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Ryan Kalish suggests he’s open to Red Sox return after being non-tendered 12.03.13 at 12:46 pm ET
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Ryan Kalish (AP)

Ryan Kalish (AP)

Outfielder Ryan Kalish, who on Monday became a free agent after the Red Sox declined to tender him a contract in order to free a spot on their 40-man roster, said on Monday night that he felt only gratitude towards the organization that drafted him in 2006 and with whom he’d spent his entire professional career. While Kalish said that he didn’t know what to expect from free agency, he suggested that he would keep an open mind regarding the Red Sox.

“I’m not sure where this will go, but the Red Sox mean a lot to me,” said Kalish. “That’s not something that I’m going to take lightly.”

Kalish said that he is feeling better now — almost four months removed from a second surgical procedure on his neck — than he has in years, and he remains optimistic that he can reclaim the promise that he showed when he was last healthy in the big leagues as a 22-year-old in 2010. Regardless of whether his next move is a minor league deal or a big league contract, the 25-year-old sees reason for enthusiasm about the possibilities in front of him.

“I’m just ready to go out there and play — whether it’s in the major leagues right away or if it’s in Double-A. I don’t care. I don’t care at all. I’m just ready to compete again, I’m ready to play, and I think it’s there, man. I really do,” said Kalish. “I’m just kind of excited to see where this goes,” he added. “I’m feeling myself come back from that frail, fragile person that I felt I was. Right now, I’m getting the athleticism back. I was just with my family and we were playing tennis and just having a good time together. It’s starting to come back and I’m really excited to try and get out there and improve my health wherever that may be.”

For more from Kalish, click here.

Buy high or buy low? A.J. Pierzynski vs. Jarrod Saltalamacchia 12.03.13 at 11:38 am ET
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Jarrod Saltalamacchia is coming off the best year of his career. A.J. Pierzynski is coming off one of his worst. And so, naturally, the Red Sox moved on from the former to sign the latter.

A.J. Pierzynski (AP)

A.J. Pierzynski (AP)

The decision wasn’t made in a vacuum. The Red Sox hold catching prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart in tremendously high regard, with a sense that both have futures as major league starters, with Swihart representing a potential All-Star. The projected 2015 big league ETA of Vazquez and 2016 projection for Swihart’s big league readiness left the Sox in a position where a deal of no more than two years represented the ideal scenario to avoid a catching bottleneck.

As such, Saltalamacchia’s quest for a three-year deal represented an imperfect fit for the Sox. That said, the one-year deal for Pierzynski also represents a less-than-ideal scenario for the Sox, who are now somewhat exposed at catcher beyond the 2014 season, given that the team’s two anticipated big league catchers (Pierzynski and David Ross) both will be 37 years old in 2014 and both will be free agents after next year. If Vazquez struggles in 2014, then the Sox could be left to scramble to create another catching bridge. (Though it’s worth noting that a number of team officials view Dan Butler as a solid major league-ready catcher with a long future as a backup who is expected to open the year in Triple-A with Vazquez.)

Still, in order to accommodate that preference, the Sox look like a team that has made a willing decision to take an offensive step back in 2014. After all, Saltalamacchia was clearly and significantly the more productive of the two players last season. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, blake swihart, christian vazquez, Dan Butler
Sources: Red Sox agree to one-year deal with A.J. Pierzynski 12.03.13 at 8:11 am ET
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A.J. Pierzynski has agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Sox. (AP)

A.J. Pierzynski has agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Sox. (AP)

According to multiple industry sources, the Red Sox have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Buster Olney of ESPN.com reported that Pierzynski, if he passes the physical, will be paid $8.25 million.

The catcher, who turns 37 this month, hit .272 with a .297 OBP and .425 slugging mark along with 17 homers in 134 games for the Rangers in 2013, continuing a track record of remarkable durability — he’s played 120 or more games in 12 straight seasons. He has a career line of .283/.322/.428. Pierzynski would offer the Red Sox a left-handed complement to David Ross while signalling the almost certain end of Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s tenure with the Red Sox.

