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Sox decline to offer arbitration to Varitek

11.23.10 at 5:20 pm ET
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The Red Sox have declined to offer salary arbitration to Jason Varitek and Bill Hall while offering arbitration to Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez and Felipe Lopez.

The Sox will now receive compensation for Beltre, Martinez and Lopez should they not accept arbitration and sign elsewhere. The compensation would be two draft picks for Beltre and Martinez (both Type A free agents) and one for Lopez (Type B). All players have until November 30 to accept or decline the offer of arbitration.

With Martinez reportedly set to sign with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent, the Red Sox will receive two draft picks, including the 18th overall pick in next year’s draft.

Varitek (and Hall) can still be re-signed by the Red Sox.

Terry Francona on D&H: ‘Real confident’ despite Martinez’ departure

11.23.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley Show on Tuesday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. His visit coincided with the breaking news of catcher Victor Martinez departure for the Tigers on a four-year, $50 million deal.

“My phone started ringing about 20 minutes ago. I was like, ‘€˜Maybe we need to reschedule,’€™” Francona joked.

Francona praised Martinez as a player and person, and noted his appreciation for the switch-hitter’s efforts with the Red Sox. He did take some solace that Martinez is leaving the Sox for the AL Central, rather than an American League East rival.

“He’€™s going to take that to a new team. Fortunately, it looks like it’€™s not in our division. These things happen. When guys get to free agency, there’€™s a lot of decisions to make. One is by the player, one is by the organization and one is by other teams,” said Francona. “Sometimes it works out where a guy doesn’€™t come back. That doesn’€™t mean we’€™re not going to be any good. I feel real confident. The winter has to play itself out. It’€™s just beginning. It will be really interesting.”

Francona said that he talked to Sox GM Theo Epstein as recently as Monday night about Martinez’ contract status. The manager had no qualms with the organization’s decision.

“We’€™re pretty much on the same page on a lot of things. Being the manager is a little bit different, making the lineup out, is a little bit different than having to be the care-taker for the organization and looking at it four years down the road. I try not to lose sight of that,” said Francona. “Wanting to have Victor in the lineup next April is a no-brainer. When you have to make a decision and you’€™re talking $40, $45, $50 million, four years down the road, that’€™s not quite as easy. I respect that.

“If we went down to Fort Myers and we didn’t have a catcher, I’d be anxious,” said Francona. “I’ve been here long enough to know that this is the way it goes. When you’re the Red Sox and you have a high payroll and veteran players, you’re going to have free agents. That’s just the way it is. Theo and his guys have to walk the fine line of protecting — we talk about loyalty, and we certainly believe in that — but not going too far and have guys maybe in the last couple years of their contracts not doing what you want. It just seems like in this day and age, teams don’t mind paying money as much as they want to limit the years sometimes. … I understand it’s Nov. 22 and Victor is going somewhere else. Saying that, I have a feeling that be Feb. 15, we’ll have a team set in place.”

Francona spoke highly of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, though while he said that the Sox believe he can develop into an everyday catcher, he also cautioned that it might not be ideal to confer that responsibility on the 25-year-old out of the gate. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, David Ortiz, Detroit Tigers, Jacoby Ellsbury

Victor Martinez’ deal in context: Where his contract ranks in catching history

11.23.10 at 12:04 pm ET
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Former Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez appears poised to sign a four-year, $50 million deal with the Detroit Tigers. That would make him the fourth highest-paid catcher (in annual salary) of all time, with his average of $12.5 million per year falling just beneath the four-year deal to which Yankees catcher Jorge Posada is currently signed at $13.1 million per year and the $13 million per year that Mike Piazza earned from his seven-year deal with the Mets.

It is noteworthy that the Sox, according to a major league source, had a three-year, $36 million and four-year, $42 million offer on the table to Martinez. Both of those featured an average annual value in excess of the $10 million per year that the team paid to Jason Varitek over his four-year contract from 2005-08.

