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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 »

Read More: Pablo Sandoval,

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,

Source: Red Sox deal for Hanley Ramirez ‘could come together quickly’

11.23.14 at 5:57 pm ET
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According to an industry source, the Red Sox are in advanced conversations with free agent Hanley Ramirez, with the possibility that a deal “could come together quickly.” As of this afternoon, the source said, there was not an agreement between the sides, but the potential for a deal is real.

At this point, what is not clear is whether talks with Ramirez are as a third base fallback should free agent Pablo Sandoval sign with one of his other suitors (the Giants or Padres), or if the pursuit of Ramirez might be in conjunction with the pursuit of Sandoval, with Ramirez moving to left field and Sandoval at third base. If the Sox did pursue Ramirez, it could be part of yet another domino, with the possibility of trading Yoenis Cespedes increasing.

Ramirez is arguably the best pure hitter available this year in free agency. One evaluator recently called him the “closest right-handed hitter to Manny I have seen,” someone who is an impact bat regardless of who’s on the mound. In 2014, Ramirez nearly matched 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. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: hanley ramirez, Pablo Sandoval,

Source: Pablo Sandoval decision to come next week

11.22.14 at 6:00 pm ET
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According to a source, Pablo Sandoval’s decision on which team he will sign with will come next week and it looks like it will come down to the Red Sox, Giants or Padres. There is no mystery team. The source adds the teams involved are believed to have been asked already to submit final offers.

Sandoval was in Boston earlier this week with his representatives meeting with Red Sox officials and to see the city, as he had never been.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first reported Sandoval has offers from the Red Sox, Giants and Padres and his decision would likely come next week.

For more Red Sox news, check out weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Pablo Sandoval,

Curt Schilling’s son accidentally causes bomb squad to respond at Logan Airport

11.22.14 at 2:52 pm ET
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It was an unusual Saturday morning for the Schilling family.

While going through security at Logan Airport Saturday morning, Curt Schilling‘s son said he left a “fake grenade” in his bag. Moments later TSA agents called the bomb squad, but after they arrived and realized the situation, order was restored.

Read More: Curt Schilling,

Source: Jon Lester to meet with at least 2 more teams next week

11.21.14 at 5:11 pm ET
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After meeting with the Red Sox, Cubs and Braves this week, Jon Lester is scheduled to meet with at least two more teams next week, according to a source.

After Lester’s meeting with the Red Sox, a source said the Red Sox have made it clear that there will be a “willingness to negotiate.” Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson, said in an email to WEEI.com that the Red Sox “extended great respect” to Lester.

Read More: Jon Lester,
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