|11.13.13 at 5:47 pm ET|
ORLANDO — When Scott Boras executed his annual get-together with the media at the general managers’ meetings on Wednesday, there were few surprises. A few witty lines, yes. But no real surprises.
The agent for free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew sang the praises of both his clients, while not offering any insight into how far along in the process the pair might be in terms of finding a team for 2014.
“I think every free agent wants to get their deal done yesterday,” Boras said. “There’s kind of a tide that works in this process, and every once in a while you have clubs that make quicker decisions than others, and a lot of that has to do with exhausting trade possibilities along with their plan and design with their owners. Really, it has to do a lot with the math the teams have to do to make the strike. Historically, there’s always a few that jump quicker. But for the most part a lot of teams respond to the pursuit of the player when they know that pursuit of the player has a timetable.”
Added Boras: “It’s hard to find talent in the marketplace that could replace them. There aren’t too many free agents I think you can acquire other than a Jacoby or a Stephen that certainly would be available to take their spots.
“It’s far more than normal for elite players these days just because the revenue structure of the game invites a lot more applicants and the rareness of the talent has a lot to do with the volume of interest. I won’t give you specific numbers, but it’s more than normal.”
Specifically regarding Ellsbury, this is what Boras had to say:
On how the market is unfolding: “We’re just looking at all the teams that have expressed interest. He’s going to take a good long look at all of them and decide what his preferences are from there. Frankly, I’m kind of here to collect that now. I’ve not had the discussion with him about all the teams involved yet.”
On Ellsbury’s power potential: “Ells conditioned himself and did things to become what he needed to become to help this style of team, and that was stealing bases, being a leadoff hitter and being on base, and, frankly, getting on second base as much as possible. And that’s really what he geared himself to. And he played a good portion of the season with a very, very swollen wrist and hand. The fact of the matter is Jacoby Ellsbury’s compensation is going to be based on all five of his tools. The fact in today’s game, having players that skilled at that position creates the value. It’s not just power. He hits the ball in the gap. If he hits the ball out and does it 18 times vs. 10 times, I’m not sure it has any difference in his value.” Read the rest of this entry »
|11.13.13 at 2:32 pm ET|
ORLANDO — Red Sox principal owner John Henry expressed some surprise that John Farrell finished second in Manager of the Year balloting to Indians (and former Red Sox) skipper Terry Francona.
“You writers are a strange breed,” mused Henry. “From where I sit, sometimes, it’s strange. Now that I’m in your business [a reference to his recent purchase of The Boston Globe] … I don’t think I have that much say, but maybe I’ll be better to understand how these relationships work.”
Henry said that he had been led to expect that Farrell would win the honor.
“He did win the Sporting News Award for Manager of the Year. That obviously must be a better way to choose,” Henry joked. “Every writer I talked to last night, and there were a lot of writers, they were incredulous. … I talked to one voter who said, ‘This is such a waste of time.’ When he was filling it out, he said, ‘It was a waste of time because it was a foregone conclusion.’ “
|11.13.13 at 1:54 pm ET|
ESPN’s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the American League Manager of the Year award, as well as a number of Red Sox free agents.
The BBWAA announced on Tuesday that former Red Sox manager and current Indians skipper Terry Francona won the AL Manager of the Year award, his first in 13 years as the top man on the bench for a major league team.
“I think it’s a great award and it’s pretty cool for Tito that he won,” Olney said. “But I have been doing this for a long time and I have no idea what the criteria is, and I don’t think anybody else does. … Generally speaking they make those choices through the prism of who won and who lost and team success. I always thought that the big market teams were always at a big, big disadvantage.”
Francona (16 first-place votes) edged Boston’s John Farrell (12 first-place votes), with Oakland’s Bob Melvin third. Many expected Farrell, who led the Red Sox from a 69-93 season in 2012 to a World Series in 2013 in his first season at the helm, to be the winner.
“I thought Farrell was going to win, it surprised me that he didn’t,” Olney said.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Mike Napoli rejected Boston’s qualifying offers, which means they now can enter the offseason as free agents.
Ellsbury is expected to receive the most lucrative contract of the three. He’s been linked to a number of teams, most recently the Mariners and Rangers.
“I think the Texas Rangers are viewed as the wild card, because they so desperately need help with their lineup,” Olney said, adding: “I think Jacoby will end up getting an offer in the [Carl] Crawford range, because the Mariners know by now that they’ve got confederate money, that free agents don’t want to go there, and if they’re going to be interested in somebody like Jacoby, they’re going to have to go above and beyond to get him.”
|11.13.13 at 12:45 pm ET|
In the aftermath of this look at the Red Sox’ current payroll commitments for 2014, there has been widespread curiosity on one front: Why is John Lackey listed as a $16.5 million salary for luxury tax purposes?
The right-hander is entering the final season of his five-year, $82.5 million contract. But because he missed all of 2012 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, a vesting team option at the major league minimum ($500,000 plus a cost of living adjustment from 2014 to 2015) for 2014 was triggered. So, with that option in place, does it alter the way that Lackey’s 2014 average annual value is calculated for luxury tax purposes?
Simple answer: No.
Even if the Sox exercised Lackey’s 2015 option today, it wouldn’t impact how his AAV is determined in any year of the contract prior to the option. He’d still represent a $16.5 million player for the purposes of 2014 payroll, and he’d still represent approximately a $500,000 player for the purposes of 2015 payroll.
