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Blue Jays did talk to Jason Varitek before he signed with Red Sox

12.07.10 at 4:43 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — For what it’s worth, the Blue Jays did talk to Jason Varitek prior to the catcher re-signing with the Red Sox. The discussions, which never got too serious, shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering the presence of former Sox pitching coach John Farrell as the Jays’ new manager. The Blue Jays currently have J.P. Arencibia and Jose Molina as their catching tandem.

Also, A.J. Pierzynski, who was making the rounds in the lobby of the Dolphin Resort Hotel at the winter meetings, confirmed that he and the Red Sox had some contact prior to the catcher signing up with the White Sox. Pierzynski, who said he wouldn’t even classify the talk with the Sox as “preliminary,” relayed that he was pleased that Varitek returned to the Red Sox. “He deserves it,” the backstop said.

Read More: Hot Stove,

Hot Stove roundup, 4 p.m.: Teams offering more for Greinke?

12.07.10 at 4:43 pm ET
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According to a tweet from AOL Fanhouse’s Ed Price, the suitors for Royals ace Zack Greinke have upped their offers. Greinke, a Cy Young winner two seasons ago, went 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA last season. He’s tossed at least 200 innings and struck out 180 batters in each of the last three seasons. The Nationals are among the teams to inquire on Greinke, according to CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler. The report also names the Blue Jays and Rangers as the teams “most involved” on the starter.

Quick hits:

‘™¦ The Nationals and Cubs are both interested in Carlos Pena at first base, according to SI’s John Heyman. Pena hit .196/.325/.407 with 28 homers and 84 RBI last season for the Rays.

‘™¦ After a report came out Monday that the Mariners were interested in Greg Zaun, it now appears the Athletics are also interested, according to John Hickey of AOL Fanhouse. Hickey adds that the two teams also share an interest in Denny Reyes.

‘™¦ Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun is tweeting that a deal between the Orioles and Braves involving pitcher Kenshin Kawakami “won’t happen.”

‘™¦ Connolly adds that for a Jason Bartlett deal to get done between the Rays and Orioles, Baltimore will have to give up pitcher Alfredo Simon in addition to Nolan Reimold.

Joe Maddon on Carl Crawford ‘Boston fans will fall in love with him immediately’

12.07.10 at 4:20 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Following his scheduled meeting with the media, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said, that in his opinion, free agent Carl Crawford would have no issues in acclimating himself to a market like Boston.

“No problem,” said Maddon of the 29-year-old Texan. “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.”

Asked about Crawford’s perceived mild-mannered personality, Maddon said, “He’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.”

WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reported earlier Tuesday that the Red Sox still have interest in signing Crawford, currently the biggest name on the free-agent market.

Read More: Hot Stove,

Terry Francona’s Red Sox updates: Lowrie, Varitek, Ellsbury, Papelbon, others

12.07.10 at 4:00 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Speaking to reporters at the winter meetings at the Dolphin Resort Hotel, Red Sox manager Terry Francona said that catcher Jason Varitek will find his way into the Red Sox lineup a good deal, with the Sox taking advantage of the catcher’s ability to hit left-handed pitching.

“Oh, I’m sure some of it will depend on health and production,” said Francona when asked if Varitek would share time with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. ” I think Tek’s done a enough job where if you take away that broken bone last year, and Tek is having a heck of a year. He kind of a bounced back (saying), ‘Hey, I can do this and keep playing.’ So Tek’s going to play more than probably the average back up catcher, if that’s what you’re asking, sure.”

Francona also touched on a variety of other Red Sox topics:

- The Red Sox currently view Jed Lowrie as someone who can help in a variety of ways, thanks to the fact he hits from both sides of the plate and plays four infield positions. “I think looking at it right now he’d be a super-utility guy with the ability to play third, short, second and first and switch-hit,” Francona said. “That’s a pretty valuable commodity. Saves you a player because he can play first. He’s a switch-hitter, so that would be you a really nice piece on our team. That may not be his ultimate goal, and I respect that. But as far as our team goes, that would be a really nice fit.”

- Jacoby Ellsbury’s health (broken ribs) is progressing, but Francona pointed out the outfielder still has a ways to go before being 100 percent. “Jake’s doing pretty well. The last time we had a couple weeks ago, he still was feeling it in the back a little bit, which I think they thought was pretty normal. I think we’re all going to take a deep breath when we see him out there running and not feeling it, but we’re certainly far enough away from spring training where that shouldn’t be an issue. I think also when you’re talking about it being December, going out to test it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense. But I know he’s been at API and doing his stuff there for a while.”

- Francona said that he isn’t planning on platooning J.D. Drew despite the outfielder’s struggles against left-handers (.208 in 2010), preferring instead to perhaps dropping down Drew in the order against certain lefties. “I think what we’d rather do is have J.D. have a little more success against left-handers. Maybe drop him down the lineup as opposed to not playing him. I think that’s probably a better way to do it. There are certainly certain left-handers that you’re doing him a favor by giving him the day off. But I don’t think you want to have a platoon out there. That seems like a little bit much.”

