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Red Sox manager John Farrell not ready to name Opening Day starter

12.06.16 at 6:32 pm ET
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Chris Sale

Chris Sale

On a team with two former Cy Young award winners — including the reigning champ — what happens when you add a pitcher everyone assumes will claim the award himself one day?

If you’re Red Sox manager John Farrell, the first question you’re asked is who starts on Opening Day?

Conducting his annual press conference at the Winter Meetings in Maryland on Monday, Farrell told reporters he doesn’t know which if his aces will take the hill when the Red Sox open the season in April against the Pirates.

It could be defending Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. It could be $217 million former winner David Price. Or it could be potential future winner Chris Sale, acquired from the White Sox in a blockbuster earlier in the day.

“Oh, geez. Are you sitting in for Jonny Miller or what?” Farrell joked of the long-time WBZ reporter who likes to ask tough questions. “We’ll have plenty of time to figure that out. But the way that Rick emerged last year — first of all, just you think about Chris Sale as an addition, you think about the returning guys, another year in the progression of Eddie Rodriguez, I think as he continues to understand who he is as a pitcher and what makes him the most effective, David Price obviously, Steven Wright, get him back on track. And that’s not to leave out Drew Pomeranz or Clay Buchholz.

“There’s a surplus right now, but when you think about the high end of it, this is an exciting group.”

Where Sale slots into the rotation will be fascinating to watch. He’s probably the most talented of the three, though Farrell will have plenty of time to sort out the answer to that question.

Read More: chris sale, David Price, MLB trade rumors, opening day starter

Red Sox reportedly reach deal with first baseman Mitch Moreland, completing (maybe?) wild day at Winter Meetings

12.06.16 at 6:17 pm ET
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Mitch Moreland

Mitch Moreland

Dave Dombrowski is fitting all of his Christmas shopping into one day.

With ace Chris Sale and reliever Tyler Thornburg already in the fold, the Red Sox made more news on Tuesday night by agreeing to a one-year deal with free-agent first baseman Mitch Moreland, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.

Moreland, 31, spent the first seven years of his career with the Rangers and won a Gold Glove last year. The left-handed hitter will allow Red Sox manager John Farrell to use Hanley Ramirez as his regular DH, with Moreland’s superior glove shifting to first.

The move isn’t without risk. Moreland hit just .233 last year and saw his production against right-handed pitching dip significantly, from .294-.876 in 2015 to .221-.700 last year.

With Sale, Thornburg, and Moreland acquired, the roster appears set. Dombrowski’s next order of potential business could be finding a new home for one of his extra starters, be it Clay Buchholz or Drew Pomeranz.

 

Read More: Mitch Moreland, MLB trade rumors, Rangers, Red Sox

Looking back (and ahead) at Red Sox’ minor league system under Dave Dombrowski

12.06.16 at 5:20 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski has left the Red Sox minor league system with next to nothing. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski has left the Red Sox minor league system with next to nothing. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

In just over a year on the job, Dave Dombrowski has stomped on the once giant sandcastle of Red Sox minor league talent and has left one small extension of the castle clinging on trying to avoid being swept out to sea.

Granted, because of their prospects the Red Sox have acquired Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Brad Ziegler, Drew Pomeranz, Fernando Abad, Aaron Hill and now Chris Sale, there isn’t much left to the once highly regarded Red Sox minor league system.

Consider the names that have been traded under Dombrowski: Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Anderson Espinoza, Manuel Margot, Luis Alexander Basabe, Luis Alejandro Basabe, Victor Diaz, Javier Guerra, Logan Allen, Jose Almonte, Aaron Wilkerson, Carlos Asuaje, Pat Light and Wendell Rijo.

Quite the talented group of players is gone and what remains does not even compare.

Below is what the Red Sox have left in their system (top 10 players in order as we see it):

Pitchers: Jason Groome, Brian Johnson, Henry Owens, Trey Ball, Travis Latkins, Roniel Raudes, Mike Shawaryn, Shaun Anderson, Justin Haley, Jalen Beeks.

