|11.09.16 at 11:00 am ET|
When it was all said and done, Ortiz signed seven different contracts with the Red Sox, with some coming close enough to the end that the potential of free agency was at least discussed. And when hitting the open market entered into the conversation, so did the idea of playing home games at Yankee Stadium.
Yet despite the sometimes logical fit, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says he never entertained the possibility of Ortiz switching sides.
“I never thought he would be a free agent,” Cashman said from the GM Meetings. “He would always successfully create turbulence to make it look like, ‘I’ll leave you guys!’ He would pop off to scare the beejeezies out of those guys, but he never got to our door. I know the Pedro [Martinez] stuff worked out when Pedro knocked on our door, but he never did.”
The “Pedro stuff” Cashman referenced was when Martinez became a free agent after the 2004 season, ultimately signing with the Mets.
“Pedro met with [former Yankees owner] George [Steinbrenner]. He tried to be a Yankee, but his medicals weren’t good enough, and that’s why Boston walked away from him,” Cashman recalled.
While Cashman was never sold Ortiz would leave the Red Sox, he does credit the now-retired designated hitter for how he maneuvered through a few years of uncertainty.
“He’s a smart man,” the GM said. “He was a successful, great player, and a smart player, too.”
|11.08.16 at 9:21 pm ET|
Meeting with the media at the GM meetings Tuesday, the Red Sox’ president of baseball operations reiterated that one of his team’s top priorities heading into the offseason was finding a pitcher who can pitch just before Kimbrel in the ninth.
“We’re looking for one person because we think that some of the other guys we have, ability wise, can probably do the role, but they don’t have the experience,” Dombrowski said. “When you have guys like [Joe] Kelly and [Matt] Barnes and [Heath] Hembree, I think we’re looking for one guy at this point.”
Two perceived candidates to rejoin the Red Sox’ bullpen in that eighth inning role were free agents Koji Uehara and Brad Ziegler. But listening to Dombrowski, it doesn’t appear either represent the kind of fit the club is currently looking for.
When asked about Uehara, the president certainly didn’t sound somebody intent on making the kind of commitment we’re talking about.
“I don’t know if it’s fair of me to speculate on publicly. He’s fine, but he’s 42 so there are some differences,” Dombrowski said when asked if the righty might fit the eighth-inning need. “I wouldn’t really want to get into that in that regard. That would have to be something everybody would have to determine themselves. It’s really a difficult subject for guys in free agency.”
Ziegler, it would appear, is still viewed by the Red Sox as more of a match-up reliever than a no-questions-asked set-up man.
“We liked him. He did a good job for us, a very good job,” Dombrowski said of the side-winder. “We had the ability to mix and match a lot when we had him. He’s extremely effective against right-handed hitters. He did alright vs. lefties, but better vs. righties. But again we don’t have the ability to add a lot of guys to our staff because you take on of the guys and you put them in your bullpen, so that’s one. You’ve got Kimbrel, you’ve got Kelly, you’ve got Barnes, you’ve got Hembree, you’ve got [Robbie] Ross, you’ve got [Fernando] Abad, so you have to make sure we have the right guy. One right guy is more important to us than a number of guys.”
(Dombrowski later clarified that the Red Sox are planning to tender Abad a contract, which there was some question about heading into this offseason.)
The wild card in the scenario is Carson Smith.
“In Carson Smith’s case it’s really a situation where some people think he’ll be ready for spring training, kind of ready to compete. I’m not ready to put that on him at this point,” Dombrowski said. “It think it’s more of a bonus if he’s ready there. I think he would be more ready in my own mind the whole year, you kind of look at that’s around the first of June. But that’s still to be determined. He’s making good progress. He’s felt good. But until you really get into that rehab process … Of course if he was healthy and ready to go at the very beginning I don’t think we would be looking for an eighth inning guy because we feel he could fill that role.”
With Dombrowski clarifying the need for early-season certainty in that eighth inning, it complicates a potential run at former Royals closer Greg Holland, who is coming back from Tommy John surgery. Holland received positive reviews for his Monday showcase, but the reliever’s velocity still isn’t near where he had been when dominating late-inning situations over the past few years.
