|11.11.16 at 6:15 pm ET|
Will Middlebrooks’ hometown team is taking a chance on him.
The native of Texarkana, Texas has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Rangers with an invitation to major league spring training.
Middlebrooks most recently had been with the Brewers organization, hitting just .111 in 27 at-bats with the big league club. He hit .286 with 10 homers and an .816 OPS in 68 games with Triple-A Colorado Springs.
The 28-year-old’s wife, former NESN sideline reporter Jenny Dell, took to Twitter to congratulate her husband.
— Jenny Dell (@JennyDell_) November 11, 2016
Middlebrooks, who has played four infield positions, was traded by the Red Sox to San Diego prior to the 2015 season for catcher Ryan Hanigan.
|11.11.16 at 5:39 pm ET|
According to multiple reports, free agent designated hitter Kendrys Morales has agreed to a three-year, $33 million with the Blue Jays.
Morales, a switch-hitter, figures to fill in for free agent Edwin Encarnacion, who now figures to be a longshot for a return to Toronto.
The three-year deal for the 33-year-old would seem to be a year longer than the Red Sox might have been comfortable with. President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski stated numerous times at the GM meetings that the club was looking for a short-term deal to fill the spot vacated by the retiring David Ortiz.
The Morales deal might push along the market for Carlos Beltran, who is one of the options also being considered by the Red Sox. The 39-year-old Beltran is appreciably older than Morales, but does offer slightly more offensive consistency and potential defensive flexibility.
In 151 games, the switch-hitting Beltran totaled a .850 OPS with 29 home runs. Morales played in 154 games, hitting 30 homers while finishing with a .790 OPS. The Astros and Rangers are known to also have serious interest in Beltran.
Complicating things somewhat for the Red Sox is their uncertainty when it comes to the new competitive balance tax threshold, which has yet to be set due to the impending new collective bargaining agreement. Dombrowski noted Thursday that the Red Sox were trending toward filling their need for an eighth-inning reliever before the DH spot due to the difference in money to be allocated for each position.
Dombrowski also hinted that the days of having a full-time DH are a thing of the past. (For more on that, click here.)
|11.11.16 at 11:57 am ET|
It didn’t take long to fill the Red Sox’ vacant bench coach position.
According to Gerry Callahan of the Kirk & Callahan show, the Red Sox will hire Gary DiSarcina to be their new bench coach. The position was open after Torey Lovullo left to manage the Diamondbacks last week.
DiSarcina is no stranger to the Red Sox as he managed the Lowell Spinners from 2007-09 and was the organization’s infield coach in 2010. The former big leaguer then went out West to be a GM assistant with the Angels, the team his spent his entire 12-year major league career with, from 2011-12 before coming back to Boston to manage the PawSox in 2013.
The Massachusetts native has spent the last three season on-field with the Angels, as he was their third base coach in 2014 and 2015, before shifting to first base this past season.
Having managed the PawSox in 2013, he’s familiar with a few of the Red Sox’ young players, including Xander Bogaerts.
Billerica’s Gary DiSarcina is coming home. A source says he’s gonna be the @RedSox new bench coach. Excellent choice.
— Gerry Callahan (@GerryCallahan) November 11, 2016
|11.11.16 at 10:25 am ET|
Mookie Betts had a tremendous 2016 season and he did it while not being 100 percent healthy.
The team announced Friday morning Betts underwent successful right knee arthroscopy, chondroplasty, and a loose body removal yesterday. The procedure was performed by Head Team Orthopedist Dr. Peter Asnis at Massachusetts General Hospital.
He is expected to make a full recovery and be ready for spring training.
Betts finished the season hitting .318 with 31 homers and 113 RBI.
The right fielder also won a Gold Glove this week and is a finalist for the AL MVP award.
For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.
|11.10.16 at 1:55 pm ET|
Dave Dombrowski, who exchanged quick pleasantries with former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington as both exited, will now fly to Oklahoma to visit with his daughter before heading back to his 4 Yawkey Way office.
The question now is how quick Dombrowski will act on his to-do list?
The president of baseball operations said he has talked to every team in major league baseball while in Arizona, but still doesn’t know if the Red Sox will be getting their two targets — eighth-inning reliever and designated hitter — via trade or free agency.
