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What are the Red Sox’ options with Alfredo Aceves? 02.18.13 at 6:38 am ET
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Alfredo Aceves

FORT MYERS, Fla. — It’s no secret. The Red Sox are watching pitcher Alfredo Aceves carefully this spring to figure out whether the pitcher’s tremendous individual talent can fit within the overall team concept.

The fact that manager John Farrell and pitching coach Juan Nieves had to talk to him on Sunday, after the pitcher spent what was intended to be a live batting practice session lobbing pitches gently towards home plate, suggested at least a yellow flag for the pitcher’s relationship with the team, if not yet a red one — particularly given his growing history of suspect behavior with the Red Sox.

For now, it would appear that the team will try to work with Aceves and see if the rubber-armed right-hander, who avoided arbitration last month by agreeing to a $2.65 million non-guaranteed salary for the 2013 season, can move in the same direction as his teammates. But if he doesn’t, and if the team decides it does not want him on its big league roster this year, what options does it have?

– Obviously, the team could trade Aceves. In doing so, the team would likely get little return given the makeup questions that surround him, but perhaps another team would absorb some or all of his salary.

– The team could waive Aceves; if another team claimed him, the Sox could simply cut ties and let the other club assume his contract. Read the rest of this entry »

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Kevin Youkilis takes stock of his place with the Red Sox 02.20.12 at 2:44 pm ET
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FORT MYERS — In 2004, Kevin Youkilis was the only rookie member of the first Red Sox championship team in 86 years. That being the case, he now finds himself at an unfamiliar vantage point.

Tim Wakefield has retired. Jason Varitek is not in camp, and may likewise be at the end of his tenure with the Red Sox.

That leaves Youkilis — who was taken by the Sox in the eighth round of the 2001 draft — as the longest tenured member of the organization, and the second-longest tenured member of the Red Sox big league roster, behind only David Ortiz (who started his Boston career in 2003, one year before Youkilis was called up).

“We’re very close to having no 2004 players. I get it now. It is kind of wild that that 2004 team, there’s only two of us left,” said Youkilis. “It’s crazy. I don’t know if that makes us seem older and how time flies. It’s definitely kind of weird. … That’s kind of the way baseball is. Guys keep coming and going. For us, David and I have definitely gotten a lot closer over the years. It’s one of those things like, ‘Man, can you believe we’re the only ones left here?’ I guess we’ve just got to keep that torch going for as many years as we can.”

Of course, the question of how long Youkilis will be entrusted with torch-carrying responsibilities with the Red Sox is an increasingly prominent one. The 32-year-old (he turns 33 next month) retained his status as one of the top hitters in the American League through the first half of last year, hitting .285 with a .399 OBP, .512 slugging mark and .911 OPS to earn a berth in the All-Star game. But, following the break, he was unable to remain productive while trying to play through a sports hernia and bursitis in his hip.

Youkilis hit .199 with a .314 OBP, .346 slugging mark and .660 OPS along with four homers in his last 37 games. He missed most of the final six weeks of the season due to his injuries, and was helpless to help pull his club out of its spiral.

“To sit back there and see all the losing and go in the clubhouse and see guys so upset and hurt, it’s tough. It was tough to watch,” said Youkilis. “No matter what you say, you can’t do anything. So when you sit there and you want to give advice and you put your little two cents in here and there, really it just hurts more to sit back and see guys pretty upset and beat up mentally from losing.” Read the rest of this entry »

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The conclusion of a deal that was a long time in the making 04.15.11 at 4:28 pm ET
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There was a last moment of panic. John Boggs, the agent for Adrian Gonzalez, had a sudden vision of his client’s seven-year, $154 million agreement with the Red Sox going up in smoke.

On Sunday night, Boggs was watching the Red Sox play the Yankees. He cringed when he saw New York ace CC Sabathia drilling his client on the right hand with a 94 mph fastball.

“The other day when he got hit by CC [Sabathia], I aged a hundred years,” joked Boggs. “Trust me, up until I landed this morning at God knows what time on a red eye, you’re hoping that everything is going to be in place. … But Adrian was fine with it. Usually the peripheral people are the ones who carry a lot of the stress, because his job is to get out there and play ball.”

Gonzalez was fine, and so there was no unexpected hurdle presented to the consummation of the deal. All the same, that doesn’t mean that the marriage of Gonzalez and the Sox through the 2018 season was always certain to take place.

