Red Sox

McAdam: Red Sox eying Farrell, but open to others

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McAdam: Red Sox eying Farrell, but open to others

A year ago, even before their original list of potential managerial candidates were summoned to Fenway, certainly before they contemplated hiring Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox were first infatuated with Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell.
A year later, they're right back in the same position.
In the aftermath of Valentine's firing, the Sox, numerous sources indicate, have made Farrell their first priority.
But just like last year, getting permission to offer him the job will not be simple.
Last fall, Farrell was a year into a three-year contract he signed with the Jays. After first stating that they wouldn't stand in the way if any employee wanted to join another organization, they abruptly changed club policy and demanded compensation.
Toronto asked for starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, a price the Sox naturally deemed prohibitive.
Now, Farrell has just one year remaining on his deal, but the Jays aren't inclined to let him come to the Red Sox without getting something in return.
One industry source said the Jays would demand a "significant'' player in return for letting Farrell out of his deal. An executive with another major league team said he believed the Jays would ask for a top prospect ("not one of their top three, but right below that") in exchange.
Farrell is unique in that he's the top choice of both ownership and upper management as well as the team's Baseball Operations department. Both like that Farrell has a strong pitching background, would command immediate respect in the Boston clubhouse and understands the demands of the market.
Toronto CEO Paul Beeston, who enjoys a close relationship with Red Sox CEO and President Larry Lucchino, will likely hold the key to a deal getting done.
Beeston is an affable sort and some who know him believe he wouldn't stand in Farrell's way if the manager expressed a strong desire to return to the Red Sox.
There are complications, however.
First, Beeston doesn't want the Jays viewed as a farm club for U.S.-based big market team, especially one that competes in the same division. Were he to move from the Jays to the Red Sox, Farrell would bring a unique perspective on the inner workings, philosophy and personnel in the Toronto organization.
If Beeston lets Farrell out of his deal with little in return, he'll appear weak to the team's fan base.
Secondly, the Jays hold some leverage. With Farrell still under contract, the Jays are entitled to compensation and because of his work history with the Sox and relationships with both GM Ben Cherington and assistant GM Mike Hazen, Farrell is worth more to the Red Sox than any other franchise.
In another year, if Farrell's deal expires, Toronto will not get anything if he chooses to go elsewhere, though presumably, the Red Sox will have another manager by then.
As much as the Sox want Farrell, however, they are set to be adamant about not wanting the compensation issue to drag on, hindering other moves that must be made to rebuild a 93-loss team. The Sox were embarrassed by the long, drawn-out -- and ultimately unsatisfying -- compensation they themselves received for letting Theo Epstein leave with a year remaining on his contract to become president of the Chicago Cubs.
If the Sox can't work out a deal for Farrell in the span of, say, a week, look for them to take their managerial search elsewhere.
Both Cherington and Lucchino indicated Thursday that they might be open to considering candidates without previous major league managerial experience, a change that would increase the pool of potential candidates.
Here are some names who would likely be on a secondary list:
Brad Ausmus
A longtime major league catcher, Ausmus is considered one of the brightest people in the game. He has significant New England roots -- born in New Haven; a Dartmouth alum; homeowner on the Cape -- and has long been considered managerial material.
Ausmus is a special assistant with the San Diego Padres and would undoubtedly come with a strong recommendation from Padres GM Josh Byrnes, Epstein's one-time assistant in Boston.

Torey Lovullo
Lovullo, ironically, is Farrell's first base coach in Toronto, but unlike Farrell, has a contract that expires at the end of the month, leaving him free to take a job elsewhere without compensation.
Lovullo, too, is familiar with the Boston organization, having managed Pawtucket in the 2010 season. That means, too, that he managed a number of players on the current Red Sox roster.
He also enjoys a good relationship with Hazen, who was the Red Sox' farm director when Lovullo managed the Pawsox. And, having worked two years under Farrell in Toronto, Lovullo has learned firsthand from someone the Sox respect.

Tim Bogar
Bogar interviewed, unsuccessfully, for the Astros managerial opening last month and also interviewed for jobs in Toronto and Seattle.
The former infielder is open to the game's analytics, having devised a new method by which players are evaluated, but has extensive playing and managing experience. He also has worked in Boston long enough to understand the demands of the job and the market.
If there's a negative for Bogar, it's that he worked on the staffs of the last two Red Sox managers, both of whom were fired. The Sox may want a clean break from their recent past.

It's worth noting that while Farrell enjoys consensus support throughout the organization -- from both the ownership level and Baseball Operations - no other potential candidate has such broad approval.
Should the Sox be unable to pry away the one manager upon whom they agree, how would the process work in finding a compromise candidate?
For now, their sights set squarely on Farrell, that's a prospect the Sox would rather not ponder.

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

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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

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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 baseball-reference.com.

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.

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