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Rumor Mill at this hour: 7 p.m.

12.07.09 at 7:26 pm ET
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A source tells Ken Rosenthal that they are “99 percent certain” that Carl Pavano will accept arbitration and stay with the Twins.

Jon Heyman tweets that the Mets are meeting with the agents for Randy Wolf, Joel Pineiro, Jason Marquis, and John Lackey. Heyman pegs the Mets’ chances of getting Roy Halladay at “.000001%.”

Read More: Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro, john lackey, Randy Wolf

Rumor Mill at this hour: 6 p.m.

12.07.09 at 6:23 pm ET
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Matt Murton, of deadline ’04 fame, has been sold by the Rockies to the Hanshin Tigers, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com.

Peter Gammons has the Rays shooting down rumors that they are discussing Wade Davis and B.J. Upton for Roy Halladay. Heyman says the Angels may be interested.

According to ESPN, the Rangers have inquired about J.J. Putz and Brett Myers in addition to Matt Lyndstrom.

Read More: brett myers, J.J. Putz, Matt Lyndstrom, Roy Halladay

Rumor Mill at this hour: 5 p.m.

12.07.09 at 5:17 pm ET
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Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi are reporting the Rays have contacted the Blue Jays about Roy Halladay. The report suggests the Rays could part with pitching prospect Wade Davis and B.J. Upton in a deal for the 2003 AL Cy Young winner. Halladay would need to waive his no-trade clause in order to facilitate such a trade.

The Yankees and Mets have both inquired about Kelvim Escobar, according to Joel Sherman. Michael Silverman says the Red Sox met with Escobar’s agent, who also represents Rafael Soriano.

Adam Everett is returning to the Tigers, according to the team. The shortstop hit .238 / .288 / .325 with three homers and 44 RBI in 2009.

Read More: adam everett, B.J. Upton, Kelvim Escobar, Roy Halladay

Epstein: Bay Remains ‘One of Our Priorities’

12.07.09 at 4:59 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said that the first day of the Winter Meetings had offered a chance to touch base with several agents and teams. Still, he suggested it was too early to tell whether anything might get done between now and Thursday, when the teams depart from the baseball convention.

Epstein said that re-signing Jason Bay is “definitely one of our priorities, certainly.” He would not say when the Sox will meet with Bay’s agent, Joe Urbon, but Epstein did suggest that a meeting would happen between the team and representative in Indianapolis.

The Sox GM also said that there have been few surprise names to emerge as available in the trade market.

“The landscape of available players is kind of what we thought it was,” said Epstein. “Now, we’re seeing a slow push towards execution.”

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Casey Kelly Commits To Pitching

12.07.09 at 4:42 pm ET
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Red Sox prospect Casey Kelly, after completing a first professional season that was described by GM Theo Epstein as “unique” as he split his time between pitching and playing shortstop, informed the Sox on Monday that he intended to commit to a career as a pitcher going forward. He forged a 2.08 ERA while splitting the year between Low A Greenville and High A Salem before he commenced a partial season as a shortstop in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League and Single A Greenville (combined .222/.302/.340/.642) and the Arizona Fall League.

Kelly made his decision after a meeting with Red Sox officials last week. Kelly, along with his father, Pat, and two of his agents, met in Fort Myers with Epstein, farm director Mike Hazen, former Lowell Spinners manager (and current roving infield instructor) Gary DiSarcina. The Sox tried to give Kelly a sense of how they regarded him as a pitcher, but the organization also wanted to be mindful of the 20-year-old’s preference. Ultimately, Kelly – a first-round pick in 2008 who signed for a $3 million bonus – agreed with the Sox that his best chance to make an impact was as a pitcher.

Kelly will take part in the Red Sox’ Rookie Development Program in January, and will receive an invitation to big-league camp in spring training. That invitation reflects how close he could be to the majors, with Epstein estimating that he could be knocking on the door to the majors in the next year or two.

“He’s as excited about his future on the mound as we are,” said Epstein. “I don’t think you could ever expect a 19-year-old pitcher to go out and do what he did. It’s a pretty impressive debut.

“I think he sees he’s relatively close to the big leagues, certainly for his age, and has a chance to make an impact in this organization. … Maybe he agreed with us in the end that this was his chance to make the most profound impact on the organization.”

Kelly features an impressive arsenal: a two- and four-seam fastball, changeup and curve, all of which project as potentially plus pitches by the time he is ready for the majors. He also has the ability, Epstein suggested, to add a slider. He has advanced command of all of the pitches, and even though he is relatively inexperienced, the Sox GM noted that he “looked like a big-league pitcher” at times during his 95-inning professional unveiling.

Despite his limited time on the mound in 2009, some officials believe that Kelly could start the year in Double A Portland.

Had Kelly told the organization that he continued to see himself as a shortstop, the Sox would have accommodated him, but they would have continued to structure his player development along the lines of what they did this year, with the player splitting time between pitching and the field. The team would have wanted to leave the door open to Kelly committing to pitching, but continuing the split-season approach might have ultimately delayed his development in one or both areas. Thus, it comes as little surprise that the Sox were, in Epstein’s words, “glad it turned out this way.”

