Red Sox

McAdam: Ross signing gives Sox options

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McAdam: Ross signing gives Sox options

Since the end of the season, the Red Sox have publicly identified first base, outfield and pitching as their primary positional needs.

But Saturday, in their first personnel move of the off-season, the Red Sox added to a position they weren't necessarily in the market for: catching.

The Sox signed David Ross to a two-year, 6.2 million deal, according to a source. FoxSports.com was the first to report the signing.

Ross, 35, is a veteran of 11 major league seasons, having spent the last four years with the Atlanta Braves. In 2012, he hit .256 with nine homers and 23 RBI, serving as the backup to All-Star Brian McCann. With McCann battling shoulder issues in the second half of the season, Ross was the Braves' starting catcher in the National League wild card game.

This marks Ross's second stay with the Red Sox. A late-season acquisition in 2008, he played in eight games that year before signing with Atlanta in the off-season.

On the surface, the move appears curious, since the Red Sox have two catchers under control: Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway.

But adding Ross gives the Red Sox a number of options:

It frees them to trade Saltalamacchia at a time when the catching market is thin.

As many as a half-dozen teams -- including Texas, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay and the New York Mets -- are in the market for a starting catcher, or catching help.

The Mets, in particular, would seem to be a good matchup for the Sox. They need a catcher and have a number of players in whom the Sox are interested including first baseman Ike David, outfielderfirst baseman Lucas Duda and infielderoutfielder Daniel Murphy.

The Sox would love to pursue lefty Jon Niese, but the Mets' asking price would include far more than Satlalamacchia, and more than the Sox would want to sacrifice.

It allows the Sox to platoon Saltalamacchia and Ross, with Lavarnway optioned to Pawtucket for more development time.

Like Kelly Shoppach, Ross would seem a good fit for Fenway, with good pull power to take avantage of the ballparks' dimensions.

Curiously, Ross has actually performed slightly better against righties (.771 career OPS) than he has against lefties (.764). Last season, the difference was even more pronounced: .818 against righties and .712 against lefties.

It leaves open the possibility that the Sox could shift Saltalamacchia to first base while using a catching tandem of Ross and Lavarnway.

According to a baseball source, however, that scenario is the least likely of the three.

The Sox were also attracted to the veteran's makeup and leadership skills. Ross also comes with a reputation for being one of best receivers in "framing'' pitches to help his pitchers expand the strike zone.

Ross also control the running game exceptionally well, having thrown out 39 percent of baserunners over his career. Last year, he gunned down 15-of-34 would-be base stealers for a 44 percent success rate. As recently as 2009, he threw out 48 percent of all baserunners attempting to run on him.

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

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HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press

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.