So how will the Red Sox find this reliever, free agency or via a trade? Dombrowski doesn’t have the answers quite yet.
“Guys just got together last night. Agents are really just reaching out today,” he said. “I really don’t have a great pulse at this point. We’re open to either, but I don’t think that has been formulated yet.”
|11.08.16 at 8:47 pm ET|
The Red Sox right fielder claimed the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, beating all other American League right fielders. Here is more on Betts’ honor courtesy a team-released statement:
The Gold Glove honors the best defenders at each position in each league. Major League managers and coaches, voting only within their league and unable to vote for players on their own teams, account for 75 percent of the selection process; the sabermetrics community accounts for the other 25 percent.
This marks the first career Gold Glove Award for Betts, who led American League outfielders with a .997 fielding percentage, committing only one error in 361 total chances. At only 24 years old, he is the youngest Red Sox player to win a Gold Glove Award at any position since Fred Lynn earned the honor in 1975 as a 23-year-old outfielder.
According to FanGraphs, Betts’ 32 defensive runs saved in 2016 were 10 more than any other player at any position. He was a part of four double plays—tied for most among major league outfielders—and recorded 14 assists, second-most among right fielders behind only Adam Eaton (15). The only other Red Sox player since 1960 to record as many as 14 assists as a right fielder is Dwight Evans, who reached that total four times.
Voted the starting right fielder in the 2016 MLB All-Star Game, Betts made each of his 157 regular-season starts at the position, more than any other major leaguer this season. He also led all right fielders in innings (1,381.2) and putouts (346) in 2016.
This is the 44th Gold Glove Award in Red Sox history—earned by 21 different players—since the award’s inception in 1957. Betts is the 10th Red Sox player to win a Gold Glove Award as an outfielder, joining Shane Victorino, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ellis Burks, Dwight Evans, Fred Lynn, Carl Yastrzemski, Reggie Smith, Jackie Jensen, and Jimmy Piersall.
The Red Sox have earned at least one Gold Glove Award in seven of the last 12 seasons (since 2005), totaling 10 awards in that time. Prior to Betts, the club’s last honoree was Dustin Pedroia in 2014.
Fan voting for the Rawlings Platinum Glove Award presented by SABR begins tonight at 9:00 p.m. ET at www.rawlings.com and continues through tomorrow, November 9, at 9:00 p.m. ET. Fans can select only one 2016 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner from each league to take home this “best of the best” honor.
|11.08.16 at 1:25 am ET|
And now we’re learning how much those statements might have impacted Encarnacion.
“It definitely intrigued him,” Encarnacion’s agent, Paul Kinzer, told WEEI.com at the general managers’ meeting Monday afternoon. “He and David are close, and that meant a lot to him when David did that.”
So, what does it all mean?
Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski tempered the idea of making a hard push toward signing Encarnacion just before Kinzer talked, suggesting the Sox might not want to commit more than one or two years for Ortiz’s replacement.
It’s the kind of strategy that wouldn’t to be leading the 33-year-old to Boston, particularly considering the kind of five-year contract Kinzer first told TSN his client was worth.
“I do. I think he is,” said the agent regarding the notion Encarnacion would be worth a five-year commitment. “He’s going to be 34 (in January) and he’s in great shape, and he’s a first baseman and DH.
“He works hard. He can play until he’s 40 if he wanted to. He can play like David. He doesn’t have any serious health issues. He hasn’t had a knee, ankle or any problems that would keep him from playing until he’s 40 if he wants to.”
And, according to Kinzer, it’s not just Ortiz’s recruitment that has Encarnacion intrigued when it comes to the Red Sox. The idea of calling Fenway Park home evidently is also factor.
The righty hitter managed four home runs in his 10 games at Fenway in 2016, totaling a career .892 OPS at the home of the Red Sox.
“He loves Boston,” the agent said. “You look at his highlights from last year, I think five of his home runs were hit there. He loves to hit there. The atmosphere … That’s always one of his favorite road games.”
