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Bard signs with Rangers

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 31, 2014 07:31 PM

Daniel Bard will try again, this time with Texas.

The Rangers signed Bard to a minor league deal Friday, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported earlier in the day that Texas was closing in on a deal.

Once a dominant set-up reliever for the Sox, Bard’s career went into a tailspin when he successfully lobbied to become a starter in 2012.

Over the last two seasons, Bard has walked 101, hit 18, and thrown 21 wild pitches over 107.2 innings in the majors and minors while posting a 6.52 ERA. The Cubs claimed Bard after the Red Sox placed him on waivers in September, but he did not pitch for Chicago.

Bard recently had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery to correct a nerve issue in his arm.

Bard struck out 213 and allowed only 132 hits over 197 innings for the Red Sox from 2009-11. He had a 2.88 ERA.

Rich Hill returns to Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 31, 2014 07:28 PM

The Red Sox are again providing an opportunity for Rich Hill.

The lefthanded reliever from Milton agreed on Friday to a minor league contract that included an invitation to spring training.

Hill, who turns 34 next month, was with the Red Sox from 2010-12. He spent last season with the Cleveland Indians, appearing in a career-best 63 games.

Hill would earn $840,000 if he makes the major league team, with an additional $500,000 available based on appearances. If Hill starts the season in the minor leagues, he can opt out of his contract on May 15 or June 30.

Hill will face plenty of competition in Fort Myers. The Red have lefty relievers Andrew Miller and Craig Breslow on the 40-man roster along with rookie Drake Britton. Lefthanded reliever Jose Mijares was signed to a minor-league contract last month and also will attend spring training.

Hill had a 1.14 earned run average and 1.26 WHIP over 40 appearances with the Red Sox. Tommy John elbow surgery ended his 2011 season prematurely. Hill returned in 2012 but ended up on the disabled list with a shoulder strain.

Hill pitched with a sidearm motion in 2012 (at the suggestion of current Red Sox manager John Farrell) but experimented with different arm angles last season.

He was inconsistent with the Indians, posting a 6.28 ERA and walking 6.8 batters per nine innings. But Hill also averaged 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings and held lefthanded hitters to a .238 batting average.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post first had the news on Hill.

Billy Joel to play at Fenway on June 26

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 30, 2014 08:08 PM

Billy Joel will play Fenway Park on June 26. It will be the first time he headlines a show in Boston in five years.

American Express Card members can purchase tickets starting on Monday at 10 a.m. Tickets for the general public go on sale starting Feb. 8 at 10 a.m. Go to www.redsox.com/billyjoel.

Fenway also could host the Zac Brown Band this summer.

A few other notes:

• Chad Finn reports that Jenny Dell will not be on NESN Red Sox broadcasts this season.

• City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, the former home of the Red Sox, is looking for a new major league team. But it won't be the Nationals based on this report.

The Red Sox and Twins would welcome a third team in the Fort to cut down on travel around the state.

All aboard for some random Red Sox notes

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 28, 2014 01:20 PM

Via the wireless on a moving train, here are some random Red Sox notes:

• The New York City chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America held its 91st awards dinner Saturday night in Manhattan.

Hall of Famers Hank Aaron and Sandy Koufax were at the head table along with new Hall of Famers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, and Joe Torre.

BBWAA award winners Miguel Cabrera, Jose Fernandez, Terry Francona, Clint Hurdle, Clayton Kershaw, Andrew McCutchen, Wil Myers, and Max Scherzer also were on hand, along with Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, David Robertson, Tony Clark, Rob Manfred, and others.

But one of the loudest ovations of the night went to Kevin McGill, a detective with the Boston Police Department.

McGill was one of the first responders to the Marathon bombings, aiding victims and securing the area. He was chosen by the New York writers to represent Boston and receive the "You Gotta Have Heart" award.

After a powerful introduction from Red Sox pitcher Craig Breslow, McGill gave an eloquent speech. To see fans in New York cheer a Bostonian was a special moment.

Here's the video:

• David Ortiz was the only award winner not to appear at the dinner Saturday. He was voted the winner of the Babe Ruth Award as the Most Valuable Player of the postseason. Ortiz also skipped the Boston BBWAA dinner last Thursday.

• Ortiz was criticized for speaking out about his contract and that is sure to continue. A 38-year-old DH set to make $15 million is an easy target and not very sympathetic.

But look at it this way: Ortiz will have earned $125.9 million over 12 years with the Red Sox by the end of the coming season. That's an average of $10.8 million a year. That makes Ortiz a huge bargain for the Red Sox given the 41.6 WAR he produced over the first 11 years.

The Red Sox showered money on the likes of Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, dropping Ortiz to second-tier payroll status in his own clubhouse. As it stands now, he will make less in 2014 than John Lackey and Mike Napoli.

Don't compare the money with what normal folks make. Compare it with other players. That is the scoreboard Ortiz sees.

Ortiz needs a lesson in public relations but his point is a sound one. Carlos Beltran, who turns 36 in April, landed a three-year deal worth $45 million from the Yankees. If that is the standard for aging hitters, Ortiz deserves another year added to his deal.

In the end, this is a lot of smoke. Ortiz will retire with the Red Sox unless his production dramatically declines and he goes elsewhere as a part-time player. He can be "Big Papi" in Boston and that has value to him.

• Is there a right answer for Jerry Remy and NESN? That's a matter of personal opinion for everybody. Remy felt he wanted to return to work and the network granted that wish with the approval of the Red Sox.

It will be awkward, perhaps, to hear Remy joking around with Don Orsillo during games. But Remy didn't lose his right to earn a living because his adult son is accused of a terrible crime. The issue is having a job that is so public.

Orsillo has a fine line to walk here because there is sure to be an emotional toll on Remy. The Martel family, of course, suffers more than anybody.

• The Grady Sizemore Experiment will be a daily story in spring training. Jonny Gomes, who has been working out with Sizemore in Arizona, believes there will be a payoff for the Red Sox.

"It's a lottery ticket," Gomes said. "Small cost, big reward."

Sizemore has supporters throughout the organization. John Farrell, assistant general manager Mike Hazen, bench coach Torey Lovullo, and even head athletic trainer Rick Jameyson all worked for the Indians when Sizemore was there, and they know him well.

The question with Sizemore is not whether he can run again and play. It's whether he can play 75 games or 125. If he's a bench player, the Red Sox will have some moves to make in their outfield.

• It's Jan. 28 and Stephen Drew is still a free agent. The latest from Scott Boras is that Drew would be willing to play second base or third base. He has played only shortstop in his career.

If Drew seeks a return to Boston, the Sox could offer him short money knowing he has little leverage. The Sox are butting up against the luxury tax limit, so adding Drew would likely require trading another player at some point.

• The Red Sox have the same coaching staff coming back for the first time since the 2007-08 seasons.

• John McDonald wants to continue playing and signed a minor league deal with the Angels. If that doesn't work out, the Red Sox could be waiting with a job in their organization.

McDonald mentored several young players last season, most notably Xander Bogaerts, and would be a terrific coach or player development executive.

• A reader emailed to ask if Jon Lester was foolish to announce he would sign with the Red Sox at a hometown discount.

That's a great question, because he certainly gave away some negotiating leverage. But Lester succeeded in placing the onus squarely on the Red Sox.

Lester stood up and said he wanted to stay in Boston and would sacrifice to do so. Now the fans are on his side and it puts the pressure on the organization to make a deal.

Lester is no fool. He just turned 30 and has thrown 1,299.1 innings the last six seasons, counting the postseason. That's a lot of wear and tear on his left arm. If he can land a long-term deal to play for a manager he trusts in a city he likes, that's a victory for him.

• The Yankees are better with Masahiro Tanaka. But which rotation would you take?

Red Sox: Lester, Buchholz, Lackey, Doubront, Peavy (or Dempster).

Yankees: Sabathia, Tanaka, Kuroda, Nova, TBA.

Rays: Price, Hellickson, Moore, Archer, Cobb.

The Yankees spent a ton of money to get better. But their rotation remains an issue when compared with the Rays and Red Sox.

• Have any good story ideas for spring training beyond the obvious ones? Drop me an email.

As always, thanks for reading.

Remy to return to NESN this season

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 27, 2014 04:08 PM

Jerry Remy will return to the NESN broadcast booth this season. The announcement came today.

For more, see this report from Chad Finn.

Ortiz grumbling about contract status

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 27, 2014 12:11 PM

It's hard to keep track of how many times David Ortiz has threatened to leave the Red Sox if his contract demands aren't met. But it has happened again.

