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Johnny Cueto has found new home with Giants

12.14.15 at 5:05 pm ET
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Johnny Cueto has found a new home in San Francisco (Photo courtesy Instagram)

Johnny Cueto has found a new home in San Francisco (Photo courtesy Instagram)

According to multiple reports, free agent pitcher Johnny Cueto has agreed to a six-year deal with the Giants that will pay him $130 million. The contract (which is pending a physical) reportedly includes an opt-out after the second season, which would be just prior to the righty pitcher turning 32 years old. He will be paid $46 million prior to the opportunity to opt-out.

The deal comes after Cueto turned down a six-year, $120 million contact offer from the Diamondbacks earlier this offseason.

Cueto is the last top of the rotation free agent pitcher to come to terms this offseason (unless you consider Japanese hurler Kenta Maeda, Wei-Yen Chen or Mike Leake, in such a class).

Here are the contracts handed out to the other top tier starters thus far this offseason:

David Price: Red Sox, seven years, $217 million (opt-out after third season).
Zack Greinke: Diamondbacks, six years, $206.5 million.
Jordan Zimmermann: Tigers, five years, $110 million.
Jeff Samardzija: Giants, five years, $90 million.
John Lackey: Cubs, two years, $32 million.

Cueto’s agent, Bryce Dixon, had told Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com that his client’s first choice was to sign with the Red Sox.

“Johnny really wanted to go to the Red Sox,” Dixon told Gammons. “His idol is Pedro Martinez. He wanted to be with him. When he threw the shutout in the World Series, one of the first things he said was, ‘˜Did Pedro ever throw a game like that in the post-season?'”

Buster Olney of ESPN was first to report the agreement, with the Giants confirming it (thanks to Twitter):

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Jonathan Papelbon on Craig Kimbrel: ‘He’s a younger version of me’

12.14.15 at 10:51 am ET
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New Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel hopes to have the kind of run turned in by Jonathan Papelbon while in Boston.  (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

New Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel hopes to have the kind of run turned in by Jonathan Papelbon while in Boston. (Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

When it comes to living the life as a Red Sox closer, the following is perhaps the highest compliment Craig Kimbrel has received to date.

“Me and Kimbrel are very similar in our styles. He’s a younger version of me.”

Those were the words uttered recently to WEEI.com by one Mr. Jonathan Papelbon.

You can have your opinions about Papelbon’€™s lightning rod personality, but what is inarguable is that he still represents the most prolific closing career of any Red Sox reliever in team history.

Papelbon served as the Sox closer for six years, which is longer than any Red Sox relief pitcher has managed since the role came into vogue. Koji Uehara might have gone on the best short-term run of any Sox game-ender, but in terms of long-term success in Boston, nobody approaches Papelbon.

He saved a team-record 219 games for the Sox before moving on to Philadelphia, including the clinching game of the 2007 World Series.

So, now the question is: Can Kimbrel be the kind of game-saving fixture for the Red Sox Papelbon was from 2006-11?

“The biggest thing is having no memory,” Papelbon said when asked what advice he might pass on to Kimbrel. “I remember what Mariano [Rivera] told me. ‘€˜Papelbon, no memory.’€™ It took me a while to figure out what he was talking about, but I learned that is the biggest key, especially in Boston.

“I love Kimbrel. He’s a great guy. Closers are a fraternity. It’s like we’re a group. Every city I go to I try and get with the closer and tell them, ‘Mariano made this role special. Goose Gossage made this role special. Lee Smith. Let’s try and keep it going.’ And that’s the same thing Mariano did for me.”

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Read More: Craig Kimbrel, Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox,

Red Sox sign starting pitcher Sean O’Sullivan to minor league deal

12.13.15 at 6:29 pm ET
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Sean O'Sullivan

Sean O’Sullivan

According to Baseball America, the Red Sox have agreed to terms with pitcher Sean O’Sullivan on a minor league deal with an invitation to major league camp.

The 28-year-old righty started 13 games for the Phillies in 2015, going 1-6 with a 6.08 ERA. In 71 innings, striking out 35 and walking 20 while giving up 94 hits.

