|12.16.09 at 4:32 pm ET|
At the 2009 trading deadline, the Red Sox made an aggressive play to acquire Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay. The team reportedly offered a 5-for-1 package that was centered by Clay Buchholz, three other pitchers and outfielder Josh Reddick. The Jays declined to make the move.
This offseason, the Sox once again kicked the tires on Halladay, but it remained clear that the cost to the Sox for the 2003 Cy Young winner — a combined hit of prospects and a long-term contract extension — would lead to an imbalance in the team’s pursuit of short- and long-term success. Halladay would have cost the Sox several key prospects, not to mention upwards of $75 million over the next four years.
Lackey, by way of contrast, cost the team plenty of money (five years, $82.5 million), but did not require the team to part with any of its key prospects. And while the Sox will have to give up a first-round draft pick for Lackey (one that would have gone to the Blue Jays for the Marco Scutaro signing, and that will instead now go to the Angels), the team should conclude this offseason with a net increase of two draft picks.
The Sox will lose both their first- and second-round picks for the signings of Lackey and Scutaro. But the team will get the No. 20 overall pick in the draft from Atlanta as a result of the departure of reliever Billy Wagner, and the Sox will get a draft pick from a team that signs Jason Bay (a first-rounder from some clubs, though if the Mets sign Bay, the Sox would get New York’s second-round pick, since their first-round selection is protected), as well as two draft picks in the sandwich round.
On balance, then, the Sox feel that the moves that they’ve made thus far to sign free agents Lackey, Scutaro and Mike Cameron have left the club in better long-term position than would have been the case had it pursued a player such as Halladay in the trade market. The Sox have retained all of their best prospects this offseason and they have added draft picks. It’s been expensive in terms of dollars, but the overall cost to the organization has been a reasonable one.
“We had interest in Halladay dating back to the trade deadline and early in the offseason,” said Sox GM Theo Epstein. “Well before [Halladay] was moved, it was clear he wasn’t going to be a factor for us based on the asking price, which is reasonable. I think [Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous] did a really good job. We weren’t prepared to pony up the prospects in addition to the salary that would have been required.
“We’re in a pretty good spot now. If you look at what we’ve done, I do think we’ve improved the 2010 red sox. I think we’ve improved our long-term outlook. We’ve added draft picks, we hope to add more draft picks – I think we probably will – and we haven’t touched our prospect inventory at all. All of those different factors contribute to a healthy organization, what your team looks like next year, what it looks like in the future, what your commitments look like, what your draft-pick bounty in next draft, and how many prospects you’re able to retain, at least ones you believe in. In all of those areas, we feel like this is a pretty good solution for us.”
|12.16.09 at 3:57 pm ET|
Mike Cameron is regarded as one of the most personable players in the majors.
On Wednesday at Fenway Park, with a bright smile and a sharp wit, he showed why.
Here are some audio highlights from his press conference.
|12.16.09 at 3:48 pm ET|
Here is the transcript of the Mike Cameron introductory press conference from Wednesday afternoon, at Fenway Park (courtesty the Red Sox’ media relations machine):
1. Theo Epstein opening statement:
We’re very excited today to announce the signing of Mike Cameron to a two-year contract. Mike is a big part of our off-season puzzle, a huge addition to the ballclub and this organization.
2. Mike Cameron on joining the Red Sox and where he will play:
I guess I should answer the second question first. That’s going to be totally up to Theo and Tito. And why did I choose Boston, because I felt like I played in a pretty large market before and I understand the values and the hard work you have to continue to put in because we’re scrutinized sometimes. At the same time, the opportunity to really win a championship. I pretty much have gotten to the end of the road so many times, so close, but with nothing to show for it. With the addition of Lackey and guys that are already here that have already been through it a couple of times I just feel like it’s an opportunity for me to come out and compete and try to do some good things. It’s on the East Coast, it’s close to my home, it’s a pretty special moment. I haven’t really been this excited about coming somewhere since I first came to the big leagues. This is one of the most historic parks that you get a chance to play in and hopefully I’ll put a couple dents in the monster.
