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Drake Britton on leaving Red Sox: ‘It definitely caught me off guard’ 02.04.15 at 10:46 pm ET
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Drake Britton

Drake Britton

As of about a week ago, Drake Britton one only thinking about one thing — proving to the Red Sox that he could be a valuable member of their 2015 bullpen.

He had remained in Boston for the offseason, working out at Fenway Park, and was set to fly down to Fort Myers Friday to kick off his spring training workouts.

But then, last Friday, he got the word — the Red Sox signed free agent Alexi Ogando, leading to the team designating the 25-year-old lefty for assignment.

Then, Tuesday afternoon, Britton got the call from Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington that the pitcher had been picked up off waivers by the Cubs.

“That’€™s why it was such a big shock to me because I made a lot of sacrifices to stay up here and to workout like I did,” Britton said by phone. “I was excited to go into spring training with the Red Sox just to show that they should keep me and prove to them I made the proper adjustments and the things I needed to do to stand out. I didn’€™t get that opportunity with them, but now I have the opportunity to go over to Chicago and show them what I got.”

The decision clearly wasn’€™t an easy one for the Red Sox, who were ready to have the Sox’€™ 23rd round pick in the 2007 draft compete for a spot in the bullpen. But after the acquisition of lefty Robbie Ross, and knowing that Britton was out of options, the organization’€™s hand was forced.

Considering Britton’€™s stuff, his moderate success as a major league reliever (2.93 ERA in 27 2/3 innings), and the Cubs’€™ front office’€™s familiarity with the former Texas high school standout, the final outcome wasn’€™t as much of a surprise for Britton as the Red Sox’€™ initial decision to take him off the 40-man roster

“It definitely did,” said Britton when asked if the DFA took him by surprise. “Obviously I’€™ve been in the organization long enough and gone through some things that I understand the business side, which is why have their reasons for what they’€™re doing. I can’€™t control it. I would have loved to play my whole career in Boston. I loved it there, everything about it. It definitely caught me off guard. But when one door closes, another one opens. I’€™m just excited to be part of the Cubs now.

“I have respect for those guys. I would like to think part of it was tough, and that I made enough of an impact on the field that it wasn’€™t an easy decision. I respect their decision and they’€™re going to have a great team. It just caught me off guard.”

The reality is that Britton may have an easier path to the majors with the Cubs then he would have with the Sox. Chicago is currently light on lefty relievers, carrying Zac Rosscup, Joe Ortiz and Pedro Feliciano (who will attend spring training on a minor-league deal).

“I’€™m excited. I’€™m just ready to get it going,” he said. “I ‘€˜m ready to get to Arizona and get it going. I found out the news and I was shocked at first. I was nervous playing the waiting game wondering where I was going to go, having had all my plans to go down to Fort Myers. But now I excited to be headed to the Cubs.”

Cubs haul in another Red Sox, this time claiming Drake Britton 02.04.15 at 3:26 pm ET
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Drake Britton

Drake Britton

After already securing the services of pitchers Felix Doubront, Jon Lester and Daniel Bard, along with catcher David Ross, former Red Sox executives Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have gone back to their roots once again.

The Cubs claimed Drake Britton off waivers from the Red Sox, who designated the pitcher for assignment upon signing free agent Alexi Ogando.

It isn’t a surprise that the Cubs took a chance on Britton, adding the lefty to their 40-man roster while bumping off Gonzalez German. While the 25-year-old is out of options, he has shown flashes of effectiveness out of a major league bullpen.

After turning in a stellar spring training for the majority of his stay in Fort Myers last year, Britton struggled at Triple-A Pawtucket (5.86 in 45 appearances) before bouncing back to turn in a strong showing over a seven-game stint with the Red Sox (6.2 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeotus).

Last season was Britton’s first full campaign as a reliever, having been groomed as a starter up until a mid-season promotion by the Red Sox in 2013.

Britton joined the Red Sox organization as a 23rd round pick in the 2007 draft out of Tomball (TX) High.

A primer for Red Sox’ interest in Yoan Moncada 02.04.15 at 2:56 pm ET
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You’€™ve probably heard the name Yoan Moncada by now.

He’€™s the soon-to-be 20-year-old shortstop who has been identified as one of the best recent prospects to come out of Cuba, with one talent evaluator telling WEEI.com his talent was “comfortably equivalent to the top of the first round” of the MLB Draft.

But you also might be a bit confused as to where things stand in regards to Moncada’€™s availability. To guide you through he chaos, here are some points of interest when it comes to the next big Cuban major league talent.

– Yes, the Red Sox are interested in Moncada, having put the 6-foot-1, switch-hitter through a private workout. According to reports, the Yankees, Dodgers and Tigers are also some of the teams in the mix.