The implications are twofold: First, Lackey represents, at least as of now, the most expensive player on the Sox’ roster in the coming year, and secondly, he represents a potentially game-changing member of the roster for 2015 if he remains healthy and effective while pitching at the major league minimum. If, for instance, the Sox wanted to sign Jon Lester to a long-term deal that would take effect starting in 2015 (something that the team is expected to explore this spring), the payroll flexibility afforded by Lackey could play a significant role in giving the Sox the flexibility to do so while staying well within the luxury tax threshold.
|11.13.13 at 11:42 am ET|
Asuka Brown of the Japanese wire service Jiji Press, one of two members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who did not include Red Sox manager John Farrell on her ballot for American League Manager of the Year, joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to explain her thought process.
Brown tabbed Athletics manager Bob Melvin first, followed by Rays skipper Joe Maddon and Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Brown’s vote for Showalter, last year’s runner-up, was his only top-three vote this year. Melvin, last year’s winner, finished third this year, behind winner Terry Francona and Farrell.
The Seattle-based Brown, who said she has been covering Major League Baseball since 2002 and joined the BBWAA in 2011, indicated Farrell had a stronger lineup and a higher payroll.
“I think Boston had so many premium players like [David] Ortiz, [Dustin] Pedroia. They have enough leadership to manage itself pretty well,” she said. “There’s no doubt Farrell is an outstanding manager in a competitive division. However, my first vote went to Bob Melvin. I highly respect those teams that [succeeded] on very limited budgets. So, my first two votes went to those managers — Melvin and Maddon.”
Added Brown: “Also the payroll was the reason I didn’t choose Boston. I always highly respect those teams with limited budgets. Boston and maybe the New York Yankees, they have I think big payrolls. Probably managers have, if they correctly manage, they have resources, always. That’s why.”
As for the absence of Francona, who won the award, Brown said his team’s record against weaker teams played too big a role in Cleveland’s success.
“My first two votes went to those managers from limited-budget teams. Then I thought that third vote should come from the division which is the toughest division in Major League Baseball,” she said. “The reason why I didn’t vote for Francona was that a number of their wins came from easier teams to beat, or struggling teams. So, that’s why my third vote went to Showalter, who maintained the same level as last season.”
Brown said she does not regret her choices despite the criticism she has been receiving.
“That’s what I thought,” she said. “They should be honored. My heart says my votes are correct.”
The other writer to leave Farrell off her ballot was Christina Kahrl of ESPN.com, who chose Francona first, Melvin second and Maddon third. She explained her vote in an article for the website, using the Red Sox’ big budget as the main reason for the exclusion of Farrell.
|11.12.13 at 8:14 pm ET|
ORLANDO — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters Tuesday at the general managers meetings that he was hoping to add some bullpen help during this offseason.
But according to a major league source, the Sox’ targets aren’t likely to be any free agents who might be currently considered closers or of the late-inning variety. Instead, the Red Sox are expected to go after less costly relievers, the likes of which might be currently considered sixth- or seventh-inning options.
Cherington is hoping, however, that some of the potential acquisitions can evolve into high-leverage options, as was the case with current closer Koji Uehara. (Uehara began the 2013 season pitching in the sixth inning.)
“We want as many guys as possible that we think have the potential and the stuff to pitch in high-leverage situations,” Cherington said. “However the roles get played out, the bullpen almost never looks the same at the end of the year as it does in the beginning of the year. The more guys we have that capability, even if they don’t have the resume or the track record, the better. Now, easier said than done. Those guys who have proven they can do that obviously cost a lot more than guys that haven’t. It’s up to me to do a better job of figuring that part out.”
Some of the free agent relievers who are expected to entertain late-inning-reliever-type of money are Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Joe Nathan, Fernando Rodney, Edward Mujica and Jesse Crain.
The Red Sox currently have Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and Brandon Workman setting up Uehara, with Andrew Miller ready to re-enter the mix after recovering from a foot injury. Andrew Bailey doesn’t figure to be ready for the season’s first few months, recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Drake Britton, Alex Wilson, Brayan Villareal, Franklin Morales and Rubby De La Rosa are all currently on the 40-man roster and will be considered for relief roles, as well.
One pitcher who may eventually help in a relief role but will be viewed as a starter heading into the season is newly-signed Cuban right-hander Dalier Hinojosa. (For a scouting report on Hinojosa, click here.)
“He’s been a starter this Cuba. He’ll likely come to camp as a starter,” said Cherington of the 27 year old. “If he’s not on the team, he’ll likely be a starter at the minor league level. We’ll take a look at him in big league camp.
“Our scouts like his stuff, think it’s an opportunity to acquire someone without a big league contract. A talented pitcher we can control who we think is close to major league ready. If he is what our scouts think he is, then he’s an affordable pitching option over the next several years.”
|11.12.13 at 7:46 pm ET|
ORLANDO — According to a team source, the Red Sox have not started talking about a contract extension for Jon Lester. The Sox are expected, however, to open negotiations with the starter around spring training.
Lester is in the final year of his current deal, with the Red Sox having picked up his $13 million option earlier in the offseason.
With Lester’s AAV counting for just more than $9 million (see an explanation of the pitcher’s luxury tax hit by clicking here), it would make sense for the red Sox to wait until after Opening Day for any agreement to be put in place.
Other members of the Red Sox’ starting rotation who are in the final years of their contract are Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy. John Lackey’s team option for 2015 will most certainly be exercised considering it will be for the major league minimum due to a clause in his deal that protected the team against any serious arm injuries.
Clay Buchholz is under the Red Sox’ control through the ’17 season, with a $13 million club option for ’16 and one for $13.5 the following season.
Because of their current commitments in the rotation, the Red Sox don’t figure to be in on such high-priced starting options as Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka. The righty is slated to be posted by his current team, Tohoku Rakuten, whom he went 24-0 with during this past season.
“I don’t want to rule anything out. It’s November,” said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington. “But we have a lot invested in that area already and feel pretty good. Relative to other areas of the team, that’s an area we have a little more depth already.”
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