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Making (dollars and) sense of Cole Hamels’ contract as an alternative to Jon Lester

11.11.14 at 5:08 pm ET
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Left-hander Cole Hamels had a 2.46 ERA for the Phillies in 2014 -- the same mark as Jon Lester had for the Red Sox and A's. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Left-hander Cole Hamels had a 2.46 ERA for the Phillies in 2014 — the same mark as Jon Lester had for the Red Sox and A’s. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Don’t want to pay the going rates for an elite free-agent pitcher? The Phillies’ phone lines are apparently open.

Philadelphia is willing to discuss left-hander Cole Hamels, a pitcher who is coming off a dominant season at age 30. Though he went just 9-9 for the Phillies, he posted a career-best 2.46 ERA in 30 starts with 8.7 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings in 204 1/3 innings this year. Those numbers align closely with what Jon Lester (16-11, 2.46, 9.0 Ks/9, 2.0 BBs/9) did in 2014.

The similarities go beyond that. The two pitchers were born just 11 days apart, Hamels at the end of December 1983, Lester in early January 1984. Hamels has a career 108-83 record with a 3.27 ERA and 125 ERA+. Lester is 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA and 121 ERA+. Both have dominant World Series performances and a history of thriving in some of the most highly scrutinized environments in baseball. It goes without saying that Lester will use Hamels’ six-year, $144 million contract (signed just months before he reached free agency in 2012) as a very relevant data point for his own contractual discussions.

And so, the notion has been articulated many times: The Red Sox can re-sign Lester for full market value, but if they don’t want to commit, say, five or six years to a pitcher who turns 31 in January, they could trade for Hamels, who is owed $90 million (four $22.5 million salaries) in the next four years.

But the contractual contrast between the two pitchers might have been overstated, in part based on some misunderstanding about Hamels’ contract — particularly given the possibility that, if the Sox were to trade for Hamels, because he reportedly has the right to veto a deal to Boston and can thus extract negotiated concessions from a team that deals for him, they might have to pick up his $20 million for his age 35 season in 2019.

Here’s the shakedown:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Report: Jake Peavy turning San Francisco cable car into mobile bar

11.11.14 at 11:25 am ET
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After winning the World Series with the Red Sox last season, Jake Peavy bought himself a duck boat. This season, after winning the World Series with the Giants he bought himself a San Francisco cable car, and he isn’t done there.

According to a TMZ Sports report, Peavy will turn the cable car into a mobile bar on his 5,000-acre estate in Alabama called Southern Falls Plantation.

Peavy’s brother Luke says, “Once it’s in ‘Bama, it will be turned into a mobile bar in Southern Falls.”

The veteran right-hander was traded to the Giants just before the July 31 trade deadline from the Red Sox. In 12 starts with San Francisco during the regular season, he went 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA. Things didn’t go as well in the playoffs, as he went 1-2, but he still collected his second World Series ring in as many years.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

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Source: Mets had little interest in Yoenis Cespedes

11.11.14 at 12:53 am ET
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Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

PHOENIX — Upon the Mets signing free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer Monday, murmurs throughout the Arizona Biltmore Hotel circulated regarding what it might mean for the Red Sox.

The Mets, with all their young starting pitching, were thought to be a good fit in a potential deal with the Red Sox considering New York’s need for a corner outfielder. It was believed that Yoenis Cespedes might be an outfielder the Mets had their eye on prior to inking Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million deal.

But according to a major league source, the Mets had little interest in trading for Cespedes even before locking up Cuddyer. Among the reasons given was the desire to acquire a player for more than just the year left on Cespedes’ contract.

Multiple executives at the general managers’ meetings did, however, believe that the likelihood is that Cespedes will be dealt at some point this offseason. In an interview with MLB Network Radio over the weekend, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said that he has been receiving calls on all of the teams outfielders, without a particular emphasis on any one player.

