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MLBPA head Tony Clark on draft-pick compensation, drug agreement changes, A-Rod, Phillies draftees, pre-free agent extensions

02.22.14 at 11:18 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark, after a visit to the Red Sox clubhouse on Saturday as part of his 22-day, 30-team tour, illuminated the association’s stance on a number of issues. Of perhaps most immediate relevant to the Red Sox were his comments about draft-pick compensation for free agents who receive and reject the qualifying offer (derived from an average of the top 125 salaries in baseball). Stephen Drew rejected the $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Red Sox in November; because teams would now have to fork over a draft pick to sign him, the shortstop has seen his market impacted drastically, with limited interest in him — a stark contrast to a player like Jhonny Peralta who did not receive a qualifying offer and ended up netting a four-year, $52 million deal from the Cardinals early in free agency.

“It’s a concern,” said Clark. “The way the free agent market has played itself out over the last couple of years suggests that draft pick compensation in the free agent market in general is a concern that we’re paying attention to. Obviously we still have guys, very, very good players, quality players that can help a number of clubs, who are still on the market, some with draft pick compensation, some not. So it’s something that we’re paying attention to. It’s something that we’re concerned about. And it’s something that I’m sure will be a topic of discussion here going forward.”

Of course, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement which defined the current rules of draft pick compensation runs through the 2016 season. And at this point, Clark acknowledged that he’s “not sure” that the concerns about draft pick compensation have reached a point that would permit the re-opening of the CBA rules.

“At this point in time, we’re gathering information to try to determine exactly what is happening,” said Clark. “We believe we have an idea or an understanding. There’s a number of conversations people are having related to those particular players that, once the offseason finishes and we have an opportunity to look back, Lord willing, with those guys signed, if not, conversations are going to be had related to exactly what transpired over the course of the season. Based on that information it’s going to determine what kind of discussions we have.

“There are certain criteria that’s going to have to be met for the CBA to be opened up. I’m not sure that’s happened. So it may be something where between now and 2016 we can continue to have discussions. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interests, what’s happening right now, clubs or the players. But if it’s something that has to be addressed come 2016, then we’ll address it then.”

More from Clark:

On why draft-pick compensation has been a drag on free agency: “The issue seems to be tied to how clubs are valuing draft picks against the backdrop of that player who is becoming a free agent. We have now two years to look at, so we weren’t sure exactly what was happening the first year. We have a little bit of a better understanding after this year. But our understanding at this point in time is that the connection of the restrictions that were put on the draft along with the value that those clubs are putting on those draft picks is suggesting that they all seem to be functioning the same way related to those free agents who carry that compensation. That at this point in time is what we think is happening, but again, we’re doing what we can to make sure we understand the dynamic as a whole.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Agent Scott Boras on free agent Stephen Drew: ‘Talent has no wristwatch’

02.22.14 at 9:51 am ET
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Stephen Drew remains unsigned with spring training games slated to start next week. (AP)

Stephen Drew remains unsigned with spring training games slated to start next week. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com caught up with free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, who is working out in Florida on the campus of St. Thomas University at the Boras Sports Training Institute. Drew said that he’ll be in shape and “ready to go” for the start of the season. Some highlights of the fascinating glimpse into a player who is without a team:

– Drew suggested that he has avoided getting too frustrated about his free agent foray, but did acknowledge that the lack of a deal has been surprising. “It’s crazy how this game works, being in this position,’€ Drew told Heyman. ‘€œYou trust your talent. In the end, it will all work out.’€

– Drew did express some bemusement about the draft-pick compensation that has dampened his market. Because he rejected the Red Sox‘ one-year qualifying offer of $14.1 million, another team would have to give up a top pick in order to sign him. That lies at the heart of the reserved interest in the 31-year-old. “A lot of people don’t want to give up that first-round pick, and that’s what it boils down to. It’s unusual. I understand draft picks, but at the same time, you have a guy who’s proven as very good on defense and a top five shortstop if you look at it,” said Drew.

– Drew’s agent, Scott Boras, suggested that the late stage of the spring should not be an impediment to Drew’s value on the open market. “Talent has no wristwatch,’€ Boras said in the story. ‘€œWhen you’re the steak, you don’t worry about what time dinner is.’€

– Teams with either interest or use for Drew include the Red Sox (who, Heyman reported, haven’t made a new offer since Ryan Dempster made his decision not to pitch in 2014); the Blue Jays (who could use him at second); the Mets (who offered a one-year, $9.5 million deal — the same amount Drew made this past season); the Yankees (whose infield depth is a weakness); the Pirates (who have “spoken about Drew,” according to the story); and the A’s (characterized as a longshot).

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Spring Fort-itude: What happened with the Red Sox in Fort Myers on Friday

02.22.14 at 9:31 am ET
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Left-hander Henry Owens was among the Red Sox prospects who threw live batting practice on Friday. (WEEI.com)

Left-hander Henry Owens was among the Red Sox prospects who threw live batting practice on Friday. (WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Little by little, real baseball is getting closer. Friday marked a tantalizing hint of what’s to come, with batters standing at the plate for live batting practice against Red Sox pitchers. With the veterans being held back on a somewhat deliberate program, the focus of the day fell on the talented inventory of Red Sox prospects.