– Moncada can’€™t be signed to a major league deal. As of a few years ago, a player would have to be 23 years old while having played in the Cuban League for five years to be eligible for such a contract. (Jose Iglesias wasn’€™t restricted by such rules when he signed as a teenager, allowing the Red Sox to ink the shortstop to a big league deal.)

– Moncada told MLB.com that he hopes to sign with a team soon. “My goal is to sign with a team soon, start training with them, and make it to the major leagues as fast as I can with whichever team that might be,” Moncada told the outlet. “I know I’m going to do the best I can for as long as I can in this sport.”

– The biggest cost for any team signing Moncada will be the signing bonus. It wasn’€™t clear as of Wednesday if there would be a blind bidding (as was the case with Jose Abreu) or if there would be some sort of negotiating involed.

– Since the Red Sox blew through their international spending pool for 2014 ‘€“ committing $1.5 million for Dominican pitcher Christopher Acosta, and $1.8 million Venezuelan hurler Anderson Espinosa — the club would be taxed 100 percent on any signing bonus committed to Moncada. So if the bonus was $10 million, that’€™s what the Red Sox would also have to send to MLB.

– If Moncada waited until after June 15 (the beginning of the quiet window for international signing before July 2 kicks off the 2015 signing period), the Red Sox wouldn’€™t be able to be in the mix for the shortstop. Since they exceeded their pool money for 2014, the Sox are now not allowed to send a signing bonus of more than $300,000 to any international player for the next two years. Clearly, that would not allow the Red Sox to enter into Moncada’€™s price range.

– The international spending pool for each team is slotted depending on where it finished the year before, with the Red Sox having to exist at the lowest end last season (around $3 million) thanks to their World Series run of 2013.

Hope this helped. Stay tuned …

EL TROGON: Cuban baseball phenom Yoan Moncada from Sami Khan on Vimeo.

Jackie Bradley says he’s going ‘all Marshawn Lynch’ this time around 02.04.15 at 1:31 am ET
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Jackie Bradley works out at JetBlue Park Tuesday morning.  (WEEI.com)

Jackie Bradley works out at JetBlue Park Tuesday morning. (WEEI.com)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s still almost three weeks before spring training officially kicks off for the entire Red Sox team, but Jackie Bradley is still making a point of setting the stage for his 2015 in these early days of February.

Bradley has been spending his days in and around JetBlue Park for more than a month now, often executing days similar to Tuesday’s schedule — more than three hours of hitting, fielding, running and lifting.

And, Tuesday, there was also the opportunity to express his intended approach to other things, as well.

“I’m going to go all Marshawn Lynch this year,” the Red Sox outfielder said.

What Bradley was referencing, of course, was his goal of duplicating the Seattle Seahawks‘ running back’s interview style. Lynch has made a practice of offering little to no insight in interviews, letting his on-field actions tell his tale.

Considering the uneasiness that accompanied Bradley’s 2014 season, he feels a need to simplify things … Beast Mode style.

“I just focus on me. I have to do what I’€™ve got to do. I don’€™t even talk about it to anybody,” Bradley told WEEI.com after his Tuesday workout. “Action speaks louder than words, and that’€™s pretty much this whole year is going to be. I won’€™t have much to say. I’€™m just going to go out there and take care of business.”

All things considered, it’s understandable.

Explaining what transpired in ’14 became increasingly difficult for Bradley, who never found any sort of offensive groove to complement Gold Glove-level defense. He finished with a .198 batting average and .531 OPS, both of which would be at the bottom of big leaguers if his 423 plate appearances qualified to be counted.

Then came a 1-for-36 stretch to end the season, making for an uneasy exit from his second major league season.

So it was no mystery that Bradley would be looking to get away and find the approach that would get him back to the status he carried two spring trainings ago.

“Just me and family time,” he said when asked what his offseason entailed. “Just doing me.”

“Just doing me,” he reiterated. “Just came in here blank slate and started doing what I normally do. It’€™s just having faith in myself, believing in myself and trusting myself.”

Bradley has put on eight pounds of muscle, tipping the scales at 200 pounds for the first time in his career.

While the Red Sox’ outfield conversation rarely involves the 24-year-old these days, if he is able to turn in the kind of offensive production of his 2013 exhibition season (hitting .419 with a 1.120 OPS) the conversation will surely change.

“I feel great right now. I’€™m in a good place,” he said. “There’€™s no difference for me. I use spring training to get ready for the season. That’€™s when everything counts. That’€™s what I’€™m focused on. Get ready for the season, and April, and let everything else work itself out.

“Action, not words. Words are gone now this year. Put up or shut up.”

Red Sox players are throwing, hitting baseballs in Fort Myers 02.03.15 at 11:30 am ET
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FORT MYERS — The first official day of spring training isn’t until Feb. 21, but that doesn’t mean a few Red Sox players might want to use the spacious facilities at JetBlue Park to ease into February instead of whatever wintery place they have been calling home.

