is currently in the United States, and has no plans to pitch in the Dominican.) The executive reiterated that while the talent for Chapman was off the charts (95-102 mph fastball), there was some growing concern regarding his make-up, which is not the norm for pitchers coming over from Cuba.

If you remember, one of the selling points for Jose Contreras when the Yankees and Red Sox were going toe-to-toe for the pitcher’s services was that he had pitched in the most pressure-packed of environments under the watchful eye of Fidel Castro and the Cuban government.

The 21-year-old Chapman, who will make a boatload of money from somebody (although maybe not as much as he is asking for), is perceived as somewhat immature, a notion that wasn’t displaced after a drama-filled World Baseball Classic outing. Unlike Contreras, there are conflicting reports whether the lefty flamethrower is even ready to begin his career in the big leagues.

All the concerns aside, with his upside, and the dearth of free agent pitching, Chapman figures to be one of the offseason’s biggest prizes and elicit some more good lobby talk as the meetings march along.

Be back later once access picks up …

Read More: aroldis chapman, Hot Stove, jose contreras, Tim Wakefield

Details of Wakefield’s Contract

11.09.09 at 8:23 pm ET
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The incentive structure of Tim Wakefield’s new two-year deal with the Red Sox is fairly intricate. While he will receive a guaranteed $5 million, the specific clauses could increase the value of the deal to approximately $5 million per season. Here are the details of the 2010-11 deal:

Base salary
is $3.5m in 2010 and $1.5m in 2011.

Bonuses in 2010: Wakefield receives $50,000 each for starts 11-15; $75,000 each for starts 16-25; and $100,000 each for starts 26-30. (Max potential earnings: $5 million.)

Escalator clause for base salary in 2011: Wakefield’s 2011 base salary can increase, based on the number of innings he throws in 2010. If he throws 130 innings this coming season, his 2011 base salary increases to $2 million; he throws 160 innings in 2010, he would earn a $3.5 million base.

Bonuses in 2011: Wakefield’s potential bonuses for 2011 will depend on the base salary:

If the base salary is $1.5 million (after fewer than 130 innings in 2010):  $100,000 each for starts 11-15; $200,000 each for starts 16-25, and $250,000 each for starts 26-30. (Max potential earnings: $5.25 million.)

If the base salary is $2 million (if he throws at least 130 innings but fewer than 160):  $75,000 each for starts 11-15; $150,000 each for starts 16-20; $200,000 each for starts 21-30. (Max potential earnings: $5.125 million.)

If the base salary is $3.5 million (provided Wakefield throws at least 160 innings in 2010), the bonuses are the same as in 2010: $50,000 each for starts 11-15; $75,000 each for starts 16-25; and $100,000 each for starts 26-30. (Max potential earnings: $5 million.)

Read More: bonuses, Contract, Hot Stove, incentives

Theo: Red Sox see Martinez as their everyday catcher

11.09.09 at 6:46 pm ET
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CHICAGO — Speaking to a group of reporters in his suite at the O’Hare International Airport Hilton, where this year’s general managers meetings are being held, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said that his organization sees Victor Martinez as its “everyday catcher” for 2010.

The pronouncement came after the the team officially announced it wouldn’t be picking up the $5 million team option on Jason Varitek, who now has five days to decide if he will accept the $3 million player option.

“We’re going to really look for Victor to be an everyday catcher for us next year,” Epstein said. “We feel like that puts us in the best position to win with Victor catching as much as he can. The other spot we’ll have available is for more of a traditional backup. We’ll see what Tek’s decision is before we move forward.”

Epstein classified the Red Sox’ approach as a “waiting mode,” but is optimistic about Martinez’ ability to handle the workload catching on a regular basis.

“He really sees himself as a catcher,” Epstein said of Martinez. “We have to be smart about it. We can’t push him to the point where we get diminishing returns. But I think he can catch a little  bit more and he’ll prepare himself to do that.”

Epstein said the club hasn’t started talks with either Martinez — who had his option picked up by the Sox for the 2010 season — or pitcher Josh Beckett regarding contract extensions.

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Agent: Green will have ‘viable options’

11.09.09 at 5:10 pm ET
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CHICAGO — Tom O’Connell, the agent for infielder Nick Green, said he thanked both Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and his special assistant, Allard Baird, for the opportunity the Sox gave Green this season, but believes the chances of the infielder re-signing with the Red Sox are probably slim.

Green, who underwent surgery on a slipped disc in his back Monday, filed for free agency earlier in the day after being outrighted by the Red Sox.

“Obviously Boston will no doubt be in discussions down the road, but I think if they truly felt that he was going to stay they would have let him go through the arbitration process,” O’Connell explained.

Despite the fact Green is coming off the injury which sidelined him for the second half of Sept., O’Connell is optimistic that the infielder has set himself up fairly well for the impending offseason.

“I’ve already received quite a few phone calls on Nick as far as next year. I think he’s going to have a lot of viable options,” Green said. “We’re not going to close the door on Boston, but at the same time Nick has shown he can hold down that shortstop position, which is the key position for any solid utility guy. You want to have that utility guy to be able to fill in when that starter goes down to hold that job for a month or two and he did that for three months.”

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Wakefield talks about new deal

11.09.09 at 4:35 pm ET
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CHICAGO — Speaking from his Florida home, Tim Wakefield explained that while there was some initial concern regarding the Red Sox not picking up his option and proposing a two-year deal, he understands the value in it from both sides.

“I was surprised and a little disappointed at first because they told me they wanted to cut my guarantee, but in the long run they’re at least guaranteeing me another year,” he said. “That’s a huge positive because they know I want to break the records and retire as a Red Sox, so I’m very grateful for that.”

The two-year deal Wakefield has agreed upon will pay the 43-year-old a guaranteed $3.5 million in 2010 with the opportunity to have that jump up to $5 million if he makes 30 starts. The second year will guarantee him $1.5 million, a base that could increase to as much as $3.5 million depending on how many innings he throws in 2010, and that will also feature bonuses that could increase the value of the second year of the deal (regardless of the base) to approximately $5 million if the right-hander makes 30 starts.

Altering his previous arrangement — which presented the Red Sox with a $4 million team option following every season Wakefield played in — guarantees that the knuckleballer will be under contract for the next two seasons, setting the stage for him to go after both the record for most wins by a Red Sox pitcher (192) — which he is 17 shy of — and 200 overall wins. Wakefield currently stands at 189 wins for his career.

“I guess a little more relaxed,” said Wakefield of the construction of his new deal. “I didn’t mind going year to year because the reason why we set it up was to make it an easy decision to them, but also giving me an opportunity to get paid a fair amount. It wasn’t about going after more money. We wanted to do what was fair to the organization. Now, that deal was to avoid what has happened the last couple of days.

“I completely understand where the Red Sox are coming from based on the back surgery I had in the offseason and the fact I had some shoulder fatigue in ’08. But it all worked out. It worked out where I think they were happy to cut back on the guarantees, but I still have the opportunity to make almost as much as I did, if I stay healthy, than I did with the original options.”

Read More: Hot Stove, Tim Wakefield,
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