|Red Sox right-hander Edward Mujica takes physical; could earn up to $1 million in bonuses for closing||12.07.13 at 12:25 am ET|
According to industry sources, right-hander Edward Mujica, with whom the Red Sox agreed to a two-year, $9.5 million deal on Thursday, took his physical on Friday and is expected to be introduced by his new team in the coming days. Mujica — who was an All-Star closer with the Cardinals in 2013, recording 37 saves before a late-season slump (which coincided with a groin issue) resulted in his into a setup role, has incentives built into his contract that would reward him should he emerge as the Red Sox’ closer in either 2014 or 2015.
Mujica will earn $125,000 for reaching 20 games finished and for every five games thereafter up to 55 games (25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55), meaning that if he closes for the Sox — whether in place of Koji Uehara (should the dominant closer suffer an injury in 2014) or succeeding him (Uehara is under contract only through next season) — he would stand to receive up to $1 million in bonuses.
|With Mike Napoli back, what can the Red Sox do?||12.06.13 at 11:45 pm ET|
With Mike Napoli back in the fold for the Red Sox on a two-year, $32 million deal — in a week where the Sox also added catcher A.J. Pierzynski on a one-year, $8.25 million contract and reliever Edward Mujica on a two-year, $9.5 million pact — the Red Sox are nearly maxed out in terms of payroll commitments if they want to stay below next season’s luxury tax threshold of $189 million.
Based on those three deals, the Sox currently look like a team that — assuming it wants to maintain a contingency fund of about $9 million in case of injuries and in-season deals — has north of $187 million committed to its roster when factoring in all of the elements that count towards the luxury tax threshold (average annual value of contracts, minor leaguers on the 40-man roster, benefits, money transferred to the Dodgers).
But that doesn’t necessarily mean their offseason work is done.
Certainly, the team could stand pat and have a full roster. But more likely, the team will look to continue getting stronger, particularly in its group of position players.
First, there’s the possibility that the Sox could exceed the luxury tax threshold. A team source recently acknowledged that, while the team’s strong preference is to remain under it for the coming season (the first in which teams have the possibility of a revenue sharing rebate, which is diminished by exceeding the luxury tax threshold), the incentive is not quite as powerful for the coming year as was anticipated. Because the Sox — thanks to the Dodgers blockbuster of 2012 — were able to restructure their payroll and get under the luxury tax threshold in both 2012 and 2013, the penalties associated with going over the $189 million payroll mark in 2014, both in terms of the luxury tax rate for dollars over that figure and in terms of the amount of the rebate that would be lost by exceeding the threshold, would be diminished. So, there’s at least a possibility that the team might be willing to go over $189 million. Read the rest of this entry »
|David Ortiz on Robinson Cano leaving the Yankees: ‘That’s great news for us’||12.06.13 at 6:39 pm ET|
David Ortiz said that he wasn’t shocked to hear of the 10-year, $240 million agreement between Robinson Cano and the Mariners. Instead, his surprise came at the idea that the pillar in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup was allowed to leave New York.
“That’s what the players are getting — young, talented players with the skills that he has, that’s what they’re getting. I couldn’t believe the Yankees let that walk away,” Ortiz said on the Bradford Files podcast. “He’s the face, as long as he played for the Yankees, he was the face of that ballclub. He was backing up everybody. Once I saw them not getting close to what he wants and signing [catcher Brian McCann] and [Jacoby Ellsbury], I definitely knew that he was going to go somewhere else.
“That’s great news for us. That’s great news,” Ortiz added. “This guy hurt us. He is the guy that, you’re never going to forget about him because he puts up some monster numbers. He puts up some monster numbers. Now let’s see how everything goes with him on the West Coast.”
Ortiz had nothing but praise for Cano.
“Well-deserved. Well-deserved. I’m telling you, I knew he was going to get something around that because he’s one of the best players in the game right now and that’s where the best players are at,” said Ortiz. “The way he makes the game look, it’s ridiculous. It’s just impossible. He makes the game look so easy. … Now, we’re not going to be able to see him that much, thank God. He’s going to the West Coast. Wishing him the best. He’s a good friend of mine, and like I said, well deserved.”
|Mike Napoli vs. Curtis Granderson in an inflationary market||12.06.13 at 3:59 pm ET|
A year ago, Mike Napoli had a three-year, $39 million deal in hand with the Red Sox before the uncertainty generated by his diagnosis with a degenerative hip condition led to the deal’s revision into a one-year, $5 million deal that got pushed up to $13 million with incentives.
But Napoli did a number of things in 2013 to put him in position to seek something along similar lines: He remained healthy, played the second most games of his career (139) and he went from being a bat-first catcher whose defensive skills were in question to a Gold Glove-caliber first baseman, he went from a down year in 2012 (.227 with a .343 OBP and .469 slugging mark and 113 OPS+) to one very much in line with his career line in 2013 (.259/.360/.482 with a 127 OPS+).
There are still concerns in some places about the long-term risks associated with his hip condition. But given that the medical issue remained stable in 2013, it went from a dramatic uncertainty to a somewhat more normal/typical injury concern that accompanies most free agents. All of that explains why the free agent felt that it was reasonable to seek a deal that was at least comparable to the one he initially secured from the Red Sox last winter.
