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Source: Chien-Ming Wang seeking big league deal 12.06.10 at 2:58 am ET
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According to a baseball source, former Yankees pitcher Chien-Ming Wang is exploring the market to see whether he can find a team willing to sign him to a big league deal. If he cannot find such a deal, the source said, Wang would likely return to the Washington Nationals, who are offering the 30-year-old a minor league deal.

Wang, a 19-game winner in 2006 and 2007, signed a one-year, $2 million deal with the Nats for 2010 that included $3 million in incentives. But his return from shoulder surgery in 2009 proved deliberate, to the point where he was unable to face hitters until the end of the year. There were some promising reports of his performance in Fall Instructional League, but after he’d missed the entire year, the Nationals elected not to tender Wang a contract as opposed to going to arbitration with a guarantee of at least $1.6 million.

The sinkerballer could represent an interesting buy-low option for a club seeking depth in its starting rotation. However, after not having pitched in a big league game since July 4, 2009, it remains to be seen whether his potential upside would convince a club to give him a major league contract that might be needed to woo him away from Washington.

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Source: Red Sox never made formal offer to Jayson Werth at 2:19 am ET
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According to a source familiar with the situation, the Red Sox never made a formal contract offer to outfielder Jayson Werth before he signed his stunning seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals. The Sox, according to the source, “got nowhere near” such figures in their conversations with the outfielder (which included a face-to-face meeting between the player, agent Scott Boras and Red Sox officials last week).

The Sox did have legitimate interest in Werth (hence the meeting), and one team source felt that even if one viewed outfielder Carl Crawford as a better all-around player and a more likely impact player because of his age (he turned 29 in August; Werth turned 31 last May), Werth would still represent the better value in the marketplace based on the idea that Crawford might get a seven- or eight-year deal in the $18-20 million range. The source expected that Werth would get at least five years.

But no one — presumably, except for the Nationals and Boras — foresaw the possibility of a seven-year deal that will keep Werth under contract through his age 38 season. Industry reaction in the lobby of the Dolphin Resort was near disbelief, with the deal being deemed by one source “comical.”

The Sox are in position to spend this offseason, thanks in no small part to the acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, who will account for just $6 million and change against the luxury tax threshold this year. Even so, the team would never have gone to the lengths of the Nationals’ deal for Werth and, with his contract now representing the bar for elite outfielders, it will be interesting to see whether Crawford ends up being an option, or if he will command a deal of more years and dollars that would deter the Sox from becoming involved in the bidding.

Werth’s signing did have a significant benefit for the Sox, however. The Sox were anxious to see whether Werth might sign with the Tigers. If he did so (and the Tigers are believed to be in the market for an outfield upgrade), the compensatory draft pick that the Sox received from Detroit for its signing of Victor Martinez would have been bumped from the first round to the second round, owing to the fact that Werth received a higher rating from the Elias Sports Bureau than Martinez.

If the Tigers had added Werth, the Sox’ compensation pick for Martinez would have dropped from the No. 19 overall selection in the 2011 draft to a second round selection, likely more than 40 picks later. But, with Werth not in Motown, unless the Tigers sign closer Rafael Soriano or starter Cliff Lee (neither of whom has been connected to Detroit), the Sox now appear to be in excellent shape to receive their highest draft pick since 2003, in what is expected to be a phenomenal draft.

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He’s a Red Sox: Sox finish deal to acquire Adrian Gonzalez 12.05.10 at 8:48 pm ET
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ORLANDO — The Red Sox completed a deal with the San Diego Padres to acquire three-time All-Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. The finalized deal was first reported by Jon Heyman of SI.com (via twitter).

The deal will send three top Sox prospects — pitcher Casey Kelly, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and center fielder Reymond Fuentes — to the Padres in exchange for the 28-year-old slugger. San Diego will also receive a player to be named. (For more on the prospects, click here.)

After the Sox and Padres agreed to the deal, Major League Baseball granted Boston a window to negotiate through Sunday at 2 p.m. with Gonzalez, who passed a physical (which included an exam of his surgically repaired right shoulder) on Saturday. The two sides negotiated right up through that deadline, and did not have a resolution at 2 p.m.

Gonzalez is under contract for the 2011 season for a bargain $6.2 million option on the four-year deal he signed prior to the 2007 season, but in order to part with such a strong prospect package, the Sox wanted to ensure that they could have Gonzalez’ services for more than one year.