In an interview that aired Sunday on WBZ in Boston, Ortiz suggested it would be "time to move on" if he did not get a multi-year deal.

"If I have to. If I have no choice. I'm not going to quit," he said.

Ortiz, 38, is entering the final season of a two-year deal and will make $15 million in 2014. He hit .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs last season before a stellar playoff run capped by his being named Most Valuable Player of the World Series.

Ortiz hit .353 with a 1.206 OPS in 16 postseason games. He had five home runs, 13 RBIs and walked 16 times.

Ortiz first started talking about a new contract in December. He said at the time he was pleased with his relationship with the team, a point he repeated two weeks ago. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has said repeatedly that the team would like Ortiz to retire as a member of the Red Sox.

“I’m feeling good,” Ortiz said when asked by WBZ's Steve Burton how long he would like to keep playing. “This is not a career that is forever, but as long as I’m having fun like I had and as long as I keep on doing what I’m doing, and as long as I’m healthy, of course, I’m going to keep on giving it a try. It could be two years, it could be three years, it could be 10 years, you never know.”

Ortiz also said he would prefer to stay in Boston.

"I would like to. I would like to. I'm having fun. It's been a hell of a ride as long as I've been here," he said.

“I always keep on telling people, this is a business. Sometimes you’ve got to do what’s best for you and your family. As long as they keep offering me a job and I keep doing what I’m supposed to do and then the relationship keeps on building up, I’m going to be there. Hopefully, I won’t have to go and wear another uniform.”

The reality is that Ortiz has more value to the Red Sox than other teams and limited options should he become a free agent. The Red Sox are one of the dwindling number of clubs that employ a full-time designated hitter. A 39-year-old DH would seem unlikely to land a multi-year contract.

The Yankees, because of their financial might, are a possibility. But with players like Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann on the roster, a DH would not be a priority.

Eleven years of success and three World Series titles gives Ortiz sentimental value in Boston that he would not find elsewhere. The two-year, $30 million deal he agreed to before last season was considered well above the market rate.

Ortiz has a close relation with team owner John Henry. Any decision about his future with the Red Sox would be directed from the ownership level.

Ortiz, who is doing promotional work for a pet food company, conducted the interview with a small dog on his lap.

Red Sox add some depth

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 25, 2014 03:41 PM

A few updates for you:

• The Red Sox signed lefthanded reliever Jose Mijares to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to major league spring training.

The 29-year-old has six years of major league experience with three teams. He appeared in 60 games for the Giants last season, posting a 4.22 ERA and 1.77 WHIP. But Mijares allowed only three home runs over 49 innings and struck out 54.

Mijares has held lefthanded hitters to a .225 batting average and .623 OPS in his career. He can earn $1 million if he makes the team (with incentives) or opt out of his deal near the end of spring training if he does not.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first had the news on Mijares.

• The Red Sox signed 29-year-old outfielder Scott Cousins to a minor league contract that does not include an invitation to major league spring training.

Cousins is a lefty hitter with a career slash line of .179 /.230/.285 over 135 games with the Marlins and Angels. He had only five plate appearances in the majors last season, spending most of his time with Triple A Salt Lake (.233/.310/.306).

Cousins, who is solid defensive center fielder, would project to be part of Pawtucket's roster initially. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN had the news on Cousins.

• The Sox also signed 31-year-old righthanded reliever Jose Valdez to a minor league deal. He appeared in 24 games for Houston the last two seasons. Valdez was originally signed by the Yankees in 2002 as a starter and went to the Astros in 2009 as a free agent.

Valdez pitched poorly for Triple A Oklahoma City last season. He had a 5.72 ERA and 1.60 WHIP over 35 games before the Astros released him on July 15.

• Remember Lars Anderson? The former Red Sox prospect has signed a minor league deal with the Cubs. He'll be reunited there with Theo Epstein and Jason McLeod, the executives who drafted him in 2006.

A well-hyped prospect, Anderson has hit only .250 in 1,523 Triple A at-bats with 35 home runs. He was 8 of 48 (.167) over parts of three seasons with the Red Sox before he was traded to Cleveland for RHP Steven Wright in 2012. The White Sox released him last season.

• Ranking prospects is an inexact science (witness the aforementioned Anderson). But it's worth noting that Xander Bogaerts was ranked second among prospects by MLB.com. The Sox had nine players in the top 100.

Henry Owens (39), Jackie Bradley Jr. (33), Allen Webster (46), Garin Cecchini (57), Blake Swihart (61), Mookie Betts (62), Matt Barnes (86) and Trey Ball (96) also made the list.

The other four teams in the AL East had a total of 11 players ranked.

Sox will wait and see with Sizemore

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 23, 2014 06:50 PM

John Farrell has been watching Grady Sizemore play since 2002, Farrell's first season as the Cleveland Indians’ director of player development. It was in that year that Sizemore crashed into a brick wall making a catch in a minor league game and kept playing for two weeks before doctors determined he had a broken arm.

“A special guy," Farrell said Thursday. "He was as good as anybody for a few years with the Indians."

Now, a dozen years later, Sizemore is 31 and joining the Red Sox after a two-year absence from baseball due to multiple injuries. The Sox believe Sizemore can compete with rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. to start in center field.

If not, he could serve as a valuable backup. The Red Sox will determine that once they see Sizemore play in spring training.

FULL ENTRY

Lester: Staying with Red Sox a priority

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 23, 2014 06:27 PM

Jon Lester laughed out loud Thursday when asked if he had taken notice of the lucrative contracts landed by fellow starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw and Masahiro Tanaka this offseason.

“It’s hard not to pay attention to it,” the Red Sox lefthander said.

Lester, who is signed through the end of the coming season, is one of the pitchers next in line for a new contract. He hopes to start negotiations with the Red Sox in spring training and readily admitted he would take a discount to continue his career in Boston.

FULL ENTRY

World Series trophies coming to Hadlock Field

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 23, 2014 09:45 AM

The Red Sox will bring the 2004, 2007, and 2013 World Series trophies to Hadlock Field in Portland on Saturday from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

A brief rally will take place on the front plaza at Hadlock Field at 11 a.m.. Sen. George Mitchell will attend along with Sox executive Dr. Charles Steinberg and Fenway Park announcer Dick Flavin.

Following the rally, the trophies will be available for viewing in the Portland Room.

Tickets for the 2014 Portland season are on sale and can be purchased by calling the Sea Dogs ticket office at 207-879-9500 or online at www.seadogs.com.

Red Sox sign Grady Sizemore to one-year deal

Posted by John Carney January 22, 2014 07:07 PM

Grady Sizemore

The Red Sox have signed Grady Sizemore, the former Cleveland Indians center fielder who hasn’t played in the major leagues since 2011.

The 31-year-old Sizemore signed for a base salary of $750,000. He could earn up to $6 million. If healthy, Sizemore would compete for playing time in center field with rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. in spring training.

"It doesn’t take Jackie out of the mix at all. There’s questions that we have to answer in spring training with our roster," Sox manager John Farrell said. "So the fact of Grady signing and being added to our roster doesn’t remove Jackie from our club. I think one of the things that [general manager Ben Cherington] and all of us have set out in these final weeks before spring training is add to the depth of our team, and Grady certainly does that right now."

Sizemore hit .279 with an .861 OPS over the first five years of his career, making the All-Star team three times and earning two Gold Gloves for the Indians. He had 111 home runs and 117 stolen bases in that stretch.

But a series of injuries sent his career into a spiral. Sizemore played in 210 games from 2009-11, hitting .234.

Sizemore has had surgery to his left elbow, left knee, right knee, and back. He also twice required surgery to repair a hernia. His last game was Sept. 22, 2011 with Cleveland.

During a conference call Wednesday night, Sizemore sounded confident about his comeback.

“So far, I’ve been pretty much going through a normal offseason," he said. “Running, training, doing baseball stuff, throwing, [and] hitting. When I come to camp I should be ready to go and fit right in. Just kind of get my legs underneath me and go from there."

At the height of his career, Sizemore was a leadoff hitter with power and speed who played premier defense in center. Whether he can challenge Bradley remains to be seen. But Sizemore has been working out in Arizona this winter and drew interest from several teams, particularly the Reds.

"I know he’s running right now," Farrell said. "And whether there’s been a lot of work with change of direction that’s still the next step, I think, in his progression. But straightaway speed he feels like he’s at 90, 90-plus percent.

"He’s swinging the bat every day, he’s throwing. The one thing he hasn’t done in a couple of years is be on the field for any length of time or had reps either in center field or at the plate. We feel like he’s making good progress health-wise, otherwise we wouldn’t have signed him to the deal we did."

