|How Carl Crawford could transform the Red Sox||12.09.10 at 1:14 am ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — As soon as an executive of another team heard about the Red Sox‘ deal with outfielder Carl Crawford (reportedly a seven-year, $142 million pact), the reaction was immediate.
“Holy [expletive],” he said. “Think about that lineup.”
It’s all hypothetical now, of course, and it is still more than 100 days until Opening Day. But the acquisition of Crawford to join fellow newcomer Adrian Gonzalez has astonishing potential. The team will feature a pair of dynamic jackrabbits with sneaky pop in Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury. The two could combine for 100 steals. Crawford has averaged 50 steals a season over the last eight years; Ellsbury averaged 60 steals in 2008-09. The Sox now feature six of the last eight AL stolen base champions, and a pair of players with the potential for a speed element unlike any other in the game.
‘I don’t know another player who looks so much like myself. It’s crazy sometimes,’ Crawford said of Ellsbury before the season. ‘I think he’s almost exactly like me. When I see him, I see myself.”
Dustin Pedroia is among the best offensive and all-around second basemen in the game, a player who was on pace for a 20-homer/20-steal season in 2010 before breaking his foot with a foul ball.
The team also features tremendous middle-of-the-order pop. Gonzalez and David Ortiz both launched more than 30 homers last year. With a return to health, Kevin Youkilis is a threat to hit 25-30 homers, and he ranks perennially among the AL leaders in slugging and OPS. J.D. Drew has averaged 22 homers a year for the Sox over the last three years.
The Sox scored 818 runs last year, second in the American League. With the additions of Crawford and Gonzalez to replace the departed Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, as well as returns to health for the likes of Ellsbury, Youkilis and Pedroia, 900 or more runs would appear to be in reach.
Meanwhile, the team also has the potential to offer a superb defensive unit. Crawford is one of four Gold Glovers who would project to be a part of the team’s Opening Day roster, joining Youkilis (whose Gold Glove was at first base rather than third), Gonzalez and Pedroia.
With the acquisition of Crawford, the team could address one of its foremost deficiencies of 2010, namely its poor outfield production and poor outfield defense.
The Sox ranked last in the American League in outfield batting average (.245), second-to-last in OBP (.317) and third to last in OPS (.729). Crawford, meanwhile, hit .307/.356/.495/.851 with 19 homers, 90 RBI and 47 steals. At 29, he is in his prime.
Meanwhile, with Ellsbury and Mike Cameron both limited by injuries, the Sox’ outfield defense suffered while being patched together. According to FanGraphs.com, the Red Sox had the third-worst outfield defense in the majors, as rated by UZR, having cost the Sox 23.4 runs more than a group of league-average outfielders. Crawford, meanwhile, rated as the third best defensive outfielder in the majors, having saved 18.5 more runs than an average defensive outfielder.
And so, the Sox have managed to build in the course of the past two offseasons a potential juggernaut, a rotation anchored by a pair of developing young aces (Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz), a ferocious lineup and a strong defense. It is not a team without holes ‘ the Sox still have yet to overhaul their bullpen ‘ but in the span of a few days, a team that finished last year with 89 wins has sent shock waves throughout the division and the baseball industry.
|Yankees never made offer to Crawford||at 12:32 am ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — According to a source familiar with the discussions, the Yankees never made an offer to free agent outfielder Carl Crawford before he reached his stunning seven-year, $142 million deal with the Red Sox. The Angels were viewed by the industry as the front-runner for Crawford’s services, but one source suggested that the Halos had only gone to $108 million, though it was not clear what the term of that offer was.
|Red Sox agree to terms with Carl Crawford||12.08.10 at 11:50 pm ET|
According to a major league source, the Red Sox have reached an agreement with outfielder Carl Crawford, as first reported by the Boston Globe. Multiple reports peg the value of the agreement at seven years and $142 million, suggesting that only a physical and some final contract language stand in the way of the biggest deal ever inked by the current Red Sox ownership group.
The $20.3 million average annual value surpasses the $18 million a year that Jayson Werth will receive in his fresh seven-year, $126 million deal from the Nationals. The 29-year-old Crawford was widely considered the top position player in free agency and had reportedly drawn interest from the Angels and Yankees, among others. That said, the Sox had some pause about whether to go to as many as seven years for Crawford, and for a team the team was more enamored of the idea of signing Werth for a shorter term.
But once Werth went for seven years — more than the Sox would have considered — the team made its play for Crawford, resulting in the team’s second blockbuster of the last week. That followed the Sox’ acquisition of slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in a trade with the Padres on Sunday.