According to Epstein, that sentiment was shared by Kelly. Now that he is committed to just one career path, rather than two, the prospect can limit some of the distractions that he faced at the start of his career, and instead proceed with greater clarity about his future.

“I think it was a burden on Casey to do both,” Epstein said. “He didn’t want any of the extra attention. That’s not his personality. He’s very at ease with himself, but it’s hard to answer the same question 10 times everyday, especially when you’re not sure what you want to do. When he called me a couple days ago, he said and sounded like the weight of the world was off his shoulders. He was really excited to choose one path and dedicate himself to it, something that can make him even better, because now he has a sole focus.”

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Bay fits Seattle manager’s philosophy

12.07.09 at 4:25 pm ET
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I sat in on Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu’s presser as he talked about the impact on a club when high OBP guys are brought into a young lineup. He referenced Bobby Abreu’s impact on the Angels lineup and believes that its “contagious.” He also talked about watching Michael Young everyday and how that impacted the rest of that lineup. That way of thinking makes players like Chone Figgins and Jason Bay even more appealing. He called Jason Bay an “impact bat.”  Don’t rule out the Mariners quite yet in the Jason Bay sweepstakes.

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Rumor Mill at this hour: 4 p.m.

12.07.09 at 4:06 pm ET
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After originally reporting a rumor that the Mets had landed Edwin Jackson, Ed Price is tweeting that the Tigers are currently deciding between offers from 12 teams for the starter.

Amidst rumors that they may have one starting pitcher on the way, Buster Olney is reporting that the Mets will meet with John Lackey‘s agent Monday night. Lackey has a career ERA of 3.81 in eight seasons with the Angels.

Read More: edwin jackson, john lackey, Rumor Mill,

Rumor Mill: Red Sox in on Johnson?

12.07.09 at 3:55 pm ET
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Jayson Stark is tweeting that the Red Sox are one of many teams interested in Nick Johnson. Other teams interested include the Mariners, Yankees, Mets, Orioles, Giants, and Diamondbacks.  The Red Sox’ connection to Johnson dates back to May, when Boston reportedly shot down a straight up swap of Johnson for Manny Delcarmen. Bill Ladson says the first baseman is seeking a two-year deal.

Read More: manny delcarmen, nick johnson, Rumor Mill,

Red Sox Make Atchison Signing Official

12.07.09 at 3:55 pm ET
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The Red Sox just issued a press release announcing the signing of pitcher Scott Atchison to a one-year deal that includes team options for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. The release is below:

BOSTON, MA ‘€” The Boston Red Sox today signed right-handed pitcher Scott Atchison to a non-guaranteed one-year contract with two club options.

The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.

Atchison, 33, spent the 2008-09 seasons pitching for the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’€™s Central League. He compiled a 12-9 record with a 2.77 ERA (60 ER/194.2 IP), 166 strikeouts and 46 walks in 117 career relief outings with the Tigers. The right-hander tallied a 1.70 ERA (17 ER/90.0 IP) while going 5-3 in 75 games with Hanshin during the 2009 campaign.

Selected by the Seattle Mariners in the 49th round of the 1998 First-Year Player Draft, Atchison has made 53 career Major League relief appearances over parts of three seasons with the Mariners (2004-05) and San Francisco Giants (2007). He is 2-3 in those contests with a 4.10 ERA (31 ER/68.0 IP), 70 strikeouts and 25 walks. Atchison’€™s last season in the United States came for the Giants organization in 2007. He posted a 4.11 ERA (14 ER/30.2 IP) in 22 outings with San Francisco and was 3-2 with four saves and a 2.01 ERA (12 ER/53.2 IP) in 38 appearances at Triple-A Fresno.

The Red Sox 40-man roster is now at 35.

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Matsuzaka Heading to API

12.07.09 at 3:52 pm ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka will begin an offseason conditioning program at Athletes’ Performance on Tuesday. He is slated to spend a couple of weeks there, return to Japan, then come back to Arizona to continue the program in January.

The right-hander, who butted heads with the Red Sox when he landed on the disabled list this year due to shoulder fatigue, was described by manager Terry Francona as being in excellent shape, and appears to have embraced a more rigorous workout and conditioning program than he had been inclined to follow in previous offseasons since coming to Major League Baseball for the 2007 season.

“His weight is actually lower than it was when the season was over,” said Francona. “We’ve been through so much. He knows how we feel. We know how he feels. We just really want him to be good.

“Maybe what happened — at the time, it wasn’t a lot of fun. Sometimes, when things happen, how you move forward is really important. We kind of put the gloves down and told him how we felt. He told us. I think it was really good for everybody. We probably had gotten to the point where we needed to have pretty direct conversations.”

Read More: athletes performance, Daisuke Matsuzaka,
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