Said Sizemore: "I'm kind doing everything I need to to get ready for a normal baseball season. My whole program is kind of built to be ready day one of spring training and that's kind of where I'm at right now."

After a two-year layoff, Sizemore still has hurdles to clear.

"When I get out there and start pounding on it every day," he said. "I think I won't really know how I feel until I get out there and you're grinding every day. You can do only so much from a rehab standpoint or an offseason program."

The Red Sox have a roster jam in the outfield with Bradley, Sizemore, Mike Carp, Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes, and Shane Victorino. Bradley and Sizemore are lefthanded hitters, so the Sox do not envision a platoon in center.

Other than occasional games as the designated hitter, Sizemore has played only center field in his major league career.

"What we have to do is get a read on where he’s at from a baseball standpoint. Does that project to be ready Opening Day? Is there more time needed? Those are things we’ll adjust to as we get into spring training, and particularly the games," Farrell said.

Farrell was an Indians executive during Sizemore's first five seasons in the majors.

"We’ve got a lot of history with the person individually. As a member of the Indians when I was there. We understand who he is as person," Farrell said. "He fits what we value in a player in terms of he’s smart, he’s tough, he’s got character. But we also know that we’ve got to get him back on the field and to what level of tolerance and consistent games played is a question we still have to answer.

"But all the due diligence and the background that we’ve done on him with respect to his knee has given us that confidence and the comfort level that he’s going to regain a level of performance that will make us better."

Sizemore said he chose the Red Sox based on his comfort with Farrell and the medical plan the team laid out for him.

"It wasn’t really looking for a place [to play] center field. It was more just looking for an opportunity to get in the outfield and fit in any way the team needed me to. I thought it was a good opportunity to be a part of this team,” Sizemore said.

In Farrell, Sizemore has a manager he can trust.

"I've got a feel for him. I was around him quite a bit," he said. "Kind of came up in that system along his guidelines," he said. "It was one of those things when I was talking with [the Red Sox], I knew I had a familiarity with the manager and I knew he'd seen me play and he knew what I was about. It made it a lot easier for my decision."

After dealing with so many injuries, Sizemore said the Red Sox could be "the second half" of his career.

"I'm looking forward to moving on," he said.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Red Sox designated righthanded reliever Brayan Villarreal for assignment.

Villarreal was obtained from Detroit in the three-team deal that centered around Jake Peavy and Jose Iglesias. In his only appearance with the Red Sox, Aug. 20 in San Francisco, Villarreal entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth inning and walked in the winning run on four pitches.

FULL ENTRY

Looks like the Yankees are still the Yankees

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 22, 2014 11:38 AM
Looks like the New York Yankees are still the New York Yankees.

We thought the Los Angeles Dodgers were the new Yankees, able to spend at will and top everyone for the best players. But the Yankees showed they haven’t lost their touch by signing prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka to a 7-year, $155 million deal.

We reported in Sunday Baseball Notes that the buzz was that Tanaka might get 6 years at $120 million, but clearly the Yankees felt they need to eclipse the $20 million per year figure and offer an extra year to surpass what LA, the Cubs and other might have bid. The Yankees will also owe the Rakuten Golden Eagles $20 million for the posting fee.

The 25-year-old righty will join fellow countryman Hiroki Kuroda in the Yankees rotation which is now comprised of CC Sabathia, Kuroda, Tanaka, Ivan Nova and David Phelps. The Yankees don’t appear to be done.

How does this affect the Red Sox?

Sox executives hinted at last night’s Hot Stove Cool Music event that they felt the Yankees might land him. And they were right.

Obviously nobody knows how good Tanaka will be. The Dodgers would have had him as their No. 3 behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The Cubs would have made him their centerpiece, and it appears the Yankees want him up on their depth chart, though they paid him No. 1 money.

This is yet another deal that seems to raise Jon Lester’s open-market value, although like Kershaw, who received a $215 million deal this week, Tanaka is only 25 years old while Lester is 30.

The Yankees, who have shed most of Alex Rodriguez’ contract for the year, replaced it with Tanaka. They may also pursue a third baseman, though they seem to feel confortable with Kelly Johnson.

The Red Sox did bid on Tanaka, but they weren't in the ballpark, according to sources.

The Red Sox didn't have the dire need to go all out for Tanaka, already armed with six veteran starters and three top young starters knocking on the door.

Yankees improve with Tanaka, but is it enough?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 22, 2014 10:59 AM

The Yankees have spent $483 million so far this winter to sign or retain Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter, Kelly Johnson, Hiroki Kuroda, Brian McCann, Brian Roberts, Brendan Ryan, Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Thornton.

So much for fiscal responsibility and staying under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. The Yankees are back in Evil Empire form.

But the Yankees are far from being favored to win the AL East. The Red Sox and Rays still have deeper rosters, less age and better farm systems. You could argue that the Yankees have no better than the third-best rotation in the division even with Tanaka.

But the Yankees are undoubtedly better than the team that finished tied for third last season.

Now that the financial incentives of staying under the cap have vanished for the Yankees, they could decide to keep on spending.

The Yankees have a rotation of Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova. Their No. 5 starter is uncertain. Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Bronson Arroyo remain on the market. They also could pursue bullpen depth.

Long gone are the days when the Red Sox will feel pressure to react to the Yankees making a big move. Ben Cherington doesn't work that way and there are no prominent free agents that would fill a need for the Red Sox outside of Stephen Drew.

But the Tanaka signing should spur the free-agent starter market into action and perhaps that will lead to the Red Sox finding a trade market for one of their extra starters now instead of later.

The other offshoot of the Tanaka signing is to what degree it affects the market for Jon Lester. Tanaka was a free agent in a unique situation, so there is not a direct comparison. But with every prominent starter that signs, the value of starting pitching goes up and Lester benefits peripherally from that.

If the Red Sox pursue an extension with Lester, the average annual value seems sure to be in the $20 million neighborhood. The number seems to edge up every week.

Theo Epstein's Cubs were avid pursuers of Tanaka, as were the Dodgers. That the Red Sox were not speaks to their faith in both their 2014 rotation and prospects like Matt Barnes, Henry Owens and Anthony Ranaudo.

Masahiro Tanaka signs with Yankees

Posted by Staff January 22, 2014 09:57 AM

300tanaka.jpg

The New York Yankees made another big splash in free agency Wednesday morning, when it was reported that they had reached an agreement with Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the deal is for seven years and worth $155 million, with an opt-out clause after the fourth year. The Associated Press reported Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner confirmed the deal.

"We had to make sure we had enough pitching to go together with our new lineup," Steinbrenner told AP.

Tanaka was the most coveted free agent pitcher this offseason when it was announced that he was looking to jump to MLB. Tanaka went 24-0 in 28 games last season for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, throwing 212 innings and striking out 183 with an ERA of 1.27.

The Yankees had already landed several free agent stars this offseason, including catcher Brian McCann and outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran.

FULL ENTRY

Red Sox likely to add a player, but it's unlikely to be Tanaka

Posted by John Carney January 21, 2014 06:52 PM

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington indicated that the team will likely add a player or two before spring training, either through trade or free agency.

Cherington, appearing at the "Hot Stove Cool Music" roundtable at Fenway Park on Tuesday night, also said that he will find out — like everyone else — which team lands prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka later this week.

While Cherington acknowledged that the Red Sox engaged in discussions with Tanaka and his agent, Casey Close, the expectation among team sources is that Boston is not among the finalists for him.

“We’ve had discussion with him and I think out of respect to him and his representatives and the process they’re going through, I just don’t think it’s right for me to say much more than that," Cherington said. "We respect him as a pitcher. We certainly respect the process he’s going through trying to make a decision."

Cherington indicated that he could still add a bullpen arm or two, an outfielder, or an infielder. That could be on a minor league deal.

Dialogue with shortstop Stephen Drew has continued, but the sides appear no closer to coming to an agreement. Cherington reiterated that he is happy with the team as constituted, with Xander Bogaerts starting at shortstop and Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field.

“I think it’s likely we’ll add to the roster," said the GM. "Whether it be in the form of a major league deal or a minor league deal remains to be seen. But confident that we’ll add some players before spring training. We’re actively working on that now.

"There’s still some areas we’d like to beef up a little bit and add some depth to. So we’ll see. Hopefully we’re getting closer on a couple things.”

Cherington spoke about the challenge of trying to repeat and said he and his staff studied the recent teams that have done so: the 1998-2000 Yankees and the 1992-93 Blue Jays. He said the common denominator was bringing back a young core of players year after year.