One of those players who chose to get a jump-start on things is Rick Porcello, whose other options of riding out the winter were his New Jersey home, or the family get-away in Vermont.

Porcello, under the watchful eye of pitching coach Juan Nieves, threw about 40 pitches off the mound.

Also in attendance (with a smattering of minor leaguers, were outfielder Jackie Bradley and top catching prospect Blake Swihart.

Justin Masterson is already in town, as is Pablo Sandoval, both of whom are scheduled to continue their JetBlue workouts Wednesday. Hanley Ramirez, who was expected to show up around the beginning of February, will now arrive in about 10 days, waiting for most of the coaches to be in attendance.

Blake Swihart (WEEI.com)

Blake Swihart (WEEI.com)

Jackie Bradley (WEEI.com)

Jackie Bradley (WEEI.com)

Mike Napoli goes all Richard Sherman on Richard Sherman 02.02.15 at 5:48 pm ET
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One thing we have learned from Mike Napoli‘s Twitter account over the past few days — he’s a Patriots fan.

Immediately after the Patriots’ Super Bowl win Sunday night, Napoli writing that he had the urge to duplicate his Boylston St. romp after the 2013 World Series win.

And then, Monday, the Red Sox first baseman fired back at Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman with a pair of tweets …

John Farrell likes what he’s getting in Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross; confirms Brandon Workman will be reliever 01.31.15 at 5:59 pm ET
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Even with a fairly full bullpen, Red Sox manager John Farrell had stated that it would be nice to get one more answer against right-handed hitters.

Friday, he got his wish.

After watching Alexi Ogando’s workout in Tampa, and the days leading up to the well-attended event, the Red Sox (and Farrell, who didn’t attend but watched video of the exercise) came away confident enough to lock up the rigthy to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with incentives.

“The expectation is to have a right-handed reliever who has had a lot of success late in the game, particularly against right-handed hitters,” Farrell said by phone Saturday afternoon. “He complements the other right-handers we have in our bullpen with that hard slider he has. The contrast of style and experience, adds to a very good group.

“He showed good arm strength. He was 93-94 mph in the bullpen. I thought what was equally important to the one outing was the work he had a couple of days prior, with some aggressive long-toss to nearly out 200 feet with a light bullpen and then the bullpen teams saw. At least there was some indication for the recovery rate with as aggressive as the work day was, showing the power that he did. Then with the physical that we put him through, we feel like he’€™s in a good place physically.”

Ogando, who struggled with elbow issues in 2014, has a history of using a wipeout slider to dominate right-handed hitters. In 2012, when he made the American League All-Star team as a reliever, the hurler held righty hitters to just a .179 batting average and .598 OPS.

But Ogando’s effectiveness diminished over the past two seasons thanks to shoulder and elbow ailments, taking away the bite on his slider and velocity on what had been an upper-90’s fastball.

But after watching Ogando’s recent workouts, putting him through a physical, and talking to the pitcher about his offseason workouts, the Red Sox don’t feel the 31-year-old will have to be babied throughout the early portion of spring training.

“In meeting with him yesterday, he feels like he’€™ll throw a normal number of bullpens prior to coming to camp. But we’€™re aware of what took place the last couple of years,” Farrell said. “So we he will start with all of his pitchers. It’€™s not like he comes in with special needs. But if we feel it’€™s best to give him an added day of rest now and then, we can certainly work that in.”

Another potential answer against righty hitters is newly-acquired Robbie Ross, who came over from Texas in a trade for Anthony Ranaudo. While Ross struggled in 2014, the Red Sox feel a full-time return to the bullpen (he started ’14 in the Rangers’ rotation) will do a world of good.

“One, we’€™re going to put him back in the bullpen with his stuff having the chance to play up with better velocity and better late action,” Farrell said of the lefty. “His first two years in the big leagues speaks to that role very well. What allows him to get right-handers out is that he has such a late cutter that guys don’€™t see that he can jam a righty and then he can make them give up on a cutter back on the outside corner with the backdoor. We just feel like it’€™s a better role for him in shorter stints.

“When he was a starter facing lineups multiple times he tried to sink a little bit. His four-seam fastball naturally cuts so to try and throw a sinker kind of works against the way he’€™s built and not at the same quality as his normal four-seam or cutter. Provided both guys are healthy and regain some previous form, these guys are two guys who have pitched extremely well out of the bullpen.”

The Red Sox now have what would seem to be a full bullpen, with Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica, Craig Breslow, Anthony Varvaro, Ogando and Ross seemingly having locked in spots. If there is a wild card to make the group, however, it might be Brandon Workman, whom Farrell confirmed will start spring training as a reliever. Matt Barnes, however, is going to be groomed as a starter despite spending time in a relief role as a major leaguer at the end of ’14.