Analysis
: Yikes. For a system that once had Kopech, Espinoza and Allen leading the way, what a difference 18 months make, as now their top pitching prospect is an 18-year-old in Groome, who was just drafted last year and has yet to pitch in a game past short-season, Single-A Lowell. Besides Johnson and Owens who have major question marks, the Red Sox do not have anyone who realistically can help the major league team in the next year or two in their system. The contrast to this is the team has Rick Porcello, David Price and Sale at the top of the rotation locked up for the years to come so they likely will not need to tap much into their minor league system for top talent, but it certainly is something to note that there simply is no depth when it comes to pitching in the Red Sox’ system. Shawaryn has some upside, but he too was just drafted last summer and it’s really hard to project where he will be two or three years down the road. Bottom line, look away when looking at the Red Sox’ minor league pitching depth chart.

Positional players: Rafael Devers, Sam Travis, Bobby Dalbec, Josh Ockimey, Nick Longhi, Michael Chavis, C.J. Chatham, Kyri Washington, Tate Matheny and Austin Rei.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dave Dombrowski, Jason Groome, michael kopech, yoan moncada

Report: Red Sox acquire Chris Sale from White Sox for top prospects Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, others in blockbuster

12.06.16 at 1:23 pm ET
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The Red Sox picked up Chris Sale on Tuesday. (Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports)

The Red Sox picked up Chris Sale on Tuesday. (Joe Nicholson/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski just pulled off a blockbuster.

The Red Sox president of baseball operations on Tuesday swung for the fences and acquired White Sox ace Chris Sale, according to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports. The cost was steep — top prospects Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, along with two other prospects, later identified as outfielder Luis Alexander Basabe and pitcher Victor Diaz.

Sale, 27, gives the Red Sox a third Cy Young-caliber starter, joining defending winner Rick Porcello and former winner David Price. Sale has never won a Cy Young, but he has finished in the top five four times, including this past season, when he went 17-10 with a 3.34 ERA and a league-leading six complete games.

He set a career-high in innings (226 2/3) while striking out 233. He’s on one of the most affordable contracts in baseball, signed through 2017 with team options for 2018 ($12.5 million) and 2019 ($13.5 million).

The cost of acquiring Sale, who has also been linked to the Nationals, was astounding. Moncada is considered by many the best prospect in baseball, and Kopech has routinely hit 100 mph as a starter.

Sale attended Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, home of Red Sox spring training.

 

Read More: chris sale, Red Sox, White Sox, yoan moncada

Can Tyler Thornburg break uneasy trend for Red Sox trading for late-inning relievers? Dave Dombrowski thinks so

12.06.16 at 12:31 pm ET
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Tyler Thornburg

Tyler Thornburg

OXON HILL, Md. — Trading for high-leverage relievers can be tricky. The Red Sox know this all too well.

Joel Hanrahan (elbow). Mark Melancon (performane). Andrew Bailey (elbow). Carson Smith (elbow). All seemed like good ideas at the time, and all found their careers taking a turn for the worse once immersed in Boston.

Next up: Tyler Thornburg.

The pitcher that the Red Sox scouted while with the Brewers is right in line with what Dave Dombrowski was looking for. He has the stuff and experience to pitch in the eighth and ninth innings, while possessing a contract that doesn’t allow for free agency until after the 2019 season.

But, with the aforementioned history of relievers for the Red Sox, there is always a wary eye to be cast. In this case, the trepidation is born from Thornburg’s right elbow injury that made him miss six months in 2014 and was treated with Platelet Rich Plasma injections.

“We feel good about it,” said Dombrowski of Thornburg’s health. “We looked at the medicals, reviewed them very thoroughly. It’s one of those situations where it looks like the PRP worked and like how it’s supposed to be. Last year, he didn’t miss any time. Pitched back to back days and held his velocity all year long so we feel good about it.”

Thornburg’s over-the-top delivery might lead some to continue their concern, but it also has paved the way for devastating movement on a fastball that lives between 94-97 mph. And with the results garnered after a permanent move to the bullpen in 2016, it wasn’t a tough sell for the Red Sox.

