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Hot stove roundup, 8 a.m.: Marlins in play for Zack Greinke?

12.09.10 at 8:19 am ET
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The Marlins made an attempt to land Royals’ ace Zack Greinke via a three-team trade with the Rangers on Wednesday night, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com. The deal never gained any serious momentum, according to a source in the Rosenthal story. The Rangers, Blue Jays, Nationals and Dodgers have all showed interest in Greinke, who was the Cy Young winner in 2009 but slipped to a 10-14 record with an ERA of 4.17 in 2010.

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How Carl Crawford could transform the Red Sox

12.09.10 at 1:14 am ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As soon as an executive of another team heard about the Red Sox‘ deal with outfielder Carl Crawford (reportedly a seven-year, $142 million pact), the reaction was immediate.

“Holy [expletive],” he said. “Think about that lineup.”

It’s all hypothetical now, of course, and it is still more than 100 days until Opening Day. But the acquisition of Crawford to join fellow newcomer Adrian Gonzalez has astonishing potential. The team will feature a pair of dynamic jackrabbits with sneaky pop in Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury. The two could combine for 100 steals. Crawford has averaged 50 steals a season over the last eight years; Ellsbury averaged 60 steals in 2008-09. The Sox now feature six of the last eight AL stolen base champions, and a pair of players with the potential for a speed element unlike any other in the game.

‘€œI don’€™t know another player who looks so much like myself. It’€™s crazy sometimes,’€ Crawford said of Ellsbury before the season. ‘€œI think he’€™s almost exactly like me. When I see him, I see myself.”

Dustin Pedroia is among the best offensive and all-around second basemen in the game, a player who was on pace for a 20-homer/20-steal season in 2010 before breaking his foot with a foul ball.

The team also features tremendous middle-of-the-order pop. Gonzalez and David Ortiz both launched more than 30 homers last year. With a return to health, Kevin Youkilis is a threat to hit 25-30 homers, and he ranks perennially among the AL leaders in slugging and OPS. J.D. Drew has averaged 22 homers a year for the Sox over the last three years.

The Sox scored 818 runs last year, second in the American League. With the additions of Crawford and Gonzalez to replace the departed Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, as well as returns to health for the likes of Ellsbury, Youkilis and Pedroia, 900 or more runs would appear to be in reach.

The Sox can round out their lineup with a shortstop who had an above-average OPS for the position last year in Marco Scutaro and a catcher who represents an upside gamble in Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Meanwhile, the team also has the potential to offer a superb defensive unit. Crawford is one of four Gold Glovers who would project to be a part of the team’s Opening Day roster, joining Youkilis (whose Gold Glove was at first base rather than third), Gonzalez and Pedroia.

With the acquisition of Crawford, the team could address one of its foremost deficiencies of 2010, namely its poor outfield production and poor outfield defense.

The Sox ranked last in the American League in outfield batting average (.245), second-to-last in OBP (.317) and third to last in OPS (.729). Crawford, meanwhile, hit .307/.356/.495/.851 with 19 homers, 90 RBI and 47 steals. At 29, he is in his prime.

Meanwhile, with Ellsbury and Mike Cameron both limited by injuries, the Sox’ outfield defense suffered while being patched together. According to FanGraphs.com, the Red Sox had the third-worst outfield defense in the majors, as rated by UZR, having cost the Sox 23.4 runs more than a group of league-average outfielders. Crawford, meanwhile, rated as the third best defensive outfielder in the majors, having saved 18.5 more runs than an average defensive outfielder.

And so, the Sox have managed to build in the course of the past two offseasons a potential juggernaut, a rotation anchored by a pair of developing young aces (Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz), a ferocious lineup and a strong defense. It is not a team without holes ‘€” the Sox still have yet to overhaul their bullpen ‘€” but in the span of a few days, a team that finished last year with 89 wins has sent shock waves throughout the division and the baseball industry.

