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Major League Baseball, union agree on new five-year collective bargaining agreement, avoid lockout

11.30.16 at 11:39 pm ET
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred still believes David Ortiz might not have legitimately failed a drug test. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Commissioner Rob Manfred is pleased there’s a CBA. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Baseball once again has labor peace.

The league and its players on Wednesday night agreed to a new five-year collective bargaining agreement that will eventually raise the luxury tax threshold over $200 million for the first time.

The threshold will increase from $189 million to $195 million in 2017, leaving the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Tigers above the limit next season, according to USA Today.

Otherwise, very little changed. Rosters did not expand from 25 to 26, there won’t be an international draft, and expanded September rosters will remain.

One small change affecting relatively few players relates to free agent compensation. Whereas players who declined a qualifying offer once would’ve cost the signing team a first-round pick, they’ll now cost that team a third-rounder if they’re under the tax threshold, or a second- and fifth-rounder if they’re over.

The agreement, which still must be ratified by the owners and players, was reached hours before a Dec. 1 deadline, otherwise the owners had threatened a lockout. It ensures labor peace through the 2021 season, when the luxury tax threshold will expand to $210 million.

The deal is expected to trigger a flurry of moves, with a number of teams — including the Red Sox — reluctant to act until the game’s financial landscape had been established.

Read More: MLB CBA, Red Sox, Rob Manfred,

Source: Red Sox ‘probably’ not going to be finalist for Edwin Encarnacion

11.29.16 at 9:58 pm ET
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Edwin Encarnacion

Edwin Encarnacion

It was trending this way for the last month, but now it looks like there will be some certainty very soon.

According to a major league source, the Red Sox are “probably” not going to be a finalist for the services of free agent first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion.

Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, told TSN Tuesday afternoon that his client would most likely sign a contract either later this week, or early next week. He went on to add that two clubs have extended serious offers to the 33-year-old, not disclosing what teams they were.

Kinzer did add that the Blue Jays, who along with the Yankees and Astros may be considered the favorites for Encarnancion’s services, are perhaps the most aggressive. It was reported that slugger turned down an offer from Toronto in the vicinity of four years, $80 million.

“The Jays are showing Edwin the most love,” Kinzer told Rick Westhead of TSN. “We’re talking. They want him back. (GM) Ross (Atkins) has been talking to Edwin. They have a great relationship.”

The Red Sox have been consistent in their approach throughout the offseason, insisting their preference in signing a replacement for David Ortiz would be via a short-term deal. One option they remain interested in is Carlos Beltran.

As is the case with other clubs, the Red Sox are also waiting for the new Competitive Balance Tax threshold to be identified in the revamped Collective Bargaining Agreement. The current CBA expires Thursday at 12:01 a.m.

Rick Porcello of Red Sox named American League Comeback Player of the Year

11.29.16 at 2:53 pm ET
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Rick Porcello

Rick Porcello

The honors and accolades keep rolling in for Rick Porcello.

The Red Sox right-hander, who earlier this month claimed the American League Cy Young Award, on Tuesday added Comeback Player of the Year to his resume.

Porcello finished first in balloting among the 30 beat reporters from MLB.com. He was joined by National League winner Anthony Rendon of the Nationals.

Porcello, 27, went 22-4 with a 3.15 ERA and nipped former teammate Justin Verlander of the Tigers in the Cy Young voting. His 22 victories led the big leagues and were the most by a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez won 23 in 1999.

Porcello’s numbers were a far cry from 2015, when he debuted with the Red Sox by going 9-15 with a 4.92 ERA.

Porcello is the first Red Sox player to win the award since outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury claimed it in 2011.

Read More: AL Comeback Player of the Year, anthony rendon, Jacoby Ellsbury, pedro martinez

One of baseball’s best hockey player, former Red Sox outfielder Ryan LaMarre, gets big league deal from Angels

11.29.16 at 7:34 am ET
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Ryan LaMarre

Ryan LaMarre

Few might have taken notice, but Ryan LaMarre took advantage of his time in the Red Sox organization.

The 28-year-old outfielder, who played in six games for the Red Sox in 2016, has signed a one-year, major-league deal with the Angels.
LaMarre, who inked a minor-league contract with the Red Sox prior to last season, had a very solid year for Triple-A Pawtucket. Known primarily as a defensive whiz in the outfield, the righty hitter hit .303 with an .814 OPS with the PawSox, hitting 10 home runs and stealing 17 bases.

