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Does prior history matter in predicting risk of $100 million players? 11.18.14 at 1:40 am ET
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In some ways, the Red Sox face a dilemma of whether to put a contract offer of $100 million or more in front of a player who represents a known commodity like Jon Lester or an unfamiliar one like Pablo Sandoval or even Max Scherzer. That being the case, it’s worth asking: Do teams make smarter nine-figure bets when doing so on players who have already been in their employ? That topic is explored in this column. Here are the details of the 54 contracts of $100 million or more:

111714_comparison_chart_100m_signings

 

 

 

 

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A’s claim OF/1B Alex Hassan on waivers from Red Sox 11.17.14 at 7:40 pm ET
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Alex Hassan

Alex Hassan

Milton native Alex Hassan got to realize a childhood dream by making his big league debut at Fenway Park in 2014. Now, caught behind a raft of outfielders in the Red Sox farm system, Hassan will head elsewhere to see if he can claim an opportunity to be a more lasting opportunity in the big leagues.

The A’s were awarded a waiver claim on Hassan on Monday. Though he has a minor league option remaining, the 26-year-old is expected to get an opportunity to compete for a big league platoon role.

Hassan was originally taken by the Red Sox as a pitcher out of Duke in the 20th round of the 2009 draft. However, the two-way college player proved so impressive as a hitter in the Cape League that summer that the Sox ended up signing him as an outfielder. In six pro seasons, he was one of the most consistent hitters in the system, hitting .291 with a .396 OBP and .436 slugging mark while demonstrating excellent pitch recognition and strike zone awareness. His lack of power and the fact that he was a corner (both outfield corner spots and first base) limited his ceiling, but his consistent approach led to a sense that he stood a good chance of being a big league contributor in the right role.

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Red Sox front office undergoes numerous changes 11.17.14 at 2:07 pm ET
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Amiel Sawdaye

Amiel Sawdaye

A considerable amount of shuffling has taken place within the Red Sox front office.

Amiel Sawdaye, the Red Sox‘ director of amateur scouting for the last five drafts, has been promoted to vice president with a focus on domestic and international scouting, a role comparable to the one that current assistant GM Mike Hazen occupied (as VP of player development and amateur scouting) between his role as farm director and his promotion to his current position.

Under Sawdaye, the Sox’ drafts churned out prospects in volume. Among them:

2010: Bryce Brentz (supplemental first round), Anthony Ranaudo (supplemental first round),  Brandon Workman (second round), Sean Coyle (third round), Garin Cecchini (fourth round)

2011: Matt Barnes (first round), Blake Swihart (first round), Henry Owens (supplemental first round), Jackie Bradley Jr. (supplemental first round), Mookie Betts (fifth round), Travis Shaw (ninth round)

2012: Deven Marrero (first round), Brian Johnson (first round)

2013: Trey Ball (first round), Teddy Stankiewicz (second round), Joe Gunkel (18th round), Mauricio Dubon (26th round), Nick Longhi (30th round)

2014: Michael Chavis (first round), Michael Kopech (first round), Sam Travis (second round), Jake Cosart (third round), Kevin McAvoy (fourth round)

With Sawdaye moving up, Mike Rikard — who had served as a national cross-checker for the last five drafts — has been elevated to the director of amateur scouting. Rikard has been working closely with the entire scouting department over the last five years since moving up to national crosschecker. He joined the Sox from the Padres in 2005 as an East Coast crosschecker. Read the rest of this entry »

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Farewell, rumor mill? ‘Supernova’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton reportedly nearing 13-year deal with Marlins 11.14.14 at 7:11 pm ET
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Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly closing on a 13-year deal with the Marlins. (Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly closing on a 13-year deal with the Marlins. (Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton didn’t win the NL MVP award, but he may be on the cusp of cashing in on the biggest contract in baseball history. According to CBSSports.com, the Marlins and Stanton have agreed to terms on a 13-year, $325 million deal, with the two sides working to iron out the language of the deal. The deal would include both no-trade protection and the opportunity to opt out, according to the report.

Stanton, who turned 25 last week, would thus be locked up through his age 37 season (if he does not exercise the potential opt-out) for a franchise that has a long history of trading its stars in their primes. Miami was evidently willing to change course for the foremost power hitter in the NL. Stanton, who finished second in NL MVP voting to pitcher Clayton Kershaw, led the NL with 37 homers and a .555 slugging mark while hitting .288 with a .395 OBP in 145 contests before his year came to a sudden halt when he was hit in the face by a pitch on Sept. 11.

