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John Farrell: Yoenis Cespedes a consideration in center or right field

11.25.14 at 3:59 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes could be a consideration for center or right field in 2015. (Getty Images)

Yoenis Cespedes could be a consideration for center or right field in 2015. (Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez has been signed to play left field. So what does that mean for the Red Sox‘ season-ending left fielder?

In the case of Yoenis Cespedes, manager John Farrell said that the Sox have begun talking about the possibility of a move to another position. As news of the Sox’ signing of Ramirez circulated, Farrell said that the team reached out to Cespedes to explore that very possibility, and that the 29-year-old proved receptive to it.

“We had a chance to speak to him yesterday. To his credit, he’€™s just eager to do whatever is needed by this team,” said Farrell. “He’€™s showing that he’€™s a complete team player. And we’€™re excited to have his versatility be at our disposal at those other two spots, whether it’€™s center, right, we’€™ll determine that once we get to camp.”

Though Cespedes only played left field with the Red Sox, he has played at least some center in each of his three big league seasons, with roughly 20 percent of his career outfield innings spent in center. The Sox viewed him as a potential right fielder at the time of their acquisition of him based on his range and strong throwing arm. As of now, the team is hoping to look at Cespedes at both positions. Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell: Red Sox ‘are making every attempt’ to bring back Jon Lester

11.25.14 at 2:57 pm ET
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It comes as little surprise to see Red Sox manager John Farrell beaming at the shape that his 2015 lineup is starting to take. With Pablo Sandoval — a wrecking ball against right-handed pitchers — at third base and Hanley Ramirez (who hammers both lefties and righties) now slated to join the middle of the team’s lineup, the run-starved days of 2014 should prove far less frequent next season.

“We’€™ve made two very good additions, no doubt, particularly before [when] you’€™d sense the free agent market really coming into shape. [GM Ben Cherington] has done a great job of being able to add these two players before Thanksgiving,” said Farrell. “When you consider Hanley in left, Yoenis [Cespedes] in either center or right, you begin to look at power bats in a number of different positions and this is a really deep lineup as we stand today.”

Still, while the lineup (with that intriguing proposition of Cespedes at a different spot in the outfield) is now well-defined, Farrell acknowledged that the Sox’ offseason work is incomplete.

“What remains throughout the offseason is still an interesting proposition. … We’€™ve got a ways to go through this offseason,” said Farrell. “We’€™ve got complete trust in what Ben and his staff are doing. Clearly, there’€™s two prime pieces of evidence to suggest that. We’€™ve got work to be done, we’€™ve got additions to be made. So there’€™s going to be a number of things that are going to be interesting to follow here throughout the winter.”

Foremost among those will be the vacancy sign that hovers over 60 percent of the Red Sox rotation, with curiosity looming about whether the Red Sox might be able to bring Jon Lester back into the fold. Farrell acknowledged that the Sox are doing what they can to bring back the left-hander, though declined to handicap the likelihood of a return. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox designate Ryan Lavarnway, Juan Francisco for assignment

11.25.14 at 12:52 pm ET
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Ryan Lavarnway

Ryan Lavarnway

In order to clear a roster spot for Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, the Red Sox announced that they had designated catcher/first baseman Ryan Lavarnway and Juan Franciscofor assignment.

Lavarnway, 27, a sixth-round draft pick out of Yale in 2008, split the 2014 season between Triple-A Pawtucket and the big leagues. 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.

While that major league track record is modest, Lavarnway has a long track record in the minors of hitting for average and getting on base, with a career .283/.375/.479 line in the minors. That said, after he posted consistently strong power numbers from 2009-11 (an average of 25 homers a year in the minors), he hit just 15 homers over the last three years in the minors, resulting in his former status as one of the top prospects in the Sox system dimming to the point where he represented a depth option on the fringes of the 40-man roster. With no remaining minor league options and with a number of options in front of him at first base and catcher, he thus became a roster casualty to clear the way for Sandoval.

The 27-year-old Francisco had been claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays Wednesday. In 2014, the lefty hitter played in 106 major league games for the Jays, hitting .220, 16 doubles, 16 homers and 43 RBI.

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

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Pablo Sandoval’s contract terms

11.25.14 at 12:43 pm ET
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According to an industry source, here are the terms of Pablo Sandoval’s five-year, $95 million deal with the Red Sox that includes a team option for a sixth season:

Signing bonus: $3 million

2015: $17 million

2016: $17 million

2017: $17 million

2018: $18 million

2019: $18 million

2020: Team option – $17 million ($5 million buyout)

The bonus and buyout factor into the $95 million guarantee and give the deal a $19 million average annual value for the next five years for luxury tax purposes. If Sandoval is still playing at a high level at the end of the deal, then his option — which would come at a $12 million marginal cost (and as calculated for AAV purposes in 2020) could hold considerable appeal for Sandoval’s age 33 season.