3. Cameron on ability to play a Gold Glove caliber center field:
That’s definitely something that’s a possibility but I think I’ve played a Gold Glove caliber center field my whole career, I just don’t get a chance to get recognized for it. The numbers speak for themselves. I still feel that I’m able to move around pretty good and I played probably one of the better center fields this year that I’ve played in a long time. I’m not knocking the other years that I’ve played because I try to play it well every year and that’s just a part of who I am., it’s part of trying to go out and do the craft to the best of my ability to help the team defensively and definitely put a sense of calm in the pitchers.
4. Epstein on Boston’s interest in Cameron:
Our interest in Mike actually goes back a few years when he was a free agent and signed with the Mets. We had a lot of interest in him and it just didn’t work out. We had a lot of conversations at that time and he was part of a couple of potential big trades lined up that just didn’t go all the way to the finish line. Mike was someone we anticipated would be a free agent this off-season, so we scouted him a lot during this past year and we had and we echo Mike’s statement that he played one of the better centerfields that he ever has this past year. We just think he’s been an elite defender his entire career, someone who has been underappreciated from an offensive standpoint because he’s always played at big ballparks, pitchers ballparks. And he’s been one of the most consistent players in the game if you look. He’ll get his 20 to 25 home runs every year, play outstanding defense, sees a lot of pitches at the plate. We just think he’s an underrated offensive player, a plus defender, a great guy in the clubhouse. He fits in really well with what we do here. I know a lot of emphasis, a lot of talk, was centered on our offense last year. What’s lost in the mix is our run prevention needs to improve as well. We were one of the worst defensive clubs in baseball last year and we think Mike is a very important piece, as well as our second announcement coming up.
|12.16.09 at 3:35 pm ET|
Here is the transcript of the John Lackey introductory press conference from Wednesday afternoon, at Fenway Park (courtesty the Red Sox’ media relations machine):
1. Theo Epstein opening statement:
We’re thrilled today to be able to announce that we signed John Lackey to a five-year contract. John’s addition to an already solid pitching staff is a significant boost to this ballclub. He’s somebody that we look to be an anchor in our rotation for a long time coming.
2. John Lackey on excitement to be pitching for the Red Sox:
Obviously I’ve been here for some big games and really competed against these guys quite a bit. I’m here to win, that’s the bottom line. I’ve always had a lot of respect for this organization from the other side. Winning is the biggest thing for me and I know this organization has a great chance to do that and hopefully I can help out.
3. Epstein on Lackey deal:
We touched base with Steve Hilliard, John’s agent, really early in the off season. We were actually a little bit surprised when Steve said John had a lot of interest in pitching for the Red Sox. Watching him from across the field we’ve always seen him as a big game pitcher, a top of the rotation guy, and a really tough competitor but we never really thought he’d be interested in Boston. I guess it’s one of those things, when you play across the field from someone you just kind of see them as the opposition and that’s it. He said John’s really serious about Boston, he wants to win, he loves how every game in Boston is like a playoff game, he can really see himself there. That got our attention in ahurry and we proceeded to stay and really get in touch with Steve. We had a couple different versions of an offseason plan. Some involved spending more resources on a big time position player and getting pitching depth but this really intrigued us as an alternative. The deeper we got into the off season, the more intrigued we got, the more we dug about John and his personality and his fit for the Red Sox and what it would mean to our rotation and the future of our rotation we got more and more interested. Talks developed well and it ended up being the right path for us.
|12.16.09 at 3:25 pm ET|
According to multiple major-league sources, there’s very little likelihood of a deal between the Red Sox and Padres involving Adrian Gonzalez in the near future. As has been the case since last summer, the Sox continue to check in with the Padres on Gonzalez and to monitor his availability, but the team has not made a concerted push for the slugging first baseman in the aftermath of signing pitcher John Lackey and outfielder Mike Cameron. Indeed, one source suggested that there was absolutely nothing to the idea that a deal might soon be hatched.
That said, the Sox are in a position of greater strength than they were before the signings to explore a deal. Sox GM Theo Epstein noted in the press conference to introduce Lackey that his club is in better position to explore deals now that it has added two pieces to its 2010 puzzle.
“We like the position we’re in right now. We have some depth, some options, and some flexibility going forward,” said Epstein. “This puts us in a position to have some flexibility if we need to make a move down the road to have some offense.”