‘€œGood move. … Boston has the money, and they had a need,’€ Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said when asked about rival Theo Epstein‘€™s big move. ‘€œGood player. Great player.’€

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Yankees never made offer to Crawford

12.09.10 at 12:32 am ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — According to a source familiar with the discussions, the Yankees never made an offer to free agent outfielder Carl Crawford before he reached his stunning seven-year, $142 million deal with the Red Sox. The Angels were viewed by the industry as the front-runner for Crawford’s services, but one source suggested that the Halos had only gone to $108 million, though it was not clear what the term of that offer was.

Read More: carl crawford, Hot Stove, New York Yankees,

Red Sox agree to terms with Carl Crawford

12.08.10 at 11:50 pm ET
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According to a major league source, the Red Sox have reached an agreement with outfielder Carl Crawford, as first reported by the Boston Globe. Multiple reports peg the value of the agreement at seven years and $142 million, suggesting that only a physical and some final contract language stand in the way of the biggest deal ever inked by the current Red Sox ownership group.

The $20.3 million average annual value surpasses the $18 million a year that Jayson Werth will receive in his fresh seven-year, $126 million deal from the Nationals. The 29-year-old Crawford was widely considered the top position player in free agency and had reportedly drawn interest from the Angels and Yankees, among others. That said, the Sox had some pause about whether to go to as many as seven years for Crawford, and for a team the team was more enamored of the idea of signing Werth for a shorter term.

But once Werth went for seven years — more than the Sox would have considered — the team made its play for Crawford, resulting in the team’s second blockbuster of the last week. That followed the Sox’ acquisition of slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in a trade with the Padres on Sunday.

The Sox explored other market alternatives. The team had been interested in Werth before he signed his deal with the Nationals. The club also kicked the tires on the possibility of trading for Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, but those talks never became serious, according to multiple sources. Meanwhile, the team had shown interest in outfielder Magglio Ordonez as a right-handed slugger who might fit on a shorter-term deal.

But the prize of the outfield market all along was Crawford, a player whose impact the Sox have often remarked upon.

“I think he’€™s a game changer,” Sox manager Terry Francona said on the Dale & Holley Show last month. “He’€™s that guy that can change a game defensively, offensively. When he gets on base, he gives you a headache. He has a little bit of that Johnny Damon in him where, he’€™s swinging and I’€™m not sure he knows where the ball is going, but he fouls off six or seven and then he’€™ll rifle one into right field or bounce one and beat it out. He has a way of changing the game. It frustrates the heck out of you. Sometimes you can do everything right, and if he gets on base you can’€™t throw him out.”

For much of the offseason, there was an industry-wide expectation that Crawford might prefer to go to a less intense baseball climate. The Angels and Rangers had both expressed interest in the outfielder, and some believed that he might prefer to play in those cities.

But Rays manager Joe Maddon, who witnessed Crawford’s emergence into an All-Star over the last five seasons, insisted that Crawford will face no problem heading to the Red Sox.

“First of all, they’€™re going to love him. He’€™s going to be embraced. There’€™s going to be a love-fest. He’€™s going to make all types of play, and do all kind of stuff where the Boston fans will fall in love with him immediately, so I don’€™t think there will be any type of negative pressure coming his way to perform,’€ Maddon said on Tuesday.

‘€œHe’€™ll stay to himself, although Carl has come out of his shell a little bit the last couple of years. Going to the playoffs, World Series, being an All-Star MVP, all that kind of stuff, I think he’€™s kind of blossomed in that regard. He might surprise you ‘€¦ He’€™s going to feed off the energy.’€

In nine seasons with the Rays, Crawford hit .296/.337/.444 with 409 stolen bases and 765 runs. He hit .307/.356/.495/.851 with a career-high 19 homers in 2010.

Rob Bradford and D.J. Bean contributed to this report.

Read More: carl crawford, Hot Stove, Red Sox,

Hot stove roundup, 11 p.m.: The Matt Garza trade market

12.08.10 at 11:00 pm ET
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The Cubs, fresh on taking one big name away from the Rays in Carlos Pena, appear intent on getting another. According to a report from ESPNChicago, Tampa and Chicago officials met for a second time on Wednesday to discuss a deal that would land the Cubs right-handed pitcher Matt Garza.