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Jon Lester, Red Sox continue to talk; no deadline set

11.24.14 at 11:30 pm ET
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Even after a day in which the Red Sox allocated potentially more than $200 million to two players — Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez — the team remains engaged in negotiations with free agent pitcher Jon Lester, according to multiple sources.

As of Monday night, a major league source suggested the two sides weren’t close on brokering a deal, although they would continue their dialogue as Lester prepared to meet with other suitors.

A pair of major league sources confirmed that no deadline had been set for Lester (or any other free agent the Red Sox might be pursuing) to commit to a deal.

When asked about a Twitter report suggesting that the Red Sox were close to a deal with Lester, and the team had set a Wednesday deadline, one of the pitcher’s agents, Seth Levinson of ACES, wrote in an email that it was, “inaccurate.”

Lester has already met with the Red Sox, Cubs and Braves, with an expected trip to St. Louis on the horizon. San Francisco and Toronto have also been identified as teams showing some level of interest in the lefty.

Buster Olney on MFB: ‘Really surprised’ about Pablo Sandoval choosing Red Sox over Giants

11.24.14 at 1:53 pm ET
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Buster Olney

Buster Olney

With the Red Sox reportedly close to finalizing deals to land Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, ESPN’s Buster Olney checked in with the Middays with MFB crew for an update and analysis of the situation. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Olney said Sandoval appears to have chosen the Red Sox over the Giants despite similar offers.

“I was really surprised,” Olney said. “I thought that if the bidding were close, knowing Sandoval’s history with the Giants, knowing the Giants’ history of re-signing their own players, I thought that he would go back there. I thought that if any team was going to pry Sandoval away from the Giants it was going to be with a huge offer that far outweighed what San Francisco was putting on the table, and yet the offer that the Giants were talking about, which was $95 million plus the promise if Sandoval came back to them and asked for more was for something in the range of $100 million, that Sandoval just decided, apparently, that with two equal offers he wanted to go to Boston. And the Giants actually asked him in the last 24 hours, ‘Look, is there something we can do?’ And the answer they got back was no. That part of it really surprised me.

“It doesn’t necessarily surprise me that the Red Sox would be in on Hanley Ramirez, because I think once he — through his agent, Adam Katz — got it out there that he was willing to change positions, I think people looked at him very differently. Because as I mentioned earlier today, it’s a market that’s so lacking in good offensive players. Hanley Ramirez stands out, especially when you take him out of Dodger Stadium, which is a notorious pitcher’s park. You put him in other places, he can really rake.

“So for the Red Sox to land both those guys, it’s going to be a very different-looking offense than last year when it always seemed like they were bringing a knife to a gun fight.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: buster olney, hanley ramirez, Jon Lester, Pablo Sandoval

Pedro Martinez among headliners on HOF ballot announced Monday

11.24.14 at 12:36 pm ET
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Pedro Martinez is one of the leading candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot that was announced Monday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Pedro Martinez is one of the leading candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot that was announced Monday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Hall of Fame ballot announced Monday includes a trio of standout pitchers, including Red Sox legend Pedro Martinez, who should take headlines back from the stars who were tainted by Major League Baseball‘s steroid era.

Joining Martinez as first-time candidates are five-time Cy Young Award winner Randy Johnson, who amassed 4,875 career strikeouts (second only to Nolan Ryan), and Braves legend John Smoltz, who is the only pitcher to record 200 wins and 150 saves.

Martinez, who won two Cy Youngs, compiled a 219-100 career record with 3,154 strikeouts.

Former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra also makes his first appearance on the ballot.

Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa — all linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs — are back. Clemens and Bonds both received 35 percent of the votes last year, well below the number needed for admission. McGwire dipped to 11 percent, and he only has two more years of candidacy. Sosa fell to 7 percent last year, and if he dips below 5 percent he’ll be removed from future ballots.

Results will be announced Jan. 6. The induction ceremony is scheduled for July 26.

Read More: barry bonds, john smoltz, Nomar Garciaparra, pedro martinez

Rusney Castillo’s Puerto Rico plan now in place

11.24.14 at 9:51 am ET
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Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

While the Red Sox engage in a whirlwind of moves to spice up the Hot Stove season, one of their perceived building blocks continues to map his way through an alternatively interesting offseason.