The GM said Dustin Pedroia and Shane Victorino are coming along fine after offseason surgeries and should be ready for spring training. Otherwise, there shouldn’t be health concerns with any other players entering camp.

Cherington was part of a panel moderated by Peter Gammons on behalf of the Foundation to be Named Later, which was founded by Theo and Paul Epstein. Also on the panel were Red Sox manager John Farrell, assistant GM Mike Hazen, farm director Ben Crockett, pitcher Craig Breslow, longtime Globe columnist Bob Ryan, WEEI baseball writer Alex Speier, and WEEI host Michael Holley.

Miller, Red Sox exchange figures

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 17, 2014 07:37 PM

The Red Sox signed Mike Carp, Jonathan Herrera, and Junichi Tazawa to one-year deals earlier today but did not come to terms with lefthanded reliever Andrew Miller.

The sides have since exchanged figures. Miller filed for $2.15 million and the Red Sox for $1.55 million.

The projections by MLB Trade Rumors, which are usually accurate, pegged Miller at $1.9 million. It seems fairly likely the side will settle around that figure.

If not, Miller's salary would be decided via an arbitration hearing. Those do not start until Feb. 1.

Prospects Swihart and Vazquez provide system depth at catcher for Red Sox

Posted by Staff January 17, 2014 03:55 PM

swihart and vazquez.jpg

When the Red Sox decided this offseason not to re-sign catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and instead sign veteran A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal, it seemed clear that they believed the future behind the plate was in the farm system.

The Red Sox held their annual Rookie Program this week in Boston, and two of their highest-regarded catching prospects, Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez, were in attendance. There has been speculation that at least one of them could be in the majors as soon as the upcoming season.

“I don’t know that there is a specific number of reps or a specific number of games caught that we have to see from a particular player," Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said Friday. “Certainly we can be in a position that we have multiple catchers on the [minor league] roster that need to play and we’re going to do the best we can to maximize the repetitions for each guy.

“This camp in particular, and others than we have done in the past, are really important for everybody, but in particular the catchers, just to get as much exposure as possible to major league staff in the way of thinking about things, the information that goes into the advanced reports, is something that they just need to get more familiar with.”

Swihart, who was taken by the Red Sox with the 26th overall pick in the 2011 draft, has played three seasons in the system. He spent all of 2013 with High A Salem, where he hit .298 with 29 doubles, 7 triples, 2 home runs, and 42 RBIs in 103 games.

The 21-year-old was named a Carolina League midseason All-Star, and in the fall was named the Red Sox minor league defensive player of the year. Not bad for a player who didn’t start catching until his junior year of high school.

“I’ve learned a lot, I still have a lot more to learn,” Swihart said. “It’s been great, a good experience. I love catching, I love being in every play, so it’s coming along really good.”

“Blake has really continued to make a lot of progress, on both sides of the ball, but particularly defensively,” Crockett said. “He is a tremendous athlete, someone who’s gotten a lot better behind the plate. He’s got plenty of arm strength. I think that athleticism is really starting to translate behind the plate.”

“I feel like everything I still need to work on, especially catching -- I’m still new to catching,” Swihart said. “You’re always learning when you’re catching. You might find a new pitcher that you’re catching that day, you need to get comfortable with him, learn his pitches, learn his pitches that he likes to throw in certain counts, so I've just got to get better at game calling, all of that.”

Swihart recently learned that he had been invited to major league spring training, an opportunity he is very excited about.

“It’s an honor," he said. "I’m going to go in there, I’m going to learn. I’m going to talk to veteran guys. I’m going to sit down and listen, just take as much as I can in and just learn as much as I can.

"Work never finishes. I've just got to keep working and keep learning.”

Vazquez, on the other hand, is a very experienced catcher and has been named by Baseball America as the best defensive catcher in the Red Sox system each of the past three years. The 23-year-old was MVP of the Portland Sea Dogs in 2013 after leading the team with a .289 average and was the starting catcher for the Eastern League All-Star team.

He was promoted to Triple A at the end of 2013, and between Portland and Pawtucket he had career bests in batting average (.287) and on-base percentage (.375).

“I was more focused, patient,” Vazquez said. “I watched the game, watched the opponents' pitcher. I was more concentrated in the batter’s box. Talking to [former Pawtucket manager] Gary [DiSarcina], he helped me a lot to be focused in the game more and looking for one spot to hit.”

Vazquez, said Crockett, is "definitely very close. I think we’re very lucky to be in a position where we have three guys -- and potentially four with Blake -- at the upper levels that they could help us at the major league level.

"There wouldn’t be a ton of hesitation to expose any of those guys if the timing was right and the situation was right.”

“It’s great [to be in Triple A]," said Vazquez. "It's fun to see more veterans guys to help me get better. It’s the same game, but different atmosphere.

“We have more reports on the opposing team. That helped me a lot to know the hitter, what count they hack [in], it’s just helped me in my game.”

With Pierzynski and David Ross both set to be free agents after the 2014 season, it wouldn’t be far-fetched for the Red Sox to see whether one of these young prospects could be their backstop in 2015. Swihart and Vazquez, though, are only thinking about what they can control.

“I let everybody else worry about that, the front office guys,” Swihart said. “I just go out and play my game and do what I can do.”

Red Sox prospects participate in rookie program

Posted by Staff January 17, 2014 02:24 PM

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The Red Sox don't start spring training for another four weeks, but the player development staff is already getting some of the young prospects ready for the year with the 2014 rookie program, which took place this week in Boston. Included was a Friday workout in the bubble at Harvard Stadium.

"This time of year is very exciting," Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett said. "You get past the holidays, you start thinking about spring training a little bit more. Having a camp like this where you’ve got a bunch of guys who you are really excited about, guys who you feel are pretty close to the major leagues -- [we get] a chance to be really hands-on with them at this camp -- I think it just further sparks that readiness to get back down to spring training."

The Red Sox invited five of their best pitching prospects to the camp: Matt Barnes, Dalier Hinojosa, Henry Owens, Noe Ramirez, and Anthony Ranaudo.

Crockett called it "a group you are pretty excited with, that at least got their feet wet at the upper levels last year. There’s a lot of work left to be done with this group, but given the caliber of arms we have here, I think we are excited about the progress that can be made this year.

"Some of it is individual, a lot of it is fundamental work, refinement of their pitches, refinement of their command, more from a structural standpoint, it's introducing more advanced reports, more scouting reports, building rapport with the catchers that they hopefully will be moving up with, and just getting them to think about the game in a more analytical fashion to prepare for the way they will do it in the major leagues."

The Red Sox acquired Hinojosa in October as a minor league free agent via Cuba. The 28-year-old is entering his first full season in the United States after playing nine seasons in Cuba's Serie Nacional for the Guantanamo Indios. Last season, he was 9-7 with a 4.09 ERA.

"[Hinojosa has] been really good in this program," Crockett said. "He’s really been excited to learn, he's been really outgoing, has gotten along with the group very well, kind of seeking information. He's confident at what he is doing, but he really wants to be a part of the Red Sox and wants to learn the way that we're doing things so we can effectively integrate into the big leagues when that time comes."

Owens split last season between High A Salem and Double A Portland and led the minor leagues by holding opposing batters to a .177 batting average. His 169 strikeouts were the second-most in the minors, and the highest total for a Red Sox prospect since Clay Buchholz struck out 171 in 2007.

His biggest improvement, said Crockett, "was definitely fastball command. He's getting his feet wet, he's trying to feel for exactly what he needs to do to compete.

"Some of it is limiting guys' innings. In Greenville, we're trying to keep them around a certain benchmark, so therefore each start he was probably held to fewer pitches and fewer innings. Certainly those are things that we’ve seen guys struggle to get used to at times.

"I think he probably had to learn in his first year that his stuff is really good and he can throw it in the strike zone and get guys out really effectively. That was something he made a nice adjustment with in his second full season.

"He gained a lot of confidence coming out of the first-year instructional league and then having a good spring training and then he was really able to springboard that this past year."

Ranaudo spent most of 2013 in Double A, earning Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors and being named to both the midseason and postseason league All-Star teams. He was promoted to Triple A in August, making six appearances for the PawSox.

"It was as seamless [a promotion] as you could hope for," Crockett said. “Particularly in a situation where he is probably well over the amount of innings he had thrown the year before, and there was probably some fatigue setting in a little bit in August in Pawtucket.

"Despite that, he was really consistent with his routine, and he really pounded the strike zone and really continued to have a lot of success in Pawtucket. So he seemed very unfazed by that promotion and really stuck to what he had done well in Portland and it served him well in Pawtucket."