“He is somebody that we like a great deal,” Dombrowski told the local media at the MLB Winter Meetings, Tuesday morning. “We scouted him very thoroughly last year. He has nasty stuff. Did a good job for Milwaukee in closing games at the end of the year. We feel he’s a guy that projects to be a quality eighth-inning individual for us that can also close a game if needed. He gets lefties out as well as righties. He was what we were looking to try to find. We feel we gave up some good young players but it’s also a situation where I think stabilizing the bullpen for us in that eighth inning role has really been a necessity, something we really put our focus on. Now at the back end, you have guys like [Craig] Kimbrel and you have Thornburg and then you’re in a position where guys like [Joe] Kelly and [Matt] Barnes and [Heath] Hembree, in addition to anyone from the left-hand side.”

Dombrowski explained that the Red Sox’ interest in Thornburg dated back to before he became the Brewers’ closer for the final month of the season, with talks not really gaining traction until recently.

“This took place as far back in the summertime when they didn’t want to trade him,” Dombrowski said. “So right after the season going into the (GM) meetings when we start placing some phone calls. They were not interested in trading Thornburg. Then at the end of the GM meetings [Brewers general manager] David Sterns asked me, ‘Well one guy we have interest in as kind of being a key guy is Travis Shaw.’ Then when they signed [Eric] Thames they kind of backed off a little bit at that time. Then kind of rekindled once we got the deal. I think it was me that called them last week after the deal was made, the CBA deal was done, to touch base. We’ve been on the phone numerous times over the last five days starting back when I was in Boston to arriving here and then yesterday we had numerous conversations and trying to get the thing done.”

As for one of the relievers the Red Sox were counting on to reverse the trend of previous reliever transactions, Carson Smith, Dombrowski is optimistic the righty will be ready to contribute just about a year out from his Tommy John surgery.

“Some people and he are shooting to be ready for Opening Day. That’s what he would hope and he would like,” Dombrowski said. “And his progress has been good to date. But in my own mind, I really have tried to say more of June 1, which is about a year. And not even to put a specific date on that but I really don’t want to put any rush to have him pitch the eighth inning for Opening Day, for example. Having depth out there can only be beneficial. We saw what it did for us last year. All of a sudden we have Kimbrel and Thornburg and Kelly and Barnes and Hembree from the right-hand side. Carson Smith comes back, that’s a great situation to have.”

Dave Dombrowski: Red Sox not changing approach toward prioritizing finding short-term deal for bat

12.06.16 at 12:04 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski

Dave Dombrowski

OXON HILL, Md. — The Red Sox found their eighth-inning reliever, and it will only cost them a couple of million dollars (and some players). But that isn’t changing how Dave Dombrowski views the club’s approach toward finding the next piece of the puzzle.

The acquisition of reliever Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers (in exchange for Travis Shaw and minor leaguers Mauricio Dubon and Josh Pennington), the Red Sox will be on the hook for whatever it costs to sign the first-year arbitration-eligible reliever. It presumably leaves the team wit about $6-7 million before bumping up against what they planned on maxing it’s payroll at heading into the season.

The Red Sox could now presumably make a deal involving starter Clay Buchholz, who is owned $13.5 million this season, and make a run at a high-end bat to help fill their DH/first base hole. But, speaking to the local media at the MLB Winter Meetings, Dombrowski said he is staying the course.

“It clearly now defines what our payroll spending will be for our setup guy. It puts us in a position where we have that type of knowledge of where we want to know,” Dombrowski said. “But I’m also not in a position to change our mindset that we want to go big dollars for a first baseman-slash-DH. It does give us the knowledge of where we need to go. Now we can kind of focus on other things.”

Dombrowski went on to say the Red Sox are indeed looking for a player who preferably hits from the left side and plays first base. Both free agents Mitch Moreland and Pedro Alvarez fit that description and have been linked to the Sox.

“I don’t know that we really have that person on board,” he said. “Brock Holt has played over there. We’ve talked about playing Pablo over there at some point. I can’t tell you 100 percent this would be the guy. It’s something we need to explore.”

Reports: Red Sox interested in former Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland

12.06.16 at 12:00 pm ET
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Mitch Moreland

Mitch Moreland

Now that Dave Dombrowski has his reliever, he’s turning his attention to a first baseman/DH, and defending Gold Glover Mitch Moreland is reportedly on his radar.