After seeing his stint in the Arizona Fall League cut short due to a bruised thumb, Rusney Castillo has seemingly gotten his winter ball schedule back on track. The outfielder is slated to join former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora‘s team in Puerto Rico Friday, with an eye on playing his first game Dec. 2.

The plan is for Castillo to play both right field and center field, while getting close to 100 at-bats for Criollos de Caguas.

The Puerto Rican Winter League’€™s regular season schedule extends until the end of December. Among the players playing for Caguas is Red Sox minor league outfielder Henry Ramos, who hit .326 in 48 games for Double-A Portland last season.

With the Suprise Saguaros of the AFL, Castillo hit .278 (10-for-38) with 10 runs and a .333 on-base percentage over eight games. With the Red Sox he hit .333 (12-for-36) with two homers, totaling an OPS of .928.

The righty hitter was recently examined in Boston and cleared by the team’€™s medical staff.

Sources: Red Sox, Pablo Sandoval have agreement on five-year deal

11.24.14 at 8:08 am ET
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Pablo Sandoval continues to weigh offers, according to his agent. (Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval continues to weigh offers, according to his agent. (Getty Images)

UPDATE (1:20 p.m.): Though Pablo Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, continues to suggest that his client has not made a final decision about the team with whom he will sign as a free agent, multiple major league sources say that the Red Sox believe that they do indeed have an agreement, pending a physical, on a five-year deal with Sandoval.

While one major league source confirmed a report by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Red Sox have reached an agreement with Pablo Sandoval on the heels of Sunday night’s agreement with Hanley Ramirez, Gustavo Vasquez, the agent for Sandoval, said that there is “no truth” to the report, and that Sandoval is continuing to decide between opportunities.

“We have offers,” Vasquez said in a text, “[but] no deal.”

UPDATE: While ESPN reported that Sandoval indeed has agreed to a deal with the Sox, at 10:18 a.m., Vasquez clarified in a text that Sandoval “will make his final decision today.” Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans told KNBR radio that Vasquez was “vehemently denying” reports that Sandoval had already made a decision to join the Sox. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sources: Red Sox agree to 4-year deal with Hanley Ramirez

11.24.14 at 12:17 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz at the 2010 All-Star Home Run Derby, in which Ortiz beat his former -- and now future -- teammate in the finals. (Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz at the 2010 All-Star Home Run Derby, in which Ortiz beat his former — and now future — teammate in the finals. (Getty Images)

An industry source has confirmed that free agent Hanley Ramirez is on his way to Boston to finalize a five-year agreement with the Red Sox. News of the five-year deal was first reported (via twitter) by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, who reported that the agreement was “in the range of five years, $90M.”

UPDATE (Nov. 24, 1:20 p.m.): Another industry source has confirmed an update from Rosenthal that the deal is a four-year guarantee with a vesting option for a fifth rather than a straight five-year deal. Multiple reports have the deal as being worth $88 million over four years with a $22 million vesting option.

Ramirez, who signed with the Red Sox as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican in 2000 but was traded by the organization (with Anibal Sanchez and others) to the Marlins as part of the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston, is arguably the best pure hitter available this year in free agency. One evaluator recently called him the ‘€œclosest right-handed hitter to Manny [Ramirez] I have seen,’€ someone who is an impact bat regardless of who’€™s on the mound. In 2014, Ramirez nearly matched free agent Pablo Sandoval’€™s numbers against righties (he had a .283/.362/.439 line, compared to Sandoval’€™s .317/.363/.461) while proving even more impactful against lefties (.282/.393/.476). For his career, Ramirez has a higher OBP and roughly the same slugging percentage against righties as Sandoval and a massive advantage against lefties.

Still, a number of concerns appeared to dampen a potential free agent bonanza for Ramirez. Among them: He’ll be 31 in December, meaning that most of his next contract will fall outside of his career prime; he has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons; his defense at shortstop is poor, and while there is some belief in industry circles that he could represent a quality option at a corner position, his ability to adapt to a new spot represents something of an uncertainty; and concerns about his makeup with both the Marlins and Dodgers have been significant.

That said, those concerns were largely against the backdrop of expectations that a deal could reach more than five years and upwards of $20 million a year. The concerns still exist, but the risk undertaken by the Sox would appear to be at least somewhat diminished by the terms as reported by Rosenthal. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: hanley ramirez, Pablo Sandoval,
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