In addition to the pitchers, five position players took part in the program: third baseman Garin Cecchini, first baseman Travis Shaw, shortstop Deven Marrero, and catchers Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez.

Cecchini led the Red Sox farm system with a .322 average in 2013 and led the minor leagues with a .443 on-base percentage. He split his season between High A Salem and Double A Portland, totaling 33 doubles, 7 triples, 7 home runs, and 61 RBIs.

"Garin has shown us a lot within his progression, in Double A last year and again in the fall league," Crockett said. "He's got an excellent approach to the plate, one that I think certainly, in short stints, could hold its own at any level.

"There's absolutely some development left to be done on both sides of the ball, offensively as he continues to learn his swing and learn hitting against more veteran pitching, as well as on the defensive side. The fact that he's here and the strides that he's made and the success that he's had puts him in a good position going forward."

Shaw struggled a bit at Double A Portland in 2013, hitting just .221, but still tied for third in the Red Sox farm system with 16 home runs. He walked a team-leading 78 times and picked up 50 RBIs for Portland. He then played in the Arizona Fall League and helped Surprise to the AFL championship.

"He can certainly swing the bat, he's a very good defender at first base, and with the ability to play third base,” Crockett said. "Going into the fall league, kind of taking what he had learned from a tough Double A season and taking a step forward was very good to see."

Spring training officially kicks off Feb. 15 when pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers, Fla.; the full squad reports Feb. 18. The first games will be Feb. 27, when the Sox play their traditional doubleheader with Northeastern and Boston College.

The Red Sox invited Barnes, Hinojosa, Marrero, Owens, Ramirez, Shaw, Swihart and utility player Heiker Meneses to major league spring training.

Red Sox avoid arbitration with three players

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 17, 2014 02:03 PM

The Red Sox have avoided salary arbitration with three of their four remaining players who were eligible, the team announced Friday.

Outfielder Mike Carp, pitcher Junichi Tazawa, and infielder Jonathan Herrera all settled before having to exchange arbitration figures; today is the deadline for sides to exchange figures. Andrew Miller is the Red Sox' only remaining arbitration-eligible player.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Carp agreed to a $1.4 million deal for 2014 while Herrera signed for $1.3 million and Tazawa agreed to a $1.275 million deal.

Earlier this week, the Red Sox and righthander Burke Badenhop agreed to a one-year, $2.15 million deal.

Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa to bring World Series trophy to Japan

Posted by Staff January 17, 2014 01:37 PM
Koji Uehara and Junichi Tazawa are going home, and the World Series trophy and Wally the Green Monster are going with them.

As a part of the Red Sox' efforts to share the trophy with their fans across the world, the two relievers will bring it to Japan next week (Jan. 20-22), a trip that includes stops with Japan's prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and Caroline Kennedy, the US ambassador to Japan.

Uehara and Tazawa will share the trophy with Abe and Kennedy Tuesday, the middle day of the three-day stay. The trophy will then be available for a public viewing Wednesday at the MLB Café Tokyo.

Red Sox extend non-roster invitations to spring training

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 17, 2014 11:24 AM

Several players not on the 40-man roster have been invited to Red Sox spring training, the team announced Friday.

They are pitchers Matt Barnes, Henry Owens, Dalier Hinojosa, and Noe Ramirez, and utility player Heiker Meneses, shortstop Deven Marrero, catcher Blake Swihart, and first baseman Travis Shaw.

All except Meneses are participating in the team's rookie program this week.

Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 15, and others report on Feb. 18. The first full-squad workout is Feb. 20.

Bob Tewksbury named MLBPA director of player development

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 16, 2014 05:19 PM

Former major league pitcher Bob Tewksbury, the sports psychology coach for the Red Sox for nine seasons, has joined the Major League Baseball Players Association in a newly created position.

The 53-year-old Tewksbury will work with current players on post-career preparation, on-field performance counseling, and personal development. For the past 13 years, Tewksbury has served as a resource player during the annual Rookie Career Development program organized jointly by the MLBPA and MLB.

“I look forward to working with players to help them excel not only on the field but in life,” Tewksbury said in a statement. “Today, professional athletes face an ever-increasing number of obstacles as they juggle their playing and personal lives. As a former player, I thank the MLBPA for recognizing the need to offer assistance in these areas, and I’m honored to be the individual to help provide these invaluable resources.”

Tewksbury joined the Red Sox in 1999 as an advance scout before becoming a pitching consultant and eventually the organization's "mental skills coach" after earning a Master's degree in sports psychology and counseling from Boston University.

Tewksbury is a native of Concord, N.H. He won 110 games in 13 MLB seasons.

The Red Sox, for now, do not intend to replace Tewksbury with any one person. They'll start the coming season with a group of people who will be available to work with the players.

Red Sox tickets for 2014 season on sale Jan. 25

Posted by Staff January 16, 2014 10:19 AM
Tickets for Red Sox home games in 2014 will go on sale Saturday, Jan. 25 at 10 a.m., the team announced Thursday.

All games will be available except Opening Day and Yankees games, which will be sold through a random drawing that will also include Green Monster seats and Right Field Roof Deck tickets. The date for those sales has not been announced.

Fans can buy 12 tickets per transaction via the Red Sox' website, calling 877-733-7699 (hearing impaired TTY line is 617-226-6644).

Check the Red Sox 2014 schedule

On RedSox.com: Seating and pricing chart

Red Sox, righthander Badenhop agree to a contract

Posted by Globe Staff January 15, 2014 11:22 PM

Righthanded reliever Burke Badenhop and the Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $2.15 million non-guaranteed contract Wednesday, avoiding salary arbitration.

Badenhop, 30, was acquired from the Brewers in November. He went 2-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 62.1 innings for Milwaukee last season.

Badenhop has an 18-20 record with three saves and a 3.98 ERA in parts of six big league seasons with the Marlins, Rays, and Brewers.

The Red Sox have four arbitration-eligible players remaining: 1B-OF Mike Carp; INF Jonathan Herrera, LHP Andrew Miller, and RHP Junichi Tazawa.

How will Clayton Kershaw deal affect re-signing Jon Lester?

Posted by Robert Burgess January 15, 2014 05:08 PM
With the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw agreeing to a 7-year, $215 million deal today how does that impact the Red Sox re-signing Jon Lester, who will play in his option season in 2014 and could potentially become a free-agent next fall?

The Kershaw deal obviously shows that the price of pitching is going up and that Lester will get his share of the market.

You can argue Kershaw is in a league of his own, but where does Lester, who was 4-1 in the postseason including a 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA in the World Series and 3-0 and 0.43 ERA in two World Series appearances  (‘07 and ’13) fit in?

Lester, who had some ups and downs in 2011 and 2012, corrected those issues this past season and went 15-8. He’s 100-56 (.641) over his career and he just turned 30 years old. If the Red Sox and Lester have begun talks on a new deal, both sides have kept it quiet.

The Red Sox have taken a wait and see approach to Lester the past couple of years to see if he could work out his mechanical issues, and he did and then some.

So will the Red Sox pay Lester a massive salary, post-30 years old knowing they do have a strong core of young pitchers coming up through the minors, or will they decide, as they did with Jacoby Ellsbury, that they will not commit long-term for those types of dollars?

What isn’t known is whether Lester would do a discounted Dustin Pedroia type deal to stay in Boston.

Lester has said he’d like to remain a Red Sox.

It’ll be interesting to see these how these negotiations unfold.

Red Sox get multiple appearances on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball

Posted by Staff January 15, 2014 12:09 PM
ESPN released its Sunday Night Baseball schedule on Wednesday for the first half of the season and the Red Sox have multiple appearances.

The Red Sox will play a Sunday night game on April 13, April 20 and May 18. The April 20 matchup with the Orioles is a 7 p.m. start the night before Patriots Day, when the Red Sox have an 11 a.m. start.

Sunday Night Baseball begins March 30 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres on MLB’s opening night.

The full schedule for the first half:
March 30 - Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres
April 6 - San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers
April 13 - Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
April 20 - Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox
April 27 - Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at New York Yankees
May 4 - TBD
May 11 - St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
May 18 - Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox
May 25 - St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds
July 13 - New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles
July 20 - Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals

Five Red Sox players file for arbitration

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 14, 2014 08:37 PM

Five Red Sox — righthander Burke Badenhop, outfielder/first baseman Mike Carp, infielder Jonathan Herrera, lefthander Andrew Miller, and righthander Junichi Tazawa — filed for salary arbitration Tuesday.

The sides will exchange figures Friday. Hearings start Feb. 1 for any players still unsigned.

The players are under team control for the coming season. The arbitration process determines their salary.