O’Sullivan, the Angels’ third-round pick in 2005, has pitched in 66 big league games, starting 52 of them. His career record in the majors is 11-23 with a 5.95 ERA. He made his major league debut in 2009 with the Angels.

According to BrooksBaseball.net, O’Sullivan’s most effective offerings are his slider and curveball, with both his four-seam and two-seam fastball rarely resulting in swing and misses. Click here for a scouting report.

The Red Sox most certainly view O’Sullivan as Triple-A starting pitching depth.

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Warriors guard Stephen Curry is a Red Sox fan, loves team’s offseason ‘splashes’

12.12.15 at 2:44 am ET
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Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry

Steph Curry became a Celtics fan on Friday after the scrappy C’s gave his unbeaten Warriors everything they could handle, but he’s been a Red Sox fan his entire life, and he loves their offseason.

Speaking after the Warriors improved to 24-0 following a thrilling 124-119 victory in double overtime at TD Garden, Curry lauded the Red Sox for the moves he hopes will return the team to contention, including the acquisition of ace David Price and closer Craig Kimbrel.

“We’re making moves, and I know (the offseason) isn’t over yet,” he said after scoring 38 points. “But you’ve got to make splashes these days to stay competitive, and they’re doing it. It’s great.”

If you’re wondering how Curry became a Red Sox fan, it dates to his childhood in Charlotte, as he explained in a 2011 interview at Fenway Park, where he was having his bachelor party.

“Growing up, the closest team geographically was the Braves,” he said. “But my brother (Seth) chose the Yankees when we were six or seven. I had to choose the opposite team. I chose the Red Sox and I’ve stuck with them ever since. It’s a pretty cool thing between me and my brother.”

Curry, who grew up with former Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard (Curry was a freshman at Charlotte Christian when Bard was a senior), remains a Red Sox fan. During that 2011 visit to Fenway, he got autographs from David Ortiz, posed for pictures with Mike Cameron, and spent some time talking with Kevin Youkilis, taking in the sights at batting practice from the field.

“I was just thinking about that today,” said Curry, whose college roommate was a Sox fan from Falmouth, Maine. “We haven’t been back to a game since. I’d love to get back there.”

Jason Heyward reportedly latest to join Cubs juggernaut

12.11.15 at 1:39 pm ET
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According to multiple reports (with the Chicago Sun-Times first confirming), free agent outfielder Jason Heyward has agreed to become the Cubs’ center fielder.

The deal is worth eight years at $184 million and includes two opt-outs, the first coming after three seasons.

Just 26 years old, Heyward was considered the top position player on the free agent market. In his only year with St. Louis, he finished 2015 hitting .293 with a .797 OPS and 13 home runs in 154 games.

Heyward’s value is centered around the ability to do a little bit of everything offensively, while playing superior defense, having spent the majority of his six-year big league career in right field.

Chicago has already been busy this offseason, signing free agent pitcher John Lackey to a two-year, $32 million deal, and utilityman Ben Zobrist at four years, $56 million, while trading Starlin Castro for pitcher Adam Warren and a player to be named later.

Coming off a 97-win season in which they reached the National League Championship Series, the Cubs have to be considered the odds-on favorites in the NL heading into 2016.

Along with Lackey, Chicago boasts Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta in a starting rotation that is filled out by Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks. Their lineup boasts potential perennial All-Stars first baseman Anthony Rizzo, third baseman Kris Bryant, shortstop Addison Russell, and young outfielders Kyle Schwarber and Jorge Soler.

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Agent: Johnny Cueto really wanted to go to Red Sox

12.11.15 at 12:37 pm ET
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Johnny Cueto reportedly really wanted to come to Boston. (Photo courtesy Instagram)

Johnny Cueto reportedly really wanted to come to Boston. (via Instagram)

When visiting Boston with his Royals in late August, Johnny Cueto was surprisingly forthcoming when it came to his infatuation with Boston.