Yet in a fast-moving free agent market that has seen a number of landmark contracts already, Napoli’s asking price may be rising by the day. The early movement of Jacoby Ellsbury on a seven-year, $153 million deal to the Yankees and Robinson Cano on a 10-year, $240 million deal to the Mariners has spearheaded a robust market for position players, at a time when teams got a windfall of additional tens of millions — something that appears to be pushing contracts up rather rapidly. Read the rest of this entry »
|Despite willingness for multi-year deal, gap remains with Red Sox, Mike Napoli||12.06.13 at 12:19 pm ET|
The departure of Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in free agency raised questions for a number of Red Sox players. According to manager John Farrell, in his appearance on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show, players became curious as to whether the Sox might retain any of the four most prominent free agents — Ellsbury, Saltalamacchia, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew — from their 2013 World Series winner.
Farrell said that he offered a measure of reassurance on that front.
“Because Jacoby and Salty hit the airwaves that they both signed, it was, OK, are we bringing any guys back? That was part of the question. I said, ‘Absolutely, we’re in the works. We’re in the process,’ ” Farrell explained of his conversations with players on Tuesday night, in the aftermath of news of Ellsbury’s deal with the Yankees and Saltalamacchia’s with the Marlins. “That’s where [GM Ben Cherington] is doing the best he can with the two remaining guys, with Mike and Stephen. We’re going to do anything we can to bring both guys back.”
While the Sox would love to bring back Drew given the value they attach to his offensive impact as a left-handed hitter and his up-the-middle defense, there is an obvious in-house alternative at shortstop if he does leave in the form of Xander Bogaerts. First base may be another story.
A number of Sox team officials continue to describe Napoli as the team’s preferred option at first. But whether there will be common ground in re-signing the first baseman remains to be seen.
According to an industry source, with Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson off the board, the pursuit of Napoli is intensifying. And the first baseman, coming off a strong season, hopes to at least match the three-year, $39 million deal (in terms of both length and dollars) to which he initially agreed with the Sox last December, before the diagnosis of avascular necrosis in his hips caused the two sides to renegotiate a one-year, $5 million deal.
The Sox, according to multiple sources, are willing to re-sign Napoli for multiple years based on his performance and ability to remain healthy without showing any further deterioration of his hips in 2013. But at this time, it is unknown whether the team is willing to go beyond two years to sign the free agent. Moreover, with Napoli representing one of the premier power bats on the market, it appears that other teams may be willing to extend beyond two years. As such, while Napoli has made clear his preference to return to the Red Sox, the gap between the Sox’ offer and that of other teams right now appears such that he is exploring alternatives. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of a deal with the Sox, but it does seem apparent that the market for Napoli will achieve definition in the near future given the other dominoes that are falling in the free agent market.
|Jon Lester: Playing for Red Sox ‘all I’ve known, all I want to know’||12.06.13 at 1:25 am ET|
While longtime teammate Jacoby Ellsbury is a Red Sox no more, Jon Lester remains hopeful that his teammate’s departure will not serve as a prelude to his own. The 29-year-old left-hander, who said that he didn’t feel any unusual wear and tear following a year in which he logged 248 combined innings in the regular season and October, suggested that he looks forward to talking with the Sox about the possibility of an extension before he reaches free agency — for which he could be eligible following the 2014 season.
“Obviously it’s crossed my mind. But it’s not something that’s really set in for me yet. I feel like I’ve got one more year here and we’ll go from there,” Lester said of his potential free agency on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show. “I’m sure there will be some form of communication [with the Sox about a new contract], I would imagine probably in spring training, hopefully in spring training and hopefully during the season sometime if not in spring training. Obviously Boston’s my home. This is all I’ve known. This is all I’ve become accustomed to, and all I want to know. My family enjoys it up there. I enjoy playing up there. There’s a lot of factors in it. At the same time, kind of like Jacoby, there’s a business side of everything and you’ve got to look at it that way. Same thing with the Red Sox. … Sometimes you have to part ways. Hopefully that’s not the case when it comes down to us here in the future.” Read the rest of this entry »
|John Farrell discusses offseason on Salk & Holley: Red Sox ‘jolted’ by Jacoby Ellsbury deal||12.04.13 at 10:47 pm ET|
Red Sox manager John Farrell, in an appearance on WEEI’s Salk & Holley show, acknowledged that Red Sox players were “jolted” by the news of Jacoby Ellsbury‘s seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees, particularly given that word of Ellsbury’s signing came on the same day that the Red Sox elected to sign A.J. Pierzynski, thus opening the door for the departure of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal with the Marlins on Tuesday.
Farrell said that he heard from a number of players — he estimated about a half-dozen — who were curious about the developments.
“Because Jacoby and Salty hit the airwaves that they both signed, it was, OK, are we bringing any guys back? That was part of the question,” said Farrell. “I said, ‘Absolutely, we’re in the works. We’re in the process.’ … That’s where [GM Ben Cherington] is doing the best he can with the two remaining guys, with [Mike Napoli] and [Stephen Drew], we’re going to do anything we can to bring both guys back.”
Farrell touched on a number of offseason topics facing the Sox. To listen to the complete interview, click here. Some highlights:
On learning about Ellsbury’s deal: “I did get a text message last night saying, hey, he’s heading in for a physical, it sounds like it’s done. Then the news broke on the numbers and, my gosh, congratulations to Jacoby. We’ll miss him. He’s a very good player, had a great run here, granted, missed some time because of some serious injuries he went through. But he played through a lot last year for us. The foot breaking. The left thumb that was in a lot of pain towards the end of the year. But you know what? He deserved the right to see what his market was, and obviously it’s a big one.”
On the challenge of replacing Ellsbury: “Losing Jacoby Ellsbury, those players don’t come along very often, evident by the contract he got in New York. … To say how much we’ll miss him will be dependent on what we do with the roster before next spring training — whether we stay internal and look at our overall team, what we’re capable of, that’s probably the answer — not specifically one player compared to Jacoby. … Read the rest of this entry »
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