|Red Sox Contact DeRosa, Kennedy||12.02.09 at 12:23 pm ET|
According to baseball sources, the Red Sox continue their aggressive explorations of the infield market.
The Sox are one of five or six teams that has expressed interest in the versatile Adam Kennedy, who spent last year with the Oakland Athletics, hitting .289 with a .348 OBP, .758 OPS and 11 homers and 20 steals in the 33-year-old’s best season since 2005. (News of the contact with Kennedy was first reported by the Boston Herald.) Interest in Kennedy has been either as a second baseman or as a utility player who can play around the infield and in corner outfield spots. As a left-handed hitter with an opposite field stroke, Kennedy would seem to have a swing with a Fenway affinity, a notion backed by his career .395 average, .438 OBP and 1.061 OPS in 161 career plate appearances in Boston.
In 2009, Kennedy spent 82 games at third base and 50 at second. According to UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating over 150 games, a statistic on Fangraphs.com that measures how many runs a player saves with his defense compared to an average fielder at a position), though Kennedy rated as having been -14.8 runs per 150 games over a small sample at second last year, he has been a well above-average fielder at second base throughout his career. His third-base defense last year also graded poorly. The John Dewan Plus/Minus ratings told a similar story, suggesting that Kennedy made 10 fewer plays than the average second baseman and seven fewer plays than the average third baseman in 2009, but that in each of the previous five years, Kennedy had been average to well above average at second base.
Conversations between Kennedy and the Red Sox were characterized as preliminary, with no formal offer as part of the expression of interest. He concluded a three-year, $10 million deal this year. Kennedy would likely seem a better fit for the Sox if the team did have second baseman Dustin Pedroia move to shortstop. He is believed to be a less expensive alternative to the other top second basemen (Orlando Hudson, Placido Polanco, Felipe Lopez) on the market.
The Sox also expressed preliminary interest in similarly versatile infielder Mark DeRosa, who spent 2009 with the Indians and Cardinals. DeRosa, who received an arbitration offer from St. Louis as a Type B free agent (meaning that if another team signs him, there would be no draft-pick compensation involved), saw his average (.250) and OBP (.319) fall to four-year lows, though he hit a career high 23 homers. The average and OBP declines can be explained partially by bad luck on batting average on balls in play (his .282 BABIP was well below his career norm of .311), though his strikeout rate went up and his walk rate declined by notable amounts.
The 34-year-old was primarily a third baseman for the Cards and Indians in 2009, grading as below average in both Plus/Minus (-12 plays) and UZR/150 (-8.7 runs/150 games) at the position. He also spent time at first and second bases and in left and right fields. He was primarily a second baseman in 2008, however, when he graded as below average (-15.9 UZR/150, -8 Plus/Minus).
At this point, one talent evaluator described him as better suited for the corners; if the Sox agree, then DeRosa would more likely be considered an alternative to Mike Lowell or Casey Kotchman should the Sox elect to part with either, rather than as an everyday second baseman who would allow Pedroia to move to short.
|Report: Billy Wagner Signs With Braves||12.02.09 at 2:38 am ET|
That didn’t take long.
Just hours after the Red Sox made official their offer of salary arbitration to reliever Billy Wagner, FoxSports.com reported that the left-hander, whom the Red Sox acquired in August, agreed to terms on a one-year, $7 million deal to close for the Atlanta Braves. The preliminary agreement would require Wagner to undergo a physical on Wednesday.
The development is a significant one for the Red Sox. Because Wagner is a Type A free agent who declined arbitration to sign with another club, the Sox will get additional compensation draft picks next year, one that could be as high as the No. 20 overall pick (depending on whether Atlanta signs another Type A free agent), as well as a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds of the draft. That, in turn, could represent the highest Red Sox draft pick since 2003, when the team took outfielder David Murphy with the No. 17 overall pick. The sandwich pick, meanwhile, will be no worse than the No. 43 overall selection in next year’s draft.
Wagner had a 1.98 ERA in 15 games for the Red Sox. He struck out 22 batters in 13.2 regular-season innings, adding a dominant left-handed arm to the Boston bullpen. That said, part of the reason why he was acquired from the Mets in exchange for first baseman/outfielder Chris Carter and catcher Eddie Lora was because of the prospect of receiving the draft picks. To the Sox, the possibility of acquiring two high picks — accompanied by the promise of getting the services of one of the best closers in major-league history — made it more than palatable to pick up the last $3.5 million of Wagner’s 2009 salary (a number that included the $1 million buy-out of his 2010 option).
|Red Sox Offer Arbitration to Bay, Wagner||12.01.09 at 10:06 pm ET|
As expected, the Red Sox made official their offer of salary arbitration to free agents Jason Bay and Billy Wagner. Both are Type A free agents, meaning that if either signed with another club after declining the offer of arbitration, the Red Sox would receive two compensatory draft picks (one in the sandwich round between the first and second rounds, the other as high as a first rounder from the team that signs the player).
