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Reports: Adrian Beltre close to deal with Rangers

01.04.11 at 12:13 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the Rangers are closing in on a long-term deal with free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre. Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports (via twitter) said that a six-year deal could be completed as soon as today, while Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com (via twitter) said that the deal “will effectively be for five years with a vesting option for a sixth.” Meanwhile, Jon Heyman of SI.com reported (via twitter) that a deal would be in the $90-100 million range.

UPDATE: MLB.com reports that the deal would be a six-year, $96 million agreement, with the Rangers having the ability to opt out of the sixth year if certain playing time thresholds are not reached.

Beltre spent 2010 with the Red Sox on a one-year contract, a partnership that worked out brilliantly for both sides when Beltre hit .321 with a .919 OPS, 28 homers and 102 RBI while playing excellent defense at third base. While the Sox explored the possibility of having him return to Boston, they instead elected to acquire Adrian Gonzalez via trade this offseason and to move Kevin Youkilis to third base, effectively ruling out a return by Beltre.

If Beltre signs with the Rangers, the Sox would receive a pair of draft picks (most likely Texas’ first-round pick, the No. 26 overall selection in the draft, along with a sandwich pick) as compensation for his departure.

That Beltre will yield two draft picks rather than one represents a sort of found-money for the Sox, as team officials thought there was little likelihood that he could become a Type A free agent when he signed as a free agent. One team official surmised that it would be “virtually impossible” for Beltre to achieve status as one of the top 20 percent of performers at his position over the 2009-10 seasons (based on an injury-marred 2009 campaign in which he hit .265/.304/.379/.683 with eight homers for the Mariners). But Beltre’s huge 2010 campaign vaulted him to Type A status, thus meaning that his departure as a free agent (after rejecting the team’s offer of salary arbitration) would net two picks rather than the one draft pick that a team receives in the sandwich round for a Type B free agent’s departure.

While the Sox gave up their own first round selection in the 2011 draft (No. 24 overall) in order to sign Carl Crawford, they have gained the Tigers’ first-round pick (No. 19 overall) for the signing of Victor Martinez, and now appear poised to claim a second first-rounder if Beltre signs with the Rangers. It would be the first time that the Sox have had two first-round picks since selecting Jason Place and Daniel Bard in the 2006 draft.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, draft pick compensation, Hot Stove, texas rangers

Source: Rays among several teams interested in Manny Delcarmen

01.03.11 at 8:52 pm ET
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According to a baseball source, the Tampa Bay Rays are one of “several teams” to express interest in former Red Sox reliever Manny Delcarmen, who became a free agent in December when the Colorado Rockies elected not to tender the right-hander a contract.

Delcarmen, who had emerged as a key reliever for the Sox in 2007 and 2008, struggled with injuries in 2009 and 2010 while watching his numbers get worse across the board. He posted a 4.99 ERA in 2010 (4.70 with the Red Sox, 6.48 with Colorado after being traded to the Rockies on Aug. 31 for Single-A starter Chris Balcom-Miller), and both his strikeout rate (6.5 per nine innings) and walk rate (5.5 per nine) were the worst of his career.

That said, he is young (28), and not far removed from being one of the top relievers in the AL East. In 2007-08, he had a 2.81 ERA in 117 appearances. The Sox believed that Delcarmen’s arm strength remained fine, and that his struggles in 2010 — which began in spring training — were due to a known mechanical issue.

“When he was good, he had the ability to get left and right-handers out, which was huge. It gives you that guy, kind of like an Oki, when he’€™s going good, who really makes your bullpen a little deeper. … He’€™s a local kid, who, he had times when he had some runs when he was pretty good. And there were some times when it didn’€™t go as planned. It’€™s not always perfect,” Sox manager Terry Francona said when Delcarmen was dealt. “When he would leave the rubber too quick, there were stretches where he just couldn’€™t get his arm to catch up on time. And he knew itbut he couldn’€™t make the adjustment during his outing. John Farrell would go out to the mound, and he’€™d say, ‘€˜Yeah I know’€™. When everything was working on time, it worked good. But when it wasn’€™t, it took him a little while to make the adjustment.’€

Delcarmen, who would not be eligible for free agency until after the 2012 season by the team that signs him, is now looking for “the right fit,” according to the source.

News of Tampa Bay’s interest first surfaced in a report by the St. Petersburg Times.

