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GM Meetings Recap: What Tuesday meant to the Red Sox

11.17.10 at 8:47 am ET
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In recent years, the GM Meetings have been described as nothing more than a prelude to the real work of the offseason. This year, work has started early.

There was a flurry of actual activity on the first day of the general managers’ meetings in Orlando. Among the most notable developments:

–The Marlins closed in on a three-year, $18 million deal with John Buck (more on that here). Implications for the Red Sox: Buck represented the best catching alternative to Victor Martinez on the free agent market. That said, Rob Bradford reports that “the Sox’ interest in Buck was limited due to the cost the 30-year-old was going to command in the open market, along with the fact Buck had produced at a high level offensively (.281, 20 home runs) for just one year.”

Still, even if the Sox had only limited interest in Buck, they now lose the option of using him to bluff regarding their fallback plans for Martinez. Moreover, the fact that Buck received a three-year guarantee means that it will be hard to imagine a deal for Martinez of less than four or even five years.

–The Marlins traded Dan Uggla to the Braves in exchange for infielder Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Mike Dunn. (More on the deal here.) Implications for the Red Sox: Hypothetically, Uggla might have represented an alternative to Adrian Beltre in the third base market of Carl Crawford/Jayson Werth in the left field market had the Sox failed to sign any of them. That said, he is viewed as an imperfect fit for just about any position, so the significance of his move to the Braves is relatively low, except for the fact that it further strengthens the already considerable leverage of Beltre as the best third baseman available this offseason.

–The Cardinals re-signed free-agent Jake Westbrook to a two-year, $16.5 million deal. Implications for the Red Sox: Not many, although Westbrook’s signing does thin out an already weak class (behind Cliff Lee) of free agent starters. Conceivably, then, if the Sox decided to make a starter such as Daisuke Matsuzaka or Felix Doubront available, the fact that Westbrook and Ted Lilly are off the market could only help them.

That was the actual news at the GM Meetings. As for the rumors related to the Red Sox, broken down position-by-position: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, bill Hall, Dan Uggla, David Ortiz

Things we learned at the GMs’ meetings: Warning shots from Theo Epstein

11.17.10 at 7:43 am ET
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Let the offseason begin.

While talks with free agents and other teams had been percolating even before the general managers arrived at their annual get-together — this year taking place at the Waldorf Astoria — Tuesday seemed to supply a good amount of momentum in regard to this offseason’s hot stove. Face-to-face meetings incorporating all parties involved will do that.

There were names being thrown about as possible fits for the Red Sox (Justin Upton), potential free agent fits being taken off the board (John Buck) and lines in the sand already being drawn (see the Boston Globe’s report that the Sox won’t offer Adrian Beltre more than four years, $52 million).

We very well may look back on it all and find it hard to fathom how much reality ended up changing in a matter of weeks. But, there was one line from Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein that should be digested more than the endless stream of whispers circulating throughout the hotel’s hallways.

The quote in question came during Epstein’s meeting with the Boston media, in the midst of talking about the merits of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

“At some point you need to give a chance to young players, let them build value,” Epstein said. “[Saltalamacchia's] one of those guys. [Jed] Lowrie is potentially another, [Ryan] Kalish is potentially another. We’€™re not going to have high-profile solutions to all our needs. It’€™s good to have those alternatives that you can turn to and realize that maybe you’€™re taking an educated gamble but you’€™re also potentially building a lot of values in those guys, giving them an opportunity to put themselves into the core we’€™re developing.”

And with that, a warning shot was fired.

Epstein understands that his team’s impending dive into the free agent pool could be more treacherous than most years. The issue is that three of the team’s perceived targets, Victor Martinez, Carl Crawford and Beltre, will be coveted by numerous teams, and at least one of those organizations will surely take the price to a level the Sox won’t be comfortable with.

And even if the Red Sox do go the extra mile financially to lock up one of the big-ticket free agents, the likelihood is that the “high-profile solutions” won’t be making an appearance at numerous other positions. And, Tuesday, the focus on such a reality was placed firmly on the catching position.

Panic ensued among Red Sox fans when news came out that the No. 2 option in the free agent catching market, Buck, was headed to the Marlins on a three-year deal. (The reality was that the Sox had been wary of Buck due to his perceived cost and limited track record of success.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: curt young, David Ortiz, gm meetings, jarrod saltalamacchia

DeMarlo Hale not a finalist for Mets’ job; Red Sox staff complete

11.16.10 at 8:35 pm ET
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ORLANDO, Fla. — According to multiple reports out of New York, Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale is not one of the four finalists for the Mets’ vacant managerial position.

The 49-year-old Hale had been among the four finalists for the Blue Jays managing job last month before Toronto hired Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell for the job.

