|01.05.10 at 6:20 pm ET|
A baseball source said that Bill Hall would be going from the Mariners to the Red Sox in the Casey Kotchman deal, describing his inclusion in the agreement between the clubs as “a done deal.” Hall will be sent to the Sox along with a player to be named and cash for Kotchman.
Hall would be a useful role player for the Sox given his ability to play multiple infield (short and third) and outfield positions. And, as a right-handed hitter with pull power, he would be a good complement to a Sox team that features three left-handed outfielders (starters J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury, and backup Jeremy Hermida) along with the right-handed Mike Cameron.
In 2009, Hall had six homers and 24 RBI with a .201 batting average over 76 games before finishing the season in Seattle. With the Mariners, he had two homers and 12 RBI to go along with a .200 average over the final 34 games of the year. Over the course of his eight-year career, Hall has a .251 batting average, along with 104 homers and 379 RBI.
Hall is due $8.4M, the last of a four-year, $24M deal. Were the Mariners to pick up most of his salary — something they could do with the $7-8M received from the Brewers when they dealt for Hall last summer — Hall could help the Sox’ luxury tax numbers quite a bit. He would represent a savings of about $1.5 for the purposes of luxury tax calculations. That, along with the roughly $3.5M saved by dealing Casey Kotchman, is what allowed the Sox to sign Adrian Beltre with a minimal luxury tax hit.
The minor-league player to be named in the deal will be just that — the Sox will evaluate a group of Mariners prospects in spring training before selecting one as a player in return.
|01.05.10 at 5:03 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona confirmed that Jacoby Ellsbury will play left field for the Red Sox in 2010 and two-time Gold Glove winner Mike Cameron will play centerfield. The news was first reported by The Providence Journal.
Cameron has played only centerfield since the 2005 season, when he and Mets centerfielder Carlos Beltran had a frightful collision while Cameron — who signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal with the Sox earlier this offseason — was in right field. Cameron made clear that he was more than happy to play any outfield position for the Red Sox, but Francona, in concert with bench coach DeMarlo Hale and G.M. Theo Epstein, decided that having Ellsbury in left, Cameron in center and J.D. Drew in right made for the optimal defensive team.
“With [Cameron's] long strides and him being a centerfielder, and Jacoby’s first-step quickness, I think this sets us up better where we can get, I think the word is, dynamic out in the outfield,” said Francona. “I can’t tell you how many times Carl Crawford’s come across in left field and taken away a hit and I’ve thought, ‘Damn.’ Any time you have the ability to put a centerfielder in left field, you’re going to be better. That’s what we’re doing.”
Ellsbury played the corner outfield positions for the Sox at times in 2007 and 2008, in place of Manny Ramirez. In those instances, when paired with Coco Crisp and Drew, he helped the Sox to have tremendous outfield coverage. The Sox, clearly, are hoping that he might have a similar impact in 2010.
“It came down to the fact that Cameron’s experience is almost exclusively in center and Jacoby demonstrated in 2007 and 2008 that he can be an impact corner outfielder defensively,” Epstein said via email. “We are more than comfortable with Jacoby in center. We just feel that — for now — this alignment puts us in the best position to win games. Both Mike and Jacoby were great about it and said they would do whatever was best for the team. Jacoby knows he’ll still be a centerfielder in the long run, and Mike looks forward to helping Jacoby any way he can.”
The idea of developing Ellsbury as a centerfielder will no doubt be more challenging, particularly the reads of the ball off the bat. Nonetheless, the Sox are hopeful that he will continue to improve at the position. If that happens, then in the long run, it is possible that at some point during Cameron’s time in Boston, the Sox could revisit the question of which outfielder is better suited for a corner and which one is superior in center.
Francona and Hale informed Ellsbury and Cameron of the decision by phone just before Christmas.
|01.05.10 at 4:13 pm ET|
The Red Sox and Mariners are close to an agreement that would send first baseman Casey Kotchman to the Mariners in exchange for a minor-league player to be named later, a major-league role player and cash, according to a major-league source. The deal is not yet finalized. News of the general agreement was first reported by ESPN.com.