Kinzer explained that he and Encarnacion are “sorting through the serious players” when it comes to interested teams.
“You get the people who are kicking tires, and you get the people who want to make a statement early,” he said. So, has teams made such a serious statement? “I believe so,” Kinzer responded.
“Last year moved pretty quick on a lot of higher guys, so we’ll see,” the agent added. “The only thing this time is the collective bargaining agreement (defining the luxury tax threshold), how that works out. The thing is the intangibles with Edwin. He’s not going to be David. He doesn’t have that big, outgoing personality. He’s just that steady leader in the clubhouse. And if you speak to anybody who has been there in Toronto, he’s one of the guys that keeps things together. He’s never too up or too down. He’s the same all the time.
“If he feels comfortable and he feels like he’s treated fairly, he can pull the trigger fairly rapidly.”
Encarnacion finished 2016 with 42 home runs and an American-League best 127 RBI. He also played 75 of his 160 regular season games at first base.
|11.07.16 at 8:58 pm ET|
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The offseason foundation has seemingly been set.
Speaking on the first day of the general managers’ meetings at the Omni Scottsdale, Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski presented the priorities when it comes to his team’s plan for the coming months. And this time the focus will be far different than a year ago, when securing an ace and closer were the be-all, end-all.
“I think all along we’ve talked about wanting someone to pitch in the eighth inning for us,” Dombrowski said Monday. “We have some guys that we really like in our pen, none of them have really pitched the eighth inning, they probably have the skills and abilities to do it but that would probably be first and foremost a thing of focus for us. Picking up Clay [Buchholz’s] option has solidified our starting pitching pretty much so we feel good about that.
“The other thing that I’m not sure in what direction we’re going to go is how do we replace David [Ortiz] in the lineup. I’m not sure if we’re going to do that internally with a lot of the people that we have or go outside the organization. I think that’s a decision that we’re just going to wait and see and see what takes place. You know you’ll never replace his presence, that part of it but our run production as much as we can, we have a lot of positional players right now, a lot of guys that can play different positions, we have some young guys coming that we like a great deal, so we’ll just kind of wait and see what happens there.”
The president noted that with the likes of Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes and Heath Hembree (who is out of options) already on the club, there would only seemingly be the need for one significant addition.
And when it comes to finding that eighth-inning reliever, Dombrowski suggested that going after the services of free agent closers Mark Melancon, Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman might be difficult with other teams in greater need of game-enders.
Free agent targets such as Brad Ziegler, Koji Uehara and Greg Holland might be considered more realistic, with trade obviously presenting another avenue.
“I guess right now, we’re just open to anything. I’m not saying we’re going to target those,” he said. “There’s a lot of clubs looking for closers so I assume a lot of those players would go to those clubs. At this time of year don’t know what’s going to happen. There are a lot of bullpen people out there right now. So, I think probably the two areas, a lot of players are bullpen people, and there are some guys at first base, DH, LF, that type of guy, either through trades or free agency, that are available out there. I think that’s where we just have to wait and see what happens.”
Waiting might be more of a priority this time around, for a variety of reasons.
|11.07.16 at 7:27 pm ET|
Mookie Betts could win his first MVP award in just his second full season. David Ortiz now knows he will never take home that hardware.
Major League Baseball announced its award finalists on Monday night, and a pair of Red Sox were represented.
Betts was named a finalist for MVP, while right-hander Rick Porcello is in the running for the Cy Young Award.
Betts, 24, will be joined by former winner Mike Trout, who has finished no worse than second in four previous seasons, as well as Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who won the batting title.
Those three squeezed out Ortiz, who finished his career with the greatest offensive walk-off season in history. Ortiz mashed 38 homers and drove in a league-leading 127 runs to claim the Hank Aaron Award, given to the best hitter in each league.