When the Red Sox negotiated in December with Gonzalez and his agents, Boggs and Tony Cabral, all parties knew what Gonzalez’ bottom line was for a long-term deal. But for a time, it looked as if the deal wouldn’t happen.

The Sox weren’t going to complete their four-player trade — which sent top prospects Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes, along with utility man Eric Patterson to the Padres — for Gonzalez unless they could get him signed to a long-term deal. And for their part, Gonzalez and his agents weren’t going to accept a deal for a figure below what they considered a fair market wage; at the end of the two-day negotiating window permitted by Major League Baseball, the Sox still hadn’t reached that mark.

Gonzalez and his agents walked away from the negotiating table and returned to their hotel, convinced that the first baseman would return to the Padres, play out his $6.3 million option for 2011 and then hit free agency. Given that Gonzalez had long embraced the idea of playing for the Red Sox while hearing his name attached to Boston via rumors for years, it was a significant let-down.

“When we didn’t get there, and the last offer wasn’t our bottom line, trust me, it wasn’t very easy but we had to get up and we left,” said Boggs. “It was a feeling I hope I never replicate. When you’re looking at that kind of significant dollars, you walk away from it, you’ve spent the last 48 hours building towards that and even in the interim just leading up to it, the rumors of where he might go, a lot of times, you learn in this business, you learn everywhere, I’m a military brat. If you want to get transferred to Hawaii, you’ll definitely end up in Alaska.”

However, MLB reopened the negotiating window, and in that time, the Sox told Gonzalez that they knew his bottom line, and so long as that bottom line wouldn’t change based on market circumstances, then once the first baseman proved the health of his surgically repaired right shoulder, the two sides could hammer out a contract. Boggs and Cabral thus arrived in spring training in mid-March to iron out the details of the deal that was announced Friday.

“It was something that was really almost a cursory meeting to say, OK, where are we at, he’s looking good, everything is fine, we’re ready to pull the trigger at that point,” said Boggs. “At the end of the day, when we had our bottom line, that’s exactly what we settled on.”

While some might have been tempted by the fruit of free agency, Gonzalez ultimately had no need to go that route. Once the Sox were willing to commit to his bottom line, he valued the idea of committing to a club for the long term and focusing solely on baseball more than he did on the idea of subjecting himself to a bidding war after the 2011 season.

For the next eight years, barring an unexpected trade, he does not need to think about the market for his services, or where he might be spending subsequent springs. He was in a position to focus this spring on getting ready for the season without his free agent status looming. And so, regardless of whether he ends up walking away from any money (a possibility had he turned in a huge 2011 season) or not, he is able to remain content and focused on his job with the Sox.

“You know, I’m a person that, for the most part, I want to be in a place where I’m comfortable, where I want to be. This was a place where it was a perfect fit for me,” said Gonzalez. “I love the city. It’s something that (Sox owner) John Henry, (Special Assistant to the GM) Dave Finley, gave me the opportunity to start playing. I’m real comfortable with them. I really enjoy being around them and getting to know (GM Theo Epstein). Now the city and the players and the clubhouse, it’s a place where I’m going to have a lot of fun and I’m going to really enjoy playing here. You can’t find a better place for this opportunity. It was something that, I didn’t need to get to free agency with that.”

“In a lot of cases, sometimes [free agency is] what you wait for. Then you have the ability to see exactly who is interested in you and what really your market is. But it’s a gamble. It’s a gamble in every way,” added Boggs. “Really, at the end of the day, on this day, which is a tremendous day for Adrian, it’s really not that much of a gamble anymore. It’s something that he really wanted, and he obviously is being paid very fairly. It was everything he wanted, so we consider it a victory.”

For their part, the Sox are equally thrilled. Indeed, Epstein suggested that the Sox are even more enthusiastic about locking up Gonzalez now than they were on the day that they traded for him.

“We couldn’t ask for more as a player or as a person. Just in the brief time we’ve been around him every day, we’ve seen how well he fits within our clubhouse and provides some leadership during some difficult times like the ones we’re going through right now and a perfect fit for this lineup, this ballpark and this organization. We couldn’t be happier about it,” said Epstein. “From an offensive standpoint, he’s among the handful of very best hitters in the game. Outstanding defensively as well. Someone whose character we trust.

“Going forward, if you’re going to make this kind of commitment, you have to be very not only very comfortable with the player, but also the person and, as Adrian has alluded to, some long-term relationships so that we could vouch for his charcter going forward. If you’re going to bet on one player, we’re very comfortable betting on Adrian Gonzalez.”