Kotchman, who is eligible for salary arbitration after having earned $2.885 million in 2009, became expendable with the Sox’ acquisition of free-agent Adrian Beltre. Though the Sox had spent part of the offseason suggesting that the 26-year-old could be their starting first baseman, Beltre’s signing will allow the Sox to keep Kevin Youkilis at first base.
The cash component of the deal has significant implications for the Red Sox, since any cash transferred to them from another club is deducted from a team’s payroll as calculated for CBT purposes. Thus, in moving Kotchman and his 2010 contract (which will be of more than $3 million) and receiving the cash back, the Sox will save more than $5 million off their CBT payroll.
That, in turn, proved crucial for the Sox in providing the Sox with the payroll flexibility to reach an agreement with third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Kotchman, acquired by the Sox last year at the trade deadline in exchange for Adam LaRoche, hit .218 with a .284 OBP, .287 slugging and .572 OPS in 39 games with the Sox. He is a career .269/.337/.406/.742 hitter.
|01.05.10 at 1:35 pm ET|
NEW YORK — Speaking to reporters at his introductory press conference with the Mets, at Citi Field, Jason Bay touched on his perception of the Red Sox now that he has moved on.
“It’s the nature of the beast. Nobody owes you any favors,” Bay said. “It’s a business and ultimately you go in one direction. I understand that. I liked it (in Boston). It was familiar to me, which was big. But I think being there helped prepare me to be here. I had a good time there. I see it as a good background for my time here.”
Bay also was asked what he thought of the offseason acquistiions made by his former team and responded, “They’re always going to make moves. They have to keep up with the Joneses, so to speak. They have a braintrust of people up there that do a number of things. They know what they’re doing. They have a good idea of what’s going on and they know they have to do things to compete, especially in that division.”
Bay went on to explain that another facto that played into his decision was the intensity of the Mets’ interest.
“Right from the get go, they were very interested,” Bay said. “Not that the Red Sox didn’t, but ultimately it worked out for here.”
|01.05.10 at 11:48 am ET|
NEW YORK — Jason Bay was introduced as a member of the Mets on Tuesday morning. Mets G.M. Omar Minaya presented him with a No. 44 jersey, and hockey Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert also gave the native of Trail, British Columbia, a Rangers jersey. Bay pronounced his excitement to join the Mets, a team that he said interested him from the beginning of the free-agency process, and his bemusement about the sort of rumors that made the rounds — both about his interest in going to New York and his health — over the course of the free-agency process.
Asked about leaving the Sox, Bay said that he was open to the idea of returning to Boston at season’s end.
“What it boiled down to, I just think the Mets wanted me more,” he said.
Here are some of the highlights from Bay’s press conference.
I just want to say thank you to Jeff [Wilpon] and Omar [Minaya] and everyone else that made this possible. It’s obviously a big deal, a big day for me. I’m very, very excited to be here. We were talking about it before and I told my agent when the season ended last year, when you looked around and looked at some of the voids teams had and what I could provide, there was a short list of teams I wanted to go to. The New York Mets were on that list. To be able to be here, to be with a team and in a place I want to be at, in this city and this market and everything, you only get a chance to do this once or twice in your career, and I’m very grateful and very honored to be here.
Why were the Mets on the short list?
First of all, the chance to win. Regardless of what happened last year, you look at the players on this team and it’s a very good team. I think coming in, I offer a little bit of a fresh perspective as an outsider. I don’t really know what went on last year. I know a lot of guys got hurt. But from a straight talent standpoint, it’s a very good team. That was big — a chance to win. I was in a situation in Pittsburgh where I enjoyed my time, but we didn’t win. Then I went to Boston, and really found that winning was a big part of that. And the market and meaningful games, being in Boston, kind of feeling that, having that . . . the window for me to play is very short. If you don’t take advantage of it now, you may never get that. New York is one of those places that, regardless of what sport you play or what you do, it’s the center of everything. Like I said, there were a lot of reasons [why I signed].
