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Source: Okajima will make $1.75 million in 2011 01.10.11 at 1:20 pm ET
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The Red Sox‘ deal for left-hander Hideki Okajima is official, according to a major league source. Under terms of the contract, Okajima will receive a base salary of $1.75 million, with incentives that could push the value of the deal to $2.3 million.

Okajima will receive $50,000 if he pitches 70 innings (a plateau he has not reached in the majors). He will receive $125,000 each for appearing in 60 games (a threshold he’s reached in three of his four big league seasons) and another $125,000 if he pitches in 65 games (something he’s done twice with the Sox). If he sets a career-high by appearing in 70 games, he would receive $250,000.

The deal was first reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.

Okajima, an All-Star in 2007 and a key member of the Sox bullpen from 2007-09, had a career-worst 4.50 ERA in 56 appearances for the Sox last year, struggling with injuries at various points of the 2010 season before a strong September. That led the Sox not to make him a free agent rather than tender him a contract that would have made him arbitration eligible. In doing so, the Sox were able to negotiate his contract down from the $2.75 million he received last season.

For a closer look at Okajima, click here. For complete Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.

Read More: Hideki Okajima, Hot Stove,
Full slate of Red Sox offseason fan events 01.08.11 at 1:25 pm ET
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It’s one month until Truck Day, when the Red Sox will load team equipment for Fort Myers to signal the end of the season of baseball dormancy and the imminence of games. But the coming weeks will feature plenty of reminders that the baseball season is fast approaching.

January is filled with a busy slate of Red Sox organizational events throughout New England. Those looking to whet their baseball appetites can attend the following: Read the rest of this entry »

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Report: Joe Torre in talks about job in MLB Commissioner’s Office at 10:53 am ET
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According to the New York Daily News, which cited sources familiar with the talks, Joe Torre is in talks with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig about the possibility of becoming MLB executive vice president of operations. That position has a number of responsibilities, including oversight of the VP of on-field operations and rules, a position whose former occupant, Bob Watson, frequently was at odds with Red Sox manager Terry Francona over matters ranging from the dress code for managers to the enforcement of time of game regulations.

Whomever takes over the role of executive VP of operations would be responsible for hiring Watson’s successor. Watson resigned after the 2009 season due to health concerns.

Torre has already done some work with the Commissioner’s Office, having served on a special committee for on-field matters that included managers, GMs and owners.

Read More: Bob Watson, Bud Selig, Hot Stove, Joe Torre
Brian Cashman says Yankees won’t pursue Rafael Soriano 01.07.11 at 2:37 pm ET
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Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the Journal News that his team would not be willing to sacrifice its 2011 first-round pick to sign any of the free agents who remain on the market. With Adrian Beltre having signed with the Rangers and Carl Pavano reportedly close to an agreement to return to the Twins, the only two remaining Type A free agents (who would require a signing team to sacrifice a pick) are a pair of relievers who spent 2010 with the Rays: Rafael Soriano and Grant Balfour.

Some reports had suggested that the Yankees could pursue Soriano as a setup man. Agent Scott Boras told ESPN.com earlier in the week that Soriano — who led the AL in saves in 2010 — would be willing to set up in New York.

But while Soriano may have been willing to entertain such a notion, Cashman essentially ruled it out by stating that the Yankees would not part with the pick needed to sign the right-hander.

“I will not lose our No. 1 draft pick,’€ Cashman is quoted as saying. ‘€œI would have for Cliff Lee. I won’€™t lose our No. 1 draft pick for anyone else.’€

The Yankees have been fairly quiet this offseason since Lee turned down New York’s offers to sign with the Phillies. Cashman re-signed shortstop Derek Jeter and closer Mariano Rivera, and he has signed left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano and catcher Russell Martin.

But the Yankees have not reached any deals for the cream of this year’s free agent crop. Still, Cashman suggested that it was premature to panic about the 2010 AL wild card winners.

‘€œWe’€™re going to show up in Tampa, and we’€™re going to have a team that we’€™re proud of,’€ Cashman told the Journal News.

Read More: brian cashman, Hot Stove, rafael soriano, Yankees
Report: Rangers to pass on Rafael Soriano, boding well for Red Sox draft 01.06.11 at 12:30 pm ET
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According to FoxSports.com, the Rangers won’t pursue free agent closer Rafael Soriano this offseason. The team’s agreement with Adrian Beltre on a six-year, $96 million deal represented its run prevention upgrade. Soriano, meanwhile, “isn’t a target of the Rangers right now,” according to the report.

That is potentially good news for the Red Sox, since Soriano is the only remaining Type A free agent on the market who received a higher ranking from the Elias Sports Bureau than Beltre. As such, if the Rangers sign Soriano, Texas’ first-round pick would go to the Rays as compensation for the loss of Soriano, with the Sox getting the Rangers’ second-round pick, around the No. 80-85 pick in the draft.

But, so long as Soriano lands somewhere other than Texas, the Sox will get the Rangers’ top pick, the No. 26 overall selection in a draft that is considered to feature exceptional depth of potential impact players, particularly in terms of the quality of college pitchers.

There are still three unsigned Type A free agents who are unsigned: Soriano, Carl Pavano and Grant Balfour. But Beltre had a higher Elias rating than either Pavano or Balfour, according to this list compiled by MLBTradeRumors.com.

