|What now for the Sox? Theo Epstein outlines remaining priorities||12.06.10 at 7:10 pm ET|
With the arrival of a superstar first baseman who is an impact hitter and defender now complete, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein discussed the Red Sox’ remaining goals in building their 2011 roster. He said that the team wanted to complete the Gonzalez deal prior to the winter meetings both to avoid an intensified bidding war for his services and so that the Sox’ roster could have enough definition to permit the team to make all needed subsequent moves.
Epstein mentioned the bullpen, a right-handed lineup member and potentially an outfielder as the team’s remaining priorities.
“We wanted to be able to focus on building the rest of the roster down in Orlando. That begins later today,” Epstein said at the Fenway Park press conference. “We’re going to continue to focus on the bullpen. That’s an area that we want to shore up on the club. Now that we have Adrian in the fold, we can focus on maybe bolstering the lineup some more, adding perhaps a right-handed hitter, if we can find one that’s the right fit. We can add an outfielder, if we find the right fit. We’re also confident that if we break with the current outfield group that we have that we’ll be in good position. I look at it as going down there with less needs than we had 24 hours ago, but with more opportunities to map out the rest of the club in a way that leads to a productive 2011.”
|Andrew Miller open to deal with Red Sox||12.06.10 at 4:18 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Red Sox acquired Andrew Miller from the Marlins in November, viewing the former first-rounder as an interesting buy-low candidate. But after that acquisition, the two sides could not come to terms on a 2011 contract before the deadline to tender contracts on Dec. 3. Had Miller (who had a salary of approximately $1.8 million in 2010) received a contract tender, he likely would have been in line for a deal of approximately $2 million. The Sox were interested in Miller, but at a lower figure, and so the team decided to non-tender him, with the idea that it could negotiate with the pitcher while he examined the market for his services as a free agent.
“We all kind of decided that we’d let this process run its course,” said Darek Braunecker, one of the pitcher’s representatives. “There’s a lot of teams interested: 6-foot-6 left-hander, still can throw up to 97. There’s a ton of upside.”
But at this point, Miller’s marketability is based on his potential rather than his performance. He was rushed to the big leagues in 2006, the same year he was drafted out of the University of North Carolina, and he has struggled badly with his command and mechanics. He has a career 15-26 record and 5.84 ERA, and while he has struck out 7.3 batters per nine innings, he has walked 5.3 per nine innings. Last year, in nine appearances for the Marlins, he went 1-5 with an 8.54 ERA.
The struggles were significant enough that money will not be the sole consideration for Miller’s next contract. He will also be looking for the right place to work on establishing himself as a pitcher. While Braunecker would not say if Miller — who will be dropping by the Winter Meetings to meet with officials and pitching coaches of interested clubs — would consider a minor league deal, he did not dismiss the possibility.
“We’ve got to find the right developmental situation for him, whether settling in at the big leagues or back in the minor leagues. … It’s going to be a really methodical and diligent process,” said Braunecker. “This guy still has a chance to be a front-of-the-rotation starter.
“I think it’s fair to say we will give consideration to everything that we deem to be in Andrew Miller’s best interests to ensure that he becomes the major league player we all think he can be.”
|Sources: Sox not considering Kevin Youkilis for left field||12.06.10 at 3:34 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox have not given consideration to the idea of moving Kevin Youkilis to left field with an eye towards re-signing third baseman Adrian Beltre. Instead, it appears that Beltre’s days as a Red Sox are over after the Sox made their move to acquire Adrian Gonzalez from the Padres. Gonzalez will play first, while Youkilis will move back across the diamond to play third.
Youkilis continues to work out at third this offseason, the position that he prefers and where he feels most comfortable. Youkilis last played the outfield for the Sox in a game in Yankee Stadium in 2009, and struggled with routes on a couple fly balls in left. Since that contest, he has said on several occasions that he has no interest in playing the outfield again, and the Sox would, of course, prefer someone who is a more natural fit for the position.
It is worth noting that the Sox discussed the possibility of converting Youkilis to catcher near the start of his professional career, believing that his hands could make him a good candidate to move behind the plate. But, the team ended up developing him as a third baseman in the minors, and the Sox continue to view him as a player who can handle the position well. That, in turn, would give the Sox a pair of All-Star caliber producers at the corner infield spots in Youkilis and Gonzalez, with Beltre — following his tremendous 2010 campaign — looking for a new residence.
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein discussed the matter with Youkilis at season’s end, saying that a potential re-signing of Beltre was the only scenario in which Youkilis would play first.
“Right after the season, I told Youk that he’d be moving to third base unless we had Adrian,” Epstein said, laughing as he noted that he should have specified which Adrian he was speaking of.
DJ Bean contributed to this report.
|Red Sox, Padres discussed including Jacoby Ellsbury in the deal||12.06.10 at 1:30 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — According to a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations, the Red Sox and Padres discussed several permutations for the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox. Different major league-ready players were discussed in the deal, including outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, left-hander Felix Doubront and infielder Jed Lowrie.
But the Padres opted to go for three solid prospects (Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes), each of whom they believe could develop into big league regulars, and perhaps above-average to well above-average ones. (The Padres simply would not have done a deal without pitcher Casey Kelly.)
The team was especially intrigued by the idea of adding Ellsbury to the deal, but he already has three years of service time behind him, and is now a first-time arbitration eligible player. So, if Ellsbury performed at a high level with the Padres, San Diego felt that it would have been in the exact same position with Ellsbury in two years as it was today with Gonzalez: In a position where they would have to once again trade Ellsbury (a Scott Boras client who is considered unlikely to sign a long-term deal before reaching fre agency) before his final controllable year. Meanwhile, the Sox continue to value Ellsbury as a potentially important part of the club for 2011.
