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Source: A’s were ‘locked in’ on deal with White Sox for Jeff Samardzija

12.09.14 at 2:31 pm ET
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SAN DIEGO — According to an industry source, the Red Sox did not appear to be meaningfully in the mix in trade discussions with the A’s to acquire Jeff Samardzija. Instead, according to the source, the A’s appeared “pretty locked in” on the players whom they acquired from the White Sox — infielder Marcus Semien, right-hander Chris Bassitt, catcher Josh Phegley and Double-A corner infielder Rangel Ravelo — rather than trying to spawn a bidding war.

In some ways, that would appear to echo the approach that Oakland took to trading Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays in exchange for infielder Brett Lawrie, right-hander Kendall Graveman, left-hander Sean Nolin and shortstop Franklin Barreto. The A’s consummated that deal without shopping Donaldson to other interested teams; some members of the Red Sox front office, for example, had no inclination that the third baseman was going to be moved and were caught off guard by the deal.

(For what it’s worth: Had the A’s made Donaldson available to the Red Sox, given their need for a third baseman and shortstop, the conversation likely would have started with Xander Bogaerts and grown from there. Whether it would have been in the Sox’ best interests to answer the team’s need for a third baseman while opening a hole at shortstop in a market that is lacking in legitimate everyday options at that position — instead of signing Sandoval (not Donaldson’s equal, but an above-average third baseman) and keeping Bogaerts is a fair and fascinating question.)

While that approach has yielded deals that have been subject to criticism in terms of a perceived light return, some in the industry point to Oakland’s successful track record — including three straight trips to the postseason — in suggesting that the A’s typically have a fairly precise handle on their needs and should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Read More: 2014 winter meetings, Jeff Samardzija, Josh Donaldson,

Sources: Red Sox make 1-year offer to free agent Justin Masterson

12.09.14 at 10:51 am ET
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The Red Sox have made a one-year offer to right-hander Justin Masterson. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

The Red Sox have made a one-year offer to right-hander Justin Masterson. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

According to industry sources, the Red Sox are one of multiple teams that have made a one-year offer to free agent right-hander Justin Masterson.

Masterson endured a season-long struggle with health in 2014 that stemmed from torn cartilage in his rib cage and a consequent buildup of scar tissue. The discomfort he felt as a result of that injury resulted in mechanical alterations and injuries, including discomfort in his knee and an impingement in his right shoulder that eventually required a cortisone shot in September. However, the diagnosis of scar tissue towards the end of the year offered something of a unified theory for the right-hander’s health woes, which contributed to a year-long struggle (7-9, 5.88 ERA in 28 games and 25 starts) with the Indians and Cardinals.  He is expected to be healthy for next season.

Given that he suffered a down year in 2014 (a season in which he turned down a three-year, $51 million extension offer from the Indians), Masterson appears to be in search of a one-year deal that would permit him to rebuild his value prior to the 2015-16 offseason — whether for talks about an extension with the club with whom he signs for next year or as a free agent. Because he’s a groundball pitcher, Masterson is less concerned about the home ballpark of the team with whom he signs than is typical of other free agents who sign one-year deals, and his relationship with the Red Sox front office (he was in the team’s minor league system under current GM Ben Cherington and current assistant GM Mike Hazen) and manager John Farrell (the pitching coach with whom Masterson worked upon arriving in the big leagues) represents a draw for him as he wades through his free agent options.

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Source: Jon Lester’s decision could be pushed to Wednesday

12.09.14 at 3:36 am ET
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SAN DIEGO — According to a major league source, Jon Lester‘s decision as to which team he will sign with may drag on into Wednesday.

It was originally believed that the time it would take for Lester to pick a team wouldn’t stretch beyond Tuesday. But, because of the involvement of ownership for multiple interested teams, the process has been slowed.

The source suggests that there is still the possibility that an agreement is in place Tuesday, although it would likely be later in the day.

As of Tuesday morning, the Red Sox were very much in the mix for Lester’s services, with the Cubs, Giants and Dodgers also making strong plays for the free agent pitcher.

Monday, Red Sox manager John Farrell expressed optimism regarding the return of his ace pitcher, telling the assembled media at the winter meetings, “I think we’€™re still confident that we can sign Jon. He’€™s obviously still going through this free agency process. As we came into this offseason, there were a couple spots in the rotation that we needed to add to and address. We’€™re in the midst of that right now. We’€™re still optimistic that he’€™ll be in a Red Sox uniform. There’€™s a lot of history between the Red Sox and Jon. We obviously have a strong desire to bring him back, and yet hopefully this is coming to a little bit of a head here.”

Multiple sources continue to suggest that Lester likely won’t take the highest offer if he deems another team to be a better fit.

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

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Ben Cherington on Jon Lester: ‘I haven’t been told we’re out, so I assume we’re not out’

12.08.14 at 9:28 pm ET
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Ben Cherington

Ben Cherington

SAN DIEGO — Striking a measured tone, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington met with the Boston media Monday night at the winter meetings to discuss the latest in regards to his team’€™s pursuit of free agent pitcher Jon Lester.

