Red Sox

Free agency overview: Catcher

Free agency overview: Catcher

By Sean McAdam

Here is a look at the Red Sox' options at catcher. See links at the bottom of the story for an analysis of other positions.

The Red Sox made a two-year offer to Victor Martinez in September, which was roundly and predictably rejected. Speculation has that deal worth just over 20 million, which is far less than Martinez will command on the open market.

The Detroit Tigers are expected to be big players for Martinez and may be willing to give him a four-year contract. That would seem more than the Sox would be comfortable with, given they don't expect Martinez to be a full-time catcher by 2013 and would be paying him catcher's money to DH over the final two years of the deal.

The Red Sox are high on prospect Ryan Lavarnway, currently taking part in the Arizona Fall League. But while his power is enticing (.882 OPS between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland), Lavarnway is still quite raw behind the plate and is at least a year away from contributing at the major-league level.

If Martinez outprices himself, where do the Sox go for a season (or two) at catcher?

John BuckBuck had a nice year with the Blue Jays, posting career highs in homers (20), RBI (66), slugging (.489) and OPS (.802) while throwing out 28 percent of would-be base-stealers, which is about average.

Buck made 2 million with the Blue Jays on a one-year contract and can probably expect, at 30, to get a multiyear deal. Whether the Sox would be interested in signing him for more than one year remains to be seen.

Bengie Molina
Molina, of course, spent the first half of the season with the eventual N.L. (and World Series) champion San Francisco Giants and the second half with the eventual A.L. champion Texas Rangers. He's been part of World Series teams before, too, having caught for the Angels in 2002, so the postseason isn't anything new to him.

Molina is a good handler of pitchers, but his production dipped sharply this season. After averaging 18 homers and 85 RBI from 2007-09, he had just 5 homers and 36 RBI combined with the Giants and Rangers.

Still, as a one-year, stop-gap measure, the Sox could do worse than Molina.
Miguel Olivo
The World Series ended Monday night and already it's been a bizarre offseason for Olivo. On Thursday he was traded by Colorado to Toronto, which then declined Olivo's 2011 option, making him a free agent. (The Blue Jays, the thinking goes, will offer him arbitration and get themselves a draft pick.)

Olivo, like Buck, can probably expect to get more than a one-year deal on the open market. Also like Buck, Olivo supplies decent power. But he has a better arm than Buck, having gunned down 35 percent of baserunners over his career.

Other names of note
Gerald Laird, Rod Barajas.

OUTFIELD---> Will the Red Sox be willing to spend on the bigguns?

THIRDBASE ---> How will Theo Epstein deal with a thinmarket?

FIRSTBASE ---> Could a former Sox slugger be the answer in2011?

CATCHER---> Is there a bargain backstop to be had on thecheap?

BULLPEN---> Which relievers could be headed toBoston?

SeanMcAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young


Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.