But one reality that surfaced is the timetable for filling in the two positions. Because the new collective bargaining agreement hasn’t been finalized, the Red Sox don’t know what the new competitive balance tax threshold will be. What that means is that Dombrowski doesn’t know the level to which the team can spend before being taxed.
With that in mind, Dombrowski insinuated that finding the reliever might be first in line.
“Perhaps, because I think you’re talking about perhaps a different financial situation where it may not be the same impact on the CBT,” he said when asked if the relief pitcher would be the first acquistion.
Dombrowski also cited the unknown tax threshold when talking about being able to find his DH candidate on a preferred short-term deal.
“I do think it’s possible, but I also don’t know if it’s necessarily going to be a short, immediate type of situation,” he said in regards to finding the right player at the preferred price. “There might have to be some patience involved in that because a lot of guys fit that type of description. I also am not really pushing that as much because of the simple situation, we don’t know what the CBT situation is and the rules we’re playing under in the basic agreement. It’s really hard to push this some of those things until you really know what rules you’re playing under.”
As for how the Red Sox will acquire these players, Dombrowski said he doesn’t have a read on which route might be more realistic for either position. Last year he flat-out said his top-of-the-rotation starter would be coming via free agency after trading for closer Craig Kimbrel just a few days after the GM meetings.
“We aren’t aggressively looking to move any of our players,” Dombrowski said. “It’s not one of those situations where you’re sitting there and you’re saying, ‘I have to make this move, I have to make that move.’ We do have depth, but the depth we have we like, too.”
|11.10.16 at 9:28 am ET|
While the Red Sox aren’t quite ready to lock down a primary target to replace David Ortiz, they have settled in on a few realities when it comes to filling the position. First, Dave Dombrowski reiterated Wednesday that he is looking for a short-term deal when committing to the new player (most likely eliminating the candidacy of Edwin Encarnacion). And second, this isn’t likely just going to be a designated hitter.
“We’re not looking to have just a DH,” Dombrowski said. “I think really in today’s game the only way you really do that is to have somebody like David Ortiz and most of the time you really prefer to have some flexibility. It’s not to say somebody won’t settle in most of the time, but your goal is to use the flexibility of the players at this point. We’ll see how that all fits in.”
Just five players manned the DH spot more than 109 games or more, with Ortiz leading the pack at 140 games and Morales and Victor Martinez coming in at 138. After the trio, Albert Pujols totaled 123 games, while Nelson Cruz served as a designated hitter 109 times.
As for some of the candidates, Beltran played 69 games in the outfield in 2016, while Morales manned first base seven times, while serving as an outfielder in five games.
The Red Sox do, of course, have some flexibility thanks to Hanley Ramirez’s work at first base.
Prior to the 2016 season, it was assumed Ramirez would just slide into the DH spot once Ortiz was gone. But the first baseman played his new position well enough that the Red Sox aren’t hesitating throwing him back out in the field for another season.
“He can do both [play first base and DH],” said Dombrowski of Ramirez, who is coming into spring training with the intention of being a full-time first baseman. “He’s capable playing first and he’s also capable of being a DH. He’s capable of doing both during the season. That’s where we have some flexibility.
“He did a nice job for us. He did about as well as you could possibly hope for, and I would think he would continue to get better just because of the familiarity of the position. He worked hard, he’s a natural infielder and he did well.”
If Ramirez didn’t show so well at first, it would obviously be tempting to slide him into the DH spot considering the righty hitter’s previous success. In 48 plate appearances at DH, Ramrirez hit .364 with a 1.167 OPS and four home runs. For his career, he is a .331 hitter with a 1.014 OPS at designated hitter.
“His numbers when he DH’d were pretty good. Not pretty good, real good,” Dombrowski said. “We would think that he’s capable of doing that.”
|11.09.16 at 2:36 pm ET|
But, according to sources, as the GM meetings wind down, no free agents are being classified by the Red Sox as the be-all, end-all in terms of players who might fit those roles.
Two examples of how the Red Sox are currently approaching the vacancies involve the cases of reliever Greg Holland and potential designated hitter Carlos Beltran.