Cherington, who said he had no scheduled meetings with Lester’€™s agents Monday night but did expect to talk to them at some point, couldn’€™t offer any clues as to what path Lester might take, simply saying he expected the pitcher to choose a team soon.

As for a report earlier in the day that suggested the Red Sox were not one of the finalists for Lester (which the pitcher’s agent, Seth Levinson, called “absolutely untrue”), Cherington said, “I haven’t been told we’re out, so I assume we’re not out.”

Here are some of the highlights from the get-together with GM:

The latest on Lester

“With regards to Lester, we respect that he’€™s got a decision that’€™s going to be made and we assume that will be sometime soon. We’€™ve been involved and had a chance to talk to him at length on numerous occasions. It sounds like he’€™s getting closer to a decision. Aside from that, I don’€™t know any more than that. I think we’€™ve never looked at it like Plan A, B, C, D. We’€™ve looked at it like we need to build a rotation so we have to be in all sorts of stuff and we have been on all sorts of stuff all offseason, or to this point in the offseason. There’€™s probably, between free agent possibilities and trade possibilities, 15, 20 starting pitching scenarios we’€™ve talked about and worked on so obviously not all those are going to land and more of those won’€™t land than will land. We just have to stay involved and keep working and work as hard as we can to get the ones to land that make the most sense. I don’€™t see it as a Plan A, B or C. I see it as we’€™re trying to build a good rotation and we’€™ve got to look at every possibility to do that.”

Did you expect Lester’€™s decision to come sooner than it has?

“You know, I guess there was some speculation earlier in the offseason that it might get done sooner, before the winter meetings, so here we are in the winter meetings. On the other hand, as you guys know, most bigger deals don’€™t happen before the Winter Meetings, so probably not surprising that we’€™re here.”

Are you being held up making other moves because of Lester’€™s process?

“No, we really don’€™t. I think we’€™re in a position where we have position player strength and depth. We have resources, we have some financial flexibility. There’€™s all sorts of different ways to build the pitching staff. We’€™ve been able to pursue all kinds of things. Don’€™t feel constrained, other than just trying to find a deal that makes sense. That’€™s the constraint ‘€“ it’€™s not one guy or the other. We’€™re just still working towards deals that make sense.”

Does your budgeted number for the free agent change?

“You have to to some degree. That number can move over time. All sorts of things can factor into what you’€™re going to do whether trade or free agent. It’€™s not necessarily static, circumstances can change which might lead you to change your position even in the context of an offseason, if one thing happens it might affect another so yes there has to be a line. Every team does that. I think it can be different for every team. I don’€™t believe one thing has to make sense for everyone, something might make a lot of sense for one team and not as much for another based on their particular situation. You have to figure out what makes sense for us.”

Regarding the reported meeting between principal owner John Henry and Lester

“There was a report that there was a meeting with John Henry. We’€™d like to be able to do some of these things without that kind of thing getting out but that got out. We’€™ve had opportunity we’€™ve needed to meet with Jon and meet with Seth and give them all the information we can give them.”

John Farrell on Jon Lester: ‘We’re still confident that we can sign Jon’

12.08.14 at 8:39 pm ET
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Manager John Farrell said that he believes remains in the mix for free agent Jon Lester. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Manager John Farrell said that he believes remains in the mix for free agent Jon Lester. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO — Though there was a report on Monday that the field for Jon Lester appears to be narrowing to the Giants and Cubs, Red Sox manager John Farrell said that his team still believes that it has a shot to bring back the free-agent left-hander.

“I think we’re still confident that we can sign Jon. He’s obviously still going through this free agency process. As we came into this offseason, there were a couple spots in the rotation that we needed to add to and address. We’re in the midst of that right now,” said Farrell. “We’re still optimistic that he’ll be in a Red Sox uniform. There’s a lot of history between the Red Sox and Jon. We obviously have a strong desire to bring him back, and yet hopefully this is coming to a little bit of a head here.”

Farrell said that he’s been in contact with Lester — either through a phone call or texts — three or four times this offseason. While in some respects the Red Sox — and the rest of the baseball industry — must wait on defining the shape of their rotation until Lester makes his decision, the manager did not express any frustration about the lack of resolution.

“Jon’s going to go through his process as he needs to. He’s earned the right to get to this point in his career. And he’s a primary target for a number of teams. That speaks to his abilities as a player and as a pitcher,” said Farrell. “I think we’ll address every other need accordingly.”

Lester is coming off a year in which he went 16-11 with a career-low 2.46 ERA in a career-high 219 2/3 innings while punching out 9.0 batters per nine and walking 2.0 per nine. Farrell said that his dominant performance in his age 30 season showed a pitcher who has figured out how to adapt and remain a top-of-the-rotation contributor.

“He’s made necessary adjustments as any consistent big league has to make adjustments as they go through the league multiple times and year over year,” said Farrell. “That speaks to his work ethic and his awareness of who he is as a pitcher and how he can be most effective.”

That has convinced the Sox to make a heavy play for the left-hander. Whether the team ultimately goes far enough to retain him remains to be seen, but Farrell made clear that the Sox’ preference is to re-sign Lester.