Any concerns about power or defense in Citi Field?
For those of you who don’t know, and I’m sure most of you do, Pittsburgh is very spacious as well, and you play half your games on the road. I’m not really concerned. It’s something that’s there, but you go out and I’m confident in the type of player I am. Ballpark or not, I’m still going to do what I do. So that had zero factor in anything in my decision. Defensively, in Pittsburgh it was big there as well. The first few years there, I felt like I was a good outfielder. I got banged up a little bit in ’07, then I went to Boston. There ain’t a lot of room to run around. It’s a challenge to go out there and prove to everyone that I can play pretty good defense. I’ve said before, I’m by no means Torii Hunter out there. I know that. But I still think I’m pretty good. It will be a chance to show everyone that I can be.
You replaced Manny Ramirez in Boston. Does that help you with what you’ll see in New York?
I think it is a huge factor, not only for myself but for the Mets. As long as you toil a little bit in anonymity in some smaller places, I think a lot of people have questions as to if so-and-so can do it here, can they do it here, can they do it here? Through no fault of anyone, unless you get a chance to do it, you can’t prove it. I went to Boston. I’m sure a lot of people said the same thing — even myself. I was like, ‘This is the chance to do it.’ I think that has really prepared me, a lot moreso than coming here from a smaller market. That doesn’t seem daunting. For me, it’s just another year. I kind of feel comfortable having that under my belt.
Any concerns about coming to New York?
There were no concerns. Obviously, right when the season ended and you get the free agency [exclusivity] period and all of a sudden that ends, the Mets were the first team, right from the get-go. My agent actually flew to New York and met with them. Very good, positive meeting. They were all along, after the Winter Meetings, there wasn’t probably a 48-hour window or something where we didn’t talk. So right from the get-go, they were very persistent. They wanted me. I really appreciated that. And then, basically, after the Winter Meetings, it probably seems like it took a long time, but after the Winter Meetings it took less than maybe a week or 10 days or something. We actually had agreed in principle before Christmas. There was a myriad of reasons — I don’t think any of us were even in the country; I was just in Canada, so it wasn’t that far — but to try to get this all done. It probably looks like it took a lot longer than it did. But in reality, it didn’t.
How important was it for you to pick a team you thought could win?
It was one of if not the biggest factor. Like I said, my previous situations, I earned a lot about what type of team I want to be on and the type of atmosphere I want to be under. This was the first chance for me to get a choice. I had been traded and just told where I had to go. To kind of sit down and talk about what are the factors, being on a team with a chance to win, as a competitor, that’s huge when you have a choice. Like I said, record-wise, I know what happened here on the surface, with guys getting hurt. I think that I offer a perspective where, if you look from a talent standpoint. The lineup, if you have everyone healthy you have an amazing lineup and arguably you have the best pitcher, fresh perspective, I don’t see how that can’t be good.
After the season ended, how much did you want to go back to the Red Sox?
It was pretty basic. The season ended in Boston. Once the season ended, they were on the short list. They had the criteria that I was looking for. Ultimately, what it boiled down to, I just think the Mets wanted me more. That’s what it felt, and it felt like it fit. Through no fault of anybody’s, I ended up here. This is where I wanted to be and I’m happy about it.
How much of this was about the money? Was anyone else close?
We can leave the second part of that question [out]. I don’t think we need to get into where I ultimately could have been. Ultimately, I’m here. That’s what I’m focusing on. At some levels, people say it’s not always about the money. The money’s nice — don’t get me wrong. But you bust your tail and put yourself in a position to go somewhere. Money aside, you still have to make that choice. You still have to make a decision. Like I said, New York, it was the perfect fit for everything. We hammered out the contract in almost a week. It was pretty easy. Both sides were happy. I wouldn’t have signed the contract if I didn’t want to be here and wasn’t happy. That couldn’t be further from the truth. That’s why I did it. This is one of the biggest days of my life, and I’m excited.
