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Bobby Jenks’ physical with Red Sox rescheduled

12.18.10 at 8:41 pm ET
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According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the physical required for right-handed reliever Bobby Jenks to finalize his two-year, $12 million deal with the Red Sox was scheduled from Saturday to Monday for logistical reasons. Jenks, who had a 4.44 ERA but 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 2010, would give the Sox a late-innings complement to Daniel Bard as a setup man for closer Jonathan Papelbon.

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Former Red Sox Rookie of the Year Walt Dropo passes away

12.18.10 at 7:44 pm ET
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Former Red Sox star Walt Dropo passed away on Friday night at the age of 87.

Dropo was a multi-sport star for the University of Connecticut, and after serving in World War II and graduating from UConn, he turned down opportunities to play professional basketball and football to sign with the Red Sox. He exploded onto the scene for the Red Sox in 1950, winning American League Rookie of the Year honors by hitting .322 with 34 homers and a league-leading 144 RBI. While he appeared ready to star for years in Boston, he suffered a wrist fracture in the 1951 season, and — despite a major league playing career characterized by solid play over his 13 seasons — he never matched the phenomenal numbers of his rookie season.

In 1952, Dropo was part of a nine-player deal that sent him from the Red Sox to Detroit. He went on to play for the Tigers, White Sox, Reds and Orioles before finishing his career in 1961.

For more on Dropo’s life and career from the Hartford Courant, click here.

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Red Sox make Wheeler deal official

12.18.10 at 1:24 pm ET
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The Red Sox issued the following press release to announce the signing of right-handed reliever Dan Wheeler and confirming that outfielder Jordan Parraz was claimed off waivers by the Yankees:

The Boston Red Sox today signed right-handed pitcher Dan Wheeler to a one-year contract through the 2011 season with a club option for 2012. No further terms were disclosed.

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

Wheeler, 33, went 2-4 with three saves, nine holds and a 3.35 ERA (18 ER/48.1 IP) in 64 relief appearances with Tampa Bay in 2010. He struck out 46 batters and walked 16 while compiling a .207 opponent average (36-for-174). Only 18.2 percent of his inherited runners (6 of 33) came around to score, the second-best mark in the American League last season. Wheeler has posted a 3.24 ERA (62 ER/172.1 IP) over the last three seasons with Tampa Bay and during that span ranks among AL relief leaders in appearances (3rd, 203), holds (5th, 51), opponent on-base percentage (5th, .251), opponent batting average (8th, .195), walks per nine innings (T-8th, 2.45) and inherited runners scored percentage (11th, 24.0).

A native of Warwick, RI, Wheeler was named the 2008 New England Player of the Year by the Boston Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America after ranking second in the AL with 26 holds that season. He is one of just three Major Leaguers with at least 60 appearances in each of the last six campaigns since 2005 and has appeared in 21 postseason games in his career, all out of the bullpen, going 1-0 with one save, a 3.38 ERA (10 ER/26.2 IP) and 28 strikeouts. Selected by Tampa Bay in the 34th round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft, Wheeler is 23-41 with 43 saves, 116 holds, a 3.84 ERA (247 ER/579.0 IP), 514 strikeouts and 179 walks in 530 career Major League appearances (nine starts) with the Rays (1999-2001, 2007-2010), Mets (2003-2004) and Astros (2004-2007).

Additionally, outfielder Jordan Parraz, who was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox on November 24, was claimed by the New York Yankees yesterday. The 26-year-old spent all of the 2010 season with Kansas City’€™s Triple-A affiliate in Omaha, where he hit .266 (115-for-432) with 11 home runs and 61 RBI in 123 games.

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Red Sox round out relief remake by adding Dan Wheeler

12.18.10 at 10:00 am ET
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The Red Sox bullpen was an unquestioned weakness in 2010, the team’s 4.24 ERA ranking 12th in the American League and 24th in the majors. The team’s 22 blown saves were likewise the second most in the American League, as well as fourth most in the majors. It was with good reason that GM Theo Epstein proclaimed the need for relief the team’s most pressing concern, both at the start of the offseason and even after the acquisitions of both Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.

Now, the Red Sox appear close to a reshaping of the group that failed them so often in 2010. The team has already agreed with Bobby Jenks on a two-year deal, pending a physical today. In addition, according to a sources familiar with the negotiations, the Red Sox have agreed to terms with free agent reliever Dan Wheeler. Wheeler passed his physical, making the deal official.

The deal is for one-year with a club option for the 2012 season that will vest with 65 appearances. Wheeler, according to a source, will be paid $3 million in 2011. His option is also worth $3 million, though its value bumps up to $3.25 million if he makes 75 appearances. There is no buyout of the option. (Financial terms were first reported by AOL FanHouse and confirmed by WEEI.com.)

The additions of Wheeler and Jenks give the Sox two experienced late-inning options to bolster the relay to closer Jonathan Papelbon and to provide depth beyond Daniel Bard, who was leaned upon last season as, at times, the lone reliable setup option.

Wheeler was a middle innings reliever for a Tampa Bay Rays club that converted the highest percentage of save opportunities in the AL in 2010; Jenks’ White Sox ranked second in that category. The Rays bullpen also had the best relief ERA (3.33) of any team in the American League.