According to the reports, the Mets’ finalists are Terry Collins, Chip Hale, Bob Melvin, and Wally Backman. Earlier Tuesday, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said that if Hale didn’t get the opening with New York, there would be no more changes to the Sox’ coaching staff. For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Theo Epstein says Jarrod Saltalamacchia could be Red Sox’ everyday guy

11.16.10 at 8:14 pm ET
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Talking to the Boston media at the general managers’ meetings Tuesday night, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said that, depending on who becomes available in the catching market, Jarrod Saltalamacchia could be an “everyday guy” for the Sox heading into the 2011 season.

“We’€™ll probably have a more experienced guy on roster than him as well, but I think we’€™re comfortable with him in a role anywhere from a back-up, to job-share, to everyday guy, depending on how rest of club shapes up,” Epstein explained. “We like him. We liked him from scouting standpoint, we took opportunity to buy low after he’€™d been through a rough period and then he really impressed the staff, who really had no vested interest in him. He really opened some eyes,. From the manager [Terry Francona] to Gary Tuck to pitching coach, the way he handled pitchers, the way he threw, the way he conducted himself in the clubhouse. He was impressive to everybody.”

Epstein went on to explain that the 25-year-old catcher isn’t the only young player who may find himself in an expanded role, depending on the Red Sox’ ability to re-sign such free agents as Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre.

“At some point you need to give a chance to young players, let them build value,” Epstein said. “[Saltalamacchia's] one of those guys. [Jed] Lowrie is potentially another, [Ryan] Kalish is potentially another. We’€™re not going to have high-profile solutions to all our needs. It’€™s good to have those alternatives that you can turn to and realize that maybe you’€™re taking an educated gamble but you’€™re also potentially building a lot of values in those guys, giving them an opportunity to put themselves into the core we’€™re developing.

It is a little harder to do at catcher sometimes, unless the player has those attributes that you’€™re looking for, someone who cares about his pitching staff, can call a good game and works hard to prepare. He does fit that criteria. Obviously he’€™s coming off of [thumb] surgery which makes him a little riskier. He hits right-handed pitching at this point better than left-handed pitching, so that makes it a little easier to find a complement. There are more right-handed hitting catchers out there. We’€™ll see what evolves.”

Earlier in the day, one of the top two catchers on the free agent market, John Buck, agreed to a three-year deal with the Florida Marlins. According to a source familiar with the situation, the Sox’ interest in Buck was limited due to the cost the 30-year-old was going to command in the open market, along with the fact Buck had produced at a high level offensively (.281, 20 home runs) for just one year.

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

Read More: gm meetings,

Theo: Red Sox could break trend, give reliever multi-year deal

11.16.10 at 8:05 pm ET
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Speaking to the Boston media at the General Managers Meeting Tuesday evening, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein talked about a variety of topics, including his team’s potential need to break away from its past philosophy of attempting to not give relievers multi-year deals. The last reliever to secure a multi-year deal from the Sox was Hideki Okajima, who inked a two-year deal with a club option for a third prior to the 2007 season. The longest contract given to a reliever since Epstein took over as the Red Sox’ general manager was the three-year contract secured by Keith Foulke heading into the ’04 campaign.

“There’s a good chance of it,” said Epstein when asked if the Red Sox might be committing to multi-year deals for a reliever or relievers this offseason. “I’m not opposed to the right multi-year deal for the right reliever. If it’s a reasonable multi-year deal that adds some value to the club, and if it’s a pitcher whose performance, stuff, command and health gives some compelling reason to say this is a guy we can trust going forward, then sure, we’ll do a multi-year deal. What we’re trying to avoid is the over-reaction of a pitcher who has an up-and-down career, who happens to have one good year and then you’ve locked yourself into a three-year deal for that pitcher and you’re surprised when they don’t live up to it and it really hamstrings you. That’s the type of thing you want to avoid. No club operates in a vacuum. You can’t just pick the player, pick the contract that you want. You have to be competitive in the marketplace. So you just work hard to find the most reasonable deals you can and move forward.”

Epstein said that he talked about potential deals with multiple teams, while having one face-to-face meeting with an agent, with another scheduled for later in the evening. “We’€™ve met with some clubs, talked trade ideas, big small and inbetween, nothing imminent.

Other points of interest from Epstein’s meeting with the local media:

- Unless DeMarlo Hale is hired as the next Mets manager, Epstein expects the entire coaching staff back, including first base coach Ron Johnson. Johnson was forced to leave the team last season due to a family emergency.

- Epstein reiterated that it was still relatively early in the process in regard to identifying what kind of market was in store for free agents such as Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez. “The whole point of being a free agent is seeing what’s out there and seeing what the market value is and they can come back here if they want, or decide to go elsewhere,” he said. “You have to give a reasonable period of time and give the player the right to explore their market. At the same time we have a team to build and obviously the deeper you get into the winter you can’t wait forever. You have to line up your alternatives and be prepared to move after a reasonable period of time.”