The Sox are also currently positioned to receive the first-round pick from the Tigers (No. 19 overall) thanks to Detroit’s signing of free agent Victor Martinez. Though Detroit has not been connected to Soriano this offseason, Soriano was also rated higher in the Elias ratings than Beltre, meaning that if the Tigers signed the 2010 AL leader in saves, their first-round selection would go to the Rays, with their second-rounder going to the Sox.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Hot Stove, rafael soriano, texas rangers
Statement from Red Sox about not moving in right-field fence at 9:35 am ET
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The following is the statement released by the Red Sox regarding the news first reported by WEEI.com that the team would not be moving in the right-field fence:

“The Red Sox recently sent a letter to the Secretary of State’€™s office withdrawing a request to consider expansion of the right field bullpen area this off-season. As we moved through the review process over the last several months, issues arose regarding implementation that required additional discussion and consideration of other design possibilities.  Given the tight construction timeline we are operating on to have the ballpark ready for Opening Day 2011, and the fact that we’€™re already deep into the off-season, plus the impact any work on the bullpen area would have on other work currently being done on the right field seating bowl, we decided to take this project off the table for 2010-2011 off-season.  We are going to review the feedback received during this process, and determine the next best steps.  It is still on our radar screen, but there is no immediate timetable for this project and, as we do on an annual basis, we will review all potential off-season projects as we get closer to the end of next season.”

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Red Sox won’t be moving in the right-field fence 01.05.11 at 7:43 pm ET
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According to a source familiar with the situation, the Red Sox have withdrawn their request to the office of the Massachusetts Secretary of State to undergo construction that would bring in the right field fence at Fenway Park as much as nine feet. The move, which would have expanded the width of the Fenway bullpens fro 21 to 27 feet, had to approved by the Boston Landmarks Commission and the Massachusetts Historical Society. The proposal was met with some resistance from the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino told WEEI.com in October that part of the impetus for any alteration would be to provide increased safety in the bullpens. ‘€œThey’€™re among the narrowest in baseball, if not the narrowest,” Lucchino said. “It makes it hard for two guys to warm-up. It does have other effects in terms of reducing the depths of right field, which is among the deepest in baseball.’€

For more Red Sox coverage, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox.

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Red Sox claim catcher Max Ramirez, DFA Matt Fox at 5:24 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced Wednesday that they have claimed catcher Max Ramirez from the Rangers and designated pitcher Matt Fox for assignment. Ramirez, 26, had nearly been acquired by the Red Sox last offseason in exchange for Mike Lowell, but concerns over Lowell’s hip led to deal’s collapse. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan was the first to report the Sox’ acquisition of Ramirez.

The Rangers had designated Ramirez for assignment after signing free agent pitchers Brandon Webb and Arthur Rhodes. In adding Ramirez, the Sox now have five catchers on their 40-man roster: Jason Varitek, Luis Exposito, Ramirez, and former Ranger Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Ramirez spent the majority of the 2010 season at Triple-A Oklahoma City, hitting .286/.373/.381 in 56 games. He hit .217/.341/.348 in 28 games for Texas. Ramirez has hit .298/.396/.476 in the minors over his seven-year career between Braves, Indians, and Rangers affiliates.

Fox, 28, made three appearances with the Sox last season after being claimed off waivers from Minnesota. He pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed a pair of runs.

Read More: Hot Stove, Matt Fox, max ramirez,
Eleven Red Sox prospects to participate in Rookie Program at 5:21 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced Wednesday that 11 prospects will participate in the team’s 2011 rookie program beginning on Jan. 10. Designed to give youngsters an idea of what to expect in the major leagues, the program will last two week.

Robert Coello, Stephen Fife, Stolmy Pimentel, Jason Rice, Alex Wilson, and Clevelan Santeliz will make up the pitchers in attendance, while Tim Federowicz and Ryan Lavarnway will be the only two catchers. Infielders Will Middlebrooks and Oscar Tejeda, as well as outfielder Juan Linares will also take part in the program.

Among the individuals addressing the group of young players will be manager Terry Francona, coaches Dave Magadan and Curt Young, president/CEO Larry Lucchino, general manager Theo Epstein, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Read More: Hot Stove,
Report: Red Sox sign Tony Pena … again at 12:38 pm ET
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According to a Tweet from ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, the Red Sox have signed pitcher Tony Pena Jr. to a minor-league deal with an invitation to major league camp. He is the son of Tony Pena, who played with the Red Sox from 1990-93, having signed a free agent deal with the Sox following the ’89 season.

Pena Jr. had come up to the major leagues as a shortstop, starting Opening Day for the Royals against the Red Sox in 2007. That season he went to play 152 games with Kansas City, hitting .267, but with an on-base percentage of just .284. He would walk just 10 times in 536 plate appearances that year.

After two more seasons with the Royals, the 29-year-old Pena Jr. was signed by the Giants to become a pitcher. In 29 games with Double-A Richmond, he went 3-2 with a 2.53 ERA, striking out 41 in 46 1/3 innings. At Triple-A Fresno he struggled a bit, compiling a 6.60 ERA in 24 games.

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