Bay is certain to receive a multi-year contract this offseason, and so there is no chance that he would accept arbitration. Wagner told WEEI.com during the season that he would decline arbitration (even though he likely could make more money through arbitration than as a free agent) because he prefers to sign with a team for whom he might close.
Even so, there is a chance that the market for Wagner’s services could be chilled by the Sox’ offer of arbitration to the left-handed reliever. With other potential closers on the market who will not require a signing team to part with a draft pick (Fernando Rodney, Octavio Dotel, Brandon Lyon), potential suitors might turn to those pitchers rather than Wagner, particularly given the left-hander’s age (38) and health concerns (he is the oldest known pitcher to return from Tommy John surgery).
That said, Wagner is also one of the best closers of all time, with 385 saves and a 2.39 lifetime ERA, and his numbers after returning to the mound in August 2009 (1.72 ERA, 14.9 strikeouts per nine innings) might convince a team to invest a draft pick in him. That could prove particularly true if Wagner is looking for fewer years than the other elite relievers who are on the market this offseason: Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano and Jose Valverde, all of whom, like Wagner, are Type A free agents who were offered arbitration.
The Sox declined to offer arbitration to outfielder Rocco Baldelli, right-handed pitcher Paul Byrd and infielder Chris Woodward. None of the three were Type A or Type B free agents who would yield a draft pick to the Sox if they were to sign with another club.
|Red Sox Have Contacted Adam Everett||12.01.09 at 12:35 pm ET|
While the free-agent market has moved, by and large, at a deliberate pace this offseason, that has not been the case at one position in recent days. The Marco Scutaro is the consensus best shortstop available in free agency. In 2009, his package of offense and defense ranked him as one of the better shortstops in the game.
Beyond Scutaro, however, it is fair to wonder whether there are any viable free-agent options at the shortstop position, particularly given that Alex Gonzalez has signed with Toronto and several other players (Alex Cora, Juan Castro, Omar Vizquel, John McDonald) have already signed deals. If the Sox were willing to sacrifice offense at the position (something they would have done had they re-signed Gonzalez), then one possibility would be to pursue Adam Everett, who is the best defensive shortstop remaining on the market.
According to a baseball source, the Red Sox have contacted Everett to express some preliminary interest in the shortstop. The Sox have not made an offer to Everett, nor have they made a conditional offer along the lines of the one they made to Alex Gonzalez (who was told the Sox would offer him a $3 million deal for 2010 at the Winter Meetings if they hadn’t signed anyone else by then) before he signed with the Blue Jays last week.
Everett, who was a first-round draft pick of the Red Sox in 1998, played 118 games for the Tigers in 2009, hitting .238 with a .288 OBP, .325 slugging mark and .613 OPS. Though his offense is limited, he is considered one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. He has been contacted by a handful of teams that have discussed, in general terms, the possibility of signing him as a starter.
Everett, according to UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games, which measures plays made by a position player compared to the average defensive player at his position, and converts that into the number of runs saved or allowed as compared to an average player), ranked as the third best defensive shortstop in the game last year, behind only Wilson and Cesar Izturis of the Orioles. Projected over 150 games, Everett saved 13.6 runs over the average shortstop over 150 games. That number was slightly ahead of Alex Gonzalez, who finished fifth among big-league shortstops by having saved 10.5 runs per 150 games.
According to John Dewan’s Plus/Minus system (evaluating the number of plays converted into an out by a player as compared to an average defender at his position), Everett made nine more plays than would have an average shortstop, a mark that would still have him in the top half of defensive players in the majors.
Of course, it may well be that the contact with Everett is just part of the Sox’ efforts to explore every alternative this offseason, including, reportedly, the possibility of having Dustin Pedroia play at the position.
For more on the free-agent shortstop market, click here.
|Report: Pedroia open to shortstop||12.01.09 at 10:56 am ET|
Speaking in a report on ESPN.com, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia said the Red Sox have approached him about the possibility of playing shortstop and that he is open to the idea.
“They’ve put it out there and I’ve told them I’m all for it,” he said. “I’m all for it. I can do it. I can’t wait for Tito [Terry Francona] to call me and ask, ‘Can you do it?’ I can do it. I really want to do it.” Pedroia played regularly at shortstop both in college and the minor leagues before being moved to second base upon reaching the major leagues. He won a Gold Glove at second in 2008.