The free agent, who has spent his entire career with the Rangers, checks some boxes for the Red Sox. He’s left-handed, which Dombrowski wants in that spot, and he’s capable of not only playing first base, but playing it well, as evidenced by his 2016 Gold Glove.

What’s unclear is if Moreland would be willing to sign a short-term contract to fit what the Red Sox envision for the role. The team is looking for short years at short money to fill their DH opening, which manager John Farrell believes will rotate among players.

Moreland, 31, is coming off a down season offensively that saw him hit .233 with 22 homers and 60 RBIs. Two years ago, however, he batted .278 with an .812 OPS and was particularly effective against right-handed pitching (.294-.867, 18 HRs). His numbers against righties took a significant step back last year (.221-.700).

Moreland made $5.7 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility last season. The Indians are also reportedly in the mix.

News of the Red Sox’ interest in Moreland was first reported by Jeff Sullivan of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram.

Read More: Indians, Mitch Moreland, MLB trade rumors, Rangers

Source: Red Sox acquiring reliever Tyler Thornburg from Milwaukee

12.06.16 at 9:37 am ET
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OXON HILL, Md. — The Red Sox have seemingly taken care of their top offseason priority.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox have acquired hard-throwing relief pitcher Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers. Multiple outlets report that the Red Sox will be sending the Brewers infielder Travis Shaw, minor-leaguer infielder Mauricio Dubon and minor-league reliever Josh Pennington.

The 28-year-old Thornburg totaled a 2.15 ERA in 67 appearances for the Brewers in 2016, saving 13 games. He struck out 90 batters in just 67 innings, walking 25.

Thornburg, a third-round selection by Milwaukee in the 2010 draft, throws his fastball between 94-97 mph. He has had issues with his right elbow, having been shut down for a six-month period during the 2014 season, but found success (and health) once the Brewers committed to him as a reliever last season. (For more on Thornburg’s health, click here.)

Thornburg won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season. He is entering his first offseason of arbitration-eligibility.

(The Boston Herald was first to report a trade between the teams was happening, and the inclusion of Dubon. The Boston Globe was first to report the inclusion of Travis Shaw. Baseball America was first to report the inclusion of Pennington. FoxSports.com was first to report that Thornburg would be headed to the Red Sox.)

Red Sox notes: Dave Dombrowski prioritizing finding 8th-inning reliever, will wait out designated hitter market

12.05.16 at 8:00 pm ET
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Dave Dombrowski. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Dave Dombrowski. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

OXON HILL, Md. — As it turned out, the signings of Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran weren’t all that big a deal to the Red Sox, after all.

And that bit of news was just part of the eyebrow-raising that Dave Dombrowski’s meeting with the media elicited Monday evening.

“There were not,” said the Red Sox president of baseball operations when asked if he was engaged with the pair of designated hitter candidates, at the MLB Winter Meetings. “We were aware of everything taking place, but we weren’t engaged in a situation to do that, because I really, [assistant general manager] Brian O’Halloran’s handled a lot of the phone calls. He’s kept me abreast of what’s going on. But we really had made the point that before we got into where we were going to allocate our dollars. We wanted to do that for a setup guy and see where that takes us and then make a decision from there.”

But what about that replacement for David Ortiz?

As turns out, Dombrowski and Co. are all in on finding that lock-down eighth-inning guy, an not in any huge rush to bring in another bat.

The plan right now is to put the majority of the Red Sox’ efforts into finding that late-inning relief pitcher. As Red Sox manager John Farrell explained, “I think our main goal is to identify a guy so it’s not so much a matchup situation. Turn it over to one guy in the eighth inning, regardless if he’s facing left-handed or right-handed hitters.”

So, what it means is that the Red Sox will be waiting to see what kind of bat falls into their price range after allocating resources for the reliever. It could even get to the point where no hitter of significance is brought in to fill a role most everybody thought would be a chief priority for the team heading into the offseason.

“I can’t say for sure, but, yeah, perhaps that would happen,” Dombrowski said. “I don’t think so. We’d bring somebody in, I think, but I can’t tell we’re 100 percent sure we’re going to do it because it’s going to be dependent upon who we can find and the dollars they’re looking for at the particular time.”

— Dombrowski spoke to the issue regarding the new luxury tax threshold, and the Red Sox’ perceived desire to not go over for a third straight season.