Bruce Levine writes that the Rays would get a number of top prospects from the Cubs in the deal. Regardless of the return package, the Rays would be who would be losing a guy who was second among their starters in wins (15), innings pitched (204.2), earned run average (3.91), and WHIP (1.25).

The Brewers and Rangers are also reportedly interested in a trade for Garza, but Levine notes that the Brewers are waiting to see what happens with Carl Pavano. The Rangers, of course, are still attempting to retain the services of Cliff Lee.

Read More: Cliff Lee, Hot Stove, matt garza,

Epstein: Red Sox already got their big bat

12.08.10 at 9:17 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Red Sox GM Theo Epstein met with reporters to discuss the state of affairs for his team on the last night of the winter meetings. There was little activity to report, and the GM said he was not expecting to have any deals in place on Wednesday night.

Among the topics discussed:

–Epstein said that the team has already made its big move for offense with the trade of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

“I think we got our big bat through trade, for the most part,” he said. “Still looking for good players but the Gonzalez acquisition put us in a little bit of a different spot in terms of our need to do something. We’€™re still looking for the right player and the right fit.”

With Gonzalez in tow, the Sox have been able to operate with relative freedom in terms of time constraints. They have already made the central acquisition of the offseason that will dictate the team’s other moves.

“We don’€™t have to force things in pursuing players,” said Epstein. “In any negotiation, it’€™s a tough spot to feel like you have to make something happen, and if you don’€™t the alternative is unacceptable. Starting from a stronger position allows you to be patient, maybe see more possibilities, see things for how they are than how you want them to be.”

–The Sox did not have a representative at a workout for free agent Magglio Ordonez. Epstein said that he was under the impression that the workout was for just one club. His agent, Scott Boras, had said earlier in the day that the Tigers were at the workout.

–Epstein said that “for the right player,” the Sox would make a multi-year offer in trying to add a right-handed outfielder.

–He said that the team has some offers out to free agent position players, though the team is not close to a deal on that front. On Tuesday, Epstein had said that the club had also made offers to “a number” of relievers.

–The Sox have talked with left-hander Rich Hill this offseason about the prospect of bringing him back, saying that the club was “very interested in signing him. I think he’s very interested in being here.”

Hill was with the Sox for the final weeks of the season, but was outrighted from the 40-man roster at the end of the year and elected free agency.

–The Sox met in person during the Meetings with left-hander Andrew Miller, for whom they traded in November and then non-tendered earlier this month. The Sox have interest in signing him, but it remains to be seen whether they reach a deal.

–The market for middle relievers has been somewhat stagnant, with teams and players not yet matching up. That, Epstein suggested, is unsurprising, but he expects that dominoes in that market might soon start falling.

“Most players don’€™t want to be the first to sign for fear of getting more later,” said Epstein. “But they don’€™t want to wait too long and have fewer options with less resources out there. The teams, it’€™s the reverse. It’€™s one big dance. Teams and players will match up soon, I’€™m sure.”

–The Sox remain undecided about whether they will select a reliever in the Rule 5 draft. If they do, it would be a reliever. The Sox also feel that if any of their players are taken through the Rule 5 process — which requires a team to pay $50,000 for a player’s rights and to keep him on the major league roster all year or else subject him to waivers and then, if he goes unclaimed, offer him back to his original team for $25,000 — they will end up getting them back.

–Epstein revealed that the Sox tried last year to get a club option year attached to the one-year, $10 million deal to which they signed Adrian Beltre, who was asking for a five-year contract at this time a year ago. The club did not receive such a provision, which is why Beltre is now a free agent.

