|12.02.13 at 12:26 pm ET|
A midnight deadline looms for teams to tender contracts to the players on their 40-man roster who, with less than six years of big league service time, remain under team control. In the case of the Red Sox, that means five mostly straightforward decisions on arbitration-eligible players as well as some additional decision regarding players who are not yet arbitration-eligible but whose roster spots are in question at a time when the Red Sox will need to round out their major league roster with additional players.
First, the arbitration-eligible players: left-handed relievers Franklin Morales and Andrew Miller as well as right-hander Junichi Tazawa all project to make less than $2 million through salary arbitration, a modest sum given their abilities. Miller is expected to be healthy in 2013 after he underwent season-ending foot surgery for a torn ligament last July; his stuff was among the most dominant of any left-hander’s in baseball prior to the injury. Tazawa endured some ups and downs but still offers excellent bang for the buck as a late-innings right-hander who attacks the strike zone and gets swings and misses. Morales (2-2, 4.62 ERA in 20 games and 25 1/3 innings) had a disappointing year after his strong showing in 2012, but his upside (a left-hander with three swing-and-miss pitches) is such that he represents a worthwhile investment in his third year of arbitration-eligibility. First baseman/outfielder Mike Carp may assume a growing role with the Red Sox if Mike Napoli leaves in free agency; given his tremendous offensive production against right-handed pitchers in 2013, he’s a lock to get tendered. Newcomer Burke Badenhop will also be tendered. Read the rest of this entry »
|12.02.13 at 10:25 am ET|
According to FoxSports.com, the Blue Jays have come to an agreement for a two-year, $8 million deal with catcher Dioner Navarro.
The switch-hitting Navarro served as a backup catcher for the Cubs in 2013, hitting .300 with 13 home runs and an .856 OPS in 89 games. The 29-year-old hasn’t seen regular playing time since he served as Tampa Bay’s starter in ’09.
Navarro figures to supplant J.P. Arencibia as Toronto’s starter, with Josh Thole slated to serve as knuckleballer R.A. Dickey‘s personal catcher. If tendered a contract, Arencibia figures to make more than $2 million in ’14.
With Navarro off the market, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski are left as the last two free agent catchers who would be thought as as regulars. The White Sox, Twins and Red Sox are thought to be in the mix for a starting backstop.
|11.30.13 at 6:56 pm ET|
Free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, who missed all of 2013 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, told ESPNDeportes.com that the Red Sox are one of several teams with whom he is talking about a potential deal. He suggested the Sox, Mets, Marlins, Nationals, Pirates and Rockies were among the teams to demonstrate interest in him.
The 36-year-old, who hit .264 with a .325 OBP and .346 slugging mark along with 12 steals in 121 games for the Cardinals in 2012, told the website that he wants to play for a contender that can maximize his playing time. While he has only played shortstop and second base in his career, Furcal said in the interview that he would be open to playing other positions as well.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said last week that the Sox are looking to increase their depth on the left side of the infield. Presumably, that would mean either re-signing Stephen Drew to be the everyday shortstop or signing a veteran such as Furcal as someone capable of providing protection at a number of infield positions.
Furcal, a veteran of 13 seasons, is a career .281/.346/.403 hitter with 314 career steals. The 2000 National League Rookie of the Year is a three-time All-Star, having participated in the showcase in 2003, 2010 and 2012. He said that he is about to start a throwing program, and will steadily increase his workload while working towards a healthy return in spring training.
|11.30.13 at 12:57 pm ET|
According to a major league source, the Red Sox haven’t set a deadline for any of their unsigned free agents to accept the club’s offers, but are “certainly working on other options, also.”
Another source has confirmed that the Red Sox have told at least one of the free agents whom they have offered a contract to that the team is nearing a point where they hope to decide between alternatives.
The Red Sox have already expressed interest in bringing back free agents Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Jacoby Ellsbury — first by extending qualifying offers, before circling back with alternative contract offers after the one-year, $14.1 million deals were rejected –along with Jarrod Saltalamacchia. (While the catcher wasn’t offered a qualifying offer the Sox have extended a two-year deal at a lower annual average.)
The winter meetings, which will be held in Orlando from Dec. 9-12, have served as the launching point for some of the Red Sox biggest offseason moves in two of the last three years.
The Sox traded for Adrian Gonzalez the night before the winter meetings in 2010, before signing free agent Carl Crawford three days later. And last year, Napoli’s original three-year agreement was finalized the first morning of the meetings, with Shane Victorino coming to terms a day later.
|11.27.13 at 2:17 pm ET|
Agent Jim Munsey, who represents free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, denied a suggestion by ESPN’s Buster Olney on WEEI that medical concerns might be at the heart of the slow-developing market for his client’s services. Olney wondered if the decision by some clubs in search of catching help to turn elsewhere might be a function of any health issues in the 28-year-old’s medical dossier.
“I think the big question about Saltalamacchia — and believe me, you hear a lot of different things about a lot of different guys and I don’t know what’s in Jarrod’s file — but in some cases, some of the intransigence in the market is related to whatever’s in the medical file,” said Olney. “We saw it last winter with Mike Napoli where not only did the Red Sox reduce their file down to one year and $5 million but no other team jumped in based on the same information. With catchers, it’s certainly going to be one of the first things you’re going to look at. It says a lot that you have the Cubs and a number of other teams that are out there potentially looking at catchers, no one’s jumping up.”