RELATED CONTENT

–The Sox had plenty of good reasons to wait until the start of the regular season to hammer out Gonzalez’ extension.

A look at Gonzalez’ deal in historic context, both in terms of the Red Sox and Major League Baseball.

–Though they now have their first two deals in excess of $100 million under Theo Epstein, the Sox haven’t changed the way they operate, Epstein insisted.

–In just two weeks of the regular season, Gonzalez has already earned the praise of his new club for his clubhouse leadership.

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Report: Adrian Gonzalez promised Sox he wouldn’t chase Albert Pujols money 12.23.10 at 12:58 am ET
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Adrian Gonzalez assured the Red Sox he wouldn't allow changes to the market to alter the deal he was seeking. (AP)

According to ESPN.com, during negotiations with his new club, Adrian Gonzalez assured the Red Sox that even though the two sides did not finalize a contract before his trade from San Diego to Boston became official, he wouldn’t allow changes in the market to alter what he was seeking in a contract. Specifically, Gonzalez told the Sox that he would not let a potential contract extension for Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols alter what he sought. Instead, Gonzalez told the club that he would continue to use the same deals his agent mentioned early in the offseason — the eight-year, $180 million deal signed by Mark Teixeira, the five-year, $125 million deal Ryan Howard has with the Phillies and the eight-year, $184 million deal that Joe Mauer has with the Twins — to guide what he saw as fair market value.

From the article:

“I made a comment to Theo, ‘Make the trade happen by itself, and I promise you during the season I’ll negotiate,”’ Gonzalez said. “I’m not going to come here and be like, ‘OK, we’ll see you at free agency and see if you outbid the other teams.’ We’ll negotiate during the season. We’re going to be fair. We won’t be looking for record-breaking deals. We just want market value.

“We gave them our word that we were going to negotiate during the season in good faith. We’re not going to go in there and ask for Albert Pujols’ contract, something along those lines.”

Pujols’ presence was clearly felt at the table. The Red Sox couldn’t shake the notion that if Pujols signed a mega-deal, the shared parameters of what market value was could change overnight.

“That was one of their comments, what if he gets this humongous deal and you want to be closer to him?” Gonzalez said. “I said, ‘Trust me. What the market is today might change by then, but we’re going to negotiate based on what the market is today.”’

According to the story, Gonzalez and the Sox agreed that an extension did not need to be hammered out in order to finalize the trade. Instead, the first baseman and the club achieved an understanding of the financial parameters for a deal that Gonzalez sought, and agreed to revisit talks later, once Gonzalez’ had returned to the field in the spring following surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder.

The Sox currently control Gonzalez’ rights for the 2011 season, when he will make $6.3 million. While there is not yet a formal agreement for an extension, both sides stated unequivocally that they were all but certain that one would be inked before Gonzalez becomes eligible for free agency.

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Beltre’s (meaningless) option could hinge on wrist 09.20.10 at 2:18 am ET
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Adrian Beltre

Under other circumstances, the results of the exam on Adrian Beltre‘s sore left wrist could have had significant implications for the Red Sox.

That possibility would have had less to do with the impact that the third baseman has had on his club this year — and make no mistake, Beltre has been a force, leading his club in games played (144), batting average (.329), slugging (.571) and RBI (98) while ranking second in OBP (.374) and homers (28) — and more to do with his 2011 cost.

Beltre, after all, could see the value of his player option for the 2011 season increase from $5 million to $10 million with 640 plate appearances this year. He currently sits at 599 plate appearances, and so, if he misses anything more than a few of his club’s 13 remaining games, it would jeopardize the value of his 2011 option.

Of course, such a possibility appears to have nothing more than theoretical significance. First and foremost, manager Terry Francona declared that the third baseman received “a clean bill of health” after a series of tests at Mass General. So, Beltre should get enough plate appearances to double the value of his player option.

That said, in the process of accumulating all those at-bats — and performing as one of the top players in the American League — Beltre has virtually assured that he has no reason to exercise his player option. Coming off the worst season of his career in 2009, the third baseman received a one-year, $9 million deal. He is now going to be heading back into free agency after the second-best season of his career; he is certain to receive multi-year offers in excess of $10 million a year.

Thus, the only real question becomes whether or not the increased value of the player option would have luxury tax implications for the Red Sox in either 2010 or 2011. Answer: No.