While it’s not yet known whether Pierzynski’s deal is for one or two seasons, the Red Sox had wanted to limit the term of any deal with catchers to two seasons, in part to keep the door open for the emergence of their homegrown catching prospects. Saltalamacchia, a 28-year-old coming off a career-best season, has been seeking at least three years this offseason. That duration was problematic for the Sox, given the presence in their system of Christian Vazquez — considered one of the best defensive catching prospects in the minors, who will open the 2014 season in Triple-A — and Blake Swihart, who has the potential to be an above-average offensive and defensive everyday catchter and will open the year in Double-A. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: A.J. Pierzynski, blake swihart, christian vazquez, jarrod saltalamacchia
Red Sox face decisions on Andrew Bailey, Ryan Kalish and others 12.02.13 at 12:26 pm ET
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The Red Sox must decide on Monday whether to offer right-hander Andrew Bailey arbitration to secure his services for 2014. (AP)

The Red Sox must decide on Monday whether to offer right-hander Andrew Bailey arbitration to secure his services for 2014. (AP)

A midnight deadline looms for teams to tender contracts to the players on their 40-man roster who, with less than six years of big league service time, remain under team control. In the case of the Red Sox, that means five mostly straightforward decisions on arbitration-eligible players as well as some additional decision regarding players who are not yet arbitration-eligible but whose roster spots are in question at a time when the Red Sox will need to round out their major league roster with additional players.

First, the arbitration-eligible players: left-handed relievers Franklin Morales and Andrew Miller as well as right-hander Junichi Tazawa all project to make less than $2 million through salary arbitration, a modest sum given their abilities. Miller is expected to be healthy in 2013 after he underwent season-ending foot surgery for a torn ligament last July; his stuff was among the most dominant of any left-hander’s in baseball prior to the injury. Tazawa endured some ups and downs but still offers excellent bang for the buck as a late-innings right-hander who attacks the strike zone and gets swings and misses. Morales (2-2, 4.62 ERA in 20 games and 25 1/3 innings) had a disappointing year after his strong showing in 2012, but his upside (a left-hander with three swing-and-miss pitches) is such that he represents a worthwhile investment in his third year of arbitration-eligibility. First baseman/outfielder Mike Carp may assume a growing role with the Red Sox if Mike Napoli leaves in free agency; given his tremendous offensive production against right-handed pitchers in 2013, he’s a lock to get tendered. Newcomer Burke Badenhop will also be tendered. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: andrew miller, Brayan Villarreal, Burke Badenhop, franklin morales
Rafael Furcal says Red Sox among teams interested in him 11.30.13 at 6:56 pm ET
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Rafael Furcal, who missed all of 2013, said that the Red Sox are among teams that have expressed interest in him. (AP)

Rafael Furcal, who missed all of 2013, said that the Red Sox are among teams that have expressed interest in him. (AP)

Free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, who missed all of 2013 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, told ESPNDeportes.com that the Red Sox are one of several teams with whom he is talking about a potential deal. He suggested the Sox, Mets, Marlins, Nationals, Pirates and Rockies were among the teams to demonstrate interest in him.

The 36-year-old, who hit .264 with a .325 OBP and .346 slugging mark along with 12 steals in 121 games for the Cardinals in 2012, told the website that he wants to play for a contender that can maximize his playing time. While he has only played shortstop and second base in his career, Furcal said in the interview that he would be open to playing other positions as well.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said last week that the Sox are looking to increase their depth on the left side of the infield. Presumably, that would mean either re-signing Stephen Drew to be the everyday shortstop or signing a veteran such as Furcal as someone capable of providing protection at a number of infield positions.

Furcal, a veteran of 13 seasons, is a career .281/.346/.403 hitter with 314 career steals. The 2000 National League Rookie of the Year is a three-time All-Star, having participated in the showcase in 2003, 2010 and 2012. He said that he is about to start a throwing program, and will steadily increase his workload while working towards a healthy return in spring training.