One could navigate between fields and gain glimpses of what the Red Sox hope will be a fairly compelling ensemble of talents, with Brandon Workman, Drake Britton, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Henry Owens all offering hints of what kind of stuff they possess. Those starved for a look at pitchers throwing off the mound can click here for a look at lefties Britton and Owens and right-hander Ranaudo.

One longtime evaluator watching Owens likened his frame to that of 17-year big-leaguer and five-time All-Star Chuck Finley, a 6-foot-6 left-hander who was a standout for the Angels at a time when Owens was a wee lad in Southern California. (Finley left the Angels for the Indians after the 1999 season, when Owens was 7 years old.)

As for the news of the day…

– Red Sox CEO and president Larry Lucchino confirmed that team officials and owners met with David Ortiz and his agent, Fernando Cuza, on Friday to discuss the slugger’s contract status. Lucchino said that the team is “eager to resolve something if it can be done” with Ortiz. He also said that the team plans to talk to Jon Lester about a possible extension later this spring. More from Lucchino on the possibility of continuing the relationship with both players, along with the decision to let Jacoby Ellsbury leave in free agency, is here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Xander Bogaerts on Stephen Drew: ‘You hear about it every day’

02.22.14 at 9:24 am ET
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Xander Bogaerts is trying to show he belongs as the Red Sox everyday shortstop. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts is trying to show he belongs as the Red Sox everyday shortstop. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts can’t help but hear the whispers about Stephen Drew.

The 21-year-old phenom knows he can’t control whether Drew returns to the Red Sox sometime this spring. Bogaerts said Saturday all he can do is try to put his best foot forward and show the Red Sox that he’s ready to be their everyday shortstop.

“You hear it every day, especially you media guys talk about it a lot,” Bogaerts said. “It’s something you hear a lot but you can’t focus on that. You just have to focus on baseball and try to help the team.”

[Click here to listen to Xander Bogaerts speak Saturday about "trying to act like a grown person."]

Last spring, Bogaerts came to camp as the 20-year-old hot prospect who figured to start in the high minors after his appearance for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, splitting time in camp between third base and short. Twelve months later, he’s the future of the Red Sox middle infield.

“It’s good when you have to focus on one position. Last year was third and short so you had to get work at two positions but now, hopefully, I can get it at one.”

Even after showing he could handle the bright lights and big stage of the postseason and World Series last year – earning the starting job at third base in the playoffs – he speaks with the humility of a borderline talent just trying to make the roster.

“Last year, Drew was here so you know the chances were slim to none,” he said. “Hopefully, this year I can win the job. I was in camp but only one or two weeks and left for the WBC. This is actually my first spring training, I would say. Hopefully, I’ll be here till the end.

“I try to act like a grown person. I’m still 21. You just have to do things the right way, see the way veteran players go about their business, especially baseball-wise. Off the field, hopefully I don’t have problems. I don’t go out a lot, I don’t drink. So, that definitely helps you stay away from trouble.”

Bogaerts joked that he knows he’s the last stop on the merry-go-round that has been shortstop for second baseman Dustin Pedroia, something the second baseman reminded him of again on Friday.

“I heard that again but hopefully, I’m here to stay and here for a long time,” Bogaerts said.

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Yankees president Randy Levine returns fire: ‘I feel bad for Larry’

02.21.14 at 9:13 pm ET
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Randy Levine returned fire Friday, just hours after Larry Lucchino ripped the Yankees for free agent spending. (AP)

Randy Levine returned fire Friday, just hours after Larry Lucchino ripped the Yankees for free agent spending. (AP)

Any thought that the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is dormant can be put to rest.

Just minutes after learning that Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino had ripped his team’s spending habits in free agency, Lucchino’s counterpart with the Yankees responded in kind.

“€œI feel bad for Larry; he constantly sees ghosts and is spooked by the Yankees,” Yankees president Randy Levine told the New York Daily News. “But I can understand why, because under his and Bobby Valentine‘€™s plan two years ago, the Red Sox were in last place. Ben Cherington and the Red Sox did a great job last year winning the World Series, but I’€™m confident Cash and Joe and our players will compete with a great Red Sox team to win a world championship this year.”

Cash and Joe would be general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi.

During that same press conference in Fort Myers in which Lucchino ripped the Yankees, Lucchino was asked if he thought he might be a good candidate for commissioner once Bud Selig steps aside.

“I’ve made lot of friends in the game,” Lucchino said, before adding, “and lot of enemies, too.”

We know one of the enemies without a doubt now. Lucchino, for the record, said Friday he wants no part of the commissioner’s job, as he is too happy and content with his role with the Red Sox.

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Mike Petraglia, Alex Speier on Larry Lucchino, Red Sox, Yankees

02.21.14 at 5:38 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Alex Speier go in-depth, breaking down the address of Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino to reporters on Friday at spring training. Lucchino said the Red Sox and New York Yankees are “different animals” while insisting he wants to keep David Ortiz but doesn’t want to become MLB Commissioner after Bud Selig.

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Video: Red Sox pitching prospects Henry Owens, Anthony Ranaudo and Drake Britton throw

02.21.14 at 5:11 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Starved for baseball? Fair enough. Friday marked the start of live batting practice, and with it, some glimpses of what some of the heralded crop of Red Sox pitching prospects. If you want to show some very tall people hurling a sphere with considerable velocity, click here:

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