|Jon Lester would have said ‘probably yes’ to 5-year, $120 million offer last spring from Red Sox||12.18.14 at 8:46 pm ET|
Former Red Sox pitcher and current Cubs pitcher Jon Lester joined the Hot Stove show Thursday night with Mike Mutnansky, Rob Bradford and Alex Speier to discuss what the free agent process was like, what the negotiations last spring training were like with the Red Sox, and also what it was like the hours and days following officially signing with the Cubs.
Lester signed with the Cubs for six years and $155 million, with a vesting option for a seventh year.
Everyone keeps coming back to the reported four-year, $70 million offer the Red Sox gave to Lester during spring training last season. What if the Red Sox came in with a higher offer — such as the Cliff Lee, five-year, $120 million deal — would Lester have accepted?
“That is one of those deals where hindsight is 20/20. You go back in time and you look at it and you go, ‘probably yes,’ ” said Lester. “I mean you don’t know. I mean it is one of those deals where when it is sitting in front of you that is a lot of money to turn down. That would have made it very difficult to turn it down.”
Following spring training, Lester and his camp were under the impression the two sides would not discuss a contract during the season because that was what was agreed between them and the Red Sox, and they didn’t want any distractions for he and his teammates during the year.
“As far as I understood, and that is not coming from my agent, that is from what I understood coming out of everyone’s mouth was that once the season started, I think we had all agreed upon that and it wasn’t just one side saying we don’t negotiate during the season,” Lester said. “I think it was more a group discussion and a group decision that if we weren’t able to come to a conclusion with the contract negotiations before the season started we thought it was in the best interest of everybody to table it ’till the offseason and wait until the season is over and all the distractions of playing, the ups and downs of the season and all that to get after it again.
“Like I said the other day, I don’t know if that is a bad quality or a good quality, but I am kind of hard-headed when it comes to that. If we make a decision one way or the other, just like if we would have made the decision to continue talking I would have expected that to continue. I think we all kind of decided at that time with the distractions of everything going on it wasn’t the right time or place to continue the discussions.”
|Report: Cubs to hire Joe Maddon as manager||10.29.14 at 6:01 pm ET|
Evidently, after all those years managing indoors, Joe Maddon sought sunlight.
According to a report from CBSSports.com, which cited multiple industry sources, the Cubs are expected to hire Maddon to be their manager. Maddon opted out of his deal with the Rays last week after he proved unable to work out an extension with Tampa Bay. The report said that Maddon will become one of the highest-paid managers in the game, and likely the highest paid in the National League.
A subsequent report by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (via twitter) suggested that there is not yet a deal done between Maddon and the Cubs, and that he continues to talk to other teams. Still, that may simply be a matter of semantics, with the sides waiting until after the World Series to reach (and announce) a formal conclusion to a deal.
The appeal of a deal for both the Cubs and Maddon seems obvious. The Cubs, a team with the top pool of young talent in the big leagues, get a player with a history of having inherited a losing culture and transformed it into a perennial contender with World Series aspirations. Maddon, meanwhile, would secure one of the top salaries in the game and a team upon which he can put his imprint while trying to bridge the divide from potential to success. Indeed, with the Cubs now 106 years into a title drought, the upside of managing in Chicago may be greater than any other job in baseball.
The Cubs do have Rick Renteria under contract. Renteria, who stewarded Chicago to a 73-89 record in his first year as Cubs skipper, has two years remaining on his contract. But evidently, with Maddon becoming available, the Cubs (and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein as well as GM Jed Hoyer) were willing to confront that potentially awkward situation for the sake of securing the services of the two-time AL Manager of the Year.
|Cubs president Theo Epstein on D&C: ‘We’re set to explode as an organization’||06.30.14 at 11:05 am ET|
Cubs president of baseball operations and former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the Red Sox‘ struggles this season and the state of the Cubs. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Epstein will not be present at Fenway when the Cubs takes on the Red Sox the next three days. The former Sox GM returned to Boston earlier this season for a dinner in honor of the 2004 Red Sox team, although Epstein did not attend the pregame ceremony the next day.
“We had a game the next day in Chicago and the ceremony is for the players, really,” Epstein said. “They were the ones who won the championship. It was really nice for the Red Sox and John [Henry], Tom [Werner] and Larry [Lucchino] to invite me back. … I thought it was perfect. We kind of just came in under the radar, had a great time at the dinner. It was unbelievable to see all the players; everyone was in a great mood. It was as if it was the best high school reunion imaginable.”