Read More: Yoenis Cespedes,

Report: Red Sox on Cole Hamels’ no-trade list

11.10.14 at 11:19 pm ET
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According to a report from Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (via twitter), the Red Sox are among the teams that Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels has listed among those from whom he has no-trade protection. That “protection” does not rule out the possibility of a trade. Instead, it gives Hamels the right to veto a trade.

Typically, players use the opportunity to apply no-trade protection to extract something of value from teams that would be interested in trading for them. Sometimes that comes in the form of a bonus (as when the Red Sox traded for Mark Kotsay in 2008). In other instances, players will use their no-trade protection either to negotiate an extension (Curt Schilling after the 2003 season). In the case of Hamels, Rosenthal notes (via twitter) that the left-hander likely would want to have his 2019 option for $20 million (with a $6 million buyout) guaranteed.

Hamels, 30, went 9-9 with a 2.46 ERA, 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.6 walks per nine innings in 2014. The three-time All-Star owns a career 108-83 record with a 3.27 ERA in 1801 1/3 innings. He’s made at least 30 starts in each of the last seven seasons.

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Yasmany Tomas’ agent says client has more power than Jose Abreu: ‘Way more’

11.10.14 at 6:14 pm ET
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Yasmany Tomas poses after his workout with the Red Sox. (Jay Alou's Twitter account)

Yasmany Tomas poses after his workout with the Red Sox. (Jay Alou’s Twitter account)

PHOENIX — Listen to Jay Alou — agent for free agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas –€“ for his first two sentences and you’€™ll come away with a dose of reality.

“I don’€™t see a need. They have their outfielders,” Alou said when asked at the general managers’€™ meetings Monday about the Red Sox‘€™ interest in the 23-year-old slugger.

But then, in mid statement, came the push.

“I mean, he could play third base. Everybody could use some pop,”€ Alou added.

Alou was simply doing his job when talking to a small group of Boston-area reporters — building up his client for the rest of the baseball world.

Sure, the Red Sox had viewed Tomas during both a showcase and a private workout (held at the team’€™s facility in the Dominican Republic). But their interest has never been at the level of other teams, citing a concern over the outfielder’€™s swing-and-miss ratio while playing in Cuba, along with the Sox’€™ glut of outfielders.

The wheels did start turning a bit when Alou mentioned the prospects of playing third base, a need for the Red Sox. (“He caught some ground balls [at the workout]. He wants to work everywhere. He’€™ll take ground balls anywhere. He just wants to play,” the agent said.)

But, unless there is a change of course, no matter what the position, it doesn’€™t appear as the though the Red Sox view Tomas as valuable an investment as they did for the seven-year, $72.5 million they paid Rusney Castillo.

If that is the case, the interest in Tomas from Red Sox fans’€™ point of view should be in regards to what the outfielder might become.

When told Castillo compared Tomas’€™ power to that of Jose Abreu (he of 35 home runs), Alou immediately shot back, “€œHe’€™s got more power than Abreu. He’€™s got a lot more power. Abreu’€™s a little older, more mature with his bat. Sometimes it takes guys longer to figure things out. And the last couple of weeks, a lot of things have clicked for Yasmany. I can tell you he’€™s got a lot more power than anyone I’€™ve ever seen. A lot.”

For multiple reasons, Tomas will be linked to Abreu. The Red Sox (and other teams who are shying away from the outfielder) just have to wait and see if the youngster will spawn the same wave of regrets.

“€œI’m not the team owner. They have to decide when to pull the trigger,”€ said Alou regarding a timeline for Alou to sign. “€œAfter Jose Abreu did what he did this year, I’m sure there were plenty of teams out there that said, ‘Why didn’t I get that guy?’ What happened? What went wrong? Why didn’t I get him?

“Yasmany Tomas is very very special. You don’t find that kind of power, and we might not find that kind of power for a while, because the guys with that build, they’re playing in the NFL.”

A general managers’ meetings primer

11.10.14 at 10:06 am ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

PHOENIX — Want to know one of the rarest feats in Major League Baseball? An actual significant transaction during the general managers’ meetings.