“Because I’€™m a free agent, and I’€™m just going to pick the best choice to go,” said Cueto through translator Hanley Ramirez. “The main thing — I would like to come here because it’€™s a championship-caliber team.”

Evidently, he wasn’t lying.

Talking to Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com, Cueto’s agent, Bryce Dixon, revealed that not only did his client like the idea of signing with the Red Sox, but it was his first choice.

“Johnny really wanted to go to the Red Sox,” Dixon told Gammons. “His idol is Pedro Martinez. He wanted to be with him. When he threw the shutout in the World Series, one of the first things he said was, ‘€˜did Pedro ever throw a game like that in the post-season?”

While there is a perception Cueto is on the verge of being on the outside looking in due to all the recent signings of free agent pitchers — including Boston’s deal with David PriceDixon tells Gammons he believes the pitcher will be signing a deal within a week.

Cueto was once thought to be on the level of Price when it came to potential value on the free agent market. But after less-than-great results during the final two months of the season, and up and down performances in the postseason, the 29-year-old fell to a level clearly behind both Price and Zack Greinke.

Recent reports had the Dodgers interested in Cueto after having lost out on Greinke, and reliever Aroldis Chapman.

Cueto turned down a six-year, $120 million offer from the Diamondbacks earlier in the offseason.

Read More: johnny cueto, Red Sox,

Remember Casey Kelly? He was just traded again

12.10.15 at 9:23 pm ET
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Casey Kelly was once the Red Sox' top prospect. (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Casey Kelly was once the Red Sox‘ top prospect. (Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

Almost exactly five years ago, he was the centerpiece of a pretty big deal, the one that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox.

Casey Kelly was that young pitcher who had ace stuff. Now he is a piece of another deal … for what is likely a backup catcher.

Kelly joined catcher Ricardo Rodriguez in going to Atlanta Thursday, with the Braves sending backstop Christian Bethancourt (once a Top 100 prospect) to San Diego. (For more on that trade, click here.)

The right-handed throwing Kelly was the Red Sox first-round pick in the 2008 draft, deciding to play baseball instead of football at the University of Tennessee, thanks in large part to a $3 million signing bonus. He also made the choice to not play shortstop once in the minors, becoming one of the Red Sox’ most promising young starters.

Kelly would join former first-round pick Reymond Fuentes and first baseman Anthony Rizzo in making up the group of prospects the Red Sox would ultimately send to San Diego for Gonzalez.

Kelly would reach the majors in 2012, making six starts for the Padres in which he went 2-3 with a 6.23 ERA. But the following March it was determined he had micro tears in his UCL, forcing the Sarasota native to undergo Tommy John and miss the entire 2013 season.

He would pitch a few times in 2014 before bouncing back and forth between relieving and starting Double-A and Triple-A throughout ’15, going a combined 2-10 with a 5.16 ERA. Kelly would see action in three big league games late in the season, making two starts.

As for those other guys in the Gonzalez deal, Rizzo has obviously gone on to become one of the big leagues best first basemen, hitting 31 homers with an .899 OPS in 160 games last season. Fuentes’ only big league time came in 23 games with the Padres in ’13, hitting .307 with 29 steals in Triple-A for the Royals in 2015.

Read More: Braves, casey kelly, Padres, Red Sox

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy on OM&F: ‘The last thing in the world we want is someone getting hurt at Fenway’

12.10.15 at 2:33 pm ET
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Sam Kennedy

Sam Kennedy

Red Sox president Sam Kennedy joined Ordway, Merloni and Fauria on Thursday to discuss the new protective netting at Fenway Park, as well as the Red Sox‘ offseason. To hear the interview, go to the Ordway, Merloni and Fauria audio on demand page.

On Wednesday, Major League Baseball announced a recommendation for teams to add additional netting for the purpose of better fan safety. The Red Sox will comply and have protective netting that goes from dugout to dugout.

Kennedy explained in detail exactly what it means for Fenway Park.

