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Hot Stove roundup 10 a.m.: Nationals rumored to make run at Cliff Lee

12.07.10 at 10:13 am ET
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According to a tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Nationals may be preparing to make a run at free agent left-hander Cliff Lee. Reports to this point have made it appear the Rangers were the only team making a serious push to keep Lee from the Yankees. However, writes Olney: There is growing speculation among rival agents and executives that the Washington Nationals are going to throw a HUGE number at Cliff Lee.

Washington already made one splash this week, signing right fielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal that many have criticized as too excessive. On Monday, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo responded to the critics.

“I don’t apologize for signing Jayson Werth,” Rizzo said. “I’m glad we have him in the fold. We’re a better ball club today than we were yesterday. I can understand some of the comments. We’re taking care of ourselves. We’re trying to build something special here.”

Quick hits:

‘™¦ Back to Cliff Lee: Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Yankees won’t exceed the six-year, $161 million contract they gave CC Sabathia.

‘™¦ A report from FoxSports.com indicates that at least seven teams, including the Yankees and Rays, have inquired about 29-year-old pitcher Rich Harden, who played last season for the Rangers.

Read More: Cliff Lee, Hot Stove,

Hot Stove roundup, 9 a.m.: Rockies reportedly in serious negotiations with Ty Wigginton

12.07.10 at 9:10 am ET
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According to an ESPN report, the Rockies are in serious negotiations with free agent Ty Wigginton. The Rockies have been looking for a versatile right-handed bat able to split time at first base with Todd Helton and play some time at third base and possibly in the outfield. The 33-year-old Wigginton batted .248 with 22 home runs and 76 RBIs last season with the Orioles.

While the Rockies also have talked to representatives of free agent Jorge Cantu at the winter meetings, they’ve apparently begun closing in on a deal with Wigginton.

Quick hits:

‘™¦ Free agent pitcher Kevin Correia has reportedly reached an agreement with the Pirates for a two-year, $8 million contract, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. The deal, which includes unspecified incentives, is contingent on Correia, 30, passing a physical exam. The right-hander posted a 12-11 record with a 3.91 ERA in 2009 for the Padres, before slumping to 10-10 with a 5.4 ERA last season. Correia, a fourth-round pick in 2002, earned $3.6 million last season.

‘™¦ The Brewers boosted their rotation Monday, reaching a deal to get right-hander Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays for infield prospect Brett Lawrie. Marcum went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA for the Blue Jays last season. He missed the entire 2009 season following Tommy John surgery. Marcum, who turns 29 next week, comes with a relatively low salary. He made $850,000 last season and isn’t eligible for free agency for another two years. This was the second trade between the Blue Jays and Brewers in a matter of days. The Brewers sent reliever Carlos Villanueva to the Blue Jays last Friday.

‘™¦ Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated tweeted that he hears the Nationals are remaining “ultra aggressive going after starting pitching.” The Nationals also plan to let teenage prospect Bryce Harper play in big league exhibition games during spring training. Harper was the No. 1 pick in June’s draft, and he batted .343 with six extra-base hits in nine games in the Arizona Fall League. Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said the 18-year-0ld will be in major league camp this spring and get some at-bats. Harper is expected to start next season in Single-A ball.

Read More: Hot Stove, Ty Wigginton,

Hot Stove roundup, 7 a.m.: Rockies manager Jim Tracy collapses at winter meetings

12.07.10 at 7:12 am ET
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Rockies manager Jim Tracy collapsed early Tuesday morning at the winter meetings and was taken to an Orlando-area hospital for tests. Tracy, 54, collapsed near a set of hotel elevators at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort. He was able to stand with assistance before leaving on a stretcher.

Tracy was the National League Manager of the Year in 2009. He has a 719-693 record in nine years managing the Rockies, Pirates and Dodgers. He’s under contract with Colorado through 2012.

Quick hits:

‘™¦ The A’s were unable to reach agreement on a contract with 29-year-old right-handed starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma during the 30-day negotiating period that ended Monday, sending him back to his Japanese team. Oakland had won the rights to Iwakuma in early November. The pitcher reportedly wanted a contract comparable to the $126 million, seven-year deal signed by Giants lefty Barry Zito before the 2007 season, but the A’s weren’t in the same neighborhood.