A-Rod attorney denies attacking Ortiz

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 14, 2014 07:59 PM

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is one of the few major league players to voice support for Alex Rodriguez in recent months.

Ortiz took Rodriguez out for dinner in Boston late last season after the controversial Yankees third baseman was mercilessly booed at Fenway Park. Ortiz even criticized teammate Ryan Dempster for throwing at Rodriguez.

In December, Ortiz invited Rodriguez to his charity event in the Dominican Republic.

So much for that goodwill. On Tuesday, Rodriguez's lead attorney seemed to cast aspersions on Ortiz during an interview with ESPN Radio.

Joe Tacopina said he would not name other players accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, "but some of them are God-like in Boston right now."

The host, Colin Cowherd, did not challenge Tacopina's accusation.

In 2009, the New York Times reported that Ortiz tested positive for an unnamed substance during a 2003 survey test.

Rodriguez was suspended for the entire 2014 season for using PEDs and obstructing an investigation into his use. On Monday, he sued Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association in federal court in an attempt to overturn the ban.

The suit went so far as to criticize MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner, who died in November after a long battle with cancer. Now Ortiz is an apparent target of his legal team.

During the ESPN Radio interview, Tacopina referred to Rodriguez as an "outstanding human being."

Ortiz could not be reached for comment.

UPDATE, 10:45 p.m.: Tacopina, via an email to the Globe, denied he was alluding to Ortiz in his comments. But he would not say who he was referring to.

It is unclear what other Boston athlete fits the description given by Tacopina.

FULL ENTRY

Red Sox on Campus event planned at Northeastern

Posted by Staff January 14, 2014 05:38 PM

The Red Sox will hold a Town Hall-style meeting at Northeastern University on Wednesday, Jan. 22, featuring outfielder Jonny Gomes, team president Larry Lucchino, general manager Ben Cherington, and manager John Farrell.

The team representatives will take questions from an audience of students, season ticket-holders, faculty, and alumni, but fans can participate at home by tweeting questions using the hashtag #RedSoxTownHall.

The event begins at 6 p.m. and will be filmed by NESN at Northeastern's Blackman Auditorium. Tom Caron will be the host. It will be first broadcast on Jan. 27 at 10 p.m.

Ask Nick: Questions to stoke the hot stove

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 14, 2014 03:00 PM
After a long winters nap, the mailbag has returned and happy to be back answering your questions.

It’s been a pretty quiet offseason for the Red Sox. No major moves were made. The team lost Jacoby Ellsbury, but feels it has a suitable replacement in Jackie Bradley Jr. Everyone is looking forward to seeing Xander Bogaerts in his rookie season in the majors, whether it be at shortstop or third base. We’re eager to see what role Will Middlebrooks will play if the team re-signs Stephen Drew to play shortstop.

Have a
question?

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As far as Drew is concerned, there’s still a good chance he returns to Boston, but agent Scott Boras has a way of creating markets for his players and he’ll wait it out.

We all wonder about the year-after. Will the team be as hungry? Will the pitching be as good as it was the year before? Will all of the extra postseason innings catch up up to Jon Lester or John Lackey or Jake Peavy? Will Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, and Mike Napoli be as effective in their second year? Does David Ortiz have another monster year left in him? How does A.J. Pierzynski fit in on the field and in the clubhouse? Can the team stay healthy? Is Clay Buchholz finally going to pitch a full season?

As we head into mid-January we wonder about all these things. You also wonder if the logjam in the starting rotation should or will be addressed with a deal.

Then there's the competition. Did any AL East teams, or AL teams, for that matter, get appreciably better to knock off the Red Sox?

What are the ramifications of the arbiter's ruling on Alex Rodriguez? For one, the Yankees have more money to spend – about 24 million. They can use that toward Masahiro Tanaka or another available starter like Bronson Arroyo or Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, or they could acquire a third baseman – either sign Mark Reynolds or trade for Chase Headley.

They could also stay under the luxury tax of $189 million. All of the above are probably good for the Yankees and bad for the rest of the division.

Here’s the mailbag:

What type of offers would it take for Boston to trade away a starting pitcher? What kind of needs could be filled by that trade and what kind of caliber player would they bring?
Jackson, Falls Church, Va.

The returns could be as simple as prospects. The team has depth in starting pitchers, so why not deal a commodity like a starter for younger players like other teams do? Of course, it depends on who it is. Ryan Dempster isn’t going to fetch as much as John Lackey. But it has to be the right deal, as general manager Ben Cherington has pointed out. Potential salary relief is always important because it allows you to save some money for the trade deadline.

I know I'm supposed to be practicing patience, and I think where the Red Sox are now is in a very comfortable position with tons of depth. But in your mind, is there a deal to be had? Also, have they put too much stock in catchers Christian Vasquez and Blake Swihart?
Andy, Herndon, Va.
This is along the lines of the previous question. One of the reasons Cherington is being very conservative with this starting pitcher depth is 1.) he was there when Theo Epstein traded Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena and the chain of events that set off when Pena was a bust and Arroyo became a mainstay in the Cincinnati Reds rotation; and 2) When you have a pitcher who is injured as much as Clay Buchholz, don’t be so quick to get rid of your depth.

As for the young catchers, I think these guys are legitimate. I think it’s important to seek the opinions of outside sources – opposing scouts who see these players on a regular basis. Most organizations overrate their own players, which is natural because you want to put a stamp on your scouting. But the people I’ve sought opinions from on these guys rate them very high. Vasquez has excellent catch/throw skills and is improving offensively, while Swihart could be an all-around starting catcher who is very athletic.

I know the Red Sox have asked Felix Doubront to meet in Florida in January, mainly to check on his conditioning. Was he given some sort of specific offseason workout program to get him into shape this time so as to avoid any more "surprises" like when he reported out of shape in 2013? Have they been monitoring him since the season ended or are they just rolling the dice and waiting to see what they get?
Mike, Hendersonville, Tenn.
From what I’m told by John Farrell, he’s been monitored pretty closely and his workouts have been supervised at IMG in Bradenton, Fla. Not sure exactly what the workouts entail, but the whole offseason was geared toward getting him over the hump so he can be a 200 innings lefty in the middle of the rotation. There are still high hopes for him to become a top lefty in the league and he definitely has the stuff and the competitiveness to be that. Now he just has to get the conditioning to the point where he can repeat his delivery and keep this up for next 8-10 years.

Click full entry for more Q&A.

FULL ENTRY

Red Sox rookie program gets started

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 13, 2014 05:37 PM

The Red Sox rookie program got started at Fenway Park on Monday. The weeklong event is designed for prospects who are close to joining the major league team.

The program includes two workouts each day that focus on conditioning and fundamentals. There are also seminars and community events. The players will visit Boston Children’s Hospital and will paint murals at the McKinley Middle School in Boston.

Speakers include Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherington, John Farrell, Greg Colbrunn, Juan Nieves, and Dana LeVangie along with head athletic trainer Rick Jameyson and therapist Dan Dyrek. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge also will address the group.

The 10 participants this season are RHP Matt Barnes, 3B Garin Cecchini, RHP Dalier Hinojosa, LHP Henry Owens, SS Deven Marrero, RHP Noe Ramirez, RHP Anthony Ranaudo, 1B Travis Shaw, C Blake Swihart, and C Christian Vazquez.

Barnes, Cecchini, Owens, Marreo, Ranaudo, Swihart, and Vazquez are among the top prospects in the organization. Hinojosa, a 27-year-old Cuban, was signed in October for $4.25 million.

Seven players who participated in the program last year — Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Drake Britton, Rubby De La Rosa, Brock Holt, Allen Webster, and Steven Wright — advanced to the majors.

ADL of New England to honor Steinberg, Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 13, 2014 05:03 PM

The Anti-Defamation League New England Region will honor Dr. Charles Steinberg and the Red Sox with its Distinguished Community Service Award on Feb. 11.

The award is given annually to individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to social justice and community building in both their personal and professional lives. Steinberg, the team's executive vice president and senior adviser to team president Larry Lucchino, is being recognized for helping the region heal after the Boston Marathon bombings.

“Boston is lucky to have Dr. Charles Steinberg and the Red Sox as part of the city’s fabric. In the wake of the devastating impact of the Marathon bombing, they gave us hope, pride, and the unity we needed to heal," said ADL regional director Robert Trestan.

The award will be presented to Steinberg and the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz will serve as honorary co-chairs. Susan Wornick and Bob Lobel will host the event.

Tickets can be purchased at the event's website.

