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Ben Cherington: Hanley Ramirez signing makes outfield trade more likely 11.25.14 at 7:57 pm ET
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There’s a crowd.

The addition of Hanley Ramirez to an outfield group that already included Rusney Castillo, Yoenis Cespedes, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Daniel Nava, Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. suggests that the Red Sox have more outfielders than reasonably can fit into a roster. Does that necessitate a trade?

“I don’t know that we have to [make a trade]. I think this increases the likelihood that we will,” said Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. “There’s a way to make it all fit. [The Ramirez signing] probably increases the likelihood that we do and we’ll just see what’s available to us. We’ve had a lot of interest in our guys already. We’ll see what comes now that these moves have been made. We know we have to add to the rotation. I think we have to be open-minded in how we do that. We have to be willing to look at all sorts of different options, trade or free agency. So we feel we’re in a position to do that and we don’t know where that will land and what it will look like, but by the time we get to spring training, I’m confident we’ll be able to do some stuff.”

The likeliest avenue for the Sox, of course, would be an effort to address their rotation in a trade, though Cherington said that the Sox will still explore both trades and free agency to round out a rotation that, for now, only includes the penciled-in names of Clay Buchholz and Joe Kelly.

“I think we felt like we could look at a pretty broad array of options on the pitching end even before today and before these deals. I think we feel like we’re in a strong position to pursue all sorts of pitching options either through trade or free agency,” said Cherington. “We have a little better idea than we did even at the GM meetings as to what those possibilities are, but we’re also not on the doorstep on anything. So I’m sure we’ll spend a lot of time over the next several days and into the winter meetings working on that.”

John Farrell: Yoenis Cespedes a consideration in center or right field 11.25.14 at 3:59 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes could be a consideration for center or right field in 2015. (Getty Images)

Yoenis Cespedes could be a consideration for center or right field in 2015. (Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez has been signed to play left field. So what does that mean for the Red Sox‘ season-ending left fielder?

In the case of Yoenis Cespedes, manager John Farrell said that the Sox have begun talking about the possibility of a move to another position. As news of the Sox’ signing of Ramirez circulated, Farrell said that the team reached out to Cespedes to explore that very possibility, and that the 29-year-old proved receptive to it.

“We had a chance to speak to him yesterday. To his credit, he’€™s just eager to do whatever is needed by this team,” said Farrell. “He’€™s showing that he’€™s a complete team player. And we’€™re excited to have his versatility be at our disposal at those other two spots, whether it’€™s center, right, we’€™ll determine that once we get to camp.”

Though Cespedes only played left field with the Red Sox, he has played at least some center in each of his three big league seasons, with roughly 20 percent of his career outfield innings spent in center. The Sox viewed him as a potential right fielder at the time of their acquisition of him based on his range and strong throwing arm. As of now, the team is hoping to look at Cespedes at both positions. Read the rest of this entry »

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John Farrell: Red Sox ‘are making every attempt’ to bring back Jon Lester 11.25.14 at 2:57 pm ET
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It comes as little surprise to see Red Sox manager John Farrell beaming at the shape that his 2015 lineup is starting to take. With Pablo Sandoval — a wrecking ball against right-handed pitchers — at third base and Hanley Ramirez (who hammers both lefties and righties) now slated to join the middle of the team’s lineup, the run-starved days of 2014 should prove far less frequent next season.

“We’€™ve made two very good additions, no doubt, particularly before [when] you’€™d sense the free agent market really coming into shape. [GM Ben Cherington] has done a great job of being able to add these two players before Thanksgiving,” said Farrell. “When you consider Hanley in left, Yoenis [Cespedes] in either center or right, you begin to look at power bats in a number of different positions and this is a really deep lineup as we stand today.”

Still, while the lineup (with that intriguing proposition of Cespedes at a different spot in the outfield) is now well-defined, Farrell acknowledged that the Sox’ offseason work is incomplete.

“What remains throughout the offseason is still an interesting proposition. … We’€™ve got a ways to go through this offseason,” said Farrell. “We’€™ve got complete trust in what Ben and his staff are doing. Clearly, there’€™s two prime pieces of evidence to suggest that. We’€™ve got work to be done, we’€™ve got additions to be made. So there’€™s going to be a number of things that are going to be interesting to follow here throughout the winter.”

Foremost among those will be the vacancy sign that hovers over 60 percent of the Red Sox rotation, with curiosity looming about whether the Red Sox might be able to bring Jon Lester back into the fold. Farrell acknowledged that the Sox are doing what they can to bring back the left-hander, though declined to handicap the likelihood of a return. Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox designate Ryan Lavarnway, Juan Francisco for assignment 11.25.14 at 12:52 pm ET
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Ryan Lavarnway

Ryan Lavarnway

In order to clear a roster spot for Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, the Red Sox announced that they had designated catcher/first baseman Ryan Lavarnway and Juan Franciscofor assignment.

Lavarnway, 27, a sixth-round draft pick out of Yale in 2008, split the 2014 season between Triple-A Pawtucket and the big leagues. He played nine games in the big leagues, going 0-for-10, and in 97 career big league games, he has a .201/.249/.315 line with five homers.