–Former Red Sox scout Jerry Stephenson, a member of the Impossible Dream team in 1967, was named Scout of the Year by the program’s Advisory Board. Stephenson was an advance scout for the Dodgers from 1974-95 before joining the Sox to serve in the same role from 1996-2009. Stephenson passed away earlier this year; his award was accepted posthumously by his son, Brian Stephenson, a West Coast Supervisor of Amateur Scouts for the Dodgers.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Hot Stove, rich hill, rule 5

Hot stove roundup, 8 p.m.: Orioles getting closer to trading for J.J. Hardy

12.08.10 at 8:56 pm ET
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Turns out that the reason why the Red Sox and so many other teams were not at Magglio Ordonez‘ workout on Wednesday was because it wasn’t intended for them. Ian Browne tweets that it was a private workout for the Tigers.

Quick hits:

‘™¦ According to a tweet from TwinsNow, the Orioles and Twins are continuing to talk in hopes of hammering out a deal that sends shortstop J.J. Hardy to Baltimore. Kelsie Smith notes that the discussions may not be done for the day, but that it is unclear whether anything will be finalized before the sides eventually call it a night.

‘™¦ The Phillies may have the itch to do something they’ve done often in trading for a big-name pitcher. According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, the team has spoken to the Phillies about Zack Greinke. In the last two years, the team has pulled off trades for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt. Salisbury notes that a Greinke trade is a longshot.

‘™¦ A source also tells Salisbury that the Phillies are “very” close to signing reliever Denys Reyes and could also ink Chad Durbin. Salisbury writes that the team was interested in George Sherrill before he signed with the Braves.

Hot Stove Roundup, 6 p.m.: Braves sign reliever George Sherrill to one-year deal

12.08.10 at 6:13 pm ET
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ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports that the Braves have reached a one-year agreement with free agent relief pitcher George Sherrill worth $1.2 million, which includes $200,000 in incentives. The deal is pending a physical that will take place within the next 48 hours.

Sherrill is coming off of a down year – one that included a 6.69 ERA in 36.1 innings over 65 games with the Dodgers. The 33-year-old pitcher has spent seven years in the majors, and has a career ERA of 3.76.

Quick Hits:

‘™¦ Sources with knowledge of the deal say that the Mariners have reached an agreement with DH/outfielder Jack Cust on a one-year deal, ESPN.com reports. The Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the deal was pending a physical and yet to be formally announced. Cust spent the past four seasons with the Athletics, and in 2010, Cust hit .272 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs in 112 games.

‘™¦ Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted on Wednesday that the Rays will “definitely” trade shortstop Jason Bartlett. MLBtraderumors.com reports that the Orioles aren’t involved in any trade talks with the Rays for Bartlett, so that leaves just the Pirates and the Padres that have shown interest. Sherman reported that wherever Bartlett ends up, he wants to sign an extension with his new team.

‘™¦ Since the Orioles are out of the running for Bartlett, the team has shown interest in acquiring Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy, MLBtraderumors reports. The Pirates are also interested and have inquired about the availability of Hardy, Scott Miller of CBS Sports reports. No deals were close to finalizing today, MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli tweets.

‘™¦ According to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, the Mets agreed to a minor league deal with pitcher Boof Bonser, Davidoff tweeted on Wednesday. Bonser, the 29-year-old right hander, pitched 25 innings this past season with the Athletics and the Red Sox. Bonser posted a 6.12 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 rates. Bonser missed the 2009 season after undergoing shoulder surgery. The Mets will be able to retain Bonser through arbitration after the 2011 season.

Hot Stove Report, 5 p.m.: Dodgers targeting Dioner Navarro if Russell Martin departs

12.08.10 at 5:32 pm ET
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ESPN Los Angeles is reporting that, in the event free-agent catcher Russell Martin ends up elsewhere next season, the Dodgers are targeting Dioner Navarro for a one-year deal. Navarro, who began his major league career with the Dodgers back in 2005, will reportedly split time with newly-signed catcher Rod Barajas if the deal was finalized.

Navarro will be 27 years old just before spring training. The catcher helped the Rays to their first World Series appearance in 2008, and spent the last four and a half seasons in St. Petersburg. Navarro batted .194 with one home run and seven RBIs. The Rays sent him to Triple-A Durham for a portion of the 2010 season.