John Farrell headlines Falmouth Hot Stove event

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 13, 2014 12:13 PM

Red Sox manager John Farrell will be the featured guest at the second annual Falmouth Hot Stove event on Thursday at the Sea Crest Beach Hotel. The event is hosted by the Falmouth Commodores.

The 2013 World Series Trophy will accompany Farrell to the event.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. with a social hour and registration featuring raffles, refreshments and hors d'oeuvres. A cash bar will also be available.

At 7:30 p.m. Farrell, Peter Gammons, and Commodores head coach Jeff Trundy will take the stage to discuss Cape Cod League Baseball and its importance in the majors.

A Q&A session with all three baseball experts will last until 9 p.m. Tickets to the Falmouth Hot Stove Event are $100 each.

Tickets can be purchased online at the Commodores' website or or at the door. All proceeds will benefit the Commodores.

Representatives from the Red Sox Foundation’s Home Base Program will be in attendance to offer insight to the program that provides clinical care, support services, and educational services to Iraq and Afghanistan service members, veterans and their families throughout New England.

The Sea Crest Beach Hotel is offering guests rates starting at just $89 per night based on double occupancy. Rates including two tickets to the event are also available starting at $298. For more information or reservations visit the hotel website or call 1 (800) 225-3110.

Red Sox did not meet with Masahiro Tanaka

Posted by Matt Pepin, Boston.com Staff January 13, 2014 10:59 AM

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Masahiro Tanaka did not visit with the Red Sox during his visit to Los Angeles last week, but the team has had conversations with the pitcher’s agent, Casey Close, according to a team source.

Late last week, Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino issued a “no comment” on whether the Red Sox had met with the 25-year-old righthander, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan.

The Red Sox have been non-committal about their interest, or lack thereof, in the pitcher whom many teams seem to believe could be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. The Red Sox seem to be more discerning perhaps because they were burned by their last big Japanese pursuit, Daisuke Matsuzaka, which cost the team $103 million. About half of that sum went toward a posting fee.

With the new posting system, teams can bid up to the maximum $20 million posting fee, and the player can negotiate with all teams that bid. While the system allows more teams to enter the bidding, it appears large market teams still have the advantage.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and Seattle Mariners have been linked most strongly to Tanaka, but it doesn’t mean others like the Toronto Blue Jays or the Philadelphia Phillies aren’t pursuing him. Those teams have made their intentions very public and clear.

The Yankees need another top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher and believe strongly Tanaka would fit. They already have Hiroki Kuroda in the rotation. He could be a strong selling point for Tanaka.

While the days of the Yankees outbidding everyone for a player aren’t exactly over, the 8,000-pound gorilla in the room is now the Dodgers, who seem to have an endless flow of money to compete for international players and have made it a top priority in their organization.

The Dodgers have said publicly they will not be outbid on Tanaka, so it would be up to the pitcher on where he plays and would have turn down the Dodgers offer to play for less money some place else. At least that’s the way it’s shaping up.

The Red Sox also find themselves in a strong position in that they have young pitchers ready to compete for spots on the major league roster. Brandon Workman, Henry Owens, Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, and Matt Barnes could be every bit as good as Tanaka.

The Red Sox also have six veteran starting pitchers. One of them, Jon Lester, is the ace of the staff and in the final year of his contract. He'll demand a huge payday either before or into free agency. An issue in favor of pursuing Tanaka is that Clay Buchholz, who is a No. 1 or No. 2 when healthy, hasn’t been able to stay healthy throughout his career so far.

The Red Sox have had great success with Japanese relievers. Lefty Hideki Okajima gave them two quality years. Junichi Tazawa has turned into a strong set-up man and Koji Uehara saved the day as the closer last season.

Pierzynski on hand for New Stars for Young Stars

Posted by Robert Burgess January 11, 2014 02:57 PM

The ninth annual New Stars for Young Stars, presented by the Jimmy Fund Council of Greater Boston, was held at Jillian's on Saturday with new Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski highlighting the roster of new and upcoming players on hand.

Catcher Blake Swihart, second baseman Mookie Betts and pitchers Drake Britton and Rubby De La Rosa rounded out the bill, playing pool with Jimmy Fund Clinic pediatric patients and VIP attendees prior to an autograph session and bowling contests.

Standing in the shadows of Fenway Park with a little over a month before pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers, baseball was not far from the players' minds despite the onus being on the goodwill of the day’s event.

For Pierzynski, the upcoming season, his 17th, provides him the chance to work with a World Series winning pitching and coaching staff.

“I’ve talked to John [Farrell] and I’ve obviously know [pitching coach] Juan [Nieves] forever, so we talk a lot, especially around the holidays,” said Pierzynski. “I’m looking forward to getting to know [Farrell] on a personal level.”

Nieves and Pierzynski forged their relationship while both were with the Chicago White Sox, giving the new catcher some comfort as he joins the fifth different organization in his career.

He also feels the added comfort of having played with or against many of the starting pitchers over his 16 years in the majors.

“I know so many of these guys,” Pierzynski said. “Obviously I know Jake [Peavy] from playing with him. I know [Ryan] Dempster from facing him a thousand times and being in Chicago with him. But a lot of these guys, [Jon] Lester, [Clay] Buchholz, I was fortunate last year getting to do the World Series [for Fox] and meeting these guys and talking to them. It was a huge advantage.”

Swihart, considered by many to be the top catching prospect in the organization, planned to take advantage of the opportunity to gain a little bit of that knowledge Pierzynski totes around.

“I’m still new to catching,” said the 21-year-old Swihart, who only started catching as a junior at Cleveland High in Rio Rancho, NM. “I definitely want to pick any catcher’s brain whenever I get a chance.”

And on the flip side, so do the pitchers.

“They make you do the right thing,” De La Rosa said of a catcher’s importance. “They are always positive and they push you. You can tell when they are good guys.”

The 24-year-old righthander, a key cog in the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers two years ago, did not pay immediate dividends in his first season with the organization, but he did learn a lot about himself and the fan base.

“It was different to play here than in L.A.,” De La Rosa said. “I feel that here the fans are real fans and that what we do makes everybody happy. So I’m like, “I have to do something right” I want these people to love me.”

Although eager to get on the mound and start earning some love, De La Rosa and the others soaked in the atmosphere of the event as they interacted with kids throughout the day.

“I love to help people,” De La Rosa said. “To see the faces, they look so happy and for me it’s an amazing show, being here, trying to help and play with the kids. I’m trying to do the best I can to make people happy.”

“It’s something that I believe in and I believe people should do more of,” Pierzynski said. “The Jimmy Fund is a great organization and they do amazing things. When they asked me to do this it’s impossible to say no to something like this.

“To come up here, I was able to take my kids sledding at Fenway and we had a good time. Plus it kind of introduces me to the community and any time you have that opportunity, you can’t say no.”

Prior to this year’s event, over $221,000 had been raised by New Stars for Young Stars, with all proceeds benefiting Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund.

Arbitrator suspends Alex Rodriguez for 2014 season

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 11, 2014 12:58 PM

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the 2014 season and any postseason games by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. The decision came on Saturday afternoon.

Horowitz trimmed only 49 games off the original 211-game suspension given to Rodriguez by Major League Baseball for his use of performance-enhancing drugs and involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.

Rodriguez immediately announced his intention to appeal in federal court.

Rodriguez, 38, played only 44 games in 2013 after appealing his suspension. He is signed through the 2017 season.

His career could be over given the long break, health woes, and possibility of the Yankees releasing him or seeking a legal termination of his contract. Under a loophole in major league rules, Rodriguez could attempt to participate in spring training while his case is being appealed. The Yankees almost certainly would try to prevent that.

The immediate question becomes whether Rodriguez and his team of lawyers can convince a judge to stay the suspension and allow him to play. History suggests the courts would side with a collectively bargained agreement.

For the Red Sox and AL East competitors, this is bad news. The Yankees will save the $27.5 million Rodriguez was to be paid in 2014 and free themselves of a significant distraction. Rodriguez also is six home runs shy of a $6 million bonus for matching the 660 career home runs hit by Willie Mays.

The Yankees could use the money to improve their roster or keep their payroll below the $189 million luxury tax threshold. The Yankees will be responsible for only $3.2 million of Rodriguez's salary in their 2014 computation.

Major League Baseball's statement read:

“For more than five decades, the arbitration process under the Basic Agreement has been a fair and effective mechanism for resolving disputes and protecting player rights. While we believe the original 211-game suspension was appropriate, we respect the decision rendered by the Panel and will focus on our continuing efforts on eliminating performance-enhancing substances from our game.”

