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Does prior history matter in predicting risk of $100 million players?

11.18.14 at 1:40 am ET
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In some ways, the Red Sox face a dilemma of whether to put a contract offer of $100 million or more in front of a player who represents a known commodity like Jon Lester or an unfamiliar one like Pablo Sandoval or even Max Scherzer. That being the case, it’s worth asking: Do teams make smarter nine-figure bets when doing so on players who have already been in their employ? That topic is explored in this column. Here are the details of the 54 contracts of $100 million or more:

111714_comparison_chart_100m_signings

 

 

 

 

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A’s claim OF/1B Alex Hassan on waivers from Red Sox

11.17.14 at 7:40 pm ET
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Alex Hassan

Alex Hassan

Milton native Alex Hassan got to realize a childhood dream by making his big league debut at Fenway Park in 2014. Now, caught behind a raft of outfielders in the Red Sox farm system, Hassan will head elsewhere to see if he can claim an opportunity to be a more lasting opportunity in the big leagues.

The A’s were awarded a waiver claim on Hassan on Monday. Though he has a minor league option remaining, the 26-year-old is expected to get an opportunity to compete for a big league platoon role.

Hassan was originally taken by the Red Sox as a pitcher out of Duke in the 20th round of the 2009 draft. However, the two-way college player proved so impressive as a hitter in the Cape League that summer that the Sox ended up signing him as an outfielder. In six pro seasons, he was one of the most consistent hitters in the system, hitting .291 with a .396 OBP and .436 slugging mark while demonstrating excellent pitch recognition and strike zone awareness. His lack of power and the fact that he was a corner (both outfield corner spots and first base) limited his ceiling, but his consistent approach led to a sense that he stood a good chance of being a big league contributor in the right role.

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Pablo Sandoval arrives in Boston to meet with Red Sox officials

11.17.14 at 5:37 pm ET
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Pablo Sandoval is reportedly in Boston to meet with the Red Sox. (Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval is reportedly in Boston to meet with the Red Sox. (Getty Images)

The courtship of the Panda is officially underway.

WHDH Sports caught up with free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval at Logan Airport. According to Joe Amorosino of WHDH (via twitter), Sandoval arrived with both brother Michael Sandoval and agent Gustavo Vasquez in anticipation of the 28-year-old’s meeting with Red Sox officials, though the third baseman was initially coy about his intentions.

“I’m on vacation. I just [came to] visit the city,” Sandoval joked to WHDH. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Sandoval later provided a bit more about his enthusiasm to meet with the Red Sox.

“I love being here and the situation,” he told WHDH, nothing that he enjoys a good relationship with DH David Ortiz.

Vasquez said that “around five or six” teams remained interested in Sandoval, while Michael Sandoval suggested that his brother was very much open to any team, including the Red Sox.

“It can be Red Sox, can be any other uniform,” Michael Sandoval told WHDH. “The good part of this is he’ll get a chance to explore his value on the market, see who can really appreciate him and his work.”

The Sox have made little effort to hide their interest in Sandoval, acknowledging that their struggles at third base in 2014 combined with their need for more left-handed lineup balance make the switch-hitting Sandoval an obvious subject of the team’s interest. Vasquez, Sandoval’s agent, recentlly suggested that the third baseman would like a six-year deal, a goal that seemingly is in line with recent free agent history given Sandoval’s relatively young age.

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Jon Lester will have met with Red Sox owners before Cubs

11.17.14 at 3:11 pm ET
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According to a major league source, the Red Sox‘ ownership group will have met with Jon Lester and his representatives prior to the Cubs’ get-together with the pitcher, which is slated for Tuesday.

According to another source, Lester has drawn “significant interest” from six clubs, which includes the Red Sox, Cubs and Blue Jays (as was reported by WEEI.com Monday).

For more updates, go to the Red Sox page at weei.com/redsox.

Red Sox front office undergoes numerous changes

11.17.14 at 2:07 pm ET
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Amiel Sawdaye

Amiel Sawdaye

A considerable amount of shuffling has taken place within the Red Sox front office.

Amiel Sawdaye, the Red Sox‘ director of amateur scouting for the last five drafts, has been promoted to vice president with a focus on domestic and international scouting, a role comparable to the one that current assistant GM Mike Hazen occupied (as VP of player development and amateur scouting) between his role as farm director and his promotion to his current position.

Under Sawdaye, the Sox’ drafts churned out prospects in volume. Among them:

2010: Bryce Brentz (supplemental first round), Anthony Ranaudo (supplemental first round),  Brandon Workman (second round), Sean Coyle (third round), Garin Cecchini (fourth round)

2011: Matt Barnes (first round), Blake Swihart (first round), Henry Owens (supplemental first round), Jackie Bradley Jr. (supplemental first round), Mookie Betts (fifth round), Travis Shaw (ninth round)

2012: Deven Marrero (first round), Brian Johnson (first round)

2013: Trey Ball (first round), Teddy Stankiewicz (second round), Joe Gunkel (18th round), Mauricio Dubon (26th round), Nick Longhi (30th round)

2014: Michael Chavis (first round), Michael Kopech (first round), Sam Travis (second round), Jake Cosart (third round), Kevin McAvoy (fourth round)

With Sawdaye moving up, Mike Rikard — who had served as a national cross-checker for the last five drafts — has been elevated to the director of amateur scouting. Rikard has been working closely with the entire scouting department over the last five years since moving up to national crosschecker. He joined the Sox from the Padres in 2005 as an East Coast crosschecker. Read the rest of this entry »

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Source: Red Sox never engaged on Jason Heyward

11.17.14 at 12:56 pm ET
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In some respects, it made some sense.

