|11.19.14 at 9:26 pm ET|
According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Red Sox left-hander Cody Kukuk was arrested in California on a charge of home-invasion robbery at an apartment in Lawrence, Kansas, on Nov. 8. The report says that Kukuk was among a group of individuals who “entered the Arkansas Street apartment with handguns, battered residents and took their belongings,” which included cash, cell phones, an Xbox and a safe’s contents. Kukuk and 20-year-old Gabriel Alexander Patterson are in jail in Long Beach, Calif., without bail, awaiting a hearing that could lead to extradition to Kansas.
The incident marks the second arrest for Kukuk since he entered the Sox system as a seventh-round draft pick (given a $800,000 bonus) out of high school in 2011. He was also arrested on charges of driving under the influence in Fort Myers in May 2012, but the charges were dropped in August of that year when the police were found to lack probable cause for pulling over Kukuk. Kukuk missed nearly all of that year before making five appearances at the end of the season in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League.
The left-hander has spent the last two years in Single-A Greenville and High-A Salem, showing an electric three-pitch mix (mid- to high-90s fastball, slider, change, all of which can generate swings and misses) that has yielded 9.8 strikeouts per nine innings but little ability to control it, as evidenced by his 7.0 walks per nine innings. While he continued to show stuff to suggest an enormous ceiling, Sox officials had measured expectations for his career given his lack of control and concerns about his makeup. To the chagrin of the team, those have now been borne out to the point where thoughts about his career are essentially irrelevant while his fate resides in the hands of the criminal justice system.
|11.19.14 at 8:38 pm ET|
Thursday represents a day of notable roster change, as teams face a deadline for adding players to the 40-man roster for the purposes of protecting them from the Rule 5 draft. The Red Sox appear likely to add four prospects to the 40-man, including top prospect Blake Swihart. That’s convenient, since the Sox have four open spots on their 40-man roster.
A brief look at the players expected to be protected:
UPDATE: On Thursday, the Red Sox announced that they had indeed added the following four players to their 40-man roster.
Blake Swihart, C, 22 years old
2014: Double-A/Triple-A – 110 games, .293/.341/.469, 13 HR
The top-ranked Red Sox prospect is among the top catching prospects in the game based on his potential for above-average offense and defense. Swihart could become a big league consideration sometime in 2015, with a more likely lasting big league opportunity to come in 2016.
Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP, 21 years old
2014: Double-A (Orioles and Red Sox systems) – 22 starts, 120 innings, 3.60 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.8 BB/9
Rodriguez probably has the best stuff of any starting pitching prospect in the Red Sox system, with the left-hander sitting at 92-94 mph and capable of reaching back for 96-97 mph while featuring an excellent changeup and a slider that shows the potential to be an above-average pitch. It remains to be seen if Rodriguez looks more like the pitcher who struggled through the first four months of 2014 in the Orioles system or like the singularly dominant pitcher who proved a head-turner once in the Sox system. Either way, adding him to the 40-man roster is a no-brainer. If Rodriguez builds on his Portland performance, he has a chance to force his way into the big league rotation sometime in 2015.
|11.19.14 at 8:07 pm ET|
While a Boston Globe report suggested the Sox’ offer was for six years at between $110-120 million, the source suggested the team’s initial offseason proposal was part of a more complex discussion about potential contract parameters.
Earlier Wednesday, one of Lester’s agents, Seth Levinson of ACES, emailed WEEI.com to state, “I will not comment on negotiations nor will I characterize a meeting other than to say that the Red Sox extended great respect to Jon.”
With a source suggesting six teams expressing “legitimate interest” as of last week, it is believed that the Red Sox would have to come up dramatically from their perceived comfort level prior to trading Lester at the non-waiver trade deadline. After a spring training offer of four years, $70 million, no formal proposals were extended by either side until the one this week.
Lester was slated to meet with the Braves Thursday after having already conducted get-togethers with both the Red Sox and Cubs (Tuesday).
|11.19.14 at 6:19 pm ET|
The Red Sox announced that they’ve claimed corner infielder Juan Francisco off waivers from the Blue Jays. Francisco, 27, demonstrated considerable power when he made contact in 2014. In 106 games and 320 plate appearances, he hit .220/.291/.456 with 16 homers. However, he struck out in volume, whiffing in 36.3 percent of plate appearances.
A massive (6-foot-2, 245 pounds) left-handed hitter, Francisco’s offensive abilities are typically limited to right-handed pitchers. In his career, he’s hit .248/.310/.476 with one homer in every 20 plate appearances against righties, with a .159/.213/.210 line and just one homer in 150 career plate appearances against lefties. In 2014, he hit .238/.306/.504 against righties (a 129 OPS+, meaning an OPS that was 29 percent better than the league against righties).
Francisco gives the Sox a potential power-hitting corner infield depth option who bats left-handed — a sort of platoon fallback to the free agent options such as Pablo Sandoval that the team is pursuing. That said, Francisco’s defense is below average (he graded as seven runs below average at third base in 2014 according to Baseball Information Solutions), further limiting his value to that of a potential bench reserve.
The Red Sox now have 36 players on their 40-man roster, with one day remaining prior to the deadline to add players to the 40 for the purposes of protecting them from the Rule 5 draft. Here’s the press release from the Red Sox announcing the addition of Francisco: Read the rest of this entry »
|11.19.14 at 2:52 pm ET|
The Red Sox have made no secret of their desire to make a push for Jon Lester, a notion that has gained further credence with the reports (the first one of which came from ESPNBoston.com) that the team has made an offer to the left-hander.
