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What all these qualifying offers mean to Red Sox

11.07.15 at 10:12 am ET
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Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann

So, it appears like teams have finally caught on.

All the qualifying offers are in to Major League Baseball free agents, with a record-setting 25 players receiving the opportunity to haul in a one-year, $15.8 million from their previous teams.

It is a huge jump from what had transpired in the three previous offseasons the qualifying offer system has been in place. The first year saw nine offers, with 13 coming the next year and 12 being extended last offseason.

(As a reminder of how it works, if the player doesn’t accept the QO and he signs with another team, the team that inks the free agent has to surrender its highest draft pick, unless that pick falls in the top 10. The club giving up the player receives a sandwich round selection once he signs elsewhere.)

Why so many?

One of the main reasons is that because it has become evident the agents have little interest in advising their clients to take a one-year deal after positioning them for free agency for months leading up to this moment. And since a decision has to be made in one week, there’s no proof what might await in the free agent market, leaving the players often believing there is a multi-year deal out there somewhere.

To date, none of the players handed qualifying offers had accepted the one-year deal, with the gamble coming back to bite players like Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales, both of whom signed a few months into the regular season. The team signing Drew, the Red Sox, didn’t have to surrender a pick because they were his previous club, and the Twins were clear of giving up a pick when inking Morales because the agreement was after the June amateur draft.

Now we will find out if such scenarios have scared off some of these 25 players from exploring the market beyond next week.

As for what this all means for the Red Sox, there are a few players in the group that they were eyeing to see if a QO would be heading their way. The potential of giving up the draft pick is of considerable interest to Dave Dombrowski and Co. this time around considering they sit at No. 12, the second highest non-protected pick.

If surrendered, it would be the highest spot ever given up to sign a player since the QO system started, with the Padres currently holding that honor after giving up No. 13 for James Shields last offseason.

“It’s a case-by-case basis,” Dombrowski said when appearing on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show Tuesday night. “Ideally, you never want to give up your No. 1 draft choice if you don’t have to. But I have been in circumstances where the player that you signed merits you being in a position where you feel as an organization that you’re willing to do that.

“You don’t want to do it. There are some circumstances you’d shy away from, where you say, you know what, I don’€™t want to give that draft choice up for this kind of player. You’re thinking your draft pick is going to be successful, so you have to weigh in to where you think the player you would be drafting there, the type of player down the road he projects to be. It’s something when you talk about development time, that you’re open minded to trading that quality of player you might get with that choice, or not.

“I think it’s a case-by-case basis and you analyze that based upon the player you have a chance to sign.”

The Red Sox would be most likely willing to surrender the pick in order to sign the likes of pitcher Zack Greinke, or, if they choose to go down this road (which I don’t think they will), first baseman Chris Davis. Starter Jordan Zimmermann might also fall into this group.

Starting pitchers Wei-Yen Chen, Hisashi Iwakuma, Yovani Gallardo, Brett Anderson or Marco Estrada? The draft pick conundrum might offer some hesitation.

It should be noted that some other significant potential Red Sox free agent targets will be free and clear from being saddled with QO compensation. David Price, Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir all couldn’t be offered the one-year deal because a player has to be with their team for the entire season leading up to free agency in order to be eligible. Price, Cueto and Kazmir were all dealt in the middle of the 2015 season.

Here is a list of the players receiving the qualifying offers:

Brett Anderson, SP (Dodgers)
Wei-Yin Chen, SP (Orioles)
Chris Davis, 1B (Orioles)
Ian Desmond, SS (Nationals)
Marco Estrada, SP (Blue Jays)
Dexter Fowler, OF (Cubs)
Yovani Gallardo, SP (Rangers)
Alex Gordon, OF (Royals)
Zack Greinke, SP (Dodgers)
Jason Heyward, OF (Cardinals)
Hisashi Iwakuma, SP (Mariners)
Howie Kendrick, 2B (Dodgers)
Ian Kennedy, SP (Padres)
John Lackey, SP (Cardinals)
Daniel Murphy, 2B/3B (Mets)
Colby Rasmus, OF (Astros)
Jeff Samardzija, SP (White Sox)
Justin Upton, OF (Padres)
Matt Wieters, C (Orioles)
Jordan Zimmermann, SP (Nationals)

Read More: free agents, Red Sox,

Red Sox pitchers Jean Machi, Alexi Ogando elect to become free agents after being outrighted; Ryan Cook claimed off waivers by Cubs

11.06.15 at 3:39 pm ET
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Alexi Ogando

Alexi Ogando

The Red Sox announced a series of moves Friday, including outrighting pitchers Alexi Ogando and Jean Machi, who elected to become free agents.