“The current plan is to follow Major League Baseball‘s recommendations and just to be clear, first and foremost, they are a set of recommendations that commissioner [Rob] Manfred has come out with and we commend him and his team,” Kennedy said. “They have been working on this since last season and they have done a great job of engaging a lot of different experts, looking at it from a lot of different angles. They want balance to keep fans connected to the players around the dugout area. So the recommendation is to go from the inner wall of the dugout, so at Fenway, that would be dugout 29 across to dugout 61. The inner wall of each dugout around to the inner wall of the other dugout.

“What we don’t know right now is exactly what the screen, additional netting will look like given we’re working with the engineers to understand how we get that protection and coverage, at least 70-foot radius behind home plate that they are recommending. If I had to guess, it would be 5-6 foot high screen off the current field wall, but don’t hold me to that because we’re working on it now. Our current backstop has a field wall of three feet and then a nine-foot, eight-inch screen on top of it that extends all the back up to the EMC club, for comparison purposes. We’re working on it now, but we are going to follow the recommendations that the commissioner’s office put out — just this industry standard of a 70-foot radius to protect those sitting within a 70-foot radius of home plate with the expansion of the netting.”

Even with the protective netting, Kennedy acknowledged fans still need to be alert, especially in seats that don’t have the protective netting.

“Fans do need to be careful,” he said. “Balls come in, bats come in, so you have to be careful. We’re going to work with baseball to make sure we get that message out as well. The last thing in the world we want is someone getting hurt at Fenway.”

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Read More: Dave Dombrowski, Sam Kennedy,

Red Sox trade INF/OF Garin Cecchini to Brewers for cash considerations

12.10.15 at 11:44 am ET
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Garin Cecchini

Garin Cecchini

The Garin Cecchini era in Boston is over.

After being designated for assignment last week to make room for David Price, the Red Sox have traded infielder/outfielder Garin Cecchini to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for cash considerations.

With the PawSox this past year, he hit .213 (90-for-422) with 14 doubles, seven home runs, 28 RBI. Despite a few call ups over the past few years to the Red Sox, Cecchini just couldn’t do enough to stay on the 25-man roster. A change in scenery may be the best thing for the left-handed hitter — a fourth-round pick by the Red Sox in 2010.

The Red Sox were also active in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday, selecting two players and having another one taken from them, all in the Triple-A portion:

— RHP Jhonny Polanco was acquired from the Cardinals

— RHP Anyelo Leclerc was acquired from the Rangers

— OF Jesus Loya was selected by the Cubs

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

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Scott Boras: Dave Dombrowski ‘rather patient’ about contract extensions

12.09.15 at 9:58 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

NASHVILLE — The time is coming when a conversation would only make sense.

After two full major league seasons, Xander Bogaerts would now seem to be a prime candidate to start negotiating a contract extension.

While not identifying Bogaerts by name, the subject of buying out arbitration years for players like the 23-year-old shortstop — and perhaps outfielder Mookie Betts — was broached by Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski at the winter meetings Wednesday afternoon.

“Well, we have not done anything to date,” Dombrowski said. “Also, that would be one of those things if we did do it, we would keep it to ourselves at the time. We’ve got some good players. I don’t know if this is going to be the time we end up doing it or not. We really haven’t had the time where we’ve sat down and discussed that one very thoroughly and from an internal perspective.

“We’re open minded to that, if you can get that kind of cost-stability with the right players, and of course it takes two to get that done, because they have to be willing, but sure, we’re open-minded to it.”

Prior to Dombrowski’s arrival, the Red Sox had at least discussed the idea of making a run at extending Bogaerts and Betts.

For Bogaerts, however, there is a perception that he might have a hesitation to commit so early in his career due to the track record of his agent, Scott Boras. And while we have an idea of Boras’ approach to such deals — with the majority of his clients finding their way to free agency — it’s also interesting to note how Dombrowski has handled such negotiations.

“Dave is rather patient about that,” Boras told WEEI.com when asked about his experiences with Dombrowski in regard to signing players prior to their free agent years.

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Read More: 2015 Winter Meetings, mookie betts, Scott Boras, xander bogaerts
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