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Wade Boggs on getting his number retired by Red Sox: ‘This is the best Christmas present’

12.21.15 at 8:18 pm ET
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Wade Boggs

Wade Boggs was as shocked and surprised as anyone to hear that the Red Sox would retire his No. 26 this May.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Boggs described the call from chairman Tom Werner informing him of the honor.

“Tom told me, ‘Better late than never,'” Boggs told the Globe’s Nick Cafardo by phone. “I’m so grateful. I thought it may never happen and over the years I’ve wondered if it ever would. But I’m very appreciative of this honor. It was an honor and privilege to wear the uniform for the Red Sox and to have played as long as I did.

“I wish I could have spent my entire career there and I know that was Mrs. [Jean] Yawkey’s wish. But she passed away before my free agency and things changed.”

The story adds that Boggs could join the team in a spring training advisory role. All the 57-year-old Hall of Famer knows is that getting his number retired is a dream come true.

“This is the icing on the cake for me,” Boggs told the paper. “This was the last piece of my career that I looked forward to. The Hall of Fame was incredible, but I always wanted to be recognized by the team I loved being a part of. The Red Sox are the team that gave me my first chance and I’ll always be grateful. I can’t wait for the ceremony. It’s a nice touch they will have it on the 26th.

“This is the best Christmas present I could ever have.”

Red Sox will be retiring Wade Boggs’ No. 26

12.21.15 at 2:32 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced Monday that they will be retiring Wade Boggs’ No. 26, honoring the Hall of Fame third baseman before the team’s May 26 game against the Rockies at Fenway Park.

The third baseman’s .338 batting average with the Red Sox is second only to Ted Williams, with Boggs having played more games at third base than any player in team history.

Red Sox principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner, president Sam Kennedy and Boggs were all quoted in a team-issued release:

“Wade Boggs was the best third baseman in Red Sox history and one of the best hitters of his generation,” Henry said. “Whether it was his legendary hand-eye coordination or the discipline of his highly superstitious routine, his ability to hit line drive after line drive was remarkable. We congratulate our first ballot Hall of Famer on this recognition.”

“Wade Boggs took the art of hitting to an extraordinary level,” Werner said. “From 1982 to 1992, the five-time batting champion was invincible. Boggs worked at his craft relentlessly and for nearly a decade New England fans worshiped him, pitchers feared him, and young children emulated him. It is fitting that his batting average with the Red Sox is second only to the greatest hitter who ever lived. We eagerly await the spring when we can honor the extraordinary legacy of this 12-time All Star.”

“I am part of a generation that grew up watching Wade Boggs play at Fenway Park,” Kennedy said. “For those of us who came early for BP, we could count on Wade religiously signing autographs every single day, as well as launching baseballs off the Monster day in and day out. This is a long overdue acknowledgement of a player who is arguably the best pure hitter in Red Sox history. We look forward to affixing his No. 26 in its rightful place alongside the great legends on Fenway Park’€™s right field facade.”

“I am so humbled and honored to be among the greatest legends to ever put on a uniform for the amazing city of Boston,” Boggs said. “To say that your number will never be worn again is the highest honor an athlete can receive. Thank you.”

Boggs joins Bobby Doerr (No. 1), Joe Cronin (No. 4), Johnny Pesky (No. 6), Carl Yastrzemski (No. 8), Ted Williams (No. 9), Jim Rice (No. 14), Carlton Fisk (No. 27), Pedro Martinez (No. 45) and Jackie Robinson (No. 42) as other numbers retired by the organization.

Brock Holt had been wearing No. 26, but has told the Red Sox he will now don No. 12.

Since Boggs left the Red Sox organization following the 1992 season, there have been 13 players to wear No. 26, including WEEI’s Lou Merloni. (To see the complete list, click here.)

Why does everybody, including Commissioner Manfred, think opt-outs are bad thing?

12.18.15 at 12:24 pm ET
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Commissioner Rob Manfred  (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Commissioner Rob Manfred (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

It’s all the rage: opt-outs.

David Price got one after three years of his seven-year deal. Zack Greinke just took advantage of his to get a handsome raise. Jason Heyward now has one, as does Johnny Cueto.