Read More: Hot Stove, manny delcarmen, tampa bay rays,

Mets sign ‘ex-‘ Red Sox pitcher Taylor Buchholz

01.03.11 at 7:32 pm ET
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According to multiple reports, the Mets signed relievers Taylor Buchholz and Chris Capuano to one-year deals.

Buchholz was the property of the Red Sox for a few weeks this offseason after the team claimed him on waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays. The Sox were unable to work out a deal with the right-handed reliever, however, and declined to tender him a contract at the beginning of December, thus making him a free agent. Buchholz was one of the top setup men in the National League in 2008, forging a 2.17 ERA for the Rockies. But he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2009, and was unable to return until last summer, when he made seven appearances for Colorado, got waived, was claimed by the Blue Jays in September, made a pair of appearances for Toronto and then got placed on waivers in the offseason.

Capuano, a Springfield, Mass., native, returned to the majors after missing the 2008 and 2009 seasons while recovering from his own Tommy John surgery. The 32-year-old went 4-4 with a 3.95 ERA in 24 games (nine starts) for the Brewers.

Read More: chris capuano, Hot Stove, taylor buchholz,

Almost-Red Sox Max Ramirez designated for assignment by Rangers

01.03.11 at 3:33 pm ET
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The Rangers have designated Clay Rapada and Max Ramirez for assignment to make room for free-agent signees Brandon Webb and Arthur Rhodes. Does Ramirez’ name ring a bell? It should.

Ramirez was the player the Red Sox were all set to acquire in exchange for Mike Lowell last offseason. The deal ultimately blew up when the Rangers became wary of the third baseman’s surgically-repaired hip. (It was reported at the time that the sticking point was the determination that Lowell needed thumb surgery, but that wasn’t the case. It was the hip.)

In 56 games with Triple-A Oklahoma City last season, Ramirez, a right-handed-hitting catcher, hit three home runs to go with a .286 batting average. He appeared in 28 games with the Rangers in ’10, hitting .217 with two homers.

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Source: Red Sox sign jack-of-all-trades, Hector Luna

01.03.11 at 1:11 pm ET
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According to a major league source, the Red Sox have signed utilityman Hector Luna to a minor-league deal. The 30-year-old appeared in 27 games with the Marlins last season, hitting .138 with two home runs. The most time Luna has spent in the majors came in 2006, when he appeared in a total of 113 games with both St. Louis and Cleveland. He also had brief big-league stints with Toronto in 2007 and ’08.

In the majors, the right-handed-hitting Luna has played every position but pitcher and catcher, spending the most time at second base (103 games), followed by outfield (55), shortstop (54), and third base (46).

FoxSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi was first to report the signing, via Twitter. For more Red Sox news, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Hot Stove live chat with Lou Merloni, noon

01.03.11 at 11:04 am ET
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Join WEEI.com’s Lou Merloni in talking all things Red Sox and Hot Stove Monday at noon. To participate in the live chat, click below:

Merloni Hot Stove live chat

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Nothing ‘remotely imminent’ with Rangers, Adrian Beltre

01.03.11 at 7:50 am ET
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According to MLB.com, the report out of the Dominican Republic stating that Adrian Beltre had agreed to a six-year, $96 million deal with the Rangers is premature, and that while Texas does have interest in the former Red Sox, nothing is ‘remotely imminent.’

The Rangers have continued to express interest in Beltre since the winter meetings, but, unlike some of the other teams who have pursued the free agent, don’t have a natural fit in their lineup. Michael Young is currently slated to be Texas’ starting third baseman. Rangers’ officials told MLB.com that Young, who is signed for three more years at $16 million per season, has not been approached about switching positions.

“As of right now, Michael Young is our third baseman,” Rangers president Nolan Ryan told MLB.com Sunday night. “We haven’t done anything.”

Texas chief competition for Beltre’s services figure to be the Angels, with Oakland having reportedly recently pulled its offer for a second time.

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Report: No deal (yet) between Adrian Beltre, Rangers

01.02.11 at 3:02 pm ET
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A report from piodeportes.com in the Dominican Republic on Sunday morning suggested that Adrian Beltre had reached a six-year, $96 million agreement with the Rangers, pending a physical. However, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via twitter) cited a source who said that the report was inaccurate.