Martin has been in talks with the Red Sox after the Dodgers non-tendered him last week.

Quick Hits:

‘™¦  MLBtraderumors.com reports that the Diamondbacks have re-signed pitcher Mike Hampton to a minor league deal. The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro tweeted that the 38-year old will be back with the ball club, and will be competing for a bullpen job. Hampton is a former Cy Young runner-up who signed with the D-Backs in August after returning from rotator cuff surgery. He made 10 appearances last year with Arizona.

‘™¦ The Red Sox have shown significant interest in signing free agent outfielder Magglio Ordonez, and might be focused on the former Tiger as the primary target outfielder, CBS Sports reports. The Tigers have also shown interest in re-signing Ordonez, and the Phillies and Orioles have submitted their names for the outfielder that missed significant time last season with a broken ankle. Ordonez’s health is the main concern looking forward. If the Sox were to sign Ordonez, that would all but effectively end the Sox’ interest in Carl Crawford. The Red Sox are one of the key teams in the Crawford sweepstakes.

‘™¦ Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted earlier on Wednesday that the Brewers have reached an agreement with catcher Wil Nieves, who was a member of the Nationals last season. The Nats non-tendered the catcher last week, which made him a free agent. Nieves is 33 years old and has spent parts of seven seasons in the majors, most recently with the Nationals, where he had 172 plate appearances. He also threw out 24 percent of base runners, which matched his career high. MLBtraderumors.com reported that the Brewers were looking for a veteran catcher to pair with Jonathan Lucroy behind the plate.

‘™¦ The Cincinnati Reds tweeted on Wednesday that the club has agreed to a two-year contract with free agent utility man Miguel Cairo through the 2012 season. Cairo spent the 2010 season with the Reds where he appeared in 90 games with a .353 on-base percentage. His primary role was backing up third baseman Scott Rolen, but as a utility man played all four infield positions and saw time in the outfield.

‘™¦ According to ESPN.com, two sources close to free agent Carl Cawford expect that the outfielder will sign with the Angels. Crawford met with the YankeesBrian Cashman on Tuesday, sources told ESPN’s Buster Olney, but high-ranking baseball sources said on Tuesday that they expect to see Crawford in Anaheim next season. The Angels are also targeting free agent Third baseman Adrian Beltre, and agent Scott Boras said that there is mutual interest between Beltre and the Angels, but it is unlikely that the team will sign both him and Crawford. Crawford figures to command a seven-year, nine-figure deal.

Johnny Damon clears the air about the Red Sox

12.08.10 at 5:17 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Johnny Damon would love to come back to Boston.

J.D. has been around the Winter Meetings. I talked to him by phone earlier today about his interest in returning to Boston, as well as the reasons why he turned down an opportunity to return to the Sox last season.

J.D. wanted to make it clear that his decision to refuse the waiver claim by the Red Sox in August was never about the city of Boston, the Red Sox organization or the fans. There is no ill will there. It was solely about his desire to remain with a Tigers team that he loved. He loved the team, he loved his teammates, and he hoped to stay with the Tigers beyond 2010.

“You know me. I’ve always been extremely loyal to my teammates,” he told me. “A lot of them expressed their desire to keep me around. My intention was to return there this year, but they had other plans.”

Just because Johnny decided not to return last season, it doesn’t mean he’s closed the door. In fact, he’d love to come back.

“Obviously, I’d love to return to Boston,” he said. “I loved playing there, and I think it would be a perfect fit, with the chance to win again. I know I could do that in Boston.”

Physically, J.D. feels great. He spent a lot of last year as the Tigers DH. The only stress he put on his body was trying to score from first on doubles. He still feels like he can play left field regularly, and he feels like he can still hit against lefties.

It may be a long shot for the Red Sox to bring Johnny back. However, it was important for him and Red Sox Nation to know that the decision to stay in Detroit was never anything personal.

Read More: Detroit Tigers, Hot Stove, Johnny Damon,
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