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Jon Lester’s agent: Report that Red Sox are out ‘absolutely untrue’

12.08.14 at 4:57 pm ET
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Jon Lester‘s agent, Seth Levinson, shot down a report that the Red Sox are out on Lester and that he is now deciding between the Cubs and Giants, telling WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that the idea is “absolutely untrue.”

UPDATE: Team sources also tell WEEI.com that they believe the report is inaccurate.

MLB on FOX’s Ken Rosenthal had previously reported that “barring late change,” Lester was deciding between the Cubs and Giants.

For complete coverage from the winter meetings, visit www.weei.com/redsox.

Red Sox utility man Jemile Weeks clears waivers, gets outrighted to Triple-A

12.08.14 at 3:49 pm ET
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SAN DIEGO — The Red Sox announced that utility man Jemile Weeks (who is out of options) cleared waivers and was outrighted to the roster of Triple-A Pawtucket. The 27-year-old played in 14 big league games with the Red Sox last year after being acquired from the Orioles on Aug. 30 (along with Ivan De Jesus) in exchange for Kelly Johnson and Michael Almanzar. Though primarily a second baseman in the big leagues, the 2008 first-rounder has also played short and center in the big leagues. In addition to second, short and center, he’s also played left field in the minors.

Weeks has a career minor league line of .285/.380/.406. He has a big league line of .260/.322/.360, including a .308/.406/.423 line in 32 plate appearances with the Sox last season.

With the outright assignment of Weeks, the Red Sox now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Source: Jon Lester likely to make decision Tuesday

12.08.14 at 2:16 pm ET
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SAN DIEGO — According to a major league source, Jon Lester is expected to make his decision as to where he will sign Tuesday.

There was some thought the process would be finalized as early as Monday night, but the interest of the teams involved (Cubs, Red Sox, Giants, Dodgers) continues to evolve.

Check back for more from the winter meetings …

Some early winter meetings Red Sox notes: Taking stock of Yoenis Cespedes, Deven Marrero as trade chips

12.07.14 at 8:18 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

SAN DIEGO — With a need to address three holes in the rotation, the Red Sox are inevitably going to be linked to virtually every starting pitcher available this offseason. That will be true of a broad group of free agents — beyond Jon Lester, there’s Max Scherzer, James Shields, Brandon McCarthy and Ervin Santana, among others — but also teams with pitching to shop in exchange for bats. The Sox, moreover, feature at least the appearance of surplus inventory at a couple positions of scarcity, chiefly the outfield (where Yoenis Cespedes has assumed the most prominent spot as potential trade bait given that he remains under team control for just one year) and even at shortstop, where Deven Marrero is in Triple-A but potentially blocked by Xander Bogaerts.

“There aren’t any shortstops out there,” noted one executive.

The Mets have a surplus of starters (with names like Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese and Dillon Gee reportedly on the block), and even after their surprising signing of Michael Cuddyer, they could likely use more offense from their outfield and they are clearly in the market for an upgrade at shortstop. However, according to a major league source, the Mets have no interest in Cespedes (his power is intriguing, but the .301 OBP has been hard for them to look past) and they likewise don’t have interest in Marrero as a solution as shortstop because of uncertainty about whether he will hit enough to be an everyday shortstop, or whether he would represent a player who harbors considerable similarities to current shortstop Wilmer Flores, an adequate defender who hit .251/.286/.378 as a 22-year-old in 78 games last season.

Meanwhile, the A’s have starter Jeff Samardzija — who is one year from free agency — as one of the prizes of the trade market. However, while the A’s have a clear need for a starting shortstop in 2015, one major league source familiar with the team’s thinking said that Oakland has the same reservations about Marrero’s offense as the Mets — chiefly, whether he will hit enough to be an everyday option. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2014 winter meetings, deven marrero, Yoenis Cespedes,

Sources: John Henry makes trip to visit Jon Lester

12.06.14 at 3:00 pm ET
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According to multiple major league sources, Red Sox principal owner John Henry flew to the Atlanta area Friday to personally visit with free agent pitcher Jon Lester.

With Lester on the cusp of making a decision as to where he might sign, Henry´s visit was thought to be a chance for the owner to re-emphasize the Red Sox´ interest in signing the lefty. It was the second time Henry has met with Lester at the pitcher´s home during the free agent process, although the previous get-together was with other members of Sox´ownership.

It is believed that while a decision is expected from Lester at some point during the upcoming winter meetings, negotiations with multiple teams (Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants) remain fluid.

Will Middlebrooks: ‘I’m curious to see what’s going to happen’

12.05.14 at 10:29 pm ET
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PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — Will Middlebrooks knew he could give the company line when addressing a small group of media at the David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic Friday — just working on getting ready for 2015.

But Middlebrooks understands that when your team signs a player to man your position for at least the first portion of a five-year, $95 million deal, there’s no such thing as turning a blind-eye.

Pablo Sandoval is the Red Sox third baseman, leaving Middlebrooks searching for some clarity.

