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Red Sox decline option on Craig Breslow 10.31.14 at 2:28 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced that they’ve declined their $4 million option for the 2015 season on left-handed reliever Craig Breslow. The 34-year-old went 2-4 with a 5.96 ERA in 60 relief appearances this season, a marked departure from a six-year stretch that had established him as one of the most consistent left-handers in the game, with a 2.82 ERA while averaging 62 innings and 65 games a year. It was that track record that led the Sox to sign Breslow to the first multi-year deal of his career, a two-year, $6.25 million deal that included the 2015 option.

Breslow proved a pivotal part of the Sox bullpen in 2013, posting a 1.81 ERA in the regular season and then seven scoreless innings in the first two rounds of the postseason before he faltered in the World Series, retiring just one of the seven batters he faced in three appearances, at a time when he was running on fumes. That October run undoubtedly had a lingering toll in 2014, with Breslow frustrated by his inability to perform to his customary levels.

“I’ve never before had to play the last game of such a miserable season,” Breslow said on the final day of the season. “There were a lot of firsts this year. I’ve never struggled like this at any point of my career. I’ve never had a full season that ended up like this, especially one that had significant expectations going on. The best part of this season is that it’s done. …

“I’m not looking for sympathy. I recognize that in my mind, and I think quite pragmatically, 2014 was the complement to 2013. I wouldn’t undo any of that. I would gladly make that sacrifice. As much as this stinks, being able to contribute to a team that won a World Series is something that guys play for 20 years and never get a chance to do,” he added. “I think it’s kind of like I had the ultimate high of highs last year and the ultimate low of lows last year and in 2015 I’ll go back to being the same guy I was for six of the last seven years.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Ben Cherington: Yoenis Cespedes’ agent switch ‘not going to change position’ of potential new contract 10.30.14 at 8:56 pm ET
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Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes

It has been an interesting week for all things related to Yoenis Cespedes.

A report in the N.Y. Daily News came out saying with Cespedes switching agents to Roc Nation, that “increased” the chances of the Red Sox trading him this offseason with Roc Nation, like it did with Robinson Cano, seeking a larger, long-term contract.

The report also said, “[Cespedes] marches to his own drum and the coaches all hate him.”

Appearing on the Hot Stove show with Mike Mutnansky, Rob Bradford and Alex Speier, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington shot down both those claims.

When the Red Sox traded for Cespedes at last year’s trade deadline they knew his contract status — a free agent after the 2015 season without the chance to give him a qualifying offer. Cherington said Cespedes changing agents isn’t going change the Red Sox‘ stance of possibly signing him long-term.

“We evaluated [the trade] based on having him a year-plus,” Cherington said. “I think to put in anything more than that would have been presumptuous and not would have made sense in terms of our evaluation of that field versus the alternatives we had at the time. We look at it as OK we have him for a year-plus. Once we have him, we’ll get to know him and we’€™ll see if it makes sense to talk about a contract past 2015.

“So now that we’€™ve had him, we have a sense of who he is and the change in agents is not going to do anything to our perspective on that. It’€™s not going to change our position on it. Obviously right now he is under contract for next year and we are looking forward to having him in the lineup next year.”

Cherington, like manager John Farrell, was “surprised” by the report of the coaches not liking Cespedes.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I think most of the people in the office, and John — we were talking about all sorts of stuff each day to gear up for the offseason and we saw that and it was a surprise because of the words that were used and it was so far from anything any of us had heard. John said what he said and I would echo that.

“We were excited to get Yoenis at the deadline and he fit in very quickly we thought in the clubhouse. He’€™s an extremely talented guy, an important guy for our team, an important guy for our lineup. All we’€™re trying to do is put him in the best position to succeed and to maximize his ability. We think he has the ability to be a terrific impact player for us and in baseball for a long time. We’€™re trying to help him be that guy and we really enjoy having him. The article was surprising on that front.”€

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Is there life after 40 for Koji Uehara and big league relievers? 10.30.14 at 6:52 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

A case can be made that Koji Uehara’s one-year deal that included a second-year vesting option, signed as a free agent in December 2012, represented one of the best free-agent deals in Red Sox history. Uehara performed at a level of historic distinction in both the regular season and postseason in 2013, and despite a blip at the end of the 2014 season, he remained an All-Star-caliber closer.

The Sox’ interest in re-signing him was no secret. Still, the fact that the 39-year-old — who will turn 40 at the start of next season — ended up signing a two-year deal counts as a mild surprise.

Should it? Can the Red Sox bank on Uehara, in his age 40 and 41 seasons, performing at something along the lines of what he did as a 38- and 39-year-old?

Uehara is the ninth reliever since 2000 to have back-to-back years at ages 38 and 39 of an ERA that was at least 20 percent better than league average while working at least 40 innings in each season. He joins closers such as Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman along with a number of middle relievers such as Takashi Saito and Darren Oliver. As a group, in their age 38-39 seasons, those nine pitchers logged a total of 1,063 innings with a 2.50 ERA.