“When the idea of moving back to shortstop was floated to me, I welcomed it,” Pedroia said. “I’m excited. Tell Derek (Jeter) to enjoy the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards while he can. Obviously, I’m not serious about the fun I have with Derek, but I’m never stopping believing in the goal. I believe I can play shortstop and help get the Red Sox back where they belong.”
To hear Pedroia talk about the differences between playing second base and shortstop and his initial thoughts on switching positions, click here to hear his weekly segment, last Saturday, on the Mut and Bradford Show.
|Sox Hire Lovullo as New PawSox Manager||11.30.09 at 2:57 pm ET|
The Red Sox have hired Torey Lovullo as their new manager of Triple A Pawtucket, replacing Ron Johnson, who was promoted last week from PawSox manager to the first-base coach on the Red Sox’ big-league coaching staff.
Lovullo has spent the last four years managing the Triple A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, and spent the last eight seasons as a manager in the Indians system, working with current Sox pitching coach (and former Indians farm director) John Farrell, as well as current Sox farm director (and former Indians assistant farm director) Mike Hazen. The 44-year-old was a finalist to replace Indians manager Eric Wedge this offseason, but was bypassed in favor of Manny Acta.
Lovullo has cited Terry Francona as his biggest influence as a manager. He played his final major-league season, in 1999, under Francona in Philadelphia.
Here is the official press release announcing Lovullo as manager and Gerald Perry as hitting coach for Pawtucket:
The Boston Red Sox today announced that Torey Lovullo has been named manager of the club’s Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate. Additionally, the club announced Gerald Perry will serve as the PawSox hitting coach.
The announcements were made by Director of Player Development Mike Hazen.
Lovullo, 44, was at the helm of the Cleveland Indians Triple-A club for the last four seasons and has managed in the Indians system for eight seasons overall since 2002. He has compiled a 595-531 (.528) record while leading Single-A Columbus (2002), Single-A Kinston (2003-04), Double-A Akron (2005) and Triple-A Buffalo (2006-08) and Columbus (2009). Lovullo was named Baseball America Double-A Manager of the Year and Eastern League Manager of the Year in 2005 and also earned Carolina League Manager of the Year honors in 2004. He joined the Cleveland organization in 2001 as a roving coordinator.
A fifth-round pick by the Detroit Tigers in the 1987 draft, Lovullo played parts of eight Major League seasons with the Tigers (1988-89), New York Yankees (1991), California Angels (1993), Seattle Mariners (1994), Oakland Athletics (1996), Indians (1998) and Philadelphia Phillies (1999). Primarily a second baseman, he hit .224 (165-for-737) with 15 home runs and 60 RBI in 303 career Major League games.
Perry, 49, was the Chicago Cubs hitting coach for parts of the last three seasons from 2007-June 2009. He has also served as the Major League hitting coach for the Mariners (2000-02), Pittsburgh Pirates (2003-05) and Athletics (2006). Perry previously spent three seasons in the Boston organization as a minor league hitting coach with Single-A Michigan (1997) and Triple-A Pawtucket (1998) and was the club’s minor league hitting coordinator in 1999.
Selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 11th round of the 1978 June Draft, Perry played parts of 13 Major League seasons with the Braves (1983-89), Kansas City Royals (1990) and St. Louis Cardinals (1991-95). He hit .265 (832-for-3,144) with 59 home runs and 396 RBI in 1,193 career Major League games. Predominantly a first baseman, Perry was selected to the National League All-Star Team in 1988.
|Cora close to deal with Mets||11.30.09 at 1:11 pm ET|
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora is close to a one-year deal with a vesting option for second with the New York Mets. The deal, which would guarantee the 34-year-old the same $2 million he made in ’09 during at least the initial year of the contract, is expected to be finalized upon Cora passing a physical.
Cora played in 82 games with the Mets in ’09 before injuries cut short his season. He hit .251 for the season, playing 56 games at shortstop, 19 at second base and one at first base.
Cora spent most of the year trying to play with torn ligaments in both thumbs. His right thumb was the first to endure injury in mid-May, and his production steadily declined over the year. With Jose Reyes out, Cora became the Mets’ primary shortstop early in the year, hitting .333 with a .435 OBP and .886 OPS in 66 plate appearances prior to his right thumb injury. After returning from the D.L., he hit .232/.290/.277/.567 before undergoing season-ending surgery in mid-August. He ended 2009 with a .251/.320/.310/.630 line.
Cora played in parts of four seasons with the Red Sox before becoming a free agent following the 2008 season. Though the Red Sox are still in the market for a shortstop, they did not express interest in bringing Cora back to Boston.
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