“I’€™m not really sure what the future holds,” he said. “I know the cliche thing to say is that I’€™m just going to focus on next season and getting healthy. But, of course I want to know what’€™s going to happen. I want to know if I’€™m going to have a job or not. I understand the moves they had to make. From the organization that we are, we have to win next year, everyone knows that. So of course we had to make some moves. I was hurt last year, and have been hurt a lot, and you can’€™t rely on that.”

What is has left is an uncertain offseason for Middlebrooks, who continues to train in the Dallas area.

He has yet to play in more than 94 big league games, coming off a ’14 campaign in which his final totals included 63 games, a .191 batting average and just two home runs.

“It’€™s not going to be pleasant,” he said of his dip down the organizational depth chart. “It’€™s not enjoyable to be replaced, but, like I said, I understand. I’€™m trying to look at the big picture from the organization, too. But then selfishly I say, ‘€˜What about me? What’€™s going to happen to me?’€™ I want to stay in Boston. I want to play in Boston. Everybody wants to play in Boston, or this type of market. There doesn’€™t seem like there’€™s a place for me now, so I have no idea what’€™s going to happen. All I can do is just get ready, have a good spring and see what happens.”

In terms of finding major league playing time in 2015, Middlebrooks knows his best chance might come as part of another organization. Third base is a relatively thin position throughout baseball, especially when looking for players who can hit with some kind of pop. (It should be noted that San Francisco was in scouting Middlebrooks in September, preparing for the possibility of Sandoval moving on.)

“I don’€™t want to go anywhere. I came up here,” he said. “And I know it’€™s pretty rare for someone to stay in one place their whole career, I understand that. But I’€™m still going to try to. Am I fitting this mold right now? I don’€™t really fit in the mix right now. But it’€™s a long time until April. I just have to worry about me right now and just try and be the best Will Middlebrooks I can be.”

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington did call Middlebrooks the day after Sandoval signed, although there wasn’t much the GM could relay that would add peace of mind to the 26 year old.

“It’€™s kind of blurry right now,” said Middlebrooks of his immediate future. “He can’€™t give me a definite answer. They don’€™t know. I’€™m not in the front office and I don’€™t know what their plans are, but obviously there are still some holes to fill. I’€™m not saying I’€™m going to be the mix of it, but I could be. I’€™m sure that’€™s a possibility.”

One avenue Middlebrooks is open to exploring is playing a new position, such as first base. Although Mike Napoli is entrenched at first through 2015, it would seem to be a better opportunity than what he is facing with Sandoval blocking him across the diamond.

“Absolutely,” said Middlebrooks when asked about being willing to make a position switch to first. “We haven’€™t talked about that. I would imagine that is a possibility. But right now we have a really good first baseman. If I happen to move into a utility role and help out wherever needed, that’€™s fine. I would love to stay here. I want to play here. But it’€™s a business and there’€™s that of things. I’€™m curious to see what’€™s going to happen.”

As for the notion that playing winter ball might have enhanced his stock within the organization, Middlebrooks points to the fact his hand hasn’t fully healed as proof that not participating was the right call.

“It’€™s moving in the right direction,” said Middlebrooks of the right hand injury. “It’€™s not where I want it to be. I think it was a good idea that we didn’€™t go play Winter Ball, because even at this point I feel I wouldn’€™t be in a game. I could go out and take BP. Would it be sore? Yeah. Could I play? Yeah. But this isn’€™t September or October in the big leagues. It wouldn’€™t be good for me.”

Andrew Miller signs 4-year, $36 million deal with Yankees

12.05.14 at 3:57 pm ET
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For fans who thought Andrew Miller might return to the Red Sox, think again. According to Jack Curry of the YES Network, the Yankees and the left-handed reliever have agreed to a four-year, $36 million contract.

UPDATE 7:30 p.m.: The Yankees announced earlier this evening they signed Miller to a four-year contract.

Miller, 29, spent 3 1/2 seasons with the Red Sox before being dealt to the Orioles at last year’s trade deadline, has turned into one of the best left-handed relievers in the game. Last season between Baltimore and Boston, Miller posted a 2.02 ERA with 103 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings. Lefties had a slash line of .163/.206/.261 against him.

A former starting pitcher, Miller has spent time with the Tigers, Marlins and Red Sox, and will be entering his 10th season in the big leagues.

From a Red Sox perspective, their current bullpen has Drake Britton and Tommy Layne as the only left-handers on the 40-man roster.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

 

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Ryan Lavarnway claimed off waivers by Dodgers

12.05.14 at 3:04 pm ET
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Ryan Lavarnway

Ryan Lavarnway

The Ryan Lavarnway era in Boston has come to an end.

After being designated for assignment following the Pablo Sandoval signing, the first baseman/catcher was claimed off waivers Friday by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Lavarnway, 27, split the 2014 season between Triple-A Pawtucket and the Red Sox, while suffering a broken bone in his wrist, forcing him to miss several months. He played nine games in the big leagues, going 0-for-10, and in 97 career big league games, he has a .201/.249/.315 line with five homers. He was strictly a catcher until being tried out at first base beginning last season, an effort to gain versatility.