Ogando, 32, signed as a free agent last offseason after five years with the Rangers. The right-hander saw action in 64 games this season, going 3-1 with a 3.99 ERA.

Machi, 30, was picked up off waivers from the Giants on July 28 and appeared in 26 games with the Sox, posting a 5.09 ERA.

Outfielder/first baseman Allen Craig was outrighted as well, but he accepted an assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket. The 31-year-old spent most of the season in Pawtucket, trying to regain the stroke that helped him succeed during his previous stint with the Cardinals. In 36 games in the majors this season, Craig batted .152/.239/.203.

Catcher Sandy Leon signed a one-year major league contract for 2016 and also was outrighted and assigned to Pawtucket. The 26-year-old Venezuelan, acquired from the Nationals just before the start of the season to fill a void, hit .184/.238/.202 in 41 games.

Pitcher Ryan Cook was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. The 28-year-old was traded from the Athletics to the Sox at the trade deadline for a player to be named or cash, and he made five relief appearances, allowing 13 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.

The Sox also reinstated five players from the 60-day disabled list: pitchers Clay Buchholz (right elbow strain), Koji Uehara (right wrist nondisplaced distal radius fracture), Anthony Varvaro (right elbow surgery) and Brandon Workman (Tommy John surgery), and catcher Christian Vazquez (Tommy John surgery).

Read More: Alexi Ogando, Allen Craig, Jean Machi, Ryan Cook

Charles Steinberg named PawSox president

11.06.15 at 10:50 am ET
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Charles Steinberg

Charles Steinberg

On a day when the Red Sox announced a series of moves as part of their front office restructuring, Dr. Charles Steinberg was named president of the Pawtucket Red Sox on Thursday.

Steinberg has long worked with outgoing Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino, who became chairman of the PawSox last winter.

The PawSox are attempting to relocate, although a plan to move to Providence fell through in September.

“Working at Fenway Park, we have long admired the fans of Rhode Island,” Steinberg said. “The opportunity to help enhance a warm, welcoming, positive experience for families, and especially children, is very attractive. The opportunity to help enhance the PawSox’ community efforts is equally enticing.

“We know we have a staff of loyal, dedicated, knowledgeable people who have given their hearts and souls to the PawSox for years. We look forward to working with them, learning from them and building upon our shared experience.”

Mike Tamburro, who has served as PawSox president for two decades, will remain with the organization as vice chairman.

Read More: charles steinberg, Larry Lucchino,

Billy Beane isn’t keen on trading Sonny Gray

11.05.15 at 9:10 am ET
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Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray

A lot can change over the course of an offseason. Nobody knows that more than Billy Beane.

The A’s chief decision-maker was the one who reversed course last year after stiff-arming inquiries on Josh Donaldson, finally giving the OK to Toronto for a deal involving the probable American League MVP.

This year, the Red Sox are probably hoping Beane has a similar change of mind.

Talking to Peter Gammons, Beane said that he didn’t believe that the starting pitcher so many believed would be a target for the Red Sox, Sonny Gray, would be in the conversation when it came to making a deal in the coming months.

As Beane explained to Gammons for GammonsDaily.com, “trading Gray is not something I think we could do. We have to put a representative product on the field, and continue to dream we get a ballpark. We should have good pitching, with Gray, Jarrod Parker, Kendall Graveman, Jesse Hahn, Chris Bassitt, maybe Sean Manaea during the season. I just cannot see us trading Gray or (Josh) Reddick.”

Sources have said that the Red Sox have at least previously asked about Gray, a 26-year-old who finished seventh among all pitchers in Wins Above Replacement this past season. In his second full big league season, the righty went 14-7 with a 2.73 ERA while pitching 208 innings. Over the past two seasons, Gray has totaled the exact same ERA (2.88) as David Price.

It isn’t surprising that Beane wants to hold on to Gray, who has just 2 1/2 years service time. (He was taken one spot ahead of where the Red Sox selected Matt Barnes with the 19th overall pick in the 2011 draft.)

The A’s head of baseball operations clearly wants some sort of players to serve as a foundation while he tries to rebuild a team that went just an American League-worst 68-94. For now, he’s identifying Gray as one of those guys.

“Good question, but I think so,” said Beane when asked if he thought Gray would be affordable by the time the A’s young players are ready thrive. “I look at the way the market is going and realize the teams with the money are going to spend it on free agent pitching rather than trading three or four top prospects. Good young players are worth too much today.”

