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Join Rob Bradford for Red Sox Hot Stove live chat, starting at noon

11.20.14 at 10:07 am ET
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Join Rob Bradford of WEEI.com for a live chat, starting at noon, to talk all things Red Sox offseason (or anything else that might be on your mind). It’s a great way to warm up for tonight’s “Hot Stove Show” with Bradford, Alex Speier and Mike Mutnansky on WEEI, starting at 7 p.m. So get your question in now …

Live Blog Rob Bradford Hot Stove live chat
 

Red Sox minor leaguer Cody Kukuk arrested for robbery

11.19.14 at 9:26 pm ET
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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.

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Update: Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez headline four Red Sox added to 40-man roster

11.19.14 at 8:38 pm ET
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Blake Swihart

Blake Swihart

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, eduardo rodriguez, sean coyle, travis shaw

Source: Red Sox showing ‘willingness to negotiate’ with Jon Lester after initial offer

11.19.14 at 8:07 pm ET
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According to a source familiar with the situation, the Red Sox have made it clear that there will be a “willingness to negotiate” with Jon Lester and his representatives after extending an offer during the two sides’ meeting earlier this week.

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).

Red Sox claim corner infielder Juan Francisco on waivers from Blue Jays

11.19.14 at 6:19 pm ET
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Juan Francisco

Juan Francisco

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 »

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Devil in the details: Contract possibilities for Jon Lester and the Red Sox

11.19.14 at 2:52 pm ET
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Jon Lester finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. (Getty Images)

Jon Lester finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. (Getty Images)

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.

Model 2: Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke (market value) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Contract

Agent: ‘Red Sox extended great respect to Jon [Lester]‘

11.19.14 at 2:19 pm ET
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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.

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