‘™¦ The Cubs named Mark Riggins pitching coach. Riggins, 53, served as the organization’s minor league pitching coordinator the past three seasons.

Read More: Hisashi Iwakuma, Hot Stove, Jim Tracy, Mark Riggins

Red Sox might be willing to pay a drafty price for Scott Downs

12.07.10 at 2:55 am ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Red Sox love their draft picks. The foundation of the club’s success in recent years has been largely driven by its young talent base, and so if possible, the team would no doubt prefer to avoid sacrificing picks for free agents. And, the prevailing wisdom goes, that would prove especially true of relievers — a volatile commodity for whom the team is reluctant to invest multi-year deals, let alone picks.

So does that rule the Sox out of the three Type A free agent relievers who would cost them a draft pick?

Rafael Soriano isn’t going to end up with the Sox. The closer, who led the American League in saves last year, will be looking for a closer deal at closer years and dollars. The Sox have a closer. There’s no fit.

Grant Balfour, another Type A free agent reliever, would also cost the club with whom he signs a draft pick, assuming he leaves the Rays. His decision to turn down Tampa Bay’s offer of salary arbitration meant that any team signing him would need to pay doubly — giving up dollars and a top draft pick — in order to sign him. While the hard-throwing right-hander’s numbers in the AL East the past three years (2.98 ERA, 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings, 2.8 walks per nine) are excellent, the Sox, according to a source familiar with the team’s thinking, aren’t interested enough to give up a pick to sign him to the multi-year deal he seeks.

But, according to that source, there is a reliever for whom parting with a pick would not represent a deal breaker. While the Sox wouldn’t give one up for Balfour, they might do so in order to sign free-agent left-hander Scott Downs. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: grant balfour, Hot Stove, matt guerrier, Scott Downs

Theo Epstein discusses the state of the Sox at the winter meetings

12.06.10 at 10:18 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, at the end of a hectic day that started in Boston with the press conference to introduce newly acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, discussed the state of his team’s offseason now that he has landed the superstar. He suggested that the Sox had done more to sort through their blueprint for the rest of the offseason than make actual headway in specific deals.

“The most important stuff we did was kind of prioritizing, figuring out what might be real vs. what was unrealistic and setting unrealistic stuff aside so we could maybe narrow our focus a little bit, both in trades and free agency,” said Epstein. “We didn’€™t get significantly close to anything but at least we have a smaller set of issues to go forward on, maybe do our best to get something done while were here if we can.’€

The Sox continue to remain in the market for relievers, a right-handed bat and perhaps another outfielder.

But while the Sox have been viewed as heavily involved in the sweepstakes for free agents Jayson Werth (before he signed with the Nationals) and Carl Crawford, Epstein cautioned that the team may end up pursuing more of a complementary player to join the team’s current outfield composition of J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury and Ryan Kalish (the latter of whom, Epstein suggested, he would prefer to have in Triple-A in the start of the season in a perfect world).

Foremost, Epstein — while not speaking directly about the Werth contract — made clear that the Sox will only pay a player what they consider fair value for him, and not more.

“Do you have the guts to walk away and get criticized for it, knowing it’€™s the right thing?” mused Epstein. “Some organizations do, some don’€™t.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: adrian gonzalez, carl crawford, Hot Stove, Jayson Werth

Jed Hoyer talks Adrian Gonzalez trade

12.06.10 at 10:15 pm ET
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The Roundup: The complete day’s Red Sox action

12.06.10 at 7:10 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — With a ton of action coming out of the winter meetings, here is a look at WEEI.com’s Red Sox content:

ALL THINGS ADRIAN

–The deal sending Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres to the Red Sox in exchange for prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes is done, and the Sox and Padres have now discussed the exchange in separate press conferences. In Boston, Gonzalez called it a dream come true to join the Sox. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Hot Stove,

What now for the Sox? Theo Epstein outlines remaining priorities

12.06.10 at 7:10 pm ET
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With the arrival of a superstar first baseman who is an impact hitter and defender now complete, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein discussed the Red Sox’ remaining goals in building their 2011 roster. He said that the team wanted to complete the Gonzalez deal prior to the winter meetings both to avoid an intensified bidding war for his services and so that the Sox’ roster could have enough definition to permit the team to make all needed subsequent moves.

Epstein mentioned the bullpen, a right-handed lineup member and potentially an outfielder as the team’s remaining priorities.