While the Sox and Gonzalez have not announced an extension, the two sides have at least achieved an understanding of a framework for a multi-year deal that will make Gonzalez one of the highest paid players in the game. Heyman reported that Gonzalez will receive a seven-year extension for roughly $23 million per year (roughly the average annual value of Mark Teixeira’s eight-year, $180 million deal with the Yankees.

The Sox stand to benefit from a luxury tax standpoint if they complete a long-term deal but do not announce it until after the start of the 2011 season. (For more on that, click here.)

After the season, Gonzalez’ agent, John Boggs, said that his client was in line for a contract similar to the eight-year, $180 million deal that Mark Teixeira has with the Yankees, the eight-year, $184 million deal between Joe Mauer and the Twins and the five-year, $125 deal that Ryan Howard struck with the Phillies.

That assessment was based on the fact that Gonzalez represents one of the top sluggers in the game and, moreover, one who is in his prime. He has hit 30 or more homers in each of the last four seasons, hitting .284/.377/.517/.894 in that time while averaging 34 homers and 105 RBI per season, despite playing in a park that kills fly balls. He leads the majors in road homers since the start of 2007, having hit 90 outside of Petco Park. For that reason, many talent evaluators believe that he could see his production take off in Boston. Moreover, the two-time Gold Glover is viewed as an elite defender, making him one of the top all-around players in the game.

The Sox had long sought Gonzalez, exploring possible deals for him at least since the middle of the 2009 season. On Sunday, the longstanding interest in acquiring him appears finally to have come to fruition.

The Sox had to pay a steep price, parting with their best pitching and power hitting prospects as well as a player whose defense alone could make him a major league starting center fielder. But they landed a player who could become a lineup cornerstone for years to come.

The deal is expected to be announced on Monday.

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Red Sox Hot Stove Chat With Bradford and Speier 11.12.09 at 1:38 am ET
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The offseason is officially underway. Already, it’s been a busy time for Major League Baseball and the Red Sox. The Sox have traded for outfielder Jeremy Hermida, signed Tim Wakefield to a two-year deal that should take him through retirement and seen Jason Varitek elect to return for what will be arguably the most prominent backup role in the majors.

Questions remain about whether the Red Sox will be able to bring back Jason Bay, what potential blockbuster acquisitions the team might pursue this offseason and whether the Sox can improve upon the club that got swept out of the playoffs by the Angels this year.

There’s plenty to digest, and WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford (freshly — or, perhaps, not-so-freshly — back from the GM Meetings in Chicago) and Alex Speier will be in the Virtual Pressbox on Thursday, November 12, at noon, to take your questions about what will happen during what could be another wild offseason. Join them in the fifth installment of the WEEI.com Thursday baseball chat series.

PREVIOUS CHATS

Nov. 5 — Former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette

Oct. 29 — Red Sox outfielder Jason Bay

Oct. 22 — Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan

Oct. 15 — Red Sox director of amateur scouting Jason McLeod

MLB Hot Stove Chat with WEEI.com

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Matsui news stirs things up 11.11.09 at 4:28 pm ET
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CHICAGO — As the O’Hare International Airport Hilton empties out of baseball folks, the topic of those left standing is that of a Nikkan Sports report that the Red Sox are preparing a four-year contract offer to Hideki Matsui.

The report raised some eyebrows, not only because Matsui is 35 and didn’t play a single game in the outfield last season, but also because just minutes before the report started circulating Yankees GM Brian Cashman definitely told a pack of reporters that Matsui would not be considered for outfield duty if New York was to bring him back.

Matsui, who was intent on getting his balky knees in better shape, did previously tell MLB.com “”That’s going to be a challenge that I’m going to have to work on during the offseason. Regardless of whether I could be back in the outfield or not, that’s something that I’m going to be working on, trying to get back in the outfield to see how capable I can be.”

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Red Sox Head Out of G.M. Meetings at 1:47 pm ET
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CHICAGO — Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein stopped to offer some updates regarding team-related items before heading out of the general managers meetings:

— There still is no word on Jason Varitek, who has until midnight to activate his $3 million player option. The deadline is such since the Red Sox had informed the catcher that they wouldn’t be picking up the $5 million team option last Friday.

— Epstein met with Varitek’s agent, Scott Boras, for approximately 30 minutes Tuesday night, during which time the catcher was the primary topic of conversation.