The Sox have continued to show strong interest in Holland, who the organization sent multiple representatives to watch during the reliever’s Monday showcase. Considering Holland’s history as a closer with Kansas City, and the Red Sox’ need for a late-inning reliever, a partnership would make sense.
Reports from the showcase were that Holland, who underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of the 2015 season, showed good health while throwing his fastball in the low 90’s. He will now take six weeks off before resuming his throwing program.
Considering the potential cost of late-inning relievers (such as Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman) in the open market, Holland could represent the kind of investment which figures to be hard to find in this market.
The question will be how much the Red Sox want to allocate to that eighth-inning spot, and if they feel Holland can be more of a certainty than Carson Smith (who Dombrowski suggested would be brought along slowly throughout spring training). In terms of potential eighth-inning relievers who have previously shown the ability to pitch in such high-leverage situations, there simply aren’t a lot of options in the open market.
As for Beltran, the 39-year-old is drawing interest from the Red Sox for obvious reasons. He represents the kind of short-term solution at DH Dombrowski said he is looking for, having come off another solid season (totaling an .850 OPS with 29 homers between New York and Texas).
But, as one source said, Beltran shouldn’t be classified as the only Plan A for the Red Sox, with the team telling some in MLB trades to fill the position are still a strong possibility.
|11.09.16 at 11:41 am ET|
Here’s what Dombrowski said on the first day of the GM meetings when asked if the Red Sox might dive into the starting pitching market, like they attempted to do last offseason: “I would be surprised. We have six starting pitchers right now. One of them is one of three finalists for the Cy Young Award [Rick Porcello]. Another is a Cy Young Award past winner we think very highly of [David Price]. Steven Wright made the All-Star team and we look for Steven [Wright] to be healthy. [Drew] Pomeranz made the All-Star team and we look for him to be healthy. And Eduardo Rodriguez we really like a great deal. We picked up [Clay] Buchholz’s option so we have a little bit of depth. Could we? Sure. Is it one of our top priorities? I would say no.”
And then the White Sox general manager chimed in on the matter Tuesday: “I don’t know if [the lack of starting pitching in the free agent market] changes our mindset. It may well change the value of control of premium talent given the absence of it in the market. That may therefore increase the return of a potential trade and move us more toward the position of making a deal. It doesn’t change how we value that talent. It doesn’t change our appreciation for how special and scarce that talent is. If other teams are sharing that view as well and are aggressive because of it, then we have to make a judgment what’s best for the organization over the long-term.
“[Chris Sale’s] understandably a popular name. He’s not alone on our roster, but he’s certainly the one who attracts the most headlines and speculation, and with good cause. He’s a perennial Cy Young contender. He’s in his prime and controllable for the next three years, so it certainly makes sense why people are asking.”
Not a top priority.
A potentially bigger payoff than what was coming last season.
And how about when the Red Sox last made a play for Sale and/or Quintanta, prior to the non-waiver trade deadline?
“No, we were not,” said Dombrowski when asked if he was ever close to a deal with the White Sox. “The biggest difference is that we have different needs than we did then. We’re not looking for a starting pitcher now.”
The White Sox might be more willing to deal Sale and/or Quintana than at this time last year, but the price certainly hasn’t gone down. And if that’s the case, with Dombrowski also saying Tuesday that he expects all six of his starters to be on the team heading into spring training, a legitimate push to get either of these pitchers doesn’t seem realistic.
“We have an obligation to listen on everybody,” Hahn said. “It’s no different this year as it has been the last several years in that Chris is an extremely desirable target in the game given his talent, given the control, given the scarcity of similar players. We’ve always had the obligation to listen and understand the value, not only of Chris but the other players on our roster. It doesn’t make us eager to move him. We feel he’s a fit for all 30 clubs, including us. Our goal is to always have him on the front end of a championship White Sox team pitching deep into October, but we need to understand the market value and the other players and do what’s best the long-term interest of the organization.”
|11.09.16 at 11:00 am ET|
When it was all said and done, Ortiz signed seven different contracts with the Red Sox, with some coming close enough to the end that the potential of free agency was at least discussed. And when hitting the open market entered into the conversation, so did the idea of playing home games at Yankee Stadium.