Though both Wheeler and Jenks are right-handed, both experienced success against hitters from both sides of the plate last season. Jenks had better across-the-board numbers in 2010 against lefties than he did against righties, holding southpaws to a line of .243/.302/.346/.648, compared to a .277/.342/.347/.689 tally by right-handers. Wheeler held righties to a line of .222/.287/.400/.687 and lefties to marks of .154/.227/.436/.663; that said, he was hit hard by lefties in 2009, and was used as something of a right-on-right specialist by the Rays, particularly over the last two years.

Wheeler, 33, who played high school ball at Pilgrim High School in Warwick (R.I.), was drafted in the 34th round by the Rays in 1996. He has since spent time with the Braves, Mets and Astros organizations before returning to Tampa Bay in 2007 in a trade for Ty Wigginton.

Wheeler had a 3.35 ERA in 48 1/3 innings in 2010, and he struck out 8.6 batters per nine innings. However, his innings total was the lowest of his professional career, and he has seen his workload go down in each of the last three years. He did, however, make 64 appearances, continuing his reputation as a workhorse. He has averaged 70 appearances per year since the start of the 2005 season.

Over his last three full seasons with the Rays, he has a 3.24 ERA with 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings, while walking 2.5 batters per nine. Wheeler has appeared in 21 postseason games for the Rays and Astros, forging a 3.38 ERA while striking out 28 and walking eight in 26 2/3 innings.

The Rays declined a $4 million option for his services for the 2011 season, instead opting to pay a $1 million buyout. The Rays also declined to offer the veteran salary arbitration. He earned $3.5 million last season in the final year of a three-year, $10.5 million deal he signed with the Rays prior to the 2008 season.

In addition to Wheeler and Jenks, the Sox have also added a number of relief depth options, including a major league deal for Matt Albers and minor league deals for Andrew Miller, Rich Hill, Jason Bergmann and Lenny DiNardo, among others. With the additions, the team is hoping that a costly weakness from a year ago will be in a position to support the team’s ambitions of a return to the postseason in 2011.

Gordon Edes of ESPN.com (via twitter) was the first to report an agreement between Wheeler and the Sox. AOL FanHouse reported that the Sox agreed not to offer Wheeler salary arbitration if he is a Type A free agent, while Wheeler agreed to decline an offer of salary arbitration if he is a Type B free agent. (Under the current rules of compensation for free agent departures, a team must give up a draft pick in order to sign a Type A free agent; the team from which he departs receives two compensatory draft picks. A team does not need to give up a draft pick in order to sign a Type B free agent, but the team that he leaves receives one compensatory draft pick from Major League Baseball.)

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Angels owner critical of Carl Crawford contract with Red Sox

12.17.10 at 4:28 pm ET
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Angels owner Arte Moreno, in an interview with the LA Times, suggested that the Angels never had the opportunity to make a formal offer to free agent outfielder Carl Crawford before he agreed on his seven-year, $142 million deal with the Red Sox. While baseball sources indicated that the Halos had offered six years at $106 million with a seventh-year vesting option that would have pushed the deal to $126 million (the 7/$126 million figure potentially matching what Jayson Werth received from the Nationals), Moreno disputed that account.

“There were rumors out there, but we never made an official offer, and no parameters were discussed,” Moreno told the Times, adding later that when Angels GM Tony Reagins met with Crawford’s agent on the first day of the winter meetings, he was told that the outfielder already had an agreement in place, and that the Angels “never had a chance” to bid.

The Angels owner emphasized that the deal that Crawford signed with the Red Sox came with significant risk.

“It’s crazy. I paid [$183 million] for the team [in 2003], and now we’re talking $142 million for one player? Seven years on a player is a huge risk financially,” Moreno said in the story. “[Crawford's] greatest asset is speed, and he’s a very skilled athlete who would have fit perfectly in left field for us. But we didn’t look at him as a power hitter in our stadium.”

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Report: Red Sox lose outfielder Jordan Parraz to Yankees

12.17.10 at 3:56 pm ET
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According to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com (via twitter), the Red Sox lost outfielder Jordan Parraz to the Yankees via waivers. The Sox had claimed the 26-year-old off waivers from the Royals earlier this offseason.

As a 25-year-old in Kansas City’s system (Parraz turned 26 in Oct.), he hit .266/.350/.410/.760 with 11 homers and 61 RBI in 123 games for Triple-A Omaha. He played right field in 114 of his 123 games last year, serving as the designated hitter in the other contests. The 2004 third-round pick by the Houston Astros has hit .289 with an .814 OPS and 54 homers in seven minor league seasons.

The Sox currently have significant outfield depth, with Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew slated to start, and backup options including Mike Cameron, Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Josh Reddick and Daniel Nava on the 40-man roster.

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Source: Astros reach agreement with Bill Hall

12.17.10 at 3:13 pm ET
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A baseball source confirmed that the Astros have reached an agreement with free agent Bill Hall to be their regular second baseman. The news was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com (via twitter), who said that the deal is for $3 million deal and includes a mutual option for the 2011 season.

Hall, who turns 31 later this month, spent this year as a utility man for the Sox, hitting .247/.316/.456/.772 with 18 homers and 46 RBI in 119 games. With his performance, Hall hoped to prove that he was ready to return to everyday duty as a free agent.

‘€œObviously, I do want to be an everyday player again,” he said during the season. “I feel like I’€™ve got a lot of baseball left in me. I’€™m not on my last legs. I’€™m just 30.”

His performance in Boston as a versatile player who appeared at every position except for catcher and first base led the baseball world to reach the same conclusion, resulting in his agreement to terms with the Astros.

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