Munsey denied that teams in general — and the Cubs in particular — had raised concerns about Saltalamacchia’s health.
“Salty has just finished his third straight year without being on the DL, which makes him different from both [Brian] McCann and [Carlos] Ruiz,” Munsey said in a statement, referencing free agents who had agreed to deals of five and three years this winter. “There are no medical issues hindering his market. Specifically, the Cubs are simply allocating funds elsewhere and don’t believe they could compete for what is believed to be Salty’s market and have an excellent catcher [Wellington Castillo] in place already. There was simply no discussion whatever with them about any medical issue. None. To speculate otherwise is pretty irresponsible. To conclude that no one is ‘jumping up’ would likewise be speculative. Some agents prefer to perform their responsibilities outside of the media spotlight. Just because you’re not hearing it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”
Saltalamacchia hit .273/.338/.466 with 14 homers and 40 doubles while playing in 121 regular season games in 2013. According to multiple industry sources, he’s been in search of a deal of at least three years. While the Red Sox have been in dialogue with Munsey, according to sources, they have shown a clear preference to limit the term of any deals for catchers (whether Ruiz, whom they pursued, or Saltalamacchia) to two years given the team’s belief that prospects Christian Vazquez (who will open the year in Triple-A) and Blake Swihart (who will start 2014 in Double-A) represent future starting options.
|11.27.13 at 1:06 pm ET|
In his weekly interview on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni show, ESPN’s Buster Olney took stock of the catching market now that free agents such as Brian McCann, Carlos Ruiz and Geovany Soto have signed. Olney suggested that he believed that the Red Sox might pursue a short-term solution such as Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan (who hit .198/.306/.261 last year, but who owns a career line of .262/.359/.343 and is considered a strong defensive presence) based on the desire to keep the door open for the team’s up-and-coming prospects (Christian Vazquez, Blake Swihart) behind the plate.
“I think Ryan Hannigan is an interesting stopgap for the Red Sox. We know that the Tampa Bay Rays have always had a lot of interest before 2013. He was a high on-base percentage guy who was dealing with a wrist injury last year so he wasn’t healthy, didn’t hit. He doesn’t really hit for power. In that regard, he doesn’t really fit the prototype for the Red Sox,” said Olney. “But it feels like it’s kind of a bridge year for their catchers. It feels like if they buy a little time, they can develop those catchers. I think he would be an option.”
Olney suggested that it seemed curious that a market had yet to take shape for free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Given his performance relative to that of other free agents on the market, Olney wondered whether medical issues might be hindering the 28-year-old’s market following a career-best season in which he hit .273/.338/.466 with 14 homers and 40 doubles while playing in 121 regular season games.
“I think the big question about Saltalamacchia — and believe me, you hear a lot of different things about a lot of different guys and I don’t know what’s in Jarrod’s file — but in some cases, some of the intransigence in the market is related to whatever’s in the medical file,” said Olney. “We saw it last winter with Mike Napoli where not only did the Red Sox reduce their file down to one year and $5 million but no other team jumped in based on the same information. With catchers, it’s certainly going to be one of the first things you’re going to look at. It says a lot that you have the Cubs and a number of other teams that are out there potentially looking at catchers, no one’s jumping up.” Read the rest of this entry »
|11.25.13 at 10:40 pm ET|
The Red Sox executed a well-defined template last winter in trying to emerge from the wreckage of a 69-win season. On Monday, as team CEO/president Larry Lucchino prepared to see the Wang Theatre premier of the Official 2013 World Series Film that stood as a testament to that approach, he acknowledged that it might prove difficult to repeat that formula.
Lucchino said that it remains premature to say whether the market has moved in an unexpected direction. Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the early stages of the offseason have produced “a couple of big contracts … for a couple of big guys,” and that “everyone is expecting [the market] will go up because nothing ever goes down and because there’s new television money available.”
That reality suggests that the Sox may face a different offseason landscape than they did last year. Then, their mandate was to improve, and they were able to follow a principled route to do so. The team focused on limiting the term of the contracts given (all seven of the free agents whom they acquired received deals of three or fewer years) — sometimes giving players more dollars to do so — while also preserving all of its draft picks by avoiding signing any players who had received qualifying offers from their former clubs.
This year, Lucchino suggested, the team would like to follow a similar script. But that won’t necessarily be possible.
“Fewer years, more dollars — it’s our preferred model, but you can never get exactly what you want,” said Lucchino.”We still value the draft picks enormously, and our behavior has shown that. We still prefer shorter to longer-term contract. We have a presumption against really long-term contracts. A lot of things we did last year proved to be successful, at least in the short term, so I think we’re going to behave accordingly going forward.
“You need to have a diverse portfolio of contracts. Some will be longer than you want. Some will be heavy at the front end. You’ve got to mix the structure of all the contracts so you have the kind of diversity you need for long-term stability.” Read the rest of this entry »
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