The MLB Players Association also released a statement:

"The MLBPA strongly disagrees with the award issued today in the grievance of Alex Rodriguez, even despite the arbitration panel's decision to reduce the duration of Mr. Rodriguez's unprecedented 211-game suspension. We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached, however, and we respect the collectively bargained arbitration process which led to the decision. In accordance with the confidentiality provisions of the JDA, the Association will make no further comment regarding the decision."

Notable in those remarks was, "We recognize that a final and binding decision has been reached." The union doesn't seem interested in supporting Rodriguez's appeal.

Rodriguez's statement, issued on Facebook:

“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from Day One. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.

"I have been clear that I did not use performance-enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.

"I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal."

There is no evidence that MLB is seeking to abolish guaranteed contracts or institute lifetime bans for single violations.

UPDATE, 2:50 p.m.: Here is the statement from the Yankees:

“The New York Yankees respect Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the arbitration process, as well as the decision released today by the arbitration panel.”

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas elected to Hall of Fame

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 8, 2014 01:57 PM

hallvote.jpg

Pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and first baseman/designated hitter Frank Thomas were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday.

Maddux was named on the ballots of 97.2 percent of the voters, Glavine on 91.9 percent, and Thomas on 83.7 percent. In order for a player to be selected for the Hall he must be named on 75 percent of writers' ballots.

Former Astros second baseman Craig Biggio came agonizingly close to being elected with 74.8 percent of voters putting him on their ballots. Catcher Mike Piazza was named on 62.2 percent of ballots, and pitcher Jack Morris missed election for the 15th and final time with 61.5 percent of the vote.

Maddux won 355 games in his career, pitching 11 seasons for the Braves and 10 for the Cubs. Maddux came close but could not break the mark for highest percentage of votes (98.84), set when in 1992 when Tom Seaver topped the record Ty Cobb set in 1936.

A Billerica native, Glavine won 305 games over 22 seasons, 17 of them with the Braves. A five-time All Star, Thomas hit 521 career home runs and was named AL MVP in the 1993 and 1994 seasons.

Maddux, Glavine, and Thomas were on the ballot for the first time.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, said Tuesday the only player he voted for was Morris, on the writers’ ballot for the 15th and final time after falling 42 votes shy last year.

‘‘To me, I didn’t exclude Maddux. I excluded everybody from that era, everybody from the Steroid Era,’’ Gurnick said. ‘‘It wasn’t about Greg Maddux, it was about the entire era. I just don’t know who did and who didn't.’’

Gurnick said Morris was the only player he voted for in 2013 and added he intends to abstain in future elections.

‘‘Some people quibble over when the era starts, but the bulk of his career was in my opinion well before all of the widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs,’’ Gurnick said.

Maddux was left off 15 of the 569 ballots submitted. Each writer can select up to 10 players on his or her ballot.

Next year’s ballot could be even more crowded when Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Carlos Delgado, and Gary Sheffield become eligible, five years after their retirements. The BBWAA last month formed a committee to study whether the organization should ask the Hall to change the limit of 10 players per ballot.

The induction ceremony will take place in Cooperstown, N.Y. on July 27. The three players will join managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, elected last month by the expansion-era committee.

Click Full Entry to watch a video of Christopher L. Gasper's thoughts on the Hall of Fame election results. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

FULL ENTRY

A few ways to improve Hall of Fame voting

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 8, 2014 10:30 AM

The Hall of Fame voting will be announced this afternoon. Based on the votes revealed so far, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Craig Biggio could all get in.

Who gets left out will be an ever bigger topic of discussion and the Baseball Writers' Association of America will again be the target of criticism, much of it justified.

There are no "correct" ballots. Everybody is free to decide on their own how to evaluate the Steroid Era or the merits of a particular player. There is no right way to vote and it's foolish to suggest there is.

But the BBWAA can take some common-sense steps to clean up the process a little:

• Make the results public: Every ballot should be made public on the BBWAA web site. Journalists ask players, managers and executives to go on the record every day. It is unconscionable for an organization made up of journalists to conduct a secret ballot.

Public scrutiny would force voters to carefully consider their choices.

• Investigate who is voting: The BBWAA rules say that a writer must be an active member of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years. Once a writer receives a Hall of Fame vote, they are eligible to continue voting even when they are no longer an active member of the BBWAA, provided they become a lifetime honorary member.

Understand this: BBWAA membership is essentially a convenient way to obtain a press pass that works at every stadium. There is no vetting process. Media organizations simply select a list of people, pay their dues and their BBWAA cards arrive in the mail.

You're supposed to be a beat writer, a backup beat writer or a columnist to be in the BBWAA. But those guidelines aren't enforced. There are plenty of BBWAA members who have a card just for the convenience and cover a handful of games each season. Others go years without stepping foot in a park or writing a word about baseball.

The BBWAA should work harder to ensure members actually are covering the sport. Sports editors should be encouraged to be judicious with their choices.

• Limit the lifetime voting privilege: Bob Ryan, now retired from the Globe, is a perfect Hall of Fame voter. He is passionate about baseball, attends games regularly and makes his choices with great thought.

But for every Ryan, there are voters who now cover a different sport or are in a different profession entirely. Instead of lifetime voting rights, honorary members should be reviewed every five years and asked whether they truly want a ballot.

In previous jobs, I voted in the Associated Press Top 25 college basketball poll and for the Heisman Trophy. That stopped when I switched to baseball. But BBWAA membership lasts forever for some reason.

These rules were made decades ago when being a baseball writer was a job nobody would think of leaving. That has changed.

• Increase the pool: The BBWAA has slowly adapted to the changing times by granting membership to writers from web sites. This should be further encouraged to diversify the membership and bring in new voices.

There also could be a way to have broadcasters and baseball historians included. Vin Scully, Joe Castiglione, Bob Costas and other veteran baseball broadcasters are far better qualified than many who do vote.

• Offer some help: The ballot arrives with a sheaf of statistics for each player. The stats are pretty basic and — frankly — not much help.

Why not have a committee of respected analysts compile a packet of information? That could include advanced statistics, comparisons to other Hall of Famers and where the player stands on career charts. No opinion, just facts.

We have smart people like Bill James, Jay Jaffe, Dave Cameron, and Sean Forman available as resources, along with many others. Why not use them?

The Hall of Fame voting creates tremendous debate and for me, it's a sign of how great a sport baseball is. Whatever we can do to improve it, even if just a little, is a worthwhile endeavor.

Red Sox announce Rookie Development Program participants

Posted by Gary Dzen, Boston.com Staff January 7, 2014 06:06 PM

The Red Sox Tuesday announced the participants in the team's 2014 Rookie Development Program. The program takes place from Jan. 13-18 in Boston and seeks to familiarize prospects thought to be within 18 months of playing in Boston with the team's major league staffers.

The participating prospects are RHP Matt Barnes, 3B Garin Cecchini, RHP Dalier Hinojosa, SS Deven Marrero, LHP Henry Owens, RHP Noe Ramirez, RHP Anthony Ranaudo, 1B Travis Shaw, C Blake Swihart, and C Christian Vazquez.

Barnes, Swihart, Marrero, and Ranaudo are former first-round picks. The Sox signed Hinojosa out of Cuba this winter. Barnes, Ranaudo, Hinojosa, Vazquez, and Ramirez potentially could help the MLB team this season.

Red Sox not expected to chase Tanaka

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff January 3, 2014 04:43 PM

A few Red Sox updates:

• A major league source tells the Globe that while the Red Sox are impressed with the talents of RHP Masahiro Tanaka, they do not expect to be contenders for his services.

All 30 major league teams were notified that the 30-day period to sign the 25-year-old began at 8 a.m. on Thursday. Clubs have until 5 p.m. on Jan. 24 to reach an agreement.

Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season.

To sign Tanaka, a team would have to pay a $20 million posting fee to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles along with is expected to be a contract of at least $100 million. The Yankees, Cubs and Mariners are considered the leading candidates for Tanaka.

• The Orioles have signed outfielder Quintin Berry to a minor league deal. Berry ended last season with the Red Sox, appearing in 13 regular-season games and three in the postseason.

Counting the postseason, Berry is 29 for 29 in stolen bases in his major league career.

• Jan. 14 is the deadline for arbitration figures to be filed with Major League Baseball. The Red Sox have to sign RHP Burke Badenhop, 1B-OF Mike Carp, INF Jonathan Herrera, LHP Andrew Miller, and RHP Junichi Tazawa.

None would seem to be particularly onerous to sign. They are signed players at this point. If the sides cannot come to an agreement, a hearing would determine the player's salary for the coming season.

• Don't forget about the New Stars For Young Stars Event on Jan. 11.

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