LaMarre also pitched in one inning for the Red Sox, hurling one scoreless inning against the Angels July 2 at Fenway Park.

A former second-round pick of the Reds in the 2010 draft, LaMarre previously had only seen 21 games in the major leagues, having been called up during the 2015 season by Cincinnati.

LaMarre’s path to the major leagues has also included the decision not to pursue a professional hockey career, which appeared to be an option prior to his enrolling at the University of Michigan. (Click here to read more on LaMarre’s hockey career.)

Rusney Castillo set to spend month in Puerto Rican Winter League

11.29.16 at 7:04 am ET
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Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo

Rusney Castillo evidently sees the importance of the upcoming season.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the 29-year-old is slated start playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League starting Dec. 8, with the plan to participate until the completion of the schedule in early January.

Castillo has spent some time playing for Caguas in Puerto Rico in each of the past two offseasons, but never played for this length of time.

The outfielder is hoping to reverse the trend of a major league career that continues to flounder, with four years, $46 million still left on his contract. Castillo’s stay with the Red Sox hit a low point last season when the organization took him off the 40-man roster.

In 103 games for Triple-A Pawtucket last season, Castillo hit .263 with a .664 OPS, two home runs and nine stolen bases. Despite making the Opening Day roster, he only played in nine games for the Red Sox, going 2-for-8.

Castillo did show some signs of life once moved to the leadoff spot with the PawSox, hitting .287 with a .725 OPS. He also managed a .351 batting average and an .897 OPS in August.

Playing in parts of three seasons since signing his seven-year, $72.5 million contract, Castillo has hit .262 with a .679 OPS in 99 games, striking out 63 times and drawing just 16 walks.

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Mike Lowell talks Fidel Castro on Bradfo Show podcast: ‘I’m not sad he’s dead’

11.26.16 at 5:31 pm ET
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DieCstroMike Lowell made no bones about it 10 years ago when his words regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro were splashed across the front page of the Boston Herald: ‘I hope he dies’.

Now Castro is dead, passing away at the age of 90 years old late Friday night. And as the former Red Sox’ third baseman explained on the Bradfo Show podcast, his opinion of the Cuban revolutionary hasn’t changed one bit.

“I don’t think anyone should wish death on someone, but to live in this country and you’re hopeful Osama Bin Laden dies prior to him being killed. I would say probably 99 percent reaction would be, yes. It’s been said that Fidel Castro to the Cubans is Adolf Hitler to the Jews, is Osama Bin Laden to this country. That’s kind of the correlation,” Lowell said

“They had people who politically whose ideals were against Castro and they would put the mom and the dad in the middle of a circle and make the kids watch as they parade around them and then put a bullet in their heads. Now that’s savagery.

“I’m not sad he’s dead. Move on and if this helps change that regime, their thought process or something, it’s better for the Cuban people. I think everybody should pursue what they want to make them happy. That’s basically the bottom line. I don’t think a country should have a say in what you want to make out of your life.”

The angst Lowell and his family has toward Castro is deep-rooted in family members who were killed during the dictator’s regime, and the suffering that was inflicted prior to the opportunity for his parents, and his wife’s parents, to escape Cuba.

One example of the direct impact of Castro on Lowell’s family came in the form of an incident involving his wife’s father, who was jailed for 15 years as a political prisoner after not supporting the regime.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remember Sean O’Sullivan? He’s heading from Red Sox to South Korea

11.25.16 at 8:54 am ET
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Sean O'Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan started four games with the Red Sox in 2016. Now it’s on to South Korea.

The 29-year-old, who spent all last season with Triple-A Pawtucket and the Red Sox after signing a minor-league deal with the organization last offseason, has agreed to play for Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization. According to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net, O’Sullivan will be making $1.1 million for the 2016 season.

The Red Sox won all four of O’Sullivan’s starts, with the righty getting 39 runs of support in those appearances. His best start came against the Angels at Fenway Park July 3, the day after the Sox had suffered an embarrassing, 21-2 defeat at the hands of Los Angeles. In that outing he only surrendered two runs and four hits over five innings.