Sure, it happens.

Last year, the Phillies signed Marlon Byrd to a somewhat sizable contract. The year before, David Ross agreed to a deal with the Red Sox on the final day of the meetings. In 2010, not only did two set-up guys (Joaquin Benoit, Scott Downs) agree to three-year deals during the three-day event, but catcher John Buck also was locked up by the Marlins.

It was also in ’10 at the GM meetings in Orlando that Red Sox chairman Tom Werner went on WEEI and proclaimed, “”We are going to sign a significant free agent. We are going to make a trade.” A few weeks later along came Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.

But the importance of the get-together at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel this week stretches beyond any sort of actual transactions. This is truly where the rubber meets the offseason road. In ’09, it was the commitment shown by the Red Sox (with then-manager Terry Francona joining GM Theo Epstein in Chicago) towards John Lackey at the GM meetings that was later identified as a difference-maker when wooing the starter.

The Red Sox will not be meeting with any players this week, just agents and teams — a lot of them.

Cherington will meet up with Gustavo Vasquez (Pablo Sandoval’s agent), Sam and Seth Levinson (Jon Lester‘s agents), Page Odle (James Shields‘ agent), Adam Katz (Hanley Ramirez‘s agent), and, yes, Scott Boras (Max Scherzer‘s agent). The list will be a lot longer, but you get the idea.

There will be a session in which all the general managers are put in a ballroom for the media to have at them for about 45 minutes. And, typically, the GMs might break off from their meetings to partake in some sort of outing (although this year that is supposedly consisting of simply checking out some Arizona Fall League action).

Last year served as a pretty good cheat sheet for how a big league offseason unfolds once the GM meetings’ meetings come to a close. The GMs filtered out of Orlando last year on Nov. 13. Exactly three weeks later, everything and anything of significance that was going to take place for the Red Sox (signings of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jarrod Saltamacchia, Mike Napoli) unfolded in a matter of just a few days.

About a week before, there was a smattering of activity throughout MLB, with David Murphy (Indians) and Jhonny Peralta (Cardinals) signing free agent deals. The Angels and Cardinals also made a deal Nov. 22, with World Series hero David Freese being sent to Anaheim.

Will this year be different? There’s a chance. Often times one signing and domino into a bunch. There are enough high-leverage bullpen arms, for instance, that an Andrew Miller decision could push things along. Or maybe one of the big ticket starters surprises and jumps early.

If nothing else, the tone of the coming month will be set in the coming days. Here’s a promise: it will be the biggest event in Arizona for Boston sports fans until some football game is played here Feb. 1.

(For some of Cherington’s thoughts heading into the meetings, click here.)

Which big ticket free agent should the Red Sox prioritize?

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Red Sox not expected to meet with any players at GM meetings

11.09.14 at 7:05 pm ET
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PHOENIX — According to a major league source, the Red Sox are not expecting to meet with any players during the general managers meetings this week.

There had been reports suggesting that the Sox might be not only meeting with Pablo Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, but also the free agent third baseman, himself. The Red Sox contingent — headed up by general manager Ben Cherington — is only scheduled to hold discussions with agents and teams during the three-day event at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.

It would not be surprising if the Red Sox don’t conduct any get-togethers with players during the front office’s time in Arizona, with such get-togethers usually reserved for the winter meetings. (Even those such meetings aren’t common, with the Red Sox last conducting one with then-free agent Josh Hamilton following the 2012 season.)

The 28 year old Sandoval typically spends his offseason working out in his native Venezuela.