It’s a trend Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred evidently isn’t a fan of.

“The logic of opt-out clauses for the club escapes me,: Manfred told FOX Sports. (To read the entire article, click here.) “You make an eight-year agreement with a player. He plays well, and he opts out after three. You either pay the player again or you lose him.

“Conversely, if the player performs poorly, he doesn’t opt out and gets the benefit of the eight-year agreement. That doesn’t strike me as a very good deal. Personally, I don’t see the logic of it. But clubs do what they do.”

It is a dynamic that could be surfaced when negotiating the new collective bargaining agreement, which expires on Dec. 1, 2016.

But, while opt-outs undeniably are a good thing for the players, I don’t think it’s all that bad for the team.

Tell me if Johnny Cueto opts out after two years, and he’s pretty good but not great (which, is a very real possibility) the Giants wouldn’t be doing jumping jacks that they got two pretty good Cueto years at $48 million.

In that time you can develop pitchers to take his place, potentially targeting players who you are more comfortable riding into their 30’s then the guy who is going to cost you more than $80 million over the next four years.

Even for a guy like Price it might not be a terrible thing. He could be awesome the first two years, and then have some hiccups in the third season that makes the idea of a mid-30’s pitcher stick around at $30-million-a-year-plus for four more seasons a bit uncomfortable.

And, you know what? Even if there is that sense of doubt from the team, it probably won’t reach the level where the player doesn’t take the opportunity to make more money.

Of course, the argument you’re always going to get is that the team is going to have to replace that talent. Look at what the Dodgers are going through now with trying to solve the Greinke departure.

But in some case the three or so years allows a franchise to get their stuff together, develop top talent players they might not have had at the time of the initial signings and start turning the page.

There is obvious risk for these teams, but let’s not pretend there isn’t potential reward.

So, with all due respect to the Commissioner, I do embrace the logic of these opt-outs.

Read More: David Price, johnny cueto, Rob Manfred,

Mike Napoli agrees to 1-year deal with Indians

12.16.15 at 2:02 pm ET
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Former Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli has agreed to a one-year deal with the Indians, WEEI.com confirmed Wednesday afternoon. The 34-year-old’s deal is worth $7 million, with $3 million in incentives, according to Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports.

Napoli hit .224/.324/.410 with 18 home runs in 133 games last season. He began the year in Boston and hit .207/.307/.386 with 13 home runs in 98 games. After being traded to the Rangers on Aug. 7 he had a bit of a resurgence, hitting .295/.396/.513 with five home runs in 35 games with Texas.

In 10 major league seasons with the Angels, Rangers and Red Sox, Napoli is hitting .253/.355/.482 with 204 home runs. He was an All-Star in 2012 with the Rangers, then signed as a free agent with the Red Sox and hit .259/.360/.482 with 23 home runs in 2013 and helped the Sox win the World Series.

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Baseball America offers latest list of best Red Sox prospects

12.16.15 at 12:49 pm ET
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Yoan Moncada

Yoan Moncada

For a third straight year, former WEEI.com colleague, and current Boston Globe writer, Alex Speier, has expertlyranked the top 10 prospects in the Red Sox farm system for Baseball America.

Here is Speier’s list:

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B
2. Rafael Devers, 3B
3. Andrew Benintendi, CF
4. Anderson Espinoza, RHP
5. Michael Kopech, RHP
6. Brian Johnson, LHP
7. Sam Travis, 1B
8. Deven Marrero, SS
9. Luis Alexander Basabe, CF
10. Michael Chavis 3B

(To view the entire article, highlighting each prospect, click here.)

The top four members of Speier’s list of a year ago — Blake Swihart, Henry Owens, Rusney Castillo and Eduardo Rodriguez — all saw time with the big league club in 2015, with No. 5 (Johnson) getting a start for the Red Sox.

No. 6 from last year, Manuel Margot, was dealt in the Craig Kimbrel trade, with Devers, pitcher Matt Barnes, Marrero and third baseman Garin Cecchini (who was recently dealt to the Brewers) rounding out the list.