The Sox explored other market alternatives. The team had been interested in Werth before he signed his deal with the Nationals. The club also kicked the tires on the possibility of trading for Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, but those talks never became serious, according to multiple sources. Meanwhile, the team had shown interest in outfielder Magglio Ordonez as a right-handed slugger who might fit on a shorter-term deal.
But the prize of the outfield market all along was Crawford, a player whose impact the Sox have often remarked upon.
“I think he’s a game changer,” Sox manager Terry Francona said on the Dale & Holley Show last month. “He’s that guy that can change a game defensively, offensively. When he gets on base, he gives you a headache. He has a little bit of that Johnny Damon in him where, he’s swinging and I’m not sure he knows where the ball is going, but he fouls off six or seven and then he’ll rifle one into right field or bounce one and beat it out. He has a way of changing the game. It frustrates the heck out of you. Sometimes you can do everything right, and if he gets on base you can’t throw him out.”
For much of the offseason, there was an industry-wide expectation that Crawford might prefer to go to a less intense baseball climate. The Angels and Rangers had both expressed interest in the outfielder, and some believed that he might prefer to play in those cities.
But Rays manager Joe Maddon, who witnessed Crawford’s emergence into an All-Star over the last five seasons, insisted that Crawford will face no problem heading to the Red Sox.
“First of all, they’re going to love him. He’s going to be embraced. There’s going to be a love-fest. He’s going to make all types of play, and do all kind of stuff where the Boston fans will fall in love with him immediately, so I don’t think there will be any type of negative pressure coming his way to perform,’ Maddon said on Tuesday.
‘He’ll stay to himself, although Carl has come out of his shell a little bit the last couple of years. Going to the playoffs, World Series, being an All-Star MVP, all that kind of stuff, I think he’s kind of blossomed in that regard. He might surprise you ‘¦ He’s going to feed off the energy.’
In nine seasons with the Rays, Crawford hit .296/.337/.444 with 409 stolen bases and 765 runs. He hit .307/.356/.495/.851 with a career-high 19 homers in 2010.
Rob Bradford and D.J. Bean contributed to this report.
|Hot stove roundup, 11 p.m.: The Matt Garza trade market||at 11:00 pm ET|
The Cubs, fresh on taking one big name away from the Rays in Carlos Pena, appear intent on getting another. According to a report from ESPNChicago, Tampa and Chicago officials met for a second time on Wednesday to discuss a deal that would land the Cubs right-handed pitcher Matt Garza.
Bruce Levine writes that the Rays would get a number of top prospects from the Cubs in the deal. Regardless of the return package, the Rays would be who would be losing a guy who was second among their starters in wins (15), innings pitched (204.2), earned run average (3.91), and WHIP (1.25).
The Brewers and Rangers are also reportedly interested in a trade for Garza, but Levine notes that the Brewers are waiting to see what happens with Carl Pavano. The Rangers, of course, are still attempting to retain the services of Cliff Lee.
|Epstein: Red Sox already got their big bat||at 9:17 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Red Sox GM Theo Epstein met with reporters to discuss the state of affairs for his team on the last night of the winter meetings. There was little activity to report, and the GM said he was not expecting to have any deals in place on Wednesday night.
Among the topics discussed:
–Epstein said that the team has already made its big move for offense with the trade of first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
“I think we got our big bat through trade, for the most part,” he said. “Still looking for good players but the Gonzalez acquisition put us in a little bit of a different spot in terms of our need to do something. We’re still looking for the right player and the right fit.”
With Gonzalez in tow, the Sox have been able to operate with relative freedom in terms of time constraints. They have already made the central acquisition of the offseason that will dictate the team’s other moves.
“We don’t have to force things in pursuing players,” said Epstein. “In any negotiation, it’s a tough spot to feel like you have to make something happen, and if you don’t the alternative is unacceptable. Starting from a stronger position allows you to be patient, maybe see more possibilities, see things for how they are than how you want them to be.”
–The Sox did not have a representative at a workout for free agent Magglio Ordonez. Epstein said that he was under the impression that the workout was for just one club. His agent, Scott Boras, had said earlier in the day that the Tigers were at the workout.
–Epstein said that “for the right player,” the Sox would make a multi-year offer in trying to add a right-handed outfielder.
–He said that the team has some offers out to free agent position players, though the team is not close to a deal on that front. On Tuesday, Epstein had said that the club had also made offers to “a number” of relievers.
–The Sox have talked with left-hander Rich Hill this offseason about the prospect of bringing him back, saying that the club was “very interested in signing him. I think he’s very interested in being here.”
Hill was with the Sox for the final weeks of the season, but was outrighted from the 40-man roster at the end of the year and elected free agency.