Lackey could, for instance, allow the Sox to consider moving a pitcher like Clay Buchholz as the centerpiece of a package. The signing of Cameron to a two-year deal gives the Sox four outfielders — Cameron, Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew and Jeremy Hermida (the latter of whom the Sox believe will receive his fair share of playing time, in contrast to the possibility that Hermida would be limited to spot bench duty had the Sox signed Jason Bay or Matt Holliday) — who are under team control for the next two years. With Cameron’s arrival, the Sox would find it easier to deal some of the young, athletic outfielders in their system, such as Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish and Ryan Westmoreland, whom the Padres would be almost certain to seek, along with complementary players to add to a potential package. (It is worth noting that some in the Sox organization consider Westmoreland nearly untouchable.)
Even so, there is no sense that there is a fit right now between the clubs. The Padres, understandably, would seek a Brinks truck return for Gonzalez, whose skill set (40-homer power, Gold Glove caliber defense) and salary ($4.75 million in 2010, $5.5 million in 2011) make him as desirable a trade target as there is in the game. San Diego has shown little inclination to compromise on its asking price.
That may change during the season. If the Padres conclude they will not contend either in 2010 or 2011, then they would likely make Gonzalez available before this year’s trade deadline. At that time, the Padres would have a greater incentive to deal the first baseman, since they would face the prospect of dealing him before this year’s deadline or trying to move him next offseason, when the potential return would be diminished by the prospect of getting just one year of Gonzalez’ services, rather than two. And if the Padres do make Gonzalez available, the Sox would undoubtedly be one of the most aggressive teams to pursue his services (even if it is an exaggeration to say that they would include both Buchholz and Ellsbury in a package).
The Sox have a strong track record in adding major position players mid-year, as evidenced by the acquisition of Jason Bay in 2008 and Victor Martinez in 2009. No doubt, they would love to continue that trend with Gonzalez.
But for now, it would seem, such a trade scenario remains far more likely to unfold during the season than it is this offseason. Padres GM Jed Hoyer and manager Bud Black are both on record (here and here) as saying they expect Gonzalez to remain in San Diego at the start of next year, and there has been little evidence that there has been a status change amidst the swirl of events at Fenway Park in recent days.
|12.16.09 at 3:05 pm ET|
One side story that stems from the Red Sox’ signing of John Lackey is Josh Beckett’s future with the Red Sox.
Beckett is a free agent after the 2010 season and has a comparable resume to Lackey. Beckett will be 30 in May, while Lackey will be 31 on Opening Day of 2010. Cases could be made for both in regard to who gets the upper-hand when looking at each pitcher’s statistics.
So now the Red Sox have Lackey at five years and $82.5 million, a number they knew was most likely going to have to be decided upon for a pitcher like the former Angels’ ace once A.J. Burnett signed his nearly identical five-year deal last offseason, where does it leave Beckett?
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said following the Lackey press conference that the door is still open for a Beckett extension.
“I sent Josh a text message as we were finalizing John Lackey’s deal,” Epstein said. “I just told him, ‘Some might speculate this might mean the end for you in Boston.’ I said ‘Don’t listen to them. You’re a huge part of what we have going on here. We love it if it worked out if you’re a huge part of our future, as well. The most important thing is that we have one heck of a pitching staff right now.’ He texted back. He was very excited about the sign. He knows John a little bit. he thinks he’s a good man and a great pitcher and he’s ready to go for spring training. I don’t think it impacts Josh nearly to the degree people are speculating.”
Here is what Lackey said regarding Beckett, whom he got to know a little bit at the 2007 All-Star Game.
“I don’t know him incredibly well, just hanging out at an All-Star Game, just talking,” Lackey said. “Our lockers were next to each other at that. So shagging, just kind of shooting the breeze kind of stuff, but always a respect factor. Especially, I’ve gone against him several times in some big games. You know you’ve got to bring it because you know he’s going to bring it, and I hope these people feel the same way about me because you can’t always guarantee results, but I will guarantee that I’ll be there giving you what I’ve got.”
Beckett told WEEI.com shortly following the season that he planned on meeting with the Red Sox this offseason to discuss the prospects of signing an extension.