As for the package that the Padres did get, they considered it the package that had the most high-ceiling players. Other proposals that they received might have featured current big leaguers, but San Diego did not feel that it was being offered projected stars, and the idea of short-term gain at the expense of a meaningful long-term infusion of talent in the Sox deal did not make sense for a team whose success will be dictated by its young, controllable players.
It is worth noting that when the Sox and Padres discussed potential deals for Gonzalez in the past, San Diego had been able to target even more substantial returns. In the middle of the 2009 season, for instance, the teams discussed having Clay Buchholz as the centerpiece of a deal that would have included more than three prospects. After the 2009 season, San Diego felt that a fair asking price for Gonzalez started with both Buchholz and Kelly (a proposal that the Sox viewed as too costly). The longer that the Padres waited to deal Gonzalez, San Diego feared, the more his trade value would diminish.
In that sense, Mark Teixeira offered an interesting case study. When traded from the Rangers to the Braves in the middle of 2007 with a year and a half left on his deal, he netted a huge prospect package that included Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz and Elvis Andrus. One year later, when the Braves dealt Teixeira in July — two months before his free agency — Atlanta got a package from the Angels that was featured the highly underwhelming package of first baseman Casey Kotchman and reliever Stephen Marek. The Padres did not want to face such diminishing returns by waiting too long to deal Gonzalez, a fact that helped motivate the deal with the Red Sox.
|Source: Gonzalez, Red Sox have framework for seven-year deal||12.06.10 at 1:14 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — A baseball source confirmed that the Red Sox and newly acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez have agreed to the framework of an extension that will pay the slugger roughly $22 million a year for seven years. The extension, which will likely wait be announced after the start of the season both so the Sox can ensure that Gonzalez’ right shoulder is healthy and so that they can diminish their luxury tax hit, would run from 2012-2018. Gonzalez will play this season for $6.2 million, the option year on a four-year contract he signed with the Padres for the 2007-10 seasons.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com was the first to report the seven-year, $154 million framework, which would ultimately result in Gonzalez being paid just over $160 million over eight years in Boston.
|Moorad: Gonzalez’ impact reminscent of Manny Ramirez signing with Red Sox||12.06.10 at 12:30 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Padres owner Jeff Moorad has seen a superstar in his prime go to Boston before. In 2000, he was the agent for Manny Ramirez, orchestrating the landmark eight-year, $160 million deal that positioned a middle-of-the-order hitter in the center of the Red Sox lineup for years of his prime.
Moorad is now in a different position. As the man at the top of the food chain in San Diego, he oversees a club that has a payroll in the vicinity of $40 million that has to make the hard decisions to sacrifice such players in order to acquire the prospects who can keep his club competitive for the long term.
But the fact that he has to make such moves does nothing to diminish Moorad’s appreciation for the player. Indeed, he suggested that Gonzalez could make the same kind of impact in Boston that Ramirez did. Moorad has no doubt that the Sox will do what is necessary to lock up Gonzalez for the long haul.
“Yes, in some ways [he is reminiscent as an impact player of Ramirez in his prime]. Certainly the bat will be powerful,” said Moorad. “He also brings a defensive dimension to the game that’s as good as it gets. It’s a great thing to know you have Adrian Gonzalez at first base late in games in August and September.
“He’s one of the top 10 players in the game. I’m certain the Red Sox will work something out to reflect that. He is a class act. He’ll be a proud member of the Red Sox for a lot of years.”
As for the rest of the market, the agent-turned-owner declined to discuss his sentiments about the market-shaking seven-year, $126 million deal that Jayson Werth signed with the Nationals.
“I have a lot of respect for the Lerner family,” Moorad said of the Nationals owners. “It wouldn’t be appropriate to question their motives publicly.”
|Source: Adrian Gonzalez ‘has wanted this for a long time’||12.06.10 at 3:41 am ET|
According to a source close to newly acquired Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez, the idea that the trade from the Padres to the Red Sox might fall through over money never seemed realistic. The reason why such a fear seemed unfounded was simple enough.
“He’s wanted this for a really long time,” said the source.
Gonzalez has been connected to the Red Sox in rumors for, literally, years. The appeal of his all-around package of offensive and defensive talents to the Sox was well-known. That, in turn, made the Red Sox a more appealing option to Gonzalez, as did his familiarity with team officials. Gonzalez was drafted first overall and signed by the Marlins when they were owned by current Sox owner John Henry, and David Finley, the area scout who tracked Gonzalez and recommended that he be taken with the first pick in 2000, is now a Red Sox Special Assistant to the GM.
The appeal of the Sox to Gonzalez goes further. For the first time in years, the 28-year-old will not have the Atlas-sized task of carrying a lineup. (Opponents have often chosen simply to pitch around the slugger, walking him 212 times in the last two years, third most — behind Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder — in the majors.) He will also be able to experience life in a ballpark other than Petco, whose capacious field tends to play like a relic from the days of Old Hoss Radbourn; in Fenway, the source believed, Gonzalez could “easily” become a perennial 40-home run hitter. (Gonzalez has achieved that milestone once before, in 2008.)
That being the case, it came as little surprise to the source that the deal got done after Gonzalez spent the weekend talking to Red Sox officials. The first baseman had heard rumors of other teams’ interest — including the Cubs and White Sox — but Boston ultimately always seemed like the most sensible fit. While an extension has not been worked out, all sides are seemingly comfortable that one will be, likely after Opening Day.
Clearly, this was a deal that all parties — the Red Sox, Padres and Gonzalez — wanted. And now, all that remains is the unveiling at a Fenway Park press conference on Monday at 11 a.m.
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