–The Sox met in person during the Meetings with left-hander Andrew Miller, for whom they traded in November and then non-tendered earlier this month. The Sox have interest in signing him, but it remains to be seen whether they reach a deal.
–The market for middle relievers has been somewhat stagnant, with teams and players not yet matching up. That, Epstein suggested, is unsurprising, but he expects that dominoes in that market might soon start falling.
“Most players don’t want to be the first to sign for fear of getting more later,” said Epstein. “But they don’t want to wait too long and have fewer options with less resources out there. The teams, it’s the reverse. It’s one big dance. Teams and players will match up soon, I’m sure.”
–The Sox remain undecided about whether they will select a reliever in the Rule 5 draft. If they do, it would be a reliever. The Sox also feel that if any of their players are taken through the Rule 5 process — which requires a team to pay $50,000 for a player’s rights and to keep him on the major league roster all year or else subject him to waivers and then, if he goes unclaimed, offer him back to his original team for $25,000 — they will end up getting them back.
–Epstein revealed that the Sox tried last year to get a club option year attached to the one-year, $10 million deal to which they signed Adrian Beltre, who was asking for a five-year contract at this time a year ago. The club did not receive such a provision, which is why Beltre is now a free agent.
–Former Red Sox scout Jerry Stephenson, a member of the Impossible Dream team in 1967, was named Scout of the Year by the program’s Advisory Board. Stephenson was an advance scout for the Dodgers from 1974-95 before joining the Sox to serve in the same role from 1996-2009. Stephenson passed away earlier this year; his award was accepted posthumously by his son, Brian Stephenson, a West Coast Supervisor of Amateur Scouts for the Dodgers.
|Johnny Damon clears the air about the Red Sox||at 5:17 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Johnny Damon would love to come back to Boston.
J.D. has been around the Winter Meetings. I talked to him by phone earlier today about his interest in returning to Boston, as well as the reasons why he turned down an opportunity to return to the Sox last season.
J.D. wanted to make it clear that his decision to refuse the waiver claim by the Red Sox in August was never about the city of Boston, the Red Sox organization or the fans. There is no ill will there. It was solely about his desire to remain with a Tigers team that he loved. He loved the team, he loved his teammates, and he hoped to stay with the Tigers beyond 2010.
“You know me. I’ve always been extremely loyal to my teammates,” he told me. “A lot of them expressed their desire to keep me around. My intention was to return there this year, but they had other plans.”
Just because Johnny decided not to return last season, it doesn’t mean he’s closed the door. In fact, he’d love to come back.
“Obviously, I’d love to return to Boston,” he said. “I loved playing there, and I think it would be a perfect fit, with the chance to win again. I know I could do that in Boston.”
Physically, J.D. feels great. He spent a lot of last year as the Tigers DH. The only stress he put on his body was trying to score from first on doubles. He still feels like he can play left field regularly, and he feels like he can still hit against lefties.
It may be a long shot for the Red Sox to bring Johnny back. However, it was important for him and Red Sox Nation to know that the decision to stay in Detroit was never anything personal.
|Sources: Red Sox not at Magglio Ordonez workout||at 5:00 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, the Red Sox did not have a representative at the workout Magglio Ordonez participated in Wednesday in Florida. While Ordonez’ agent Scott Boras said that the goal of the workout — set up by head of the Boras Corporation’s fitness division, Steve Odgers — was to show that the outfielder was in good health after experiencing an ankle injury in 2010, and that the Tigers were going to be attending the event, the workout wasn’t on the Red Sox’ radar. It is, however, believed that the Red Sox do have some interest in the 36-year-old Ordonez.
“I just got a report that he went through it without any complication and it went great,” Boras said while meeting with the media Wednesday.
‘We had a chance to illustrate where his baseball abilities are at, just to show that he’s 100 percent. Magglio is a guy that has gotten a lot of interest from a lot of teams now that Jayson [Werth] has signed. He’s a middle of the [order] guy. He’s had a great average, been a productive guy, he’s a veteran player and he’s a winner. There are a lot of things about Magglio Ordonez where he fits a broad base of teams. Once Jayson signed, a lot of the teams interested in Jayson are now interested in Magglio.
‘When a player has an injury, we send the medicals to the clubs. They’ve had a great deal of time. Most of the teams understand, it was certainly something that took him off the field for six to eight weeks because it was a fracture of the ankle. But the fracture itself was just minor. It was something that really had to heal. There was no need for any intervention by a surgeon. It’s just really something where he can wait it out, get it back and now he’s back to 100 percent.’
For more from the winter meetings, see the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.