Read More: Billy Beane, Red Sox, Sonny Gray,

Dave Dombrowski on building a bullpen, and moving Matt Barnes to relief

11.04.15 at 2:27 pm ET
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The Red Sox recently took one step towards addressing the need for power in their bullpen by informing right-hander Matt Barnes that he’ll be shifting to relief.

President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski revealed that news on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show on Tuesday night while also addressing the bigger-picture question of how to build a bullpen in an age where teams like the Royals are winning on the strength of their lockdown pens.

“It’s a great question,” Dombrowski said. “What you really try to do is . . . project some people’s performance taking a step forward, through scouting and analytics, and try to go that way.

“Because other than premium guys that are your premium closers, there’s so much inconsistency in bullpen performances throughout the years. So the good arm just doesn’t settle, because you can have a good arm and still get hit. The projection of stuff, command, secondary stuff, the ability to deal with the pressures of closing. And I think sometimes you have to look at the year before, was somebody overworked, were there any injury factors? You have to look at all of those things and hopefully make wise decisions that end up working for you.”

Step one: shifting Barnes, who bounced between the rotation and bullpen all season at Triple-A and in the majors.

“With Matt Barnes, our plans are for him to come to spring training, and we’ve already talked to him about this, and really focus in on the bullpen, to try to help us with that power arm out there,” Dombrowski said. “[Prospect] Pat Light is pitching winter ball in Puerto Rico and he’s just started to pitch. You never can tell when those guys take that step to really be that important arm. Ideally you want to have somebody out there that can strike out a hitter with above-average stuff.”

Closer Koji Uehara gets strikeouts without being overpowering, while setup man Junichi Tazawa averages roughly a strikeout an inning.

“Tazawa in the eighth can do that when he’s throwing the ball well, but really somebody before that point, you’d like to have somebody out there that can get a groundball for you at times, get a left-handed hitter out, but also get a strikeout,” Dombrowski said. “So that’s what you’re trying to do when you build that bullpen.”

Now question can be asked: Should Red Sox prioritize Zack Greinke or David Price?

11.04.15 at 1:19 pm ET
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Nobody should have been surprised Zack Greinke took the route he did earlier Wednesday morning, opting out of the final three years of his current deal with the Dodgers.

Sure, the 32-year-old pitcher surrendered a guaranteed $71 million, but coming off the season(s) he produced, it was absolutely the logical move considering where the age Greinke would be hitting free agency if staying with his previous deal.

It’s not out of the realm of possibility we’re talking a six-year deal for Greinke, who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past three seasons. Since 2013, he has gone 51-15 with a 2.30 ERA. (As a quick aside, how in the world have the Dodgers not won more considering their other top starter, Clayton Kershaw, is 53-19 with a 1.92 ERA over that same span.)

So, with the Red Sox very publicly stating finding a pitcher like Greinke this offseason is their top priority, the pitcher’s newfound life as a free agent should be a top priority Dave Dombrowski and Co.

The fly in the ointment is the perceived hesitation Greinke might have when it comes to playing in a place like Boston. Having battled a debilitating social anxiety disorder, the righty has been on record saying he couldn’t envision himself pitching in a place like New York. But what about Fenway Park?

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Greinke did have Boston, along with New York, on his no-trade list, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much considering such a move is used for contract leverage more than anything.

There is seemingly a strong support system for the former Royal, Brewer and Dodger, with his former general manager Allard Baird serving as the Red Sox senior vice president of player personnel, and Brian Bannister, the Sox director of pitching analysis and development, having a long history with the pitcher. Bannister and Greinke developed a close relationship while playing together in KC, having shared a common interest in advanced pitching metrics and analytics.

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Read More: David Price, Red Sox, zack greinke,

Curt Schilling on D&C: Red Sox ‘have to get rid of’ Hanley Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval

11.04.15 at 1:06 pm ET
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ESPN analyst Curt Schilling checked in with with Dennis, Callahan & Minihane show on Wednesday morning to discuss the Red Sox‘ offseason and other MLB news. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

There has been speculation that new Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski will attempt to rid the team of the hefty contracts of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval, who arrived in Boston last season as free agents but underperformed as the team struggled to another last-place finish in the American League East.

“I don’t know if they can do that without eating at least 90 percent of the money,” Schilling said. “Because it’s not like you have these hidden flaws that no one else knows about, that you can sneak him out the door and somebody will go, ‘Wow, I didn’t notice that.’ Pablo, the question’s always been around his weight. And I love the guy. He’s a tremendous clubhouse guy — funny, great guy. But this is what everybody was afraid of.

“With Hanley, is anybody surprised by what happened? This was the guy they traded [in 2005]. He didn’t change. They just got an older version of him.”