Epstein’s comments on extending Lackey’s deal to five years — which was only decided upon this past weekend after it became clear the negotiations with Jason Bay and Matt Holliday were budging — should also be noted:
“It’s a part of every time you sign a pitcher. It’s a big part of the research. Trust me, we’ve done a lot of due diligence,” said Epstein in regard to analyzing the risk of a five-year deal.
“If you look back at April 2008 was triceps issue, soft tissue, that certainly has resolved itself. And doing our research on what happened this last April, it was probably a little bit of a rush through Spring Training to get ready, and we think that John’s spring routine, it’s something we’ve already talked about, maybe it can be handled a little differently to resolve that. But when he came back he didn’t miss a start. He’s been, outside of those two episodes, extraordinarily durable throughout his entire career and is someone who obviously finished strong last year. The last image of John Lackey is him demanding the ball on the field of Yankee Stadium. So he’s somebody that we strongly believe is healthy. Trust me, we put him through quite a physical over the last 48 hours, and he’s someone we trust to take the ball every fifth day.”
|12.16.09 at 1:02 pm ET|
Red Sox GM Theo Epstein stopped short of saying that outfielder Jason Bay’s tenure in Boston is over, but the team architect did refer to Bay’s time as a Red Sox in the past tense when discussing the free agent.
“I don’t want to say the door is completely closed on any one player out there,” said Epstein. “But Jason, obviously, in his year and a half here did an outstanding job for us. That’s a trade that we would make again any day of the week. Whatever team does sign him is getting a quality person and a quality player. We feel like we landed a quality person and a quality player here today ourselves [in Mike Cameron].”
Bay’s representative, Joe Urbon, rejected the Red Sox’ most recent offer late last week. At that time, the Sox moved on and made the decision to pursue pitcher John Lackey and Cameron, an outfielder who will require fewer years and dollars than Bay will command.
The Sox view Cameron and Lackey as being a significant part of an effort to improve the team’s run prevention. Even so, the departure of Bay — who finished third in the American League with 36 homers last year — raises questions about whether the Sox will pursue another move to add a replacement bat.
Cameron has been an incredibly consistent performer throughout his career, with significant power that has resulted in steady 20-25 homer production on a year-in, year-out basis. But he is a hitter with a career .250/.340/.448/.788 line, a far cry from the .267/.384/.537/.921 line that Bay produced as the most productive hitting outfielder in the American League last year.
That, in turn, has raised curiosity as to whether the Sox might use some of their newly acquired depth to pursue a hitter. In particular, a FoxSports.com report that the Sox are going to renew their efforts to engage the Padres in trade talks about first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has created curiosity as to whether the Sox might try to package Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury for the slugger.
Epstein talked generally about how he viewed the team’s approach to adding a bat at this point, suggesting that the team felt that it could compete with its current roster (give or take a couple of bench contributors), but that it would continue to explore the possibility of adding offense both this offseason and during the year.
“We’ll see,” Epstein said of the possibility of adding a bat. “We’ll certainly continue to monitor both the trade and free-agent markets to see if there are any further improvements we can make to this ballclub. That said, I don’t think we’re in a rush. I don’t think there’s a sense of desperation. We like the mix that we have right now.
“Generally speaking, it’s easier to add a bat than a pitcher during the season. So, I think our pitching staff is going to be extraordinarily deep. If we do go into the season with a mix similar to what we have right now, and a need for a bigger bat somewhere in the lineup does develop, I think that can probably be addressed during the season. By no means am I saying we’re done, but I also don’t feel a sudden rush to go out there and do something dramatic.
We like the mix we have. If there’s a chance to upgrade now, we’ll take it. If there’s a chance to upgrade during the season, [the team will explore that].”
- Gary DiSarcina named Baseball America Minor League Manager of the Year
- Red Sox non-tender Ryan Kalish, Andrew Bailey
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Jesus Loya solid at the plate in Mexico
- Help Wanted: Staff Editor, Scouts
- SoxProspects.com Podcast #48: The Slow Season
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Attention shifts to Caribbean, Jerez shining in Venezuela
- Luis Ortega traded to Brewers for reliever Burke Badenhop
- Red Sox re-sign infielder Brandon Snyder
- Cecchini, Ranaudo, Brentz added to 40-man roster
- Red Sox 40-man roster additions expected