— Epstein talked with Billy Wagner‘s agent, Bean Stringfellow, Tuesday night regarding the reliever’s openness to accepting arbitration if/when the Sox offer it. The Red Sox would be open to having Wagner back, but on terms that would allow his contract to fit in the construction of their roster. There is no level the Sox would have to adhere to when it came to the dollar figure they would offer in an arbitration case.

— The Red Sox have re-hired former advance scout Todd Claus, who had been the head coach at Jacksonville University, to become an international scout.

— The Sox plan on re-implementing the two-man advance scouting system they had used prior to Claus leaving, before the 2009 season. Dana Levangie will continue in his role as one of the advance scouts, with the team filling the other job in the near future.

— Lowell manager Gary DiSarcina has been reassigned to become a roving infield instructor, and is still in the mix to fill a position on the major league club’s coaching staff. Epstein plans on interviewing candidates for that coaching spot over the next few days.

Read More: billy wagner, dana levangie, gary disarcina, Hot Stove
Report: Wagner open to arbitration at 5:42 am ET
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Reliever Billy Wagner’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, told the Boston Herald that his client might be open to accepting arbitration if the Red Sox offer it. Wagner is a Type A free agent and would allow the Sox to receive two draft picks if he declined arbitration and signed with another team.

‘€œWill Billy reject (arbitration)?’€ Stringfellow told the Herald. ‘€œI just visited with Billy and his family the other day and I can tell you this much: Billy thoroughly enjoyed his time in Boston. It was one of the best experiences he has ever had in baseball. So, does he rule out accepting arbitration? No, he doesn’€™t.”

Wagner had garnered the assurance of the Red Sox that they wouldn’t pick up his $8 million option for 2010, allowing the pitcher to pursue opportunities to become a closer with another team. Wagner had told WEEI.com during the season that accepting arbitration wasn’t thought to be a path he was ready to explore.

“I know they’€™re going to offer me arbitration and of course I’€™m probably going to turn it down,” Wagner said. “I have a million people telling me why would you turn down the option, or why would you do this or that. Well, I didn’€™t come in this game looking for money, I was just good enough to make some.”

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Agent: No rush for Martinez extension at 5:10 am ET
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CHICAGO — Alan Nero, the agent for Red Sox catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez, said that there hasn’t been any discussion with the Red Sox regarding an extension for his client, and that, at this point, there is no rush to get one done.

“There’s nothing to report,” said Nero in the lobby of the O’Hare International Airport Hilton. “Basically, he’s a Red Sox, it’s as simple as that.

“There’s been no indication on their part, or our part, that that will happen. We’re comfortable in whatever they want to do. If they come to us obviously we’ll listen. But neither Theo (Epstein) or Ben (Cherington) have called and said, ‘Hey, we want to talk long-term’. There was little or no dialogue at all prior to them exercising the option. The bottom line is that we’re content, he’s happy to be a Red Sox, and he’s going to be a Red Sox for the next year.”

The Red Sox exercised Martinez’ $7.7 million team option for 2010 Monday. If no extension is agreed upon the 30-year-old will be eligible to become a free agent for the first time in his career.

Nero also represents Seattle ace Felix Hernandez and says that the pitcher is in a similar wait-and-see situation.

“It’s the same exact thing except he has two more years of control,” Nero said. “The last thing in the world I can do is force somebody to offer a multi-year deal.”

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Scott Boras holds court 11.10.09 at 7:46 pm ET
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CHICAGO — Agent Scott Boras met with a swarm of reporters in the lobby of the O’Hare International Airport Hilton early Tuesday evening, speaking on everything from the state of the game’s economy, to the futures of clients such as Matt Holliday, Johnny Damon, and Jason Varitek, and his relationship with the Red Sox front office.

The get-together lasted more than 30 minutes, and was a prelude to Boras meeting with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein later Tuesday night. With that in mind, here are some of the Red Sox-related highlights:

How would you respond to Jason Bay’s agent calling his client the free agent market’s most complete player?

I represent Matt Holliday and I’ll serve as an advocate. I don’t know what criteria he’s looking at, and that’s fine. All I can tell you is that I’ve been around baseball for a long time as a player and now as an agent and the reality of it that Matt Holliday is a complete player. That’s all I’ll say.