Agent: ‘No medical issues hindering [Jarrod Saltalamacchia's] market’ 11.27.13 at 2:17 pm ET
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Agent Jim Munsey, who represents free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, denied a suggestion by ESPN’s Buster Olney on WEEI that medical concerns might be at the heart of the slow-developing market for his client’s services. Olney wondered if the decision by some clubs in search of catching help to turn elsewhere might be a function of any health issues in the 28-year-old’s medical dossier.

“I think the big question about Saltalamacchia — and believe me, you hear a lot of different things about a lot of different guys and I don’t know what’s in Jarrod’s file — but in some cases, some of the intransigence in the market is related to whatever’s in the medical file,” said Olney. “We saw it last winter with Mike Napoli where not only did the Red Sox reduce their file down to one year and $5 million but no other team jumped in based on the same information. With catchers, it’s certainly going to be one of the first things you’re going to look at. It says a lot that you have the Cubs and a number of other teams that are out there potentially looking at catchers, no one’s jumping up.”

Munsey denied that teams in general — and the Cubs in particular — had raised concerns about Saltalamacchia’s health.

“Salty has just finished his third straight year without being on the DL, which makes him different from both [Brian] McCann and [Carlos] Ruiz,” Munsey said in a statement, referencing free agents who had agreed to deals of five and three years this winter. “There are no medical issues hindering his market. Specifically, the Cubs are simply allocating funds elsewhere and don’t believe they could compete for what is believed to be Salty’s market and have an excellent catcher [Wellington Castillo] in place already. There was simply no discussion whatever with them about any medical issue. None. To speculate otherwise is pretty irresponsible. To conclude that no one is ‘jumping up’ would likewise be speculative. Some agents prefer to perform their responsibilities outside of the media spotlight. Just because you’re not hearing it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”

Saltalamacchia hit .273/.338/.466 with 14 homers and 40 doubles while playing in 121 regular season games in 2013. According to multiple industry sources, he’s been in search of a deal of at least three years. While the Red Sox have been in dialogue with Munsey, according to sources, they have shown a clear preference to limit the term of any deals for catchers (whether Ruiz, whom they pursued, or Saltalamacchia) to two years given the team’s belief that prospects Christian Vazquez (who will open the year in Triple-A) and Blake Swihart (who will start 2014 in Double-A) represent future starting options.

Read More: jarrod saltalamacchia, jim munsey,
Larry Lucchino: ‘You can’t fall in love with your veterans’ 11.25.13 at 10:40 pm ET
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Larry Lucchino

Larry Lucchino

The Red Sox executed a well-defined template last winter in trying to emerge from the wreckage of a 69-win season. On Monday, as team CEO/president Larry Lucchino prepared to see the Wang Theatre premier of the Official 2013 World Series Film that stood as a testament to that approach, he acknowledged that it might prove difficult to repeat that formula.

Lucchino said that it remains premature to say whether the market has moved in an unexpected direction. Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the early stages of the offseason have produced “a couple of big contracts … for a couple of big guys,” and that “everyone is expecting [the market] will go up because nothing ever goes down and because there’s new television money available.”

That reality suggests that the Sox may face a different offseason landscape than they did last year. Then, their mandate was to improve, and they were able to follow a principled route to do so. The team focused on limiting the term of the contracts given (all seven of the free agents whom they acquired received deals of three or fewer years) — sometimes giving players more dollars to do so — while also preserving all of its draft picks by avoiding signing any players who had received qualifying offers from their former clubs.

This year, Lucchino suggested, the team would like to follow a similar script. But that won’t necessarily be possible.

“Fewer years, more dollars — it’s our preferred model, but you can never get exactly what you want,” said Lucchino.”We still value the draft picks enormously, and our behavior has shown that. We still prefer shorter to longer-term contract. We have a presumption against really long-term contracts. A lot of things we did last year proved to be successful, at least in the short term, so I think we’re going to behave accordingly going forward.

“You need to have a diverse portfolio of contracts. Some will be longer than you want. Some will be heavy at the front end. You’ve got to mix the structure of all the contracts so you have the kind of diversity you need for long-term stability.” Read the rest of this entry »

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