“I met with Brandon at Winter Weekend (last weekend in Foxwoods) and let him know to think along the lines of coming in as a reliever and that’€™s where we see him,” the manager explained.

Red Sox sign Alexi Ogando to one-year deal; Drake Britton designated for assignment 01.30.15 at 4:12 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced come to terms on a one-year deal for pitcher Alexi Ogando. FoxSports.com, who was first to surface the agreement, reports the deal is worth $1.5 million. USA Today adds that incentives can push the deal up by another $1.5 million.

To make room for Ogando on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated Drake Britton for assignment. Britton is out of options.

Ogando battled physical issues in 2014, making 27 appearances (all out of the bullpen), and compiling a 6.84 ERA. His most recent issues have involved his right (pitching) elbow.

Prior to ’14, the 31-year-old had success both as a starter and reliever. In 2011, he made the All-Star team, finishing with a 13-8 mark and 3.51 ERA in 29 starts. The following season he pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen, totaling a 3.27 ERA in 58 appearances (57 as a reliever).

Ogando was effective in ’13, making 17 starts and 23 appearances on the way to a 7-4 mark with a 3.11 ERA. But he was sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, an issue that plagued him the rest of the season.

The righty was beset with arm problems throughout ’14, leading the Rangers to non-tender him. Ogando recently performed a showcase for interested teams in Tampa, with the Red Sox one of the dozen or so teams attending.

If healthy, Ogando could factor into the Red Sox’ late-inning relief plans. During his best season as a reliever in ’12, the right-hander held righty hitters to just a .179 batting average. Without the bite on his slider last season, that number jumped to .327.

According to major league talent evaluators, Ogando could still be an effective option out of the bullpen, but only if his workload is managed.

Daniel Nava reflects on becoming a millionaire (and updates approach to switch-hitting) 01.30.15 at 7:59 am ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

Not bad for a guy who once got a check for $52 during his first year as professional baseball player.

Daniel Nava’s story isn’t a secret: Cut from his college team, he became equipment manager; Cut from his independent league team, he was brought back to fill out the roster; Sold to the Red Sox by the Chico Outlaws for $1.

But it is because of this path that taking stock of getting that one-year, $1.85 million contract he secured Thursday seems so important for the 31-year-old. (For details on Nava’s contract settlement, click here.)

“For every player it means something different,” said Nava, who made $800 a month playing in independent baseball as recently as 2009. “If you sign a big signing bonus, you’€™re fortunate and it’€™s not as much of a big deal. But being that I didn’€™t have a big signing bonus, to have this opportunity, to me it means a lot to have this opportunity. It means I was fortunate to be in the league for three years and I honestly didn’€™t know if I was ever to have a chance to be in the league this long. It has a little bit more of a special place for me than it might have for someone else, and that’€™s not knocking someone else’€™s journey. To me, arbitration means a lot. So whatever the number was I almost look at it as an added bonus on top of bonus of just being in the league for three years.

“I’€™m grateful the Red Sox have allowed me to play for them for three years. And I’€™m grateful to have the opportunity that the union worked so hard to allow this opportunity to be what it is. The players that have gone before have done a great job of allowing it to be what it is right now. That’€™s something we shouldn’€™t forget. I’€™m grateful I have this chance, I really am. So I don’€™t take it lightly one bit, especially considering all the things I was doing before I got this point.”

And now that he has settled his arbitration issue, Nava can fully turn his attention to the 2015 season. He continues to workout at EXOS (former Athletes Performance) in Phoenix, while flirting with the idea of altering his approach to switch-hitting.

“Essentially, all I’€™m going to be doing different is just trying to see how lefty on lefty feels, but I’€™m still going to be working as a switch-hitter,” Nava said. “I’€™m not going to completely give it up because I don’€™t know how I am going to feel doing it. But to clarify, I definitely have thought about going lefty-lefty. But I’€™m not fully committed to doing one side or another. I really have to see what lefty-lefty feels like. But I’€™m open to doing to hopefully get myself on the field more and be more productive.”

Daniel Nava agrees to one-year, $1.85 million deal with Red Sox 01.29.15 at 5:54 pm ET
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Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava

The Red Sox announced they have come to terms with Daniel Nava on a one-year deal, avoiding salary arbitration. According to a major league source, the outfielder will make $1.85 million for the 2015 season.

This was the first year Nava was eligible for arbitration, who was asking for $2.25 million with the Red Sox countering at $1.3 million. (For the outfielder’s thoughts on the process, click here.)

The Red Sox now have one arbitration-eligible player who remains unsigned, Wade Miley. The lefty pitcher has asked for $4.3 million, with the team countering at $3.4 million.

Junichi Tazawa and Rick Porcello, who were both eligible for arbitration, previously agreed to terms. Tazawa signed for $2.25 million, while Porcello came in at $12.5 million.

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