Ben Cherington talks outfield trade market, Jon Lester and interest in Pablo Sandoval

11.08.14 at 2:56 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

With the general managers meetings slated to kick off in Phoenix Monday, Red Sox Ben Cherington is preparing to hatch his team’s offseason plan. Appearing on MLB Network Radio, Cherington explained the Sox’s approach to a few key items:

(On interest Red Sox might be getting from teams in regards to Yoenis Cespedes)

“We’ve gotten calls. By this time we’ve talked to just about every team. Several teams have asked about our outfielders, not any one in particular. Because we have some depth there, theoretically, we’ve gotten asked on that, particularly with teams that may match up. I’m not ruling out getting into a trade conversations where we might match up. But there is no particular player that we’re looking to move, including Cespedes. But we’re going to make the team better where we can and we’ll try to be open-minded when trying to do that.”

(If Cherington believes the Red Sox have a solid enough relationship with Jon Lester and his representatives to get a deal done)

“I do. I don’t think there is anything in the relationship that would prohibit that. In fact, the history we have together eliminates some work in a way because you really don’t have to do the due diligence you normally would on a free agent of his caliber. Look, he’s earned the right to free agency and players don’t get that right all that often so he’s going to need to go through his process and obviously there will be other teams interested and we look forward to being one of those teams and we’ll see where it goes. I feel confident that we will be able to have a constructive conversation. There’s nothing that has gone on that would prohibit that, but we’ll see where it goes. Other teams will be interested, too, no doubt.”

(If the Red Sox will be in the mix for some of the other top free agent pitchers, such as Max Scherzer and James Shields)

“What I would say is that we are committed to building a winning team next year. We want to do that in a way that makes sense for the long-term. We are committed to building a winning team for next year. It’s no secret that a big part of doing that is adding to the rotation, and maybe that comes in different forms. It happens to be an offseason where there are options to do that, both in free agency and trades. I think we’ll certainly have support of ownership to make good offers. We’ll just have to see where that goes. As you know, the thing about free agency is nobody really knows exactly where it goes. So we’ll just have to get in there and see, but we look forward to having that conversation and being part of the mix.”

(On the Red Sox interest in free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval)

“I’m sure we’ll talk to his agent, but as you know we’re going to talk to a lot of agents next week. I think because we stated an interest in adding a left-hand bat somewhere and because theoretically third base could be a place to do that, that is sort of an obvious link between us and Sandoval. Look, he’s coming from a team that just won a World Series and is interested in keeping him, and we have to look at every alternative for that kind of guy who we’re looking to add, the left-handed hitter somewhere, and there’s different ways to do that. … He’s a good hitter at a position that’s tough to find, and that’s why there will be a lot of teams interested, including the one he’s playing for.”

Dodgers hire ex-Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler to head farm system

11.07.14 at 9:49 pm ET
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The Dodgers announced that they’ve hired former Red Sox outfielder (and minor league manager) Gabe Kapler as their director of player development. Kapler spent parts of 12 years in the big leagues, including a stretch from 2003-06 with the Red Sox, before retiring after the 2006 season in order to become the manager of the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox’ Single-A affiliate. At the end of that year, however, Kapler resumed his playing career, spending three more years with the Brewers (2008) and Rays (2009-10). He went to spring training with the Dodgers in 2011, but was released near the end of camp. He’s been working as an analyst for Fox Sports since 2013.

Additionally, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com is reporting (via twitter) that the Dodgers will hire Red Sox special assignment scout Galen Carr. Carr — who has been with the organization for 14 years — was considered one of the top evaluators in the Red Sox organization.

Pablo Sandoval reportedly seeking 6-year deal

11.07.14 at 2:00 pm ET
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Gustavo Vasquez, the agent for free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, has told the San Francisco Chronicle that his client is seeking a six-year deal. Vasquez went on to suggest to the newspaper that the length of deal was more important to Sandoval than the money.

“Pablo is 28,” Vasquez said in the report. “He is still young. Maybe if he was 30 or 31 we could talk about four or five years. But he’€™s 28. He deserves more than that.”

The Red Sox are believed to have interest in Sandoval, who would fill a need for the Sox as a run-producer who can hit from the left side. The third baseman also is considered an above-average fielder.

Vasquez told the Chronicle that once his client identifies an offer he likes, “He’ll sign fast.”

(Click here to read the entire report.)

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