Red Sox

Cook: No one's discussed role beyond Saturday

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Cook: No one's discussed role beyond Saturday

BOSTON -- Aaron Cook makes his first start for the Red Sox on Saturday, but after that, nobody's discussed the plan with him.

"There has been no discussion," said Cook before Friday's game at Fenway Park. "I just know I'm taking the ball on Saturday. And then, whatever happens after that, we'll get ready and go."

Cook was promoted to Boston's active Major League roster on Thursday, and will take the place of Josh Beckett on Saturday, who is suffering from a strained lat.

When asked if he'd be opposed to moving to the bullpen after Saturday's start, Cook said that wouldn't be a problem.

"I wouldn't be opposed," he said. "Pitching here and just helping to contribute in any way, that's what I want to do. But my main focus is tomorrow I've got to go out there, take the ball, and then after that we'll worry about that."

Cook went 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA for Triple-A Pawtucket before being called up. And even though the promotion may have taken longer than he may have liked, Cook is happy to be in Boston.

"It's really nice. This is where I've wanted to be the whole time. And to actually get the call up to be here and actually be with the guys I was with in spring training, to be able to make my first start here is just unbelievable," said Cook.

"I definitely made the right choice," he added. "This is an organization that I wanted to be with. I knew the coaches, I know a lot of players on this team. It definitely was the right choice."

Cook said he let his agent handle his May opt-out clause, while he just worried about his pitching. And after a few years of nagging shoulder injuries in his last couple of seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Cook said his sinker and breaking stuff has been effective for him in the minors.

"I've been working really hard on my sinker, getting late into games, throwing more pitches and innings," said Cook. "And I've been able to use my breaking stuff more effectively too. Once I get guys swinging at the sinker down and away, or the sinker in, then you can mix it up a little bit and just keep them off-beat.

"I just want to go out and give us a chance to win every time I take the ball," he added. "That's kind of what I did in spring training. My goal was to go deep into games and give us a chance to win. With this lineup, if you can keep the other teams to a few runs, we're going to have a really good chance."

Other than his sinker and breaking stuff, Cook credits his consistency -- not any increase in velocity -- for his confidence entering Saturday's start. And having a healthy shoulder helps too.

"I don't even know if you can put the shoulder from last year and the shoulder from this year in the same category," said Cook. "They have a really good shoulder program here, and the training staff has done an excellent job of monitoring everything from day one of spring training. And it's really paid off being patient."

The Red Sox hope the patience pays off for them as well.

Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins

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Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins

He was dubbed "Closer B" by Red Sox manager John Farrell when acquired at the trade deadline last summer, now Addison Reed is "Closer B Gone"...to the Twins.

The right-handed reliever, 29, has agreed to a two-year, $16.75 million free-agent deal with Minnesota, pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and TheAthletic.com reports. 

Reed began last season with the Mets and had 19 saves and a 2.57 ERA before being traded to the Red Sox, where he had a 3.33 ERA in 29 games (27 innings) without a save as a setup man for Craig Kimbrell.  
 

Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration

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Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration

The Red Sox and star right fielder Mookie Betts intend to go to an arbitration hearing in February, and there were signs this was coming even a year ago.

Betts was the only arbitration-eligible player on the Red Sox who did not settle on a contract with the team on Friday, when a deadline arrived for all teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange 2018 salary figures. Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Drew Pomeranz were the biggest names to avoid hearings.

Betts filed for a $10.5 million salary and the Red Sox filed at $7.5 million.  Betts and the Red Sox agreed previously that if no figure could be settled on by the Friday deadline, they would proceed to a hearing, assistant general manager Brian O'Halloran said. 

A three-person panel of arbitrators therefore is set to determine what Betts makes in 2018: either the $7.5 million figure the Sox filed or the $10.5 million figure Betts' camp submitted. The arbitrators won't settle on a midpoint for the parties. 

O'Halloran noted to the Globe there are no hard feelings involved.

Nonetheless, such a large gap would seem to provide incentive to settle. The parties technically could still decide to do so, but that would take a change of course from the present plan. The idea was to settle any time before Friday, and they did not. 

Betts is asking for near-record money for a first-year arbitration eligible player. Kris Bryant set the record Friday with a $10.85 million settlement.

The hearings can be difficult for player-team relations because teams have to make the case in front of the player that he is worth less money than he wants.

Betts, 25, hit .264, with 24 homers, 102 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a .803 OPS in 2017, numbers that fell from his American League MVP runner-up performance in 2016, but were nonetheless very strong and coupled with first-rate defense.

This offseason is Betts' first of arbitration eligibility. In the first three years of service time in a players' career, there's no recourse if you don't like the salary a team is offering. Teams can pay players anything at league minimum or above. 

The only option a player has in those first three years is to make a stand on principle: you can force the team to technically "renew" your salary, which notes to everyone that you did not agree to the salary. Betts and his agents did that in 2017 when the Sox paid him $950,000, a very high amount relative to most contract renewals.

Some of the standard thinking behind forcing a team to renew a contract is that if an arbitration case comes up down the road — and one now looms for Betts — it's supposed to show the arbitrators that the player felt even in seasons past, he was underpaid.

Still, the Sox may have effectively combatted that perception by paying Betts almost $1 million on a renewal. Per USA Today, that $950,000 agreement in 2017 was "the second-highest one-year deal ever for a non-arbitration-eligible player with two-plus years of big league service." Mike Trout got $1 million in 2014.