An extension could end Stanton’s perpetual place in the rumor mill, an existence to which he first became introduced as an 18-year-old in 2008, when he was mentioned as the potential return for the Sox in a trade that would have sent Manny Ramirez to the Marlins.

“I heard it was going to happen,” Stanton acknowledged in 2009.

Indeed, in the absence of an extension, it seemed unavoidable to wonder whether the Red Sox would make a play for Stanton. That curiosity even hovered over this offseason, with curiosity about whether the Sox might try to build a package around Xander Bogaerts and/or Mookie Betts. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jon Lester finishes 4th in Cy Young voting; Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw win 11.12.14 at 9:07 pm ET
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Jon Lester finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. (Getty Images)

Jon Lester finished fourth in AL Cy Young voting. (Getty Images)

Left-hander Jon Lester, who posted a 16-11 record and career-best 2.46 ERA with 9.0 strikeouts and 2.0 walks per nine innings in a career-high 219 2/3 innings, finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting for his standout work on the mound with the Red Sox and A’s. The fourth-place finish in Cy Young voting is the second of Lester’s career, a finish that matches his recognition for going 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA, 9.7 strikeouts and 3.6 walks per nine innings in 2010.

Lester — whom the Sox traded to the A’s (along with Jonny Gomes) on July 31 in exchange for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes — was named on 25 of 30 ballots, receiving three third-place votes, 15 fourth-place votes and seven fifth-place votes. His 46 points were behind Cy Young winner Corey Kluber of the Indians (169 points), Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez (159 points) and White Sox lefty Chris Sale (78 points).

Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw won his second straight Cy Young award and his third in four seasons, claiming all 30 first-place votes. He’s the 14th pitcher in NL history to win a Cy by unanimous acclaim.

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Making (dollars and) sense of Cole Hamels’ contract as an alternative to Jon Lester 11.11.14 at 5:08 pm ET
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Left-hander Cole Hamels had a 2.46 ERA for the Phillies in 2014 -- the same mark as Jon Lester had for the Red Sox and A's. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Left-hander Cole Hamels had a 2.46 ERA for the Phillies in 2014 — the same mark as Jon Lester had for the Red Sox and A’s. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images)

Don’t want to pay the going rates for an elite free-agent pitcher? The Phillies’ phone lines are apparently open.

Philadelphia is willing to discuss left-hander Cole Hamels, a pitcher who is coming off a dominant season at age 30. Though he went just 9-9 for the Phillies, he posted a career-best 2.46 ERA in 30 starts with 8.7 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings in 204 1/3 innings this year. Those numbers align closely with what Jon Lester (16-11, 2.46, 9.0 Ks/9, 2.0 BBs/9) did in 2014.

The similarities go beyond that. The two pitchers were born just 11 days apart, Hamels at the end of December 1983, Lester in early January 1984. Hamels has a career 108-83 record with a 3.27 ERA and 125 ERA+. Lester is 116-67 with a 3.58 ERA and 121 ERA+. Both have dominant World Series performances and a history of thriving in some of the most highly scrutinized environments in baseball. It goes without saying that Lester will use Hamels’ six-year, $144 million contract (signed just months before he reached free agency in 2012) as a very relevant data point for his own contractual discussions.

And so, the notion has been articulated many times: The Red Sox can re-sign Lester for full market value, but if they don’t want to commit, say, five or six years to a pitcher who turns 31 in January, they could trade for Hamels, who is owed $90 million (four $22.5 million salaries) in the next four years.

But the contractual contrast between the two pitchers might have been overstated, in part based on some misunderstanding about Hamels’ contract — particularly given the possibility that, if the Sox were to trade for Hamels, because he reportedly has the right to veto a deal to Boston and can thus extract negotiated concessions from a team that deals for him, they might have to pick up his $20 million for his age 35 season in 2019.

Here’s the shakedown:

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Dodgers hire ex-Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler to head farm system 11.07.14 at 9:49 pm ET
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The Dodgers announced that they’ve hired former Red Sox outfielder (and minor league manager) Gabe Kapler as their director of player development. Kapler spent parts of 12 years in the big leagues, including a stretch from 2003-06 with the Red Sox, before retiring after the 2006 season in order to become the manager of the Greenville Drive, the Red Sox’ Single-A affiliate. At the end of that year, however, Kapler resumed his playing career, spending three more years with the Brewers (2008) and Rays (2009-10). He went to spring training with the Dodgers in 2011, but was released near the end of camp. He’s been working as an analyst for Fox Sports since 2013.

Additionally, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com is reporting (via twitter) that the Dodgers will hire Red Sox special assignment scout Galen Carr. Carr — who has been with the organization for 14 years — was considered one of the top evaluators in the Red Sox organization.

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