Yet despite the sometimes logical fit, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says he never entertained the possibility of Ortiz switching sides.
“I never thought he would be a free agent,” Cashman said from the GM Meetings. “He would always successfully create turbulence to make it look like, ‘I’ll leave you guys!’ He would pop off to scare the beejeezies out of those guys, but he never got to our door. I know the Pedro [Martinez] stuff worked out when Pedro knocked on our door, but he never did.”
The “Pedro stuff” Cashman referenced was when Martinez became a free agent after the 2004 season, ultimately signing with the Mets.
“Pedro met with [former Yankees owner] George [Steinbrenner]. He tried to be a Yankee, but his medicals weren’t good enough, and that’s why Boston walked away from him,” Cashman recalled.
While Cashman was never sold Ortiz would leave the Red Sox, he does credit the now-retired designated hitter for how he maneuvered through a few years of uncertainty.
“He’s a smart man,” the GM said. “He was a successful, great player, and a smart player, too.”
|11.08.16 at 9:21 pm ET|
Meeting with the media at the GM meetings Tuesday, the Red Sox’ president of baseball operations reiterated that one of his team’s top priorities heading into the offseason was finding a pitcher who can pitch just before Kimbrel in the ninth.
“We’re looking for one person because we think that some of the other guys we have, ability wise, can probably do the role, but they don’t have the experience,” Dombrowski said. “When you have guys like [Joe] Kelly and [Matt] Barnes and [Heath] Hembree, I think we’re looking for one guy at this point.”
Two perceived candidates to rejoin the Red Sox’ bullpen in that eighth inning role were free agents Koji Uehara and Brad Ziegler. But listening to Dombrowski, it doesn’t appear either represent the kind of fit the club is currently looking for.
When asked about Uehara, the president certainly didn’t sound somebody intent on making the kind of commitment we’re talking about.
“I don’t know if it’s fair of me to speculate on publicly. He’s fine, but he’s 42 so there are some differences,” Dombrowski said when asked if the righty might fit the eighth-inning need. “I wouldn’t really want to get into that in that regard. That would have to be something everybody would have to determine themselves. It’s really a difficult subject for guys in free agency.”
Ziegler, it would appear, is still viewed by the Red Sox as more of a match-up reliever than a no-questions-asked set-up man.
“We liked him. He did a good job for us, a very good job,” Dombrowski said of the side-winder. “We had the ability to mix and match a lot when we had him. He’s extremely effective against right-handed hitters. He did alright vs. lefties, but better vs. righties. But again we don’t have the ability to add a lot of guys to our staff because you take on of the guys and you put them in your bullpen, so that’s one. You’ve got Kimbrel, you’ve got Kelly, you’ve got Barnes, you’ve got Hembree, you’ve got [Robbie] Ross, you’ve got [Fernando] Abad, so you have to make sure we have the right guy. One right guy is more important to us than a number of guys.”
(Dombrowski later clarified that the Red Sox are planning to tender Abad a contract, which there was some question about heading into this offseason.)
The wild card in the scenario is Carson Smith.
“In Carson Smith’s case it’s really a situation where some people think he’ll be ready for spring training, kind of ready to compete. I’m not ready to put that on him at this point,” Dombrowski said. “It think it’s more of a bonus if he’s ready there. I think he would be more ready in my own mind the whole year, you kind of look at that’s around the first of June. But that’s still to be determined. He’s making good progress. He’s felt good. But until you really get into that rehab process … Of course if he was healthy and ready to go at the very beginning I don’t think we would be looking for an eighth inning guy because we feel he could fill that role.”
With Dombrowski clarifying the need for early-season certainty in that eighth inning, it complicates a potential run at former Royals closer Greg Holland, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Holland received positive reviews for his Monday showcase, but the reliever’s velocity still isn’t near where he had been when dominating late-inning situations over the past few years.
So how will the Red Sox find this reliever, free agency or via a trade? Dombrowski doesn’t have the answers quite yet.
“Guys just got together last night. Agents are really just reaching out today,” he said. “I really don’t have a great pulse at this point. We’re open to either, but I don’t think that has been formulated yet.”
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