Here is a look at how Martinez stacks up against the biggest catching contracts of all time:

Joe Mauer, Twins: 8 years, $184 million ($21.75 million AAV)

Signed a long-term deal one year before free agency for ages 28-34 (2011-18)
Career stat line when signed (through 2009 season, before the final season of a previous contract): .327/.408/.483/.892, 72 HR, 397 RBI, 136 OPS+

Jorge Posada, Yankees: 4 years, $52.4 million ($13.1 million AAV)

Re-signed as a free agent for ages 36-39 (2008-11)
Career stat line when signed: .277/.381/.479/.860, 218 HR, 861 RBI, 124 OPS+

Mike Piazza, Mets: 7 years, $91 million ($13 million AAV)

Re-signed as a free agent for ages 30-36 (1999-2005)
Career stat line when signed: .333/.396/.575/.972, 200 HR, 644 RBI, 160 OPS+

Victor Martinez, Tigers: 4 years, $50 million ($12.5 million AAV)

Signed as a free agent for ages 32-35 (2011-14)
Career stat line when signed: .300/.369/.469/.838, 131 HR, 638 RBI, 121 OPS+

Jorge Posada, Yankees: 5 years, $51 million ($10.2 million AAV) plus club option

Signed before reaching free agency for ages 30-34 (2002-06)
Career stat line when signed: .268/.369/.465/.834, 85 HR, 326 RBI, 115 OPS+

Jason Varitek, Red Sox: 4 years, $40 million ($10 million AAV)

Re-signed as a free agent for ages 33-36 (2005-08)
Career stat line when signed: .271/.347/.451/.798, 97 HR, 418 RBI, 103 OPS+

Pudge Rodriguez, Tigers: 4 years, $40 million ($10 million AAV) plus club option

Signed as free agent for ages 32-35 (2004-07)
Career stat line when signed: .304/.344/.488/.832, 231 HR, 914 RBI, 113 OPS+

Jason Kendall, Pirates: 6 years, $60 million ($10 million AAV)

Signed before reaching free agency for ages 28-33 (2002-07)
Career stat line when signed: .314/.402/.456/.858, 45 HR, 265 RBI, 121 OPS+
(NOTE: Kendall’€™s career stat line is through the 2000 season; he signed the extension, which took effect in 2002, after the 2000 season, with one year left on a prior deal)

Read More: jason kendall, Jason Varitek, joe mauer, mike piazza

Red Sox prepare for life without Victor Martinez

11.23.10 at 11:02 am ET
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As of Monday night, multiple major league sources said, the Red Sox recognized the likelihood that Victor Martinez was slipping away to the Detroit Tigers. It became clear that the catcher was not going to accept the Sox’ last offers of either three years at $36 million or four years and $42 million.

That scenario appears to have unfolded as of Tuesday morning. Ignacio Serrano reported from Venezuela that Martinez and the Tigers were closing in on a four-year, $50 million deal for the switch-hitting catcher. Serrano reported that the Red Sox talked to Martinez’ agent last night, and that the team was not willing to match the Tigers in years. Serrano also reported that the Orioles had a four-year, $48 million offer on the table, while the White Sox had a three-year, $48 million deal available.

Martinez ranked among the most productive catchers in the majors from the time that he joined the Sox at the 2009 trade deadline, following a deal that shipped Justin Masterson and prospects Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price to Cleveland in exchange for the four-time All-Star. Martinez hit .313/.368/.497/.865 in his time with the Red Sox, including a line of .302/.351/.493/.844 with 20 homers and 79 RBI in 2010.

Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said on multiple occasions this offseason that the team’s first choice for addressing its catching situation remained to re-sign Martinez. That said, he also suggested that the team was comfortable turning to 25-year-old Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the job.

For now, it appears the team is planning on trying to develop Saltalamacchia into an everyday player while signing another catcher to complement him. The team has also left open the possibility of re-signing free-agent Jason Varitek to partner with Saltalamacchia.