But, of course, it is one thing to make an offer, another to find common ground to satisfy Lester’s interest in a salary befitting his status as an elite pitcher and the Sox’ interests in accounting for the risks associated with a long-term deal for a pitcher in his 30s. In the absence of concrete details about what shape that offer has taken, here are a few potential models and/or features of an offer that the Sox may try to incorporate as they attempt to reacquire an elite pitcher while minimizing the risk on the back end of the deal:
Model 1: Cliff Lee (fewer years, more dollars)
In the 2012-13 offseason, the Red Sox proved aggressive in terms of the average annual value they put on the table while trying to limit the number of years they committed to players. In doing so, they got (for instance) Shane Victorino to pass on a four-year deal worth roughly $11 million a year from the Indians in favor of a three-year, $39 million deal to come to Boston.
In the winter following the 2010 season, left-hander Cliff Lee walked away from potential deals of six-plus years (with offers typically rumored to be for $23 million or so per year) in favor of a five-year, $120 million deal ($24 million per year) with the Phillies. It’s worth noting that there are similarities between Lester’s situation and Lee’s.
|11.19.14 at 2:19 pm ET|
While it is known the Red Sox ownership group extended an offer to Jon Lester during their meeting earlier this week, and that Lester also met with the Cubs Tuesday while planning on getting together with Atlanta Thursday, little is known about the particulars of the Sox negotiations with the lefty.
One of Lester’s agents, Seth Levinson, did reply in an email when asked about the landscape, writing, “I will not comment on negotiations nor will I characterize a meeting other than to say that the Red Sox extended great respect to Jon.”
A source told WEEI.com during the general managers’ meetings in Phoenix that six teams had shown “legitimate interest” in the free agent pitcher, with the Red Sox, Cubs, Braves and Blue Jays known to be part of that group. Seattle, Lester’s hometown team, is not believed to be one of the interested parties.
Another Red Sox free agent target, Pablo Sandoval, had not been offered a contract by the Red Sox as of mid-afternoon Wednesday, according to MLB.com.
|11.18.14 at 1:40 pm ET|
Free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval is in Boston and we now know what type of contract he may be seeking.
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, via Twitter, Sandoval has discussed deals in the 5-year, $80-90 million range with both the Giants and the Red Sox. He adds, “things could come together quickly,” and the “Red Sox are a very serious player.”
‘ Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 18, 2014
Indications are things could come together quickly with Sandoval and the #redsox are a very serious player.
‘ Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 18, 2014
|11.18.14 at 10:38 am ET|
Lester has already met with the Red Sox ownership, and was slated to get together with the Cubs Tuesday. Toronto is also known to have interest, along with at least two other teams.
The Braves are an interesting option for the free agent pitcher considering Lester just built a home in the Atlanta area. They just traded for starting pitcher Shelby Miller, with Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, Mike Minor and Miller currently slotted in as their starters.
There was some doubt Atlanta would be in the mix for Lester considering their budget limitations, having possessed a $112 million payroll in ’14. The Braves currently have approximately $70 million tied up to just seven roster spots.
|11.18.14 at 9:39 am ET|
Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons appeared on Dennis & Callahan Tuesday morning to talk about Jon Lester and Pablo Sandoval as it relates to the Red Sox, as well as other Red Sox related matters. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Jon Lester is reportedly scheduled to visit with the Cubs on Tuesday, as they are one of the six reported teams interested in the left-hander. Gammons says even though the Cubs are meeting with Lester, they believe he will end up back with the Red Sox.
“I think there’s a chance, I really do,” said Gammons. “I think the one thing — obviously the Cubs are going to make every play — I get the feeling the Cubs think he’s going to go back to Boston. I think it’s very smart for Lester and his agents to hold for another week. I think there is a feeling it is going to go past Thanksgiving, maybe into the first week into December and the hope is that the Yankees look at that starting rotation and they think — I mean how do they know [Masahiro] Tanaka, [Michael] Pineda and [Ivan] Nova are going to be healthy next year and they start thinking about, ‘OK, we have great bullpen, but…’
“That is Red Sox ownership’s worst nightmare — the Yankees and Theo Epstein negotiating against them. But, after spring training when ACES told them [they would see what the market bears], they are finding out the market is going to bare more than they ever imagined.”
Free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval is in Boston early this week, scheduled to meet with the Red Sox to discuss a possible contract. The 28-year-old is coming off a World Series win with the Giants.
“I believe David Ortiz took him out to dinner last night,” Gammons said. “I don’t think it was to a Vegan restaurant.”
Gammons added: “I think he’s an interest here because I think he realizes there’s some reluctance for the Giants about how many years do you give him. One of the dilemmas that National League teams face is that you have a guy that is a bat that may be a DH at 32 or 33-years-old, it’s very hard to give them the kind of contract you can give them in the American League. For instance, Victor Martinez may be the best hitter in baseball right now, but no National League team, the Mets, could go after him because he’s an American League player. Sandoval might be that. I think the Giants are more prepared for this.”
Sandoval’s numbers aren’t as impressive as some think, as the switch-hitter has hit .279 and .278 the last two years respectively, combining to hit 30 home runs. Gammons feels playing in San Fransisco has a lot to do with the numbers.
“I do think he’s a really good hitter. That ballpark really hurts him,” Gammons said. “I think you get him into Fenway and his natural stroke is left-center field. I think he’d be a very good hitter here, but I agree with you that I think he’s going to be very good and the Red Sox have such a need for a left-handed bat. I mean when Stephen Drew is No. 3 on your team in left-handed home runs against right-handed pitching, I think you’re in trouble. He’s really the only guy there. That really tells you a lot about the market and that hitters have become so rare.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.
|11.18.14 at 1:40 am ET|
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:
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