He would land on the major league 15-day disabled list (left knee tendonitis) July 9, making room on the roster for reliever Brad Ziegler. The righty came back to make eight starts for Triple-A Pawtucket. With the PawSox, O’Sullivan went 9-6 with a 4.02 ERA in 19 starts.

In his five big league appearances, O’Sullivan totaled a 6.75 ERA in 21 1/3 innings. He has appeared in 71 major league games with five teams, making 56 starts.

Michael Kopech named one of Arizona Fall League’s top prospects, Tim Tebow is not

11.23.16 at 11:39 am ET
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The Arizona Fall League only advanced the buzz surrounding Michael Kopech.

The Red Sox’ top pitching prospect was named by MLB.com’s Jim Callis as the fourth-best prospect in the recently-completed AFL, with Yankees’ infielder Gleybar Torres (who was acquired in the Aroldis Chapman deal) earning the top spot.

Kopech, the Red Sox’ No. 5 prospect according to MLB.com, pitched in six games for Surprise, 2.01 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. The 26-year-old struck out 26 and walked eight, six coming in one outing. During the AFL All-Star Game, the righty hit 100 mph five times during his two innings.

During the recent GM meetings, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski suggested Kopech would start the 2017 season at Double-A Portland.

Red Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada was not on Callis’ list, having played in just six games before succumbing to a sprained left thumb. (For all the rankings, click here.)

To nobody’s surprise, Mets’ outfielder Tim Tebow didn’t make the cut, either, finishing his AFL stint hitting .194 in 19 games. He struck out 20 times, drew eight walks and managed three doubles.

Edwin Encarnacion reportedly offered ‘about’ $80 million deal from Blue Jays

11.21.16 at 3:20 pm ET
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The Blue Jays are becoming an intriguing part of this offseason.

According to Jon Heyman to FanRag.com, the Jays offered Edwin Encarnacion a four-year deal worth “about” $80 million prior to signing Kendrys Morales to his three-year, $33 million deal.

Even with the signing of Morales, Heyman reports that the Blue Jays remain interested in bringing back Encarnacion to share the first base/designated hitter spot with the former Royal. That lines up with the notion surfaced to WEEI.com by major league sources that the Jays were one of four teams showing the most interest DH candidate Carlos Beltran.

Sources familiar with the situation recently told WEEI.com that the Red Sox haven’t shown significant interest in Encarnacion, with Dave Dombrowski still prioritizing finding David Ortiz’s replacement via a shorter-term deal. Heyman reports, however, that the Sox have joined the Astros, Yankees, and Rangers as some of clubs who have reached out about the 33-year-old slugger.

Red Sox ‘president’ catches David Ortiz working out at Fenway Park

11.21.16 at 2:31 pm ET
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David Ortiz

David Ortiz

Was David Ortiz having second thoughts about retirement?

That’s exactly what a Red Sox ‘president’ (either Sam Kennedy or Dave Dombrowski) was wondering upon finding the former Red Sox designated hitter working out at Fenway Park recently.

It was a moment Ortiz revealed in his latest Players’ Tribune post:

I called the clubhouse guys at Fenway at nine and said, “I’m coming over.”

Everybody was gone. It was just me and my trainer alone in the gym at Fenway.

You hearing the Rocky music, right?


Nah, bro. I started working out and I got tired so fast. The fastest I’ve ever gotten tired. I was dying.

All of a sudden, the president of the Red Sox came in and saw me working out. He was like, “See, this is the stuff that scares me, David.”

I’m like, “No, no, I just don’t want to be sitting at home doing nothing.”

“Do you have something to tell me, David?”

“No, no, no. I’m retired. I swear.”

Nobody believes me. Not even my teammates. On my last night in the clubhouse, after we got eliminated, a lot of them wouldn’t even say goodbye to me. Because they still think I’m going to show up at spring training.

I wish I could. My mind wants to. But my body just can’t do it anymore. For the past four years, it’s been a struggle just to get physically ready to perform. I used to roll up to the ballpark at 2:30 and be ready to go at 7. But for the past few years, I’ve been a noon guy. That’s how long it takes me to get the engine going with all the stretching and massages and treatment.

Getting old sucks.

Ortiz went to reminisce about some of the more memorable moments during his time in Boston, and even one that wasn’t so well-publicized: when he and Pedro Martinez left a 2003 game in Philadelphia, watching extra innings in a restaurant.

To read Ortiz’s entire entry, click here.

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