What did you think of Peter Gammons’ statement that you’d rather play in Beirut than Queens?
I kind of heard about that around the way. It’s funny, maybe to my own detriment a little bit, we kind of cut off all contact until this was done. Basically, if I addressed everything that was false, I’d just be addressing that and not addressing the things that were true. There was a lot written. Where you come up with Beirut, I don’t know. … That’s the funny thing. No one refuted it. I never talked to anybody. No one knew my position on anything except for my family and my agent. People have opinions — that’s fine. To say those were my opinions and that’s the way I felt, that hurts a little bit. But, once again, you can’t control it and it couldn’t be further from the truth.
What is the state of your shoulder and how did you hurt it?
I actually never hurt my shoulder. That was once again me not refuting much. It just kind of took on a life of its own. I had surgery on it in 2003. It’s been great ever since. I saw [Mets doctor Richard] Altchek. Everything was great. It was, again, just one of those things that took on a life of its own. No concerns. I don’t have any concerns whatsoever.
|01.04.10 at 7:49 pm ET|
WEEI.com has confirmed reports that the Red Sox and free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre have agreed on a one-year, $9 million deal that includes a $5 million player option in 2011. The terms were first reported by Peter Gammons (via Twitter).
There is also an escalator clause in the contract that could increase the value of the player option based on the number of plate appearances. By virtue of the inclusion of the player option, the Red Sox’ luxury tax hit will be diminished. Rather than being calculated as a $9 million salary for the purposes of the collective bargaining tax in 2010, Beltre’s deal will be interpreted as being worth $7 million against the $170 million threshold for the 2010 season.
The 30-year-old Beltre played in 111 games with Seattle last season, hitting .265 with eight homers. The three previous seasons, Beltre clubbed 25, 26, and 25 home runs, respectively. Beltre is known as one of the best defensive third basemen in the game, which is one of the major reasons he was targeted by the Red Sox.
“[Beltre is] clearly the best [third baseman] I’ve ever seen in person,” Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon told WEEI.com earlier this offseason. “I think [Evan Longoria] is good, I used to think Scott Brosius was really good. … [Eric] Chavez was good, but Beltre was stupid good. I think Beltre is the best who I’ve ever seen with my two eyes – defender, not just third baseman, but defense.”
A source familiar with the negotiations also classified the rumored swap of Sox third baseman Mike Lowell and Mets second baseman Luis Castillo as not close.
|01.04.10 at 1:09 pm ET|
According to a baseball source, Jason Bay passed his physical with the Mets on Monday morning, the final step that stood between him and finalizing his four-year, $66 million contract that includes a vesting option for the 2014 season that could push the value of the deal to $80 million over five years. News of Bay passing the physical was first reported via Twitter by Brad Como of SNY.
Part of the hang-up in the Red Sox’ negotiations with Bay, according to multiple reports, was related to the team’s concern about the slugger’s knee (Bay underwent arthroscopic surgery after the 2006 season) and right shoulder (which required surgery in 2003). But apparently those areas did not raise any red flags in the physical, with one source stating that suggestions about Bay being subjected to the mother of all physicals was vastly exaggerated.
Bay’s record of staying on the field, meanwhile, is impressive. Over the past five years, he has played the second most games and innings among all major-league outfielders, behind only Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki.
“When you’re talking about this level of elite player, I think that durability and consistency is important,” Bay’s agent, Joe Urbon, said in November. “Everyone talks about Everyday J-Bay, but the fact that he’s one of four outfielders who has not been on the D.L. for a single day in the last five years is something that raises eyebrows.
“It’s all about managing risk,” the agent added. “What [Bay] has to offer is exactly what [teams] are looking for when they’re looking to fill these holes and be safe with their investment, knowing that they’re going to have that rare and valuable combination of durability, consistency and productivity going forward.”
As WEEI.com reported on Sunday, the deal between Bay and the Mets was reached on Christmas morning.
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