While that major league track record is modest, Lavarnway has a long track record in the minors of hitting for average and getting on base, with a career .283/.375/.479 line in the minors. That said, after he posted consistently strong power numbers from 2009-11 (an average of 25 homers a year in the minors), he hit just 15 homers over the last three years in the minors, resulting in his former status as one of the top prospects in the Sox system dimming to the point where he represented a depth option on the fringes of the 40-man roster. With no remaining minor league options and with a number of options in front of him at first base and catcher, he thus became a roster casualty to clear the way for Sandoval.

The 27-year-old Francisco had been claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays Wednesday. In 2014, the lefty hitter played in 106 major league games for the Jays, hitting .220, 16 doubles, 16 homers and 43 RBI.

For more Red Sox news, visit weei.com/redsox.

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Pablo Sandoval’s contract terms 11.25.14 at 12:43 pm ET
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According to an industry source, here are the terms of Pablo Sandoval’s five-year, $95 million deal with the Red Sox that includes a team option for a sixth season:

Signing bonus: $3 million

2015: $17 million

2016: $17 million

2017: $17 million

2018: $18 million

2019: $18 million

2020: Team option – $17 million ($5 million buyout)

The bonus and buyout factor into the $95 million guarantee and give the deal a $19 million average annual value for the next five years for luxury tax purposes. If Sandoval is still playing at a high level at the end of the deal, then his option — which would come at a $12 million marginal cost (and as calculated for AAV purposes in 2020) could hold considerable appeal for Sandoval’s age 33 season.

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Sources: Red Sox, Pablo Sandoval have agreement on five-year deal 11.24.14 at 8:08 am ET
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Pablo Sandoval continues to weigh offers, according to his agent. (Getty Images)

Pablo Sandoval continues to weigh offers, according to his agent. (Getty Images)

UPDATE (1:20 p.m.): Though Pablo Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, continues to suggest that his client has not made a final decision about the team with whom he will sign as a free agent, multiple major league sources say that the Red Sox believe that they do indeed have an agreement, pending a physical, on a five-year deal with Sandoval.

While one major league source confirmed a report by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Red Sox have reached an agreement with Pablo Sandoval on the heels of Sunday night’s agreement with Hanley Ramirez, Gustavo Vasquez, the agent for Sandoval, said that there is “no truth” to the report, and that Sandoval is continuing to decide between opportunities.

“We have offers,” Vasquez said in a text, “[but] no deal.”

UPDATE: While ESPN reported that Sandoval indeed has agreed to a deal with the Sox, at 10:18 a.m., Vasquez clarified in a text that Sandoval “will make his final decision today.” Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans told KNBR radio that Vasquez was “vehemently denying” reports that Sandoval had already made a decision to join the Sox. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sources: Red Sox agree to 4-year deal with Hanley Ramirez 11.24.14 at 12:17 am ET
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Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz at the 2010 All-Star Home Run Derby, in which Ortiz beat his former -- and now future -- teammate in the finals. (Getty Images)

Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz at the 2010 All-Star Home Run Derby, in which Ortiz beat his former — and now future — teammate in the finals. (Getty Images)

An industry source has confirmed that free agent Hanley Ramirez is on his way to Boston to finalize a five-year agreement with the Red Sox. News of the five-year deal was first reported (via twitter) by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, who reported that the agreement was “in the range of five years, $90M.”

UPDATE (Nov. 24, 1:20 p.m.): Another industry source has confirmed an update from Rosenthal that the deal is a four-year guarantee with a vesting option for a fifth rather than a straight five-year deal. Multiple reports have the deal as being worth $88 million over four years with a $22 million vesting option.

Ramirez, who signed with the Red Sox as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican in 2000 but was traded by the organization (with Anibal Sanchez and others) to the Marlins as part of the deal that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston, is arguably the best pure hitter available this year in free agency. One evaluator recently called him the ‘€œclosest right-handed hitter to Manny [Ramirez] I have seen,’€ someone who is an impact bat regardless of who’€™s on the mound. In 2014, Ramirez nearly matched free agent Pablo Sandoval’€™s numbers against righties (he had a .283/.362/.439 line, compared to Sandoval’€™s .317/.363/.461) while proving even more impactful against lefties (.282/.393/.476). For his career, Ramirez has a higher OBP and roughly the same slugging percentage against righties as Sandoval and a massive advantage against lefties.

Still, a number of concerns appeared to dampen a potential free agent bonanza for Ramirez. Among them: He’ll be 31 in December, meaning that most of his next contract will fall outside of his career prime; he has struggled to stay healthy in recent seasons; his defense at shortstop is poor, and while there is some belief in industry circles that he could represent a quality option at a corner position, his ability to adapt to a new spot represents something of an uncertainty; and concerns about his makeup with both the Marlins and Dodgers have been significant.

That said, those concerns were largely against the backdrop of expectations that a deal could reach more than five years and upwards of $20 million a year. The concerns still exist, but the risk undertaken by the Sox would appear to be at least somewhat diminished by the terms as reported by Rosenthal. Read the rest of this entry »

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