Free agency formally began yesterday, and the Red Sox apparently have not waited long to contact a player long believed to be someone they would covet.
Citing a baseball source, ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes reports that the Red Sox have been in touch with Jayson Werth's agent, Scott Boras, to express interest in the five-tool outfielder who has spent the past four seasons with the Phillies.
Werth, a 32-year-old seeking his first big payday after injuries plagued the early years of his career, is hitting free agency at the right time. He is coming off arguably his best season, during which he batted .296 with a .921 OPS, hit 27 homers, and led the National League with 46 doubles.
The only other free agent outfielder who will draw similar interest is Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford, and Werth is the only true high-end power-hitting outfielder available.
Crawford, like Werth, will appeal to the Red Sox and a number of other suitors, though there are no reports of specific teams contacting him yet.
The Boras factor is of interest to the Red Sox. He's notorious for prolonging free agency for his clients, and he represents not only Werth, but third baseman Adrian Beltre. Crawford is represented by Brian Peters.
Meanwhile, in the Bronx, the Yankees reportedly wasted no time checking in with the agent of ace lefthander Cliff Lee, who beat New York twice in the ALCS while leading the Texas Rangers to the World Series.
According to the New York Daily News, the Yankees were one of several teams Sunday to express interest in Lee, one of baseball's premier pitchers the past three seasons.
The Daily News reported that the Rangers, Nationals, Phillies, Cubs, Brewers, and Angels also contracted his agent, Darek Braunecker. It was uncertain whether any team made a formal offer, but that seems to be a mere formality as far as the Yankees are concerned:
The Yankees are expected to be aggressive in their pursuit of Lee, who is far and away the best player available on the free-agent market this winter. Lee, 32, is believed to be seeking a six-year deal worth at least $23 million annually.
The Yankees nearly acquired Lee at the July 31 trade deadline from the Seattle Mariners for premier prospect Jesus Montero, but the Rangers trumped the offer with a package including first baseman Justin Smoak.
The main contributors to The Buzz are:
- Matt Pepin, Boston.com sports editor
- Steve Silva, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Gary Dzen, Boston.com senior sports producer
- Zuri Berry, Boston.com sports producer