The new limit stands at $195 million, which the Red Sox stand about $15 million shy of. But with a desire to have some flexibility for in-season acquisitions, that actual budget for offseason moves might be in the vicinity of $8 million.

The first time the Red Sox went over they were taxed 17.5 percent (ending up being just under $2 million), with last year’s penalty coming in at 30 percent. Going over this year would mean they would be taxed on 50 percent of the number they exceed the threshold by. If they do not go over, the penalties reset.

“No, no. No. I don’t want to use the word ‘mandated,’ because that’s wrong” said the president when asked if ownership has instructed him not to go over the limit. “But I have an awareness of the penalties. I mean, I got the memorandum of understanding and the summary on Saturday night. Here they are if anybody has five minutes that you want to spend reading. It’s 133 pages of memorandum of understanding that is very difficult. I have read through it. I have skimmed through it, though, I don’t know that with a fine-tooth comb. I did make notes on it that I thought were very important so I understand going into the meetings where we stand. Obviously the basic agreement still has to be ratified. That doesn’t take place until December 15. But I think there’s an awareness that I wanted to have, and I think when you look at it. But I can’t tell you that last year that we went into the winter meetings I would’ve preferred to be below the CBT, too, but we just went above it because we thought that was the best way to win a championship at the time.”

— Dombrowski said the Red Sox aren’t locked into acquiring just a lefty hitter, or even a player who solely plays the infield.

That conversation led to one of the continued focal point for the Red Sox’ offseason: Getting production out of Pablo Sandoval.

“I think we’ll always strive to have a balance,” Farrell said. “I think the one thing that we ran into this past year was the three right-handers at the top of the order. We also produced the most runs in baseball. I think if you look at the way we stacked the lineup when we got into the postseason, it was a little bit of a mix moving Bogey to the six hole and sliding David up to the three hole. I think for us, one of the things, as I look at the lineup for next year, one of the keys for us is going to be Panda. That’s not to put it all on him, but here’s a left-handed bat who is a proven guy and has every opportunity to make a major impact on our team this year.”

— Dombrowski revealed the list of Red Sox players on the preliminary rosters for the World Baseball Classic.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: Hanley Ramirez.
USA: Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., David Price, Rick Porcello (who has already said he will not participate)
NETHERLANDS: Xander Bogaerts
VENEZUELA: Eduardo Rodriguez, Sandy Leon
ITALY: Andrew Benintendi

— While Dombrowski wouldn’t comment on the Red Sox’ level of interest in Japanese star Shohei Otani, a 22-year-old who excels at both pitching and hitting and is scheduled to be eligible to play in the major leagues after the 2017 season, the president did offer an interesting comparison.

“I can’t speak specifically for him because I haven’t seen him play enough myself,” he said. “We have reports on him. Do I think a player can be a two-way player? Yeah. It could happen. Is it very difficult? Yes, but i’m not saying there’s not a player out there that can’t do that because some of them are rare, rare guy – Babe Ruth could do it. He was pretty good. It can be done.”

Red Sox pick up John Farrell’s option for 2018 season

12.05.16 at 5:42 pm ET
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NATIONAL HARBOR, MD — Speaking to the Boston media at the MLB Winter Meetings, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski announced the team was picking up the 2018 contract option for manager John Farrell.

Prior to the move, Farrell’s last guaranteed year was the 2017 campaign.

“John has done a real fine job for us,” Dombrowski said. “He had a good year last year. I thought did a good job in handling the club. We were in a position where we had a good working relationship and had the respect of our players. Our players played hard for him. So we’re very happy to have done that. It puts stability with our staff going into spring training.

“Why wait until now? Just so many things happened at the end of the year. There was no rush. It didn’t have to be exercised until 10 days after the 2017 season. But as soon as the season ends you sort of split, when you get beat in the playoffs. Mike Hazen left us at that point. We had some front office things to do. We were in different positions ourselves. So we really just wanted to sit down and have a face to face talk before we did something like that, which we had a chance to do [Sunday]. We had a really nice conversation, just like always. John has a solid presence to himself, leadership capabilities, yet I also find him very open-minded when we have conversations.”

For more from the MLB Winter Meetings, click here.

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