“Source: DR report is untrue. Rangers have no agreement with Beltre,” Grant tweeted.

Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com added (via twitter) that the “Rangers are still talking with Adrian Beltre, but there is no deal in place, source says.”

Coming off the second-best offensive season of his career, in which he hit .321 with a .919 OPS, 28 homers and 102 RBI for the Red Sox, Beltre was viewed as one of the top free agents on the market. Instead, reports suggest that teams that were interested — such as the Athletics and Angels — have pulled their offers (though the Angels reportedly remain willing to re-open talks with the 2010 All-Star), while the Red Sox’ interest in Beltre ended with their acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez.

From a Red Sox perspective, the Rangers represent something of a best-case scenario, since their pick in the first round (No. 26 overall) is unprotected, meaning that the Sox could get it if Beltre (a Type A free agent, whom a team must give up a first-round pick to sign) lands in Texas. Both the Angels (No. 17) and Athletics (No. 18) have protected first-round picks, meaning that the Sox would get no better than a second-round pick from those two clubs should they sign Beltre.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Hot Stove, Rumor Mill, texas rangers

Source: Red Sox close to bringing back Hideki Okajima

12.31.10 at 3:56 pm ET
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According to a baseball source, the Red Sox are close to bringing back Hideki Okajima on a one-year deal. The 35-year-old Okajima, who has been with the Red Sox since 2007, was non-tendered by the team in Nov. He went 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA in 56 games last season.

The agreement would be for a major-league deal, meaning the Sox would have to make a corresponding roster move to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for the lefty.

The Boston Globe was first to report the development. For more Red Sox coverage, see the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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A closer look at the Red Sox’ interest in Brian Fuentes

12.30.10 at 5:33 pm ET
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Of course Brian Fuentes would make a nice addition to the Red Sox bullpen. If the free agent were to sign with Boston, he would give the Sox something they do not currently have: An experienced left-handed reliever with a long history of dominating lefties (while also remaining reasonably effective against righties).

Both Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks were very good against left-handed hitters in 2010. But Fuentes was in another category from the two right-handers.

While pitching for the Angels and Twins in 2010, the 35-year-old held left-handed hitters to an anemic line of .128/.222/.149/.371 in 55 plate appearances (right-handed hitters had a .203/.293/.403/.696 line). He was so good against them that opposing managers would simply turn to their bench (sending up 21 pinch-hitters, 20 of them right-handed) rather than have a left-handed hitter step to the plate against Fuentes.

If the Sox were to have a perfect design for their 2011 team, it might well include Fuentes — or a pitcher like him — in the bullpen.

However, while the Sox do have interest in the left-hander (as has been reported by, among others, Jon Heyman of SI.com (via twitter) and Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com), their interest is of a very defined type. Specifically, at a time when the team has committed $142 million to Carl Crawford, is likely to commit in excess of $150 million to Adrian Gonzalez, passed $12 million in the direction of right-handed reliever Jenks and another $3 million to fellow righty Dan Wheeler, the Sox, according to a major league source, are “not in a position to pay a premium” for another reliever.

The Sox, according to multiple team sources, are open to what they would perceive as a good value signing — likely meaning less years and average annual value than what Fuentes is reportedly seeking. (Rosenthal said that the 35-year-old wants a multi-year deal for in excess of $5 million a year.) While there may be such a deal down the road, depending on what the market for Fuentes ultimately looks like, the pitcher’s asking price and what the team is willing to offer do not currently match up.

One other consideration that could work against Fuentes’ interest in the Red Sox: If he is to take what would be perceived as a good deal, the presence of closer Jonathan Papelbon as well as a pair of setup men who are capable of closing (Jenks and Daniel Bard) could diminish Fuentes’ interest in the Sox. Whereas a player like Adrian Beltre had an incentive to come to the Sox on a one-year deal to build his value, Fuentes might find that other teams would permit him a greater opportunity to showcase his talents for his next deal. For instance, the St. Petersburg Times is reporting that the Rays are pursuing the veteran — who led the American League in saves in 2009 — as a closer.

All of that is to suggest that, while the idea of Fuentes coming to Boston cannot be dismissed, and the Sox’ interest in adding him is genuine, the likelihood of the Sox adding him to their rebuilt bullpen seems fairly low at this moment.

Read More: bobby jenks, brian fuentes, Daniel Bard, Hot Stove
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