The Red Sox entered 2010 with some reservations about Martinez’ ability to remain a catcher long-term. (Indeed, at the time that the Indians traded him to Boston, they felt that his days as a catcher were already numbered.) At the start of the season, it seemed difficult to argue with such hesitation given that opposing teams were running wild on the catcher.

But he improved over the course of the season thanks to extensive work with bullpen coach and catching instructor Gary Tuck, and ended up throwing out 21 percent of would-be base stealers. Still, that was below the 26 percent American League average, and the Sox ended up allowing an AL-worst 80 percent success rate on stolen base attempts and an AL-worst 169 steals.

Perhaps as a result of such a performance, the Red Sox offered Martinez a two-year deal during the season. He told WEEI.com that he saw that as being too conservative given his age and performance.

“They came with something, and that might just be where the negotiations start, but I don’t see myself signing a two-year deal. I’m young enough. I work so hard and I give it all. I just want to be treated fair,” Martinez said. “It wasn’t hard because it was something I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting a two-year deal, anyway. I wasn’t expecting for them to come to me during the season anyways.”

The Sox remained engaged until at least last night in hopes of bringing Martinez back, but ultimately, the Tigers offer apparently proved to be one they did not want to match.

The Red Sox stand to receive a pair of draft picks with Martinez’ departure. Unless the Tigers sign outfielder Jayson Werth, the team would stand to receive Detroit’s first-round pick (No. 19 overall) as well as a sandwich-round draft pick. The Sox have, in the past, been able to leverage such draft pick compensation into important prospects. (More on that here.) Moreover, the No. 19 pick would be the earliest selection by the Sox since they took David Murphy with the No. 17 overall pick in 2003. Given the anticipated outstanding quality of the draft (and the fact that the Sox leveraged compensation picks in the last great draft, 2005, to acquire the likes of Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie), the Sox view the value of the draft picks as significant.

Read More: Detroit Tigers, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jason Varitek, victor martinez

Poll: Should the Sox have signed Victor Martinez?

11.23.10 at 10:55 am ET
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Victor Martinez reportedly will sign a four-year, $50 million deal with the Tigers. Should the Red Sox have matched the offer?

  • Yes, he's worth it (67%, 500 Votes)
  • No, that's too much money and/or too many years (33%, 244 Votes)

67

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Report: Victor Martinez headed to Tigers

11.23.10 at 10:34 am ET
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According to a report from Venezuelan reporter Ignacio Serrano Tuesday morning, Red Sox free agent Victor Martinez was close to signing a four-year, $50 million deal with the Tigers. Detroit reportedly outbid the Red Sox, Orioles and White Sox for the catcher’s services. A major league source confirmed to WEEI.com that the Red Sox came to the realization Monday night that Martinez likely was headed to Detroit.

Read More: victor martinez,

Theo Epstein’s history of arbitration offers

11.23.10 at 8:27 am ET
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The Red Sox have until Tuesday to decide whether to offer salary arbitration to their free agents. Of utmost interest is how the team will proceed with its four free agents who would entitle the club to draft pick compensation should they reject arbitration and sign elsewhere.

The team is virtually certain to offer arbitration to Type A free agents Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre. Both have markets so robust that teams will be likely to sign them even if they must sacrifice a draft pick to do so. Thus, should they elect not to re-sign with the Sox, the Sox are likely to get a pair of draft picks (one from the team that signs them, and another as a compensatory sandwich pick from Major League Baseball).

The team is also likely to offer arbitration to Type B free agent Felipe Lopez, a player whom the club signed in the final days of the season specifically in hopes of offering him arbitration, having him turn it down and seeing him sign elsewhere. As a Type B free agent, a club that signs Lopez will not have to part with a pick; the Sox would, however, get a sandwich pick from MLB.