Given the Sox’ history, they are inclined to keep as many top draft picks as possible. Downs, the left-hander who spent the last several years in Toronto, is a Type A free agent, meaning the Sox would have to surrender a draft pick in order to sign him. If the team does not sign another Type A free agent, that would require the Sox to give up their first-round pick to sign Downs, the No. 24 overall pick in next year’s draft.
But, if Beltre was to be signed by a team without a protected first-round pick (meaning a team picking after the No. 20 pick), they would get the signing team’s pick. For instance, if the Rangers — who have the No. 26 pick in the draft — moved third baseman Michael Young to another position and signed Beltre, it would mean that the Sox get the first-round pick from Texas.
That would give the Sox three first-round picks (the No. 19 pick from Detroit, their own No. 24 pick, and the pick from the Rangers). According to the source, that may make the Sox more willing to lose a first-round pick.
If, however, a team with one of the first 18 picks in the first round signed Beltre — for example, the Angels, who have the No. 17 pick, or the A’s, who have the No. 18 pick — the Sox would get a second-round pick for him. That would leave the Sox with only two first-round picks, making them more reluctant to part with their own.
The source also said that if the Sox were still in the market for a Type A free agent ranked higher than Downs by the Elias ratings — namely, Carl Crawford — then signing the reliever would cost a second-round pick. That would be another scenario that might make it easier for the Sox to sign Downs and lose a pick.
|Scott Boras not shutting door on Adrian Beltre, Red Sox||at 3:05 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — While speaking to the media following the press conference to announce Carlos Pena’s one-year deal with the Cubs, agent Scott Boras was asked about if one of his clients, Adrian Beltre, was disappointed that a return to the Red Sox would seem to be in doubt now that the team has acquired first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Boras insinuated, however, that the Sox could possibly still make some sort of move to find a place for Beltre, despite the fact third base now appears to be occupied by Kevin Youkilis.
“Adrian Beltre is a player, when you have somebody who performs like that in the marketplace, who is that good a defender, that good a complete player ‘¦ You just never know what a team is going to do because a player like that is available,” said Boras. “When people are telling me clubs are in or out, I’ve been in this business way too long to have things change, a player moved, or whatever happens, and all of a sudden because the player admires the player so much that they would make adjustments to fit them in, or do something a little bit creative to make sure he remained on the team.”
Asked about Oakland reportedly pulling its five-year deal for Beltre off the table, Boras responded, “‘Offers are like curtains for me. There is opening and closing but they’re still in the room. We’re open to discussions with all teams on Adrian. We’ve been going through a number of negotiations with a number of teams. There have been a lot of willing participants. Each team, we have told teams we would tell a team if we are not interested. We have told the teams that we are. Certainly, Oakland was a team he said he would be interested in looking at. We had meetings with their club. That’s where we’re at now.
‘That’s a very busy market for Adrian. We’re in the middle of lot of negotiations with a lot of teams for him and they’re ongoing,’ he added. ‘We’re well down the road with a lot of teams. It could be something [that’s done soon] or take a while, too.’
For more winter meetings coverage, see the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.
|Scott Boras holds court at the winter meetings||at 1:55 pm ET|
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Agent Scott Boras spoke to a throng of reporters about his stable of high-profile clients, including several of interest to the Red Sox. Among them, he discussed free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, free-agent outfielder Magglio Ordonez, rehabbing Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran, about whom the Mets have been listening to trade inquiries.
Boras said that Ordonez is “100 percent,” and that he held a workout — organized by Boras Corp. trainer Steve Odgers — for interested teams to show them that he is in good shape. The agent suggested that with Jayson Werth off the market, the interest in Ordonez has spiked as he represents a potential middle-of-the-order outfielder.
“We had a chance to illustrate where his baseball abilities are at, just to show that he’s 100 percent,” said Boras, who noted only that the Tigers were at the workout. “Magglio is a guy that has gotten a lot of interest from a lot of teams now that Jayson has signed. He’s a middle of the [order] guy. He’s had a great average, been a productive guy, he’s a veteran player and he’s a winner. There are a lot of things about Magglio Ordonez where he fits a broad base of teams. Once Jayson signed, a lot of the teams interested in Jayson are now interested in Magglio.
“When a player has an injury, we send the medicals to the clubs. They’ve had a great deal of time. Most of the teams understand, it was certainly something that took him off the field for six to eight weeks because it was a fracture of the ankle. But the fracture itself was just minor. It was something that really had to heal. There was no need for any intervention by a surgeon. It’s just really something where he can wait it out, get it back and now he’s back to 100 percent.”
Ordonez, said Boras, will be looking to play a corner outfield spot and perhaps serve on occasion as a designated hitter.
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