- The Red Sox haven’t yet made a determination on whom will be their next manager at Triple-A Pawtucket, although Epstein said they are considering internal candidates. They had approached Ryne Sandberg about the job prior to the Hall-of-Fame second baseman taking a Triple-A managing position with the Phillies.

- Epstein talked about his preference of building through trades, rather than free agency. “Generally I’€™d rather through trades. When you make trades, you tend to capture players who are closer to the primes of their careers and you’€™re paying through acquisition costs for future performance,” he said. “In free agency, often times you’€™re paying for past performance. That said, we’€™ll proably do a little bit of both. Ideally, you have a surplus of everything and you can make trades and fill all your needs while staying out of the free agent market. But that’€™s not the reality. The reality is free agency is a necessity at times for teams that try to compete every single year. When there’€™s elite players available in free agency, that’€™s a great way to acquire talent beca ause then you’€™re getting an elite player and not surrendering your best young talent to get it.”

- The GM addressed his two latest acquisitions, pitchers Andrew Miller and Taylor Buchholz. “The first thing we’€™re going to do is get to know these guys. Obviously they’€™re both low-cost acquisitions in which we’€™re trying to capture some upside. In Buchholz’€™ case, what he did a couple of years ago out of fthe bullpen was really impressive stuff from performance standpoint. In Miller’€™s case, upside that made him high first-round pick and top prospect that we still think exists in there somewhere … With Miller, we’€™re going to get to know him. He’€™s out of options, he’€™s going to have to make the team out of spring training. We’€™re going to get to know him soon, probably over next few weeks. Going to get together and try to build a foundation physically, mentally, fundamentally, get on the same page so we have a plan for him to make some improvements and try to build that foundation now so when we get to spring training, he can just go out and perform. We don’€™t have to remake him in spring training or even make adjustments in spring training. Build that foundation now, and let him go pitch his way onto the team in spring training … In Buchholz’€™ case, we’€™ll spend some time getting to know him over next couple of weeks as well and make an assessment from there.”

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

Read More: gm meetings,

Source: Marlins talks with catcher John Buck ‘progressing’

11.16.10 at 3:28 pm ET
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ORLANDO — The best free-agent alternative to catcher Victor Martinez may soon be taken off the board.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the Florida Marlins‘ talks with free-agent catcher John Buck are “progressing.” Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com (via Twitter) of FoxSports.com suggested that Florida is close to signing the catcher to a three-year contract. Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com (via Twitter) suggests that a deal could be worth more than $15 million.

Buck is the consensus second-best catcher on the free-agent market this offseason, representing a strong fallback option to Martinez. Indeed, he was regarded by many as the best alternative for the Sox should they fail to re-sign Martinez.

The 30-year-old Buck enjoyed the best season of his career with the Blue Jays in 2010, being named an All-Star in a year when he set career highs in average (.281), OBP (.314), slugging (.489), OPS (.802), homers (20) and RBI (66).

Read More: florida marlins, gm meetings, john buck, victor martinez

Source: ‘No legs’ to Red Sox inquiries on Justin Upton

11.16.10 at 2:32 pm ET
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ORLANDO, Fla. — According a major league baseball source familiar with the situation, there are ‘no legs’ when it comes to any potential deal involving Arizona outfielder Justin Upton heading to the Red Sox. It is believed Arizona has asked around about potential interest in the 23-year-old, but as of the moment the Sox don’t appear to be actively pursuing Upton.

FoxSports.com reported earlier Tuesday that the Red Sox “have already spoken” with the Arizona Diamondbacks to inquire about outfielder Justin Upton. In his third full major league season, Upton hit .273/.356/.443/.799 with 17 homers and 69 RBI in 133 games. Despite suffering downturns across the board in his numbers from 2009, the 23-year-old is widely viewed as one of the top young power hitters in the game.

Even so, Arizona GM Kevin Towers told USA Today that he was open to listening to offers about any players, including the 2009 All-Star.

“I’m open to listening on anybody,” Towers said. “We got more hits on Upton and [Stephen] Drew. They’re difficult to move, but sometimes to make your club better, you have to move good players. You never know when a deal might present itself.”

The FoxSports.com report noted that the return for Upton would have to be “big,” with Arizona seeking at least three pieces: a bat, a back-end reliever and a starter, and suggested that it was unclear whether the Sox would be in position to meet such a demand.

Upton has five years and $49.5 million remaining on a six-year, $51 million deal he signed in the spring.

For more Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Arizona Diamondbacks, gm meetings, justin upton,
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