Even with a glut of outfielders, the Red Sox‘ rumored interest in Braves outfielder Jason Heyward seemed plausible. If there was some juggling to the roster, a case to trade for the lefty hitter could be made.

Heyward will be eligible for free agency following the 2015 season, but bringing along the 25 year old’s offensive and defensive skill-set at the right price seemingly deserved some consideration.

But, according to a major league source, the Red Sox never did go down that road.

Monday, Heyward was dealt to the Cardinals, along with Jordan Walden, for pitcher Shelby Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins. The Red Sox, according the source, never engaged in trade talks with the Braves for the outfielder.

Heyward is a two-time National League Gold Glove winner (having claimed the award for ’14), while hitting .271 with 11 homers and a .735 OPS in 149 games last season.

Sources: Blue Jays continue to show interest in Jon Lester

11.17.14 at 12:38 pm ET
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The Blue Jays evidently aren’t messing around this offseason.

While getting free agent catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million contract (as first reported by Peter Gammons, Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal) served as one of the Jays’ largest offseason commitments in team history, they evidently aren’t intent on stopping there.

According to multiple major league sources, the Blue Jays remain as one of the six clubs to continue to show legitimate interest in free agent pitcher Jon Lester. Also known to be pursuing the lefty are the Cubs and Red Sox, both of whom are expected to meet with the pitcher this week.

According to Cots Contracts, the Blue Jays’ payroll landed at $137,770,000 last season, with Mark Buehrle slated to make the most money of any player on the roster in ’15 ($19 million).

The Martin signing potentially frees up more money for the Cubs, who were thought to be the other the finalists for the 32 year old catcher’s services. It has been reported Lester is scheduled to meet with Chicago Tuesday.

Farewell, rumor mill? ‘Supernova’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton reportedly nearing 13-year deal with Marlins

11.14.14 at 7:11 pm ET
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Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly closing on a 13-year deal with the Marlins. (Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly closing on a 13-year deal with the Marlins. (Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton didn’t win the NL MVP award, but he may be on the cusp of cashing in on the biggest contract in baseball history. According to CBSSports.com, the Marlins and Stanton have agreed to terms on a 13-year, $325 million deal, with the two sides working to iron out the language of the deal. The deal would include both no-trade protection and the opportunity to opt out, according to the report.

Stanton, who turned 25 last week, would thus be locked up through his age 37 season (if he does not exercise the potential opt-out) for a franchise that has a long history of trading its stars in their primes. Miami was evidently willing to change course for the foremost power hitter in the NL. Stanton, who finished second in NL MVP voting to pitcher Clayton Kershaw, led the NL with 37 homers and a .555 slugging mark while hitting .288 with a .395 OBP in 145 contests before his year came to a sudden halt when he was hit in the face by a pitch on Sept. 11.

An extension could end Stanton’s perpetual place in the rumor mill, an existence to which he first became introduced as an 18-year-old in 2008, when he was mentioned as the potential return for the Sox in a trade that would have sent Manny Ramirez to the Marlins.

“I heard it was going to happen,” Stanton acknowledged in 2009.

Indeed, in the absence of an extension, it seemed unavoidable to wonder whether the Red Sox would make a play for Stanton. That curiosity even hovered over this offseason, with curiosity about whether the Sox might try to build a package around Xander Bogaerts and/or Mookie Betts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Rusney Castillo will play in Puerto Rico

11.14.14 at 11:00 am ET
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Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo will be playing some more offseason baseball, after all.

After suffering a setback due to a bruised thumb suffered while playing in the Arizona Fall League — having to leave the AFL earlier than anticipated — Castillo has been cleared to participate in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

Castillo will join the Criollos de Caguas (who are managed by former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora) Nov. 26, with the plan of getting the outfielder 100 at-bats. The 27-year-old was originally supposed to join Cora’s club Nov. 7 and play through the end of the month.

The Puerto Rican Winter League’s regular season schedule extends until the end of December. Among the players playing for Caguas is Red Sox minor league outfielder Henry Ramos, who hit .326 in 48 games for Double-A Portland last season.

With the Suprise Saguaros of the AFL, Castillo hit .278 (10-for-38) with 10 runs and a .333 on-base percentage over eight games. With the Red Sox he hit .333 (12-for-36) with two homers, totaling an OPS of .928.

The righty hitter was recently examined in Boston and cleared by the team’s medical staff.

Jon Lester finishes 4th in Cy Young voting; Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw win

11.12.14 at 9:07 pm ET
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Jon Lester finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. (Getty Images)

Jon Lester finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. (Getty Images)

Left-hander Jon Lester, who posted a 16-11 record and career-best 2.46 ERA with 9.0 strikeouts and 2.0 walks per nine innings in a career-high 219 2/3 innings, finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting for his standout work on the mound with the Red Sox and A’s. The fourth-place finish in Cy Young voting is the second of Lester’s career, a finish that matches his recognition for going 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA, 9.7 strikeouts and 3.6 walks per nine innings in 2010.

Lester — whom the Sox traded to the A’s (along with Jonny Gomes) on July 31 in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes — was named on 25 of 30 ballots, receiving three third-place votes, 15 fourth-place votes and seven fifth-place votes. His 46 points were behind Cy Young winner Corey Kluber of the Indians (169 points), Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez (159 points) and White Sox lefty Chris Sale (78 points).

Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw won his second straight Cy Young award and his third in four seasons, claiming all 30 first-place votes. He’s the 14th pitcher in NL history to win a Cy by unanimous acclaim.

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