Schilling said he never supported the acquisitions last year.

“I was a pariah at the winter meetings, because I was the only guy at ESPN that said, ‘I don’t like either one. I don’t like either signing.’ I don’t get the give [$]80 [million], $100 million to a guy — and then find him a position? That seems kind of backwards to me.

“And Sandoval — you’re literally going to have three first baseman/DHs maybe, going into the season. I don’t think they have a choice. They have to get rid of at least one. And if they can get rid of two, my God, go for it.”

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Read More: Clay Buchholz, Curt Schilling, hanley ramirez, Pablo Sandoval

Dave Dombrowski on Hot Stove Show: Likes Jackie Bradley, Rusney Castillo in outfield; says Hanley Ramirez’s healing; determined to find ace

11.04.15 at 1:49 am ET
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Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski joined the Hot Stove Show on WEEI on Tuesday night and discussed his belief that Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo will be starting outfielders on Opening Day, that Hanley Ramirez is healing, and that whether through free agency or trade, the Red Sox hope to add a No. 1 starter.

“I think you’re always careful when dealing with players that you’re really not going to tip your hand on what you’re going to exactly do,” Dombrowski said. “We do want to get somebody that can lead the top of the rotation. You’re open to signing free agents, and you’re also in a position from our perspective where you’re open to trades. Those are different areas that we would explore. Where it eventually would take us, only time will tell.”

Dombrowski touched on a host of topics. You can listen to the full interview here.

On Bradley and Castillo in the outfield:

“I would feel comfortable going into the season with them. I think they have the ability to be a real dynamic group together. . . . Jackie Bradley and Rusney Castillo are in a spot where they showed a lot of good things, and there’s no question they’ll go into the season as our starting group. But they have to continue to grow like a lot of young players do. Jackie’s one of the best defensive outfielders I think I’ve ever seen. So that’s a plus, and Castillo’s got the all-around game. But you look for young players to continue to grow and continue to work hard, which they do now. I think they want to be excellent players, so they’€™ll have to continue that growth spurt. They’ll also be in a position where they’re going to have make adjustments, because the league will adjust to them and expose their weak spots. They’ll have to work hard to eliminate those weak spots and make the adjustments.”

On whether Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are untouchable:

“I have always tried not to say players are untouchable. The reason I have done that is because you never can tell when somebody makes you an offer you just can’t believe. If you have Miguel Cabrera, somebody may offer you two Miguel Cabreras. Probably not going to happen, probably never will happen, but unless you listen, you don’t know.

But I do think when you talk about talented young players, Mookie and Xander are two you think are going to be backbones of the organization for years to come. So that’s how you approach it, and then you see what’s taken place. I would be very surprised if they’re not strong parts of our lineup next year.”

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Read More: Dave Dombrowski, hanley ramirez, jackie bradley, mookie betts

Red Sox release spring training schedule

11.03.15 at 4:33 pm ET
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Spring training schedule Red Sox 2016Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers on Feb. 18 and the Red Sox will open their spring training slate with the annual Boston College-Northeastern doubleheader on Feb. 29, the club announced.

The Red Sox will play 17 home games at JetBlue Park, starting with the Twins on  March 2. The Yankees visit on March 15 for one of the two night games on the home schedule. The Red Sox face the Yankees at Tampa on March 5.

As for the rest of the slate, it includes four games each against the Orioles, Rays, and Blue Jays. The final two exhibition games against the Jays will take place in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on April 1 and 2.

The equipment truck departs on Feb. 10 and the first workout is scheduled for Feb. 19. The first full-squad workout will be held on Feb. 24. Workouts are free and open to the public, and the club will hold an open house at JetBlue Park on Feb. 27.

 

Red Sox exercise option on Clay Buchholz for 2016

11.03.15 at 12:54 pm ET
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Clay Buchholz will be back with the Red Sox in 2016.

As expected, the Red Sox announced they’ve exercised their option on the right-handed pitcher for next season. They had until Wednesday to do so.

Buchholz will be paid $13 million for the upcoming season, which also keeps his $13.5 million team option for 2017 in play as well. If the Red Sox didn’t pick up his 2016 team option he would have become a free agent.

The right-hander is 31 years old and is entering his 10th season in the league. Buchholz suffered a strained right flexor tendon in his July 10 start against the Yankees and didn’t pitch again the rest of the season. He did throw a bullpen at the end of the season and felt completely healthy.

He’s the longest-tenured member of the Red Sox pitching staff.

(For more offseason baseball banter, tune into the WEEI Sports Radio Network for the Hot Stove Show, Tuesday at 9 p.m.)

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

Read More: Clay Buchholz,
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