Epstein, who left Boston in October 2011 to take his position with the Cubs, admitted that the four-month battle over the compensation needed to free him from his contract with Boston caused some strain with members of the Red Sox front office, but he noted the relationship is better since then.
“I think it was just the way that the whole transaction went down,” Epstein said. “Not so much me leaving, because I think everyone was supportive of that. … Just the compensation issue was so unusual that, to be honest, it probably did complicate some feelings along the way. But I think with the benefit of time, that it’s better now and everyone would have been happy to see each other had I made it back.”
While the Cubs have posted the worst record in the National League Central this season at 34-46 and posted a combined record of 127-197 over Epstein’s first two seasons in Chicago, he said the long-term future of the organization looks bright.
“We’ve been very transparent from the beginning here that we were going to take a big-picture approach and do it the right way and build it from the bottom up,” Epstein said. “There really wasn’t much of a choice. There wasn’t really a prime-age major league talent here, nor much of a farm system when we got here. … We’ve played a lot better lately in the big leagues. We had the best record in the National League for a month stretch there up until a couple of days ago.
“Bigger picture, the talent level and the health of the organization is really coming around. … We’re kind of in that mode where, in the next year or two, we’re set to explode as an organization.”
|Johnny Damon on M&M: Jacoby Ellsbury ‘will do great in New York’||12.04.13 at 12:28 pm ET|
Ellsbury, who won two World Series with the Red Sox, reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $153 million contract with New York on Tuesday night. Damon, after spending four seasons as Boston’s center fielder and claiming a World Series with the Sox, also signed with the Yankees once his Boston contract expired in 2005.
‘I respect the way [Ellsbury] plays. I know there were tons of comparisons with me when he came out of college, and there’s plenty of comparisons now, too,’ Damon said. ‘I know he’s a good kid, he needs to stay healthy, I think he will do great in New York.
“I’m sure if Boston wanted to do six, seven years, he probably would have stayed. But Boston’s looking out for themselves. Sometimes when you get burned by certain contracts, like the [Carl] Crawford thing, it scares you some, and rightfully so. Boston is going to continue to make the right decisions.”
Asked about what Ellsbury will go through as he switches sides in the rivalry, Damon said: ‘I think the toughest thing for Jacoby is going to be going back to Boston, and everything leading up to it. What do you think the fans are going to do — are they going to cheer you or are they going to boo you? He’s going to answer that question so many times, and probably every time he goes back for the next seven years. I think that was the hardest thing.
“Everywhere you go people are Red Sox fans. I’ve been on deserted islands and a Red Sox fan popped up and started telling me how big of a fan they are. Red Sox fans are avid and passionate and it’s incredible. Jacoby’s going to find out how many Red Sox fans are out there now, just telling him how they respected his game, but also, ‘How could you go to the Yankees.’ But seven years, [$]153 [million], that’s a lot of loot.’
After signing with New York before the 2006 season, Damon said he had something to prove when he played against his former team.
“For me, it was about trying to show them that first year,” he said. “I was so upset that I didn’t re-sign with Boston. I bought a house, they told me to buy a house, I did, and then they don’t sign me, and I’m kind of like, ‘Oh, boy, this is not good.’ … This was after the World Series. I talked to Theo [Epstein] and he said I would be there for a long time. Then again, Theo the next year said, ‘You’re having too good of a year. You’re overpricing yourself to keep playing in Boston.’ ‘¦ And I wasn’t going to take a few pitches looking to get the average down and get the numbers down.
“Unfortunately, I did have a great year. But if I had a worse year they would have just let me go and said he’s done. I had too good of a year, and I ended up going to New York.”
|John Henry: Red Sox thought about making Theo Epstein president, Ben Cherington GM||10.21.13 at 2:18 pm ET|
Henry revealed that Ben Cherington, who took over the general manager position in 2012 after Theo Epstein left for the Cubs, was being groomed for the position, and that Boston had a plan that would have paired Cherington and Epstein together in the front office.
‘We knew for years that [Cherington] was going to be our next general manager,’ Henry said. ‘At one point we’d even talked about Theo becoming president, allowing Ben to become general manager.’