Regarding his relationship with the Red Sox front office

After this season I would say that the Boston Red Sox had a chance to sign Mark Teixeira before the New York Yankees did, because we gave them an offer. That’s the best I can do for owners, it really is. When you give them a chance to sign a player, that’s … the player was earnest in coming there at the time and he presented them with an offer they could have accepted.

Where do we stand with Jason Varitek?

I’m going to be talking with Theo and with Tek in the next day or so … I know Jason well enough to know not to speculate on what Jason is going to do.

What about Daisuke Matsuzaka’s approach this offseason?

He was noticeably different when he came back to Boston and he’s got a workout regime he’s carried on in Japan. I haven’t discussed his offseason schedule with him … I think players have to come in in great shape. Their talent is best served when they’re in great shape. Anything other than that I think it’s an issue both the players and their camp and the team and their camp should earnestly discuss if that’s not the case.

(Note: There is some discussion about Matsuzaka attending Athletes Performance in Arizona)

One quick note: Boras said he believes there are less than 30 franchise players in baseball.

The complete transcript to come …

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The general managers speak at 6:28 pm ET
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CHICAGO — The media availability for the general managers took place in International Ballroom at the O’Hare International Airport Hilton late Tuesday afternoon. Here are some Red Sox-related items to come out of it:

– Mets general manager Omar Minaya wouldn’t address specific free agents, but did offer a glimpse into what his team might be looking for. While it was learned that New York most likely wouldn’t have interest in Jason Varitek if he chose not to accept the $3 million player option (needing a catcher to play on a more regular basis than Varitek might be ready for at this stage of his career), Corner outfielder — specifically Jason Bay — on the other hand, might be a different story.

While some reports suggest the Mets won’t go out and pay top dollar for one of the premier free agent bats, such as Bay, Minaya at least explained that the outfielder’s perceived defensive deficiencies wouldn’t be a deal-killer.

“Defense is important because it’s a pretty big ballpark. But the bottom line is that if you’re a corner outfielder you’ve got to have slug,” Minaya said. “I would put offense over defense right now in a corner outfielder.”

– New Toronto GM Alex Anthopolous showed an excellent ability to offer “I would rather not comment on that” every time a Roy Halladay question — or reasonable facsimile — was brought up. He did, however, offer this tidbit when it came to whether or not he would shy away from any potential deal with his own division: “If it’s apples and apples and I get two deals that are exactly the same, certainly I would not prefer to trade within the division. But if I have a stronger deal within the division and it makes this club stronger, that would certainly be the one that I would want to lean to.”

– Former Red Sox assistant GM, and current Padres GM, Jed Hoyer also didn’t want to go too far into the Adrian Gonzalez talk, but did say that he has talked to Gonzalez’ agent, as well as Gonzalez.

“We’re going to try and start a dialogue soon, obviously once that dialogue starts we’re not going to comment on it, but we are going to start that dialogue,” said Hoyer, who hadn’t met Gonzalez before being introduced at Petco Park just before being introduced as GM.

Hoyer also agreed that the exhaustive research the Red Sox did in targeting Gonzalez at last season’s trade deadline helped him get a head-start when it came to knowing the ins and outs of the first baseman.

“I think so. Certainly he’s one of those players everybody knows. He’s a superstar player. There’s no secret. But I do think so,” Hoyer said. “Certainly in July he was the object of the affection of Boston’s front office.”

Hoyer would not reveal if he was planning on targeting any more members of the Red Sox front office, but did say he was in the process of interviewing candidates throughout the GM meetings. “I’m trying to rush without hurrying,” he explained.

Pirates GM Neil Huntington said he wasn’t surprised that Bay fared so well in the pressure of a place like Boston, predicting as much when trading the outfielder at the trade deadline of the 2008 season.

“As we got to know Jason we saw his tremendous character, that he was a tremendous guy and a tremendous teammate with a strong internal belief. So it didn’t surprise me to see Jason excel in Boston,” Huntington said. “I grew up in New England and I told Jason I thought he was going to be very, very successful there. It didn’t surprise me at all.”

Huntington recalled that Bay voiced a concern to the Pittsburgh front office in January, 2008, but viewed the displeasure as the outfielder prioritizing winning wherever his next long-term stay was going to take place.

“He cares about winning,” Huntington said. “He did everything well when he was with us. He wanted to believe we were moving forward as an organization and we were trying to win in Pittsburgh.”

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