The Yale product was drafted in the sixth-round of the 2008 draft and made his major league debut Aug. 18, 2011.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: ryan lavarnway,

David Ortiz on MFB: ‘Red Sox still have the ball on the court’ in Jon Lester pursuit

12.05.14 at 1:28 pm ET
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Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz checked in with Middays with MFB from his charity golf tournament in the Dominican Republic and shared his thoughts on the team’s contract negotiations with free agent left-hander Jon Lester and other topics. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Coming off a last-place finish in 2014, the Red Sox signed Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval last month in an effort to bolster a woeful offense.

“We know that this year, offensively, we were terrible,” Ortiz said. “We scored less runs than everyone else. That tells you as an owner, as a GM, if you don’t have no offense you’re going nowhere. An example of that is the Kansas City Royals. The best pitching in the game, but they still could not make it, and it’s because they need the offense.

“So right now I think if we go out there and get some pitching, we get my boy Lester on board and go out there and get another starter, I think things will look even better. And remember, this division, everybody’s getting tied up.”

Regarding the Sox’ chances of landing Lester, Ortiz said it might require the Red Sox to show their appreciation in ways other than money.

“All the conversations talking to Lester and stuff, I think the Red Sox still have the ball on the court. And it’s because we all know that Lester loves Boston,” Ortiz said. “And there’s something that we need to make up, and it was that painful trade … during the season. I know my boy’s feelings were hurt when he got traded. And the reason his feelings were hurt was because he loves Boston.”

Added Ortiz: “So I think it’s time for us to kind of make that up, and appreciate that the fact that this guy has been part of a couple of World Series. He has given everything he has. His playoff numbers are ridiculous. And he can demand whatever he deserves.”

For Ortiz’s thoughts on Ramirez, Sandoval, Alex Rodriguez and his own contract situation, listen to the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

Read More: David Ortiz, Jon Lester,

Buster Olney on Hot Stove Show: ‘Hard to imagine [Jon Lester signing for] less than $150 million’

12.05.14 at 8:02 am ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

ESPN baseball analyst Buster Olney, in an interview on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show, said that the bidding for free agent left-hander Jon Lester seems destined to clear $150 million. That likely outcome, in turn, will not reflect well on the Red Sox‘ approach to extension talks in spring training, when the team made a four-year, $70 million offer.

“It was mind-boggling,” said Olney. “If in fact Jon Lester ends up signing someplace else for about $150 million, and given the presence of the Cubs and the Dodgers and the Giants and the Red Sox, it’s hard to imagine that it’s going to be for less than $150 million, there’s no question that one of the biggest things you take away from that is, my goodness the Red Sox miscalculated. That offer, whether it’s the Red Sox signing Lester to $150 million or some other team doing it, your reaction is the Red Sox really misread where the market was going to end up winding up.”

Olney said that the industry is still trying to get a feel for what the Dodgers’ late entry into the Lester sweepstakes means.

“I’m surprised that the Dodgers are in this late. I think everyone is still trying to figure out how serious it is, but it certainly changes the dynamics dramatically. Imagine if you have a weekend poker game with three of your neighbors and then someone walks in with a stack of hundreds. That’s kind of what’s going on here,” said Olney. “Let’s face it, the timing of this was such that suddenly we heard from the Dodgers on the day the Dodgers were meeting with Lester, it may be the classic Red Sox-Yankees push the opponent to pay as much as possible. I think there’s reason to think that, but because the Dodgers have so much money, as one general manager said to me today, they’re the new Yankees. When they jump in, you’ve got to take them seriously just because of how much money they have. Quite frankly, if they want him, then they’re probably going to get him, unless Jon Lester has a serious problem pitching with L.A. We just don’t know yet if their end game is to sign Lester.”

Whenever Lester does sign, Olney expects a flurry of moves involving a starting pitching market that has yet to start moving. Free agents could come off the board quickly, and trade activity could be significant.

“[Lester is] the biggest domino. He’s the bottleneck in the whole marketplace right now,” said Olney. “I will tell you that talking with some teams today and this evening, they’re telling me that there’s a ton of talk going on. Whereas three days ago there were a lot of teams that were just inclined to wait until the Lester thing happened, I think the fact that it may not get resolved to the middle of the winter meetings — which is the latest timetable I heard — I think teams are now lining up to do other things. But [James] Shields is directly affected. If Shields, let’s say for argument’s sake, the feeling entering the winter was Shields was most likely to end up with the Dodgers or the Red Sox, and if one of those two teams winds up with Lester, that affects Shields. Maybe the Cubs look at Shields more seriously because of the history now with Joe Maddon, now that he’s their manager. I think for guys like Francisco Liriano and Brandon McCarthy, they’re waiting for Jon Lester so they can kind of draft in his wake.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: buster olney, David Price, Jeff Samardzija, Jon Lester
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