“We wanted to be able to focus on building the rest of the roster down in Orlando. That begins later today,” Epstein said at the Fenway Park press conference. “We’€™re going to continue to focus on the bullpen. That’€™s an area that we want to shore up on the club. Now that we have Adrian in the fold, we can focus on maybe bolstering the lineup some more, adding perhaps a right-handed hitter, if we can find one that’€™s the right fit. We can add an outfielder, if we find the right fit. We’€™re also confident that if we break with the current outfield group that we have that we’€™ll be in good position. I look at it as going down there with less needs than we had 24 hours ago, but with more opportunities to map out the rest of the club in a way that leads to a productive 2011.”

Read More: Hot Stove, Theo Epstein,

Andrew Miller open to deal with Red Sox

12.06.10 at 4:18 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Red Sox acquired Andrew Miller from the Marlins in November, viewing the former first-rounder as an interesting buy-low candidate. But after that acquisition, the two sides could not come to terms on a 2011 contract before the deadline to tender contracts on Dec. 3. Had Miller (who had a salary of approximately $1.8 million in 2010) received a contract tender, he likely would have been in line for a deal of approximately $2 million. The Sox were interested in Miller, but at a lower figure, and so the team decided to non-tender him, with the idea that it could negotiate with the pitcher while he examined the market for his services as a free agent.

“We all kind of decided that we’d let this process run its course,” said Darek Braunecker, one of the pitcher’s representatives. “There’s a lot of teams interested: 6-foot-6 left-hander, still can throw up to 97. There’s a ton of upside.”

But at this point, Miller’s marketability is based on his potential rather than his performance. He was rushed to the big leagues in 2006, the same year he was drafted out of the University of North Carolina, and he has struggled badly with his command and mechanics. He has a career 15-26 record and 5.84 ERA, and while he has struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings, he has walked 5.3 per nine innings. Last year, in nine appearances for the Marlins, he went 1-5 with an 8.54 ERA.

The struggles were significant enough that money will not be the sole consideration for Miller’s next contract. He will also be looking for the right place to work on establishing himself as a pitcher. While Braunecker would not say if Miller — who will be dropping by the Winter Meetings to meet with officials and pitching coaches of interested clubs — would consider a minor league deal, he did not dismiss the possibility.

“We’ve got to find the right developmental situation for him, whether settling in at the big leagues or back in the minor leagues. … It’s going to be a really methodical and diligent process,” said Braunecker. “This guy still has a chance to be a front-of-the-rotation starter.

“I think it’s fair to say we will give consideration to everything that we deem to be in Andrew Miller’s best interests to ensure that he becomes the major league player we all think he can be.”

Read More: andrew miller, darek braunecker, Hot Stove,

Sources: Sox not considering Kevin Youkilis for left field

12.06.10 at 3:34 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox have not given consideration to the idea of moving Kevin Youkilis to left field with an eye towards re-signing third baseman Adrian Beltre. Instead, it appears that Beltre’s days as a Red Sox are over after the Sox made their move to acquire Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres. Gonzalez will play first, while Youkilis will move back across the diamond to play third.

Youkilis continues to work out at third this offseason, the position that he prefers and where he feels most comfortable. Youkilis last played the outfield for the Sox in a game in Yankee Stadium in 2009, and struggled with routes on a couple fly balls in left. Since that contest, he has said on several occasions that he has no interest in playing the outfield again, and the Sox would, of course, prefer someone who is a more natural fit for the position.

It is worth noting that the Sox discussed the possibility of converting Youkilis to catcher near the start of his professional career, believing that his hands could make him a good candidate to move behind the plate. But, the team ended up developing him as a third baseman in the minors, and the Sox continue to view him as a player who can handle the position well. That, in turn, would give the Sox a pair of All-Star caliber producers at the corner infield spots in Youkilis and Gonzalez, with Beltre — following his tremendous 2010 campaign — looking for a new residence.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein discussed the matter with Youkilis at season’s end, saying that a potential re-signing of Beltre was the only scenario in which Youkilis would play first.

“Right after the  season, I told Youk that he’d be moving to third base unless we had Adrian,” Epstein said, laughing as he noted that he should have specified which Adrian he was speaking of.

DJ Bean contributed to this report.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, adrian gonzalez, Hot Stove, Kevin Youkilis
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