Of course, since Uehara hasn’t had an opportunity to pitch beyond his age 39 season, it’s only worth examining his eight predecessors. That group logged a combined 925 innings with a 2.61 ERA in their age 38-39 seasons.

How’d they do beyond that? The results were … mixed. Brian Shouse and Steve Reed were close to done; both pitched just one more season in the big leagues. Russ Springer was a bit better than average (an ERA+ of 107) over the two years, while Dan Plesac enjoyed continued effectiveness (118 ERA+, 3.49 ERA) in his ongoing role as a left-handed specialist.

But four of those eight — the ones who were elite in the first place — remained elite over the first two years of pitching into their 40s: Read the rest of this entry »

Red Sox sign Koji Uehara to 2-year contract 10.30.14 at 5:20 pm ET
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Koji Uehara

Koji Uehara

The Red Sox have signed reliever Koji Uehara to a two-year contract, the team announced Thursday. The deal is worth $18 million total, according to a source.

Uehara has a 1.75 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 47 saves in 137 appearances since joining the Red Sox two years ago. After helping lead the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2013, Uehara’s ERA jumped from 1.09 to 2.52 this past season. Uehara turns 40 in April.

Check back for more.

Koji Uehara among four Red Sox declared free agents 10.30.14 at 2:09 pm ET
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The conclusion of the World Series marked the pivot from the baseball season to the offseason, and with it, the arrival of the market frenzy. As of today, 121 players have been declared free agents who are eligible to sign with any team beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 12:01 a.m. Between now and then, during what is referred to as the “quiet period,” players are free to negotiate contract terms with the teams with whom they finished the 2014 season. Players (and their representatives) can also talk to the other 29 teams, but they cannot discuss financial terms until Tuesday.

The Red Sox have four players who have been declared free agents, most prominently, closer Koji Uehara. Joining Uehara are reliever Burke Badenhop, catcher David Ross and right-hander Ryan Dempster, who spent 2014 on the restricted list after electing to sit out for the year as a potential prelude to retirement. Jon Lester, who finished the year with the A’s after being traded by the Red Sox, is also a free agent, as are left-hander Andrew Miller, outfielder Jonny Gomes and right-hander Jake Peavy, all of whom were traded mid-year.

For a complete list of free agents, click here.

Live Chat: Alex Speier talks Red Sox offseason, Top 10 prospect list, noon 10.30.14 at 10:16 am ET
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Join Alex Speier of WEEI.com for a live chat to talk all things Red Sox offseason, as well as his Baseball America list in which Speier ranks the Red Sox’ Top 10 prospects. Join Speier for the chat at noon, and listen to him, Rob Bradford and Mike Mutnansky for the “Hot Stove Show” at 7 p.m. on WEEI 93.7. Get your questions in now …

Live Blog Alex Speier live chat, noon
 

Madison Bumgarner leads Giants to 7th game win over Royals, 3rd World Series title in 5 years 10.29.14 at 11:25 pm ET
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Left-hander Madison Bumgarner came out of the bullpen to carry the Giants to their third title in five years. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner came out of the bullpen to carry the Giants to their third title in five years. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

A World Series that lacked drama through most of the first six games evidently saved its thrills for the winner-take-all Game 7, with the San Francisco Giants emerging to claim a 3-2 victory over the Royals. The Giants are champions for the third time in five years, making them the first team since the 1998-2000 Yankees to win three World Series titles in as few as five years and just the third team in the last 40 years (in addition to those Yankees and the 1972-74 Athletics) to claim three titles in such a brief period. In claiming the win in Kauffman Stadium, the Giants became the first team since the 1979 Pirates to win a World Series Game 7 on the road.

Madison Bumgarner, already the defining force in the World Series after allowing just one run in 16 innings while earning wins in Games 1 and 5, punctuated his MVP performance with five scoreless innings of relief, inheriting a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning and navigating it to the finish line. He gave up a single to the first batter he faced and then retired the next 14 in a row before Alex Gordon drove a two-out single to left-center in the ninth, the ball skipping past the center fielder for an error that permitted Gordon to race to third. But with the tying run 90 feet from the plate, Bumgarner induced a foul pop-up from Royals catcher Salvador Perez that was secured by third baseman Pablo Sandoval to give the Giants their title.

Bumgarner allowed just nine hits and 10 baserunners in 21 innings during the World Series, with his career World Series ERA now at 0.25 over 36 innings, the best mark in World Series history by a pitcher with at least 20 innings in the Fall Classic. He was credited with the Game 7 win, his third of the Series, becoming the 14th pitcher in the history of the World Series with three victories in a single year, and the second (along with Randy Johnson in 2001) since 1968 to accomplish the feat.

UPDATE: Approximately one hour after the conclusion of the game, the official scorer changed the discretionary interpretation of Bumgarner as the game’s victor, and instead gave the win to Giants (and former Royals) reliever Jeremy Affeldt, with Bumgarner receiving credit for a five-inning save. It marked the first five-inning save in playoff history.

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