That plan never materialized, as Epstein became president of the Cubs in 2012, and Larry Lucchino remained the team president, while Cherington slid into the position vacated by Epstein.
‘We made a decision where we were going to concentrate on having more depth,’ said Henry, before the Red Sox’ Game 6 ALCS win that sent Boston to the World Series. ‘Instead of spending 20 or 25 million dollars for a player, we’re going to go out and get two or three players.’
|Theo Epstein: ‘No wrongdoing’ by Red Sox in Schilling case||02.10.13 at 6:50 pm ET|
Former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, now the president of baseball operations with the Cubs, told reporters in Cubs camp that the Sox responded appropriately when former pitcher Curt Schilling alleged that a member of the team’s medical/training staff had suggested that he could consider using performance-enhancing drugs to prolong his career. Epstein said that the individual whom Schilling accused of the suggestion was exonerated completely after an investigation by Major League Baseball.
“It’s the only time in my career where a player mentioned performance enhancing drugs to me,” Epstein told reporters (as relayed here by the Chicago Sun-Times). “I immediately reported it to Major League Baseball. … The club did its own investigation. Major League Baseball did a very thorough investigation. … They had a lot of conviction about their conclusion that their was no wrongdoing and therefore no discipline of the individual in question.”
Epstein did not identify the member of the team’s staff who was accused by Schilling, but he did say that the individual was cleared after the investigations.
“I can only say that this individual was thoroughly investigated and came out with his reputation very much intact,” Epstein said. “Because of this investigation, the individual in question probably has been as thoroughly vetted as anyone in a big league clubhouse and came out extremely clean. So this incident should not be seen as an attack on his integrity.”
For more Red Sox coverage, visit weei.com/redsox.
|Theo Epstein on why a second-round pick matters||01.04.13 at 9:55 am ET|
Cubs president of baseball operations and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, in an interview on WEEI’s Red Sox Hot Stove Show on Thursday night, suggested that draft picks — even second-round picks — are more valuable than ever in the current baseball climate, helping to explain a reluctance for teams to pursue certain free agents. (To listen to the complete interview, click here.)
Like the Red Sox, the Cubs — who went 61-101 in 2012, the second-worst record in the game, thus entitling Chicago to the No. 2 overall pick in next year’s draft — have a protected first-round pick. Chicago thus could sign one of the players who received one-year, $13.3 million qualifying offers from their 2012 teams without forfeiting its top selection in next year’s draft. Still, like the Red Sox, the Cubs are extremely protective of the second-round pick that they would have to give up if they were to sign a free agent who received a qualifying offer (pitchers Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano, first baseman Adam LaRoche and outfielder Michael Bourn are the remaining free agents who would cost a draft pick).
In short order, the reasons for the Cubs’ protectiveness of the pick include:
— The second-round pick is higher than ever. In past years, under previous Collective Bargaining Agreements (when teams simply needed to offer free agents salary arbitration in order to secure one or two compensatory picks), there was a broader array of free agents whose departure would result in their former teams receiving one or even two compensation draft picks. The result was dozens of picks in the sandwich round that falls between the first and second rounds, on top of the 30 (or more) picks in the first round.
The result? In the last six drafts, the average top pick of the second round was the No. 56 overall pick in the draft.
This year, however, the number of compensation picks has been drastically reduced. In functional terms, the sandwich round has been almost eliminated. While there are six new picks at that stage of the draft (the result of a competitive balance lottery for small-revenue clubs), second-round picks now expose teams to a position in the draft where they should be able to make a more impactful selection. The top pick of the second round this year will be roughly the No. 38 overall pick in the draft. Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox CEO/president Larry Lucchino: John Farrell a ‘perfect fit’||10.23.12 at 2:41 pm ET|
Red Sox CEO/president Larry Lucchino, who was in charge of much of the responsibility for negotiating with Blue Jays counterpart Paul Beeston to release John Farrell from his contract, said that he was concerned at times in the process that Farrell would not be granted permission to come to Boston.
“Yes there was [concern that the Blue Jays wouldn’t let him go],” said Lucchino. “That’s why the suggestion that somehow we were making a mistake in bringing in other people to interview is I think unfounded. There was a lot of uncertainty as to whether this thing could be done. We had to prepare for Plan B.”