- The Red Sox’ manager spoke to the notion that David Ortiz might be hit for against left-handers more this season, and the communication that has gone on regarding the subject. “I actually spoke to David a little bit about that. The idea is not to sit him against lefties. I think the idea is to get David to understand if we do want to sit him against a lefty, it’s not that we don’t believe he can play. You know, I think that was more the last April was miserable. You can talk, you can spin it any way you want to, it was miserable. It was hard on David, it was hard on me, it was hard on our team, it was hard on everybody. I think there are times when, like J.D., you give him a break against a tough lefty, and you’re doing him a favor. Some of it depends on how he swings the bat.  If he swings the bat like he can swing it, you don’t want to sit him. I also believe for him to swing the bat like he needs to, he has to face some lefties. I think that’s important. But I think you’ve got to be able to get to a place where whatever is best for the team, you end up doing, and that’s what we always try to do, but you also want players to understand.”

- When asked if he had reached out to Jonathan Papelbon regarding the fact the Red Sox made an effort to sign closer Mariano Rivera, Francona said jokingly, “No, I will. I’d reach out to Pap from time to time, but he may not even know.”

For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Hot Stove roundup, 3 p.m.: Mets sued for Bernie Madoff money

12.07.10 at 3:03 pm ET
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The Mets are being sued by a trustee seeking to recover money for victims of the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. The sides are said to be discussing a settlement. The Wilpon family, owners of the Mets, reportedly are being sued as well.

Quick hits:

‘™¦ The White SoxPaul Konerko deal is not expected to be wrapped up today. Earlier Tuesday, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted that “Konerko’s camp is adamant about $15M per.” Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweeted that the White Sox aren’t the only team to make a multi-year offer to the first baseman.

‘™¦ Despite his disappointing 2010 season, infielder Jorge Cantu is drawing interest from the Padres, Mariners and Diamondbacks, according to a tweet from Yahoo! Sports’ Tim Brown. Cantu, who turns 29 in January, hit .256/.304/.392 for the Marlins and Rangers this past season.

‘™¦ The Braves appear set on moving right-handed pitcher Kenshin Kawakami, and the Orioles reportedly have had several discussions with the Braves about him.

Read More: brian cashman, Cliff Lee, Hot Stove, Paul Konerko

A look at the Red Sox’ interest in outfielders

12.07.10 at 2:54 pm ET
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Red Sox GM Theo Epstein made clear that his club could proceed in a number of directions in addressing its outfield.

–The team could stand pat, using the same corps of J.D. Drew, Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron and Ryan Kalish that it already has under contract.

–The team could pursue a “complementary move” for a player that would permit them to send Kalish back to the minors.

–Though Epstein did not articulate the possibility, the Sox could also still make a splash and pursue Carl Crawford, far and away the best outfielder on the market.

So, realistically, where do things stand? Based on conversations with a handful of industry sources, here is a look at some of the options that exist.

THE CARL CRAWFORD SWEEPSTAKES

There has been some suggestion that the seven-year, $126 million deal that Jayson Werth signed with the Nationals could take the Sox out of the market for Crawford. And if both Crawford and the industry ends up using Werth’s deal as a baseline to affix a value to Crawford, perhaps resulting in something along the lines of an eight-year, $160 million deal, then it seems likely that the Sox would pass on the dynamic left fielder.

But, according to multiple sources, it is premature to say there is no chance that the Sox sign Crawford. They have no doubt determined what they consider a fair value for the outfielder. If he is open to taking a deal on those terms, they could land him. But, as the Sox have demonstrated already this offseason with Victor Martinez, they are willing to affix a value to a player’s services — even one who they really like — and walk away if he wants (and gets) more from elsewhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, carlos beltran, Hot Stove, josh willingham

Hot Stove roundup, 2 p.m.: Brian Cashman frustrated by lack of progress with Cliff Lee

12.07.10 at 2:44 pm ET
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Brian Cashman‘s No. 1 priority is to sign free agent pitcher Cliff Lee, and according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees general manager is upset he hasn’t already done so.

Rosenthal writes that the Yankees are taking the stance of, “When Lee is ready to make a deal, we’re here.” The team has not made an offer to Lee yet and according to Rosenthal, Cashman has “privately expressed his frustration to others at the winter meeting about the team’s inability to move the negotiations along.”

The lack of progress in the negotiations may be a result of Lee’s camp wanting the bidding between other teams to go up, writes Rosenthal. The report also states that Lee will receive a seven-year offer.

Quick hits:

‘™¦ Buster Olney of ESPN tweets that when the Yankees do make their offer to Lee, it will be for six years.

‘™¦ The Rockies and Indians are both interested in free agent infielder Adam Everett, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Jayson Stark. The teams view Everett as a backup shortstop/utility man. Everett played in just 31 games last season, hitting .185/.221/.247 with four RBI prior to being released in June. He has been a free agent since.

‘™¦ According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the Rays and Orioles are discussing a trade that would send shortstop Jason Bartlett to Baltimore. The Orioles would have to give up more than Nolan Reimold.

‘™¦ According to SI’s Jon Heyman, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter wasn’t thrilled with how he was portrayed when he was a free agent. Heyman tweets that Jeter “didn’t like to be seen as greedy or egotistical.”

‘™¦ The Pirates inquired about Orlando Cabrera, but they are not interested in signing the free agent shortstop, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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