On the pitching side, Porcello is a finalist for the first time. He’ll be matched up with a pair of former winners — Cleveland’s Corey Kluber and Detroit’s Justin Verlander. Porcello led the league with 22 wins and a 5.91 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
On the manager side, Red Sox skipper John Farrell was not a finalist, beaten out by Cleveland’s Terry Francona, Baltimore’s Buck Showalter, and Texas’s Jeff Banister.
|11.07.16 at 1:31 pm ET|
The Arizona Diamondbacks introduced Torey Lovullo as their new manager on Monday, and Lovullo took the opportunity to thank the man who made much of it possible.
Red Sox manager John Farrell, whom Lovullo served under for the last three years (with a stint as interim skipper while Farrell underwent chemotherapy treatments in 2015), was singled out for his influence on his career.
“I also want to say a quick thank you to John Farrell, who’s a friend and mentor to me,” Lovullo told reporters, including Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “Along the way, we walked through some very difficult times. He was the guy who took a chance on me and gave me my very first opportunity and helped me sit in this seat today.”
Lovullo, 51, won a World Series with the Red Sox in 2013. He has extensive experience as a minor-league manager and big-league bench coach, and was brought to Arizona by former Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen.
“I want to aim as high as possible,” Lovullo told reporters. “I am very optimistic that we have the capabilities of doing something special . . . We want to bring a system of communication. We want to take what we learned [in Boston] and perfect it here.”
|11.06.16 at 11:41 am ET|
It’s a stretch to suggest any Red Sox minor-leaguer is untouchable heading into the offseason. But Michael Kopech might be as close as it comes.
The 20-year-old starred at the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game Saturday, cruising through two innings while retiring three of his six batters on strikeouts. According to MLB.com, Kopech touched 100 mph five times.
“Pitching against the best guys in Minor League Baseball, it’s fun to compete with them and see how your stuff matches up,” Kopech told MLB.com. “I tried to mix in some changeups, mix in some sliders, change eye levels. Most guys try to sit on my fastball, so I tried my other pithes in early to throw them off and keep them off my fastball.”
Kopech leads the AFL with a strikeout rate of 11.6 K’s per nine innings. In four outings for the Suprise Saguaros, the righty has allowed three runs in 14 innings, striking out 18 while walking just one.
|11.06.16 at 8:22 am ET|
You probably had an idea it was coming.
What’s the logical progression after winning your first world championship in 108 years? Go on Saturday Night Live.
That’s exactly what at least three of the Cubs — Anthony Rizzo, David Ross and Dexter Fowler — did Saturday night, appearing in two skits. One of the appearances featured the trio with former SNL cast member Bill Murray for a rendition of “Go Cubs Go,” complete with back-up singers.
The other instance the three Cubs appeared was in a sketch portraying them as strippers.
— Funhouse (@RNs_Funhouse) November 6, 2016
|11.05.16 at 3:28 pm ET|
At this rate, everything in Boston is eventually going to be named for David Ortiz.
According to the Associated Press, Gate No. 34 at Logan Airport will be renamed in Ortiz’s honor by JetBlue. The announcement was made by a JetBlue employee during a party honoring the retired star in the Seaport District on Friday.
‘”You mean I’m going to have my own gate at the airport?” Ortiz said at the party. “You’re [messing] with me, aren’t you?”
Ortiz was named the best hitter in the American League after an historic walk-off season that saw him hit .315 with 38 homers and 127 RBIs.
Ortiz retires after 14 seasons with the Red Sox, who picked up his 2017 option, even though he has made it clear he’s not coming back.
Latest from Bleacher Report
- Trade Analysis: Scouting the prospects dealt for Tyler Thornburg
- Trade Analysis: Scouting the pitching prospects dealt for Chris Sale
- Trade Analysis: Scouting the hitting prospects dealt for Chris Sale
- Podcast Ep. #110: Dealin' Dave's Winter Sale
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Castillo to play in Puerto Rican League
- November Notes: Prospect rankings and new CBA
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Vazquez belts walk-off home run
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Devers, Hernandez stand out in Dominican winter league
- Podcast Ep. #109: Alex Speier on Ranking the System
- Fall/Winter League Roundup: Vazquez debuts, Tavarez, Mars stay hot