Read More: rafael devers, Red Sox, yoan moncada,

Cubs president Theo Epstein details pursuit of David Price, says Chicago fell $50 million shy of Red Sox

12.16.15 at 2:11 am ET
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Cubs GM Jed Hoyer (left) and president Theo Epstein (right) flank free agent acquisition Jason Heyward on Tuesday in Chicago. (David Banks/Getty Images)

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer (left) and president Theo Epstein (right) flank free agent acquisition Jason Heyward on Tuesday in Chicago. (David Banks/Getty Images)

When the offseason began, many pegged David Price to Chicago to join former Rays manager Joe Maddon in a Wrigley Field reunion.

It turns out the Cubs tried to make it happen, but fell well short of the $217 million offer that brought Price to Boston.

Appearing on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show on Tuesday night, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said the Cubs fell roughly $50 million short of Boston’s offer.

“We ended up a distant third,” Epstein said.

The Cardinals were the runners-up for Price’s services. And though Epstein generally recognizes the risk of big contracts for pitchers in their 30s, he also believes Price is a special talent.

“He’s a great pitcher and we were involved and very interested,” he said. “We thought, he’s an elite, elite pitcher, the kind that very rarely makes it to the free agent market, he’s got terrific makeup, where he influences a team not just through his performance on the field, but he’s a real culture-changer or a culture-enhancer, at the very least, in the clubhouse.

“We would’ve loved to have signed him. We went to our limits and, of course, every club recognizes there’s some inherent risk in long-term deals for pitchers, so every club draws its lines where they think the contract makes sense. We just came up a little bit short. It was a great coup, certainly, for the Red Sox. They were looking for someone at the top of their rotation to lead their rotation and they couldn’t have found a better fit than David Price.”

Price was intrigued by the Cubs, both because of Maddon, and because playing in the National League would give him a chance to hit. The Cubs wondered if Price’s years of battles against the Red Sox would preclude him from signing in Boston.

“I think we were like $50 million short or something along those lines,” Epstein said. “His desire to maybe be in the National League and his affinity for Chicago, I don’t think it would make up that kind of difference. But I do think there were multiple places that he would’ve been happy and identified those.

“There was maybe a natural instinct to think that because he had played so many tough games against the Red Sox and been across the field from them, that it wouldn’t be a place that he could see himself, but if you really look at the elements that are important to him, so many of them are important to the Red Sox — namely, a chance to win, a terrific fan base, a great ballpark, relative proximity to Nashville, so it’s a great fit. I think Red Sox fans will love David Price and he’ll really enjoy his experience there.”

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Report: Brewers sign former Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks to minor league deal

12.15.15 at 3:29 pm ET
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Former Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks, non-tendered by the Padres on Dec. 2, has signed a minor league deal with the Brewers, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune on Twitter.

Middlebrooks, 27, is coming off a disappointing season in San Diego. He hit just .212 with a .602 OPS in 83 games, losing his starting job in July and spending the final two months of the season at Triple-A. He made his last appearance in the big leagues on July 21.

The move signals a further fall from grace for the right-handed hitter, who looked like a potential middle-of-the-order regular as a Red Sox rookie in 2012, when he hit .288 with 15 homers and an .835 OPS in 75 games. His average plummeted to .227 a year later and though he hit a career-high 17 homers, his OPS dropped to .696 and he was supplanted by rookie Xander Bogaerts in the playoffs.

After hitting just .191 in 2014, Middlebrooks was traded to the Padres for backup catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Red Sox sign six to minor league deals, including reliever Anthony Varvaro

12.15.15 at 12:33 pm ET
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Anthony Varvaro

Anthony Varvaro

The Red Sox announced the signings of six players to minor league contracts: right-handed pitcher William Cuevas, third baseman Chris Dominguez, outfielder Ryan LaMarre, right-hander Sean O’€™Sullivan, catcher Ali Solis, and former Red Sox right-hander Anthony Varvaro.

A source had earlier disclosed the LaMarre signing to WEEI.com.

The most recognizable name on the list is Varvaro, who appeared in nine games with a 4.09 ERA last year with the Red Sox before undergoing season-ending surgery to remove elbow calcification on May 26. A former teammate of new Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel in Atlanta, Varvaro is 7-9 with a 3.23 ERA lifetime.