“We’d love to have Jon back in a Red Sox uniform,” he said.

 

Read More: 2014 winter meetings, Jon Lester,

Yoenis Cespedes and the right field (non-)question

12.08.14 at 6:25 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

SAN DIEGO — After the Red Sox signed Hanley Ramirez with the intention of making him their left fielder, manager John Farrell talked to Yoenis Cespedes about the possibility of playing in either center or right field. Cespedes said that he was open to such a possibility.

But while that development has been portrayed as something of a reversal, an industry source clarified that Cespedes never actually objected to the idea of changing positions after joining the Red Sox. Instead, when asked if he was open to playing right, he simply said that he was more comfortable in left because it was a position that he had played previously. The source suggested that the 28-year-old never actually resisted the idea of changing positions, but that once his relative comfort in left was established, the team opted to keep him in his primary major league position for the rest of the season while tabling conversation about a potential position place until the spring — after he would have had a chance to adapt to his new environment following his trade from the A’s (with a competitive balance pick) for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes.

Cespedes hit .260 with a .301 OBP and .450 slugging mark in 152 games with the Red Sox and A’s in 2014, including .269/.296/.423 with the Sox after the trade.

Read More: 2014 winter meetings, Yoenis Cespedes,

Jon Lester’s agent: Report that Red Sox are out ‘absolutely untrue’

12.08.14 at 4:57 pm ET
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Jon Lester‘s agent, Seth Levinson, shot down a report that the Red Sox are out on Lester and that he is now deciding between the Cubs and Giants, telling WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that the idea is “absolutely untrue.”

UPDATE: Team sources also tell WEEI.com that they believe the report is inaccurate.

MLB on FOX’s Ken Rosenthal had previously reported that “barring late change,” Lester was deciding between the Cubs and Giants.

For complete coverage from the winter meetings, visit www.weei.com/redsox.

Red Sox utility man Jemile Weeks clears waivers, gets outrighted to Triple-A

12.08.14 at 3:49 pm ET
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SAN DIEGO — The Red Sox announced that utility man Jemile Weeks (who is out of options) cleared waivers and was outrighted to the roster of Triple-A Pawtucket. The 27-year-old played in 14 big league games with the Red Sox last year after being acquired from the Orioles on Aug. 30 (along with Ivan De Jesus) in exchange for Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar. Though primarily a second baseman in the big leagues, the 2008 first-rounder has also played short and center in the big leagues. In addition to second, short and center, he’s also played left field in the minors.

Weeks has a career minor league line of .285/.380/.406. He has a big league line of .260/.322/.360, including a .308/.406/.423 line in 32 plate appearances with the Sox last season.

With the outright assignment of Weeks, the Red Sox now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Source: Jon Lester likely to make decision Tuesday

12.08.14 at 2:16 pm ET
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SAN DIEGO — According to a major league source, Jon Lester is expected to make his decision as to where he will sign Tuesday.

There was some thought the process would be finalized as early as Monday night, but the interest of the teams involved (Cubs, Red Sox, Giants, Dodgers) continues to evolve.

Check back for more from the winter meetings …

Some early winter meetings Red Sox notes: Taking stock of Yoenis Cespedes, Deven Marrero as trade chips

12.07.14 at 8:18 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

SAN DIEGO — With a need to address three holes in the rotation, the Red Sox are inevitably going to be linked to virtually every starting pitcher available this offseason. That will be true of a broad group of free agents — beyond Jon Lester, there’s Max Scherzer, James Shields, Brandon McCarthy and Ervin Santana, among others — but also teams with pitching to shop in exchange for bats. The Sox, moreover, feature at least the appearance of surplus inventory at a couple positions of scarcity, chiefly the outfield (where Yoenis Cespedes has assumed the most prominent spot as potential trade bait given that he remains under team control for just one year) and even at shortstop, where Deven Marrero is in Triple-A but potentially blocked by Xander Bogaerts.

“There aren’t any shortstops out there,” noted one executive.

The Mets have a surplus of starters (with names like Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese and Dillon Gee reportedly on the block), and even after their surprising signing of Michael Cuddyer, they could likely use more offense from their outfield and they are clearly in the market for an upgrade at shortstop. However, according to a major league source, the Mets have no interest in Cespedes (his power is intriguing, but the .301 OBP has been hard for them to look past) and they likewise don’t have interest in Marrero as a solution as shortstop because of uncertainty about whether he will hit enough to be an everyday shortstop, or whether he would represent a player who harbors considerable similarities to current shortstop Wilmer Flores, an adequate defender who hit .251/.286/.378 as a 22-year-old in 78 games last season.

Meanwhile, the A’s have starter Jeff Samardzija — who is one year from free agency — as one of the prizes of the trade market. However, while the A’s have a clear need for a starting shortstop in 2015, one major league source familiar with the team’s thinking said that Oakland has the same reservations about Marrero’s offense as the Mets — chiefly, whether he will hit enough to be an everyday option. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2014 winter meetings, deven marrero, Yoenis Cespedes,
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