Asked what happened to breathe life into the discussions between the teams, Lucchino suggested only, “I like to think it was sweet reasonableness that somehow reared its lovely head in the middle of the process.”
Still, he acknowledged that the discussions with the Blue Jays this year were dramatically different from the ones that took place a year ago, after Terry Francona was fired following the 2011 season, when sources have said that Toronto sought starter Clay Buchholz in exchange for Farrell. This year, the two sides ended up agreeing that the Sox could compensate Toronto by sending shortstop Mike Aviles to the Jays. Even so, Lucchino noted that a player who was an everyday shortstop in 2012 represented a more substantial form of compensation than Chris Carpenter and Aaron Kurcz, the players whom the Sox received from the Cubs in March as compensation for the departure of former GM Theo Epstein.
“Let’s just say [the Blue Jays] made substantial demands on us throughout the process. It had to evolve over time for us to find the right combination of consideration, because they absolutely deserved important consideration, and they got it in our last year’s starting shortstop,” said Lucchino. “It’s a far cry from the process we went through last year with regards to our general manager.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Buster Olney on M&M: Red Sox lack ‘defined chain of command’||07.11.12 at 3:17 pm ET|
ESPN MLB analyst Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni for his weekly appearance on Wednesday afternoon, saying the Red Sox need a stronger chain of command. To listen to the interview visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“That’s really what a lot of this stuff comes down to, without having specifics of who’s having disagreements with who,” Olney said. “Ultimately the reason why all this is happening, and the same reason why years ago there was the issue between Larry [Lucchino] and Theo [Epstein] was because there wasn’t really a distinct chain of command that was determined by the ownership. They need to [fix] that and [the problem’s] not going to get solved until that happens.
“All these issues of who’s speaking to who and who’s not talking to who and who’s not getting along with who, that’s not going to be settled until they deal with that. Again, as we’ve said in recent weeks, they can still win in spite of that. They’ve got a tremendous amount of terrific players.”
The analyst couldn’t comment on rumors of Boston restraining Bobby Valentine from using his managerial style, but Olney said the problem — if it exists — stems from ownership.
“Here’s the bottom line: That’s something where the ownership, if that’s an issue, whether it’s letting Ben [Cherington] have full control or letting Bobby be Bobby and do what he does, that’s got to come from the top,” Olney said. “That’s got to come from John Henry in the same way that they had to decide, ‘OK Theo you run baseball operations. Larry, you stand over here.’ Or ‘Larry you’re going to run baseball operations and Theo answers to you.’ They have to determine those things but that’s clearly, it’s sort of at the root of the issues they have that there isn’t a defined chain of command where they need it.”
Olney said when he noted Red Sox problems in a column he was referring to ongoing issues as opposed to ones already reported.
“I kind of find it funny because, within the baseball industry, it’s not even a secret,” Olney said. “It’s such an open conversation about issues that different people in that organization have that it’s funny that it hasn’t been written about more there, to be honest with you.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Theo Epstein on D&C: ‘No villains’ in Red Sox management||06.14.12 at 10:52 am ET|
Theo Epstein joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday to talk about his time with the Red Sox, including his relationship with ownership and the difficulties of being a big market general manager.
As Red Sox GM, Epstein brought in John Lackey and Carl Crawford at a significant cost as free agents. When asked if he was pressured to do so by the team’s business interests, he waved off the notion.
“There are no villains here,” Epstein said. “It’s the reality of what happens in a big market, especially when you win, especially when there’s incredible performance on the field as well as off the field and things get bigger and bigger. … I always had a concern about it getting too big and when it starts to grow and it stars to become insatiable it becomes hard to take a reasonable long-term approach on the field and off the field.”
Despite not feeling pressure from ownership, Epstein wasn’t always perfect at handling his own pressure.
“If anything I blame myself,” he said. “At the end it certainly became too big. I didn’t do a good enough job of managing that tension, managing the reality of being a big market team when things start to fall off a little bit, which is natural. I certainly should have executed in big name free agency.”
He added later: “I finally gave into the [tension]. I started executing moves that gave into it and were a little more convenient and that is a lot of the reason I wanted to move on. … After ten years it’s hard to attack things from a fresh perspective. It’s hard to be as adamant about your philosophy as you are at the beginning.”
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