LaMarre, 27, played in 21 games with the Reds last season and was 2-for-25. He’s been in the Reds minor league system since being selected in the second round of the 2010 draft, and has played primarily center field, but has seen time at the other two outfield positions. In six minor league seasons, he’s a career .261 hitter with 36 home runs and 174 RBIs.

Cuevas, 25, has spent seven seasons in the Red Sox farm system and was an Eastern League All-Star in 2015. He went 11-7 with a 3.11 ERA between Double-A Portland Triple-A Pawtucket last year.

Dominguez, 29, has appeared in 22 games at the corner infield and outfield spots with the Giants and Reds.

O’Sullivan, 28, has made 52 starts over parts of six seasons with the Angels, Royals, Padres, and Phillies since 2009. He went 1-6 with a 6.08 ERA last year in Philadelphia.

Solis, 28, has appeared in 13 games between San Diego and Tampa. He’s a lifetime .221 hitter in 528 minor league games.

 

Read More: Ryan LaMarre,

Will David Price start new ‘Scooter Gang’ in Boston?

12.15.15 at 10:58 am ET
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David Price has a whole new team to hand out scooters to. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

David Price has a whole new team to hand out scooters to. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The declaration has come from all angles, with former Toronto GM Alex Anthopolous, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, and Tigers skipper Brad Ausmus all recently contributing to the narrative.

David Price is the best teammate I’ve ever been around.”

Perhaps. But, thanks to a bunch of scooters, Price has certainly defined himself as one of the most unique teammates in the big leagues.

Setting the scene …

It was Sept. 7, and the Blue Jays had just dropped an 11-4 decision to the Red Sox. Considering the pennant race Toronto was immersed it, one might expect Gibbons’ players to be trudging back toward their team bus with the expression befitting a beaten down club.

But about an hour or so after the final pitch, a wave of eight or so Blue Jays players — led by Price — could be found flying through the antiquated concourse of Fenway Park, all riding contraptions called EcoReco Scooters.

It turns out, not only was the group exiting Fenway on the electric scooters, but they formed a convoy on the streets of Boston, riding them to the park from the team hotel.

“We went from the hotel to the field. Nobody recognized us,” said Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson. “That was our posse. We were the ‘Scooter Gang.'”

This was Price’s gang.

Upon arriving in Toronto via a midseason trade, the pitcher took it upon himself to buy about eight of the environmentally-friendly scooters, handing them out to some of his new teammates. Among the group joining the club were Dioner Navarro, Chris Colabello, Kevin Pillar, Liam Hendricks, Ryan Goins, and Donaldson.

“He just got a bunch of them and we were like kids in a candy store,” Donaldson said. “They all showed up when we were playing the Yankees in New York. Then the Yankees security tried to tell us they were going to take us to jail if we rode them at the stadium. We were like, ‘€˜We don’€™t need to go jail so let’€™s put them away.’ I’€™m not going to jail.

“If the park was close enough we would ride together to the park with our own little posse.”

Price had evidently first been introduced to the scooters while in Detroit, with word spreading throughout the majors about the device. It was a following that may have started with former Red Sox reliever Mark Melancon, who helped his Pirates shorten their walk from the parking garage after doing a bit of research.

Then came the Tigers use of the product, with pitchers Anibal Sanchez and Justin Verlander publicizing their scooter-induced trips to the ballpark.

Hence, Price’s connection.

The scooter can go 500 miles on a $1 of electricity, while accelerating up to 20 mph. There is some talk of the new Red Sox ace spreading the word of his newfound transportation via national television at some point. But until such a plan is formally put in place, he will have to settle for his new teammates for the next marketing tool.

“We want to develop a culture that is very different than a big corporation,” said the co-founder of the San Franscico-based scooter company, Jay Sung. “So we try and make all of our companies happy and help the world, which is what David Price has been doing.”

Read More: Blue Jays, David Price, Red Sox,

Hot Stove live chat with Rob Bradford, noon

12.15.15 at 8:42 am ET
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There’s no better way to keep the baseball talk boiling, and get ready for Tuesday night’s Hot Stove Show (9 p.m. on WEEI), then a good old fashioned Hot Stove live chat with Rob Bradford. The fun begins at noon, so get you questions in now …

Live Blog Hot Stove live chat
 

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