Red Sox

Nine straight between Astros, Red Sox? Indians could make it happen

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Nine straight between Astros, Red Sox? Indians could make it happen

BOSTON — Let's get ahead of ourselves: a month from Thursday, Fenway Park could be the tipping point for something strange.

When the schedule came out, the potential for weirdness was always there. But as September arrives, the possibility for a bizarre end of the season in the American League is growing.

The Astros (80-53) visit Boston (76-57) for a four-game series to end the regular season, Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Houston has led the pace in the AL for a long time. The separation, however, has dwindled. The Indians (76-56) have been charging, with seven straight wins, and may be the most complete team around. 

So let’s say the Indians do wind up with the best record in the AL. The other presumed division winners, the Astros and Sox, would play each other for at least seven straight games, and as many as nine: four to end the regular season, and then up to five more in the Division Series.

Sox manager John Farrell played the old day-at-a-time card Thursday when talking about the importance of the Yankees series that was about to get underway.

"The overriding feeling in our clubhouse and the approach of our players, they don't