The Sox structured their deal with Beltre and agent Scott Boras – a one-year, $9 million guarantee that included a $1 million buyout that was triggered when the All-Star reached 575 plate appearances on Sept. 12 and a $5 million player option for 2011 — so that it would be calculated as a $7 million deal for luxury tax purposes. (The deal is viewed as a two-year, $14 million guarantee for CBT purposes.)

If (and, almost certainly, when) Beltre declines his player option, the difference between what the Sox actually have paid him and what they were charged for CBT purposes will be assessed against their 2011 luxury tax payroll. So, assuming that he declines his option, the Sox will have $3 million — the difference between the $7 million CBT assessment for this season and the additional $2 million in salary he received this year, along with the $1 million conditional buyout that was triggered — assessed on their 2011 payroll for luxury tax purposes.

Assuming that Beltre declines his player option — whether for $5 million or $10 million — that $3 million assessment for 2011 won’t change. Nor will it alter the $7 million CBT calculation for 2010.

If Beltre were to exercise a $10 million player option for 2011, however, then the Sox would be on the hook for a $13 million luxury tax calculation for his contract next year, as the final amount charged must equal the actual amount paid. So, if he exercises a $10 million player option, the Sox would have paid a total of $20 million (the $9 million 2010 salary, the $1 million buyout, and the $10 million player option) over the two years, resulting in the $13 million assessment.

But, that hypothetical scenario will be rendered moot if/when Beltre declines the player option. And so, the state of his wrist over the final two weeks of the season will have no actual implications for his deal with the Sox.

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Beckett: ‘I look at it more as what I gained than what I potentially lost’ 04.05.10 at 3:43 pm ET
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The Red Sox and Josh Beckett announced the completion of a four-year, $68 million extension that will keep the pitcher in Boston through the 2014 season on Monday afternoon. The contract includes a $5 million signing bonus and annual salaries of $15.75 million per year from 2011-2014.

There is little question that, had Beckett reached the open market after 2010 (presuming that he stayed healthy), he could have seen more guaranteed years and money in a deal. The five-year, $82.5 million deals signed by both Sox teammate John Lackey and Yankees starter A.J. Burnett — pitchers to whom Beckett compares favorably — suggest as much.

Yet Beckett made clear that he had no reservations about the possibility that he was not seeking every available guaranteed dollar.

“I guess I look at it differently than most people do. A lot of people look at what you could lose, or what you lost. I look at what I gained here,” said Beckett. “I gained four years more of stability knowing that i’m going to be in an organization that’s going to put a competitive team out there every year.

“That really can’t be underestimated, either, because the season gets really long when you’re losing 90 games. Whenever you’ve got a chance to win 100 games every year, the seaosn goes by a little bit faster. I know i’m going to have a chance to win here every year. For me, I look at it more as what I gained than what I potentially lost.”

Here is a transcript of highlights from the press conference, which featured Sox GM Theo Epstein and Beckett. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ellsbury: No long-term talks with Sox 03.07.10 at 10:31 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — A year ago at this time, the Red Sox were working to finalize a five-year, $30 million deal with pitcher Jon Lester. He joined Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis as players who had reached long-term deals with the club in a span of less than four months.

Lester and Pedroia both had a bit more than two years of service time before they reached deals that bought out all of their arbitration years as well as the first year of their eligibility for free agency. That made it natural to wonder whether the Sox might approach outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury — who, like Lester and Pedroia after the 2008 season, has accumulated just over two years of big-league service time, but is not yet arbitration-eligible — with a similar proposal.

But Ellsbury said that he had had no such conversations with the Sox to this point. Asked whether he and agent Scott Boras had any conversations with the Sox about a long-term deal, Ellsbury said that there had been no such talks.

The 26-year-old did not rule out a willingness to consider a long-term deal, but he also made clear that he will not be concerned about whether he goes year-to-year in his contract, or whether he might sign a long-term deal.

“I’m going to play this year. When the Red Sox talk with my agent, I guess that’s when that ball starts rolling. As a ballplayer, you don’t want to get caught up in the numbers right now,” said Ellsbury. “I think it’s fine [that there have been no long-term talks]. I’d like to get one more year under my belt, but if they come with something tomorrow, then it’s a totally different ballgame. But I’m not really worried about that right now.”

Ellsbury hit .301/.355/.415/.770 while stealing a major league leading 70 bases in 2009.

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