Epstein: No Blockbusters Before Leaving Indy
|12.09.09 at 6:21 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Red Sox GM Theo Epstein met with the media to discuss what has been accomplished at the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. He will be leaving tomorrow morning, shortly after the Rule 5 draft, and he doesn’t anticipate that any major moves will occur before departing. Presumably, that would include anything to do with either Jason Bay (whose agent, Joe Urbon, has not met with Epstein today) or Matt Holliday (whose agent, Scott Boras, has met with Epstein today, armed with books on the outfielder).
Indeed, Epstein said that one of the foremost accomplishments of the meetings to date has been the club’s ability to rule out and narrow down some of its options, and to eliminate potential free agents or trade targets from its shopping list. He did offer the following specifics, including:
–The club has one potential non-tender candidate for salary arbitration. Epstein declined to identify the individual, but in all likelihood, the candidate is first baseman Casey Kotchman, who made $2.25 million in 2009, and would be due a bump in salary arbitration, despite not having a starting role.
–The Sox have already achieved some improvement in its defense with the acquisition of Marco Scutaro, who is superior to the combined group that the Sox had at the position last year, but that it was certainly open to doing more. That said, he said that the team would likely have to choose between adding offense or defense at this point.
–Prospect Josh Reddick is likely to spend more time in Triple A to start the year, and that he would benefit from further development. Epstein described the 22-year-old as unlikely to ever have high walks totals, but that he makes consistent hard contact and plays good defense.
Highlights of his media session follow:
What have you accomplished today?
I think we’ve narrowed a few things down and had some more productive talks today. I think there was progress on a few small- to medium-sized things.
Safe to say you won’t have a transaction between now and leaving?
I don’t think we’ll make a blockbuster between now and then, but something small could always come up.
What have you narrowed down?
Some free-agent price tags are well beyond our evaluation of a player. So we’ve eliminated that possibility for now. Some trade talks, some players are not available or they’re looking for players that we don’t match up with. We’ve been able to narrow our focus a little bit. Our talks, instead of contemplating the whole universe of possibilities, now we’re down to some things that clearly are realistic.
Anything going on with Bay?
No. Nothing. Those guys [Bay's representatives] are off doing their thing.
Talking to other teams?
Do you pay attention when Scioscia says Bay isn’t part of Angels’ plans?
For any free agent, there can be a significant market or less of a market, but I think it’s hard to read it through press comments. If you try to determine exactly what teams might be on a certain player, you can often err and be overconfident, or you can panic and overreact. It’s better just to focus on what makes sense for you. Obviously, there’s a little bit of a supply and demand dynamic that comes into play. But you just try to focus on signing the player at a cost that makes sense for the organization, regardless.
Is it safe to say you didn’t talk to Bay’s representatives today?
Have you met with Boras?
Yeah, we met today. We got the books. … He busted out the books. I said, ‘I wish you hadn’t given those to me. I just told our media that we didn’t read books ever, and that we aren’t a well-read organization.’ They were impressive. They were hard.
What can you say about Ramon A. Ramirez, the reliever who was acquired on waivers?
He’s a versatile guy who’s had a lot of success out of the bullpen. If you look at his performance, he’s done really well in shorter stints. That intrigues us. Then, the ability to start and carry some innings. He’s started quite a bit. He’s a guy who’s a strike thrower with a good changeup who our scouts like, and can come into camp and compete for a variety of roles. If something opens up in our rotation, he’ll compete for a rotation spot. If not, he’ll compete for the bullpen. He’s also got options.
Do you anticipate Rule 5 activity?
We’re highly unlikely to be active.
Have you changed your Rule 5 approach?
The crop is nowhere near as good as it used to be, because they changed the rule.
Teams are able to protect a greater percentage of their quality prospects. You’re really looking at A ball and below, or the stray Double A or Triple A guy coming off a horrible year.
Think you might lose anyone?
I think we might. I think there are a couple guys. … If we lose guys, we have an expectation that we would be able to get them back.
Did you accomplish your desired defensive upgrade with Scutaro?
I think that it certainly improved our defense at the shortstop position over the totality of our performance last year at that position so that’s a big help. That’s an important position. I think we could do more, certainly. Whether we’re able to or not remains to be seen. I think it will be hard to improve both on offense and with our defense but I’m not sure which direction it will go yet.
How do you view the outfield?
When it’s all said and done, I think we’re going to have a really good outfield. I think we kind of quietly had one of the better outfields in all of baseball last year, if you look at what Drew did, what Bay did and the progress that Jacoby made was pretty darn good. We’d like to have that again.
Do you have any non-tender candidates?
Yeah, we have one non-tender candidate.
Is there any trade interest in him?
How do you view the possibility of signing older relievers, who likely want a shorter-term deal?
I think with any older player in free agency, there are plusses and minus’s. you have an established track record, which is good. You have experience. You have a feel for the players’ makeup. Maybe there’s some leadership skills that go along with it. and you usually have the opportunity for a shorter contract, whether it’s one year or two years. Usually the older players aren’t looking for the long term commitments. You limit your risk a little bit even though you’re likely to experience some decline the term of the contract. Whether that represents value or not usually depends on whether the player continues to perform or ages during the term of the contract, even if it’s a one or two year deal. There’s risk/reward with a shorter contract for an older player just like there is on conceivably a longer contract for a younger player but you do limit your risk because the total outlay of dollars is probably less. So if you’re confident it’s a player that takes care of himself and you have reason to believe he’ll age well, or he’s starting from a high peak, you can find value there. You can also get burned there.
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