The biggest dilemma facing the club is whether to offer arbitration to Jason Varitek, a Type B free agent who could net the team a draft pick if he departs, but who might well be inclined to accept an arbitration offer in order to return to the Sox. (For more on the Varitek situation, click here.)

The Red Sox have made no secret of how much they value the draft picks that can be gleaned through free agent compensation. Under GM Theo Epstein, the team has been willing to risk overpaying players who might accept arbitration in order to secure a chance at a pick should the player sign elsewhere. Notable examples of that stance include Jason Varitek and Paul Byrd following the 2008 season and Tony Graffanino following the 2005 campaign.

That said, while the Sox have offered arbitration to all of their Type A and Type B free agents in the past three offseasons, the team has, at times, resisted making such offers for players. Indeed, between the 2003 and 2006 offseasons, the Sox declined to offer arbitration to several of their free agents. (Caveat: it is worth noting that, whereas Type B free agents no longer require a signing club to part with a draft pick, until 2006, a team that signed a Type B free agent needed to part with a second-round pick.)

Most notably, the team declined to offer arbitration to Trot Nixon and Mark Loretta after the 2006 season, and to Kevin Millar after the 2005 campaign.

Here is a look at how the Sox have proceeded since the 2002-03 offseason under Epstein with regards to free agents who could net the team draft pick compensation.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, arbitration, felipe lopez, Jason Varitek

Source: Red Sox ‘undecided’ on bid for Tsuyoshi Nishioka

11.19.10 at 4:24 pm ET
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According to a major league source familiar with the situation, as of Friday afternoon the Red Sox were still “undecided” regarding whether they will be submitting a bid for the rights to negotiate with Japanese middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who was posted by the Chiba Lotte Marines. Teams have until 5 p.m. Tuesday to submit bids in regards to Nishioka, a 26-year-old switch-hitter who won the Japanese Pacific League batting title with a .346 average in 2010.

While Nishioka has played shortstop throughout his professional career, some believe he would be better suited for second base in the major leagues. The Red Sox did draw interest at the recent GM meetings in Orlando for shorstop Marco Scutaro, who is scheduled to earn $5 million next season, while holding a $6 million team option, or $3 million player option for 2012.

Part of any hesitation regarding attempting to secure the services of Nishioka might be due to the progression of shortstop Jose Iglesias, who continued to impress with his play in the Arizona Fall League and is thought to be on track to compete for a major league job in 2012.

For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Minor Details: Keith Law on Sox trade chips

11.19.10 at 3:22 am ET
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Keith Law of ESPN.com joined this week’s installment of Minor Details. The weekly podcast, which examines the shape of the Red Sox farm system, focused this week on how well positioned the Red Sox are to make trades this winter now that the Hot Stove season seems to have been ignited.

Law touched on a number of topics, including:

–Is it worth trading top prospects for a one-year rental such as Adrian Gonzalez? Law suggested that while he thinks that the Padres superstar first baseman would thrive outside of Petco Park, the fact that he is only signed through 2011 means that the Red Sox should not deal a top prospect — such as Casey Kelly — for him.

“In the Red Sox’ division, I wonder if they’re ever really high enough of a probability of making the playoffs that it’s worth giving up prospect depth,” said Law. “You could probably look at Kelly and say he could be in the big leagues in 2012. Maybe not with the Red Sox, but he’s not that far away. … Casey Kelly is not untouchable for me, but he’s pretty darn close to it. I don’t think I’d trade Casey Kelly for one year of Adrian Gonzalez, and I love Adrian Gonzalez.”

–Do the Red Sox have the pieces to trade for superstars such as Justin Upton this offseason? For many teams, Law believes the answer is yes. There might be some clubs that are looking for what he described as the “country strong,” light-up-the-radar gun pitching prospect who is not to be found in the upper levels of the Red Sox system. But for most clubs, the array and depth of prospects the Sox feature create the basis for deal.

“Your currency may not be good at all 29 banks in the trade market,” said Law. “It might be good at 20 of them. That’s good enough in most cases.”

–Whether there are untouchables in the Red Sox system?

–The trade value of Felix Doubront, whom Law described as a valuable secondary component to a deal because he is big league ready and capable of either taking a spot in the back of the rotation or filling a bullpen role right now.

“He’s valuable as a chip because he’s a big league-ready arm in some role … who will make no money,” said Law. “That’s tremendous value. … You can’t build a deal around Felix Doubront, but he has a lot of value as the second or even third player in a larger deal because he delivers value to the acquiring club from day one.”

Law described Doubront as being a great fit for teams like the Padres and Pirates.

–How the Sox might view the possibility of trading either Lars Anderson or Anthony Rizzo, based on their relative values, their potential and the fact that the team has some redundancy at first base. Law describes Rizzo as potentially having 30-35 home run power, making him “the more valuable property,” although he also noted that Anderson could play first base for a major league club on opening day.

–Does Jose Iglesias make Jed Lowrie expendable? Does Jed Lowrie make Jose Iglesias expendable? Law described Lowrie as being, like Doubront, a very valuable secondary piece to a deal, a major league-ready piece but someone who does not anchor a deal. Iglesias — about whose defense Law raved — might have more trade value, or value to the Red Sox.

–At what position do the Red Sox possess the greatest surplus for a deal?

–Why did Andrew Miller project to be a star in college, and why does he now represent a project hoping to salvage his career.

–How are Red Sox prospects such as Ryan Lavarnway and some Rule 5-eligible relievers performing in the Arizona Fall League?

To listen to the podcast, click here.

To listen to the first episode of the podcast, discussing Baseball America’s list of the Top 10 Red Sox prospects with Sox farm director Mike Hazen and Baseball America’s Jim Callis, click here.

To send feedback or suggestions for future episodes, email aspeier@weei.com.

Read More: Adeiny Hechevarria, adrian gonzalez, Albert Pujols, andrew miller

Report: Scutaro trade market taking shape

11.18.10 at 8:55 pm ET
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Could it be one and done for yet another Red Sox shortstop? According to CSNNE.com, the Red Sox would be open to a deal of shortstop Marco Scutaro — who signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal with Boston almost a year ago, in exchange for bullpen help.

The Red Sox have dealt with a well-documented shortstop merry-go-round since Nomar Garciaparra was traded in 2004. The team signed Edgar Renteria to a four-year deal after that season, only to trade him to the Braves after one season. The team signed Alex Gonzalez to a one-year deal for 2006, then inked Julio Lugo to a four-year pact starting in 2007. But Lugo spent just one full year as the Sox’ everyday shortstop before injuries and poor performances led him to be dumped in mid-2009. Now, it would appear that there is at least a chance that Scutaro would part ways with the Sox before the conclusion of his deal.

According to the report, the Red Sox have received interest from a half-dozen clubs in shortstop Marco Scutaro. Scutaro signed a two-year, $12.5 million deal last offseason. He will make $5 million in 2011, with a $6 million club option that comes with a $1.5 million buyout, as well as a $3 million player option for the 2012 season. The report suggests that a number of teams — including the Cardinals, Reds, Padres and Giants — are in the shortstop market, and that the Sox would be open to moving Scutaro in exchange for bullpen help. In his place, the team could turn to Jed Lowrie at shortstop, with a possibility of having Jose Iglesias emerge sometime in mid- to late-2012.

Scutaro, in his first year in Boston, set a career high with 150 games despite dealing with injuries for much of the season. He hit .275 with a .333 OBP, .388 slugging mark, .721 OPS, 11 homers and 56 RBI, spending most of the season in the leadoff spot. Lowrie played 55 games down the stretch, spending most of his time at second and shortstop while hitting .287/.381/.526/.907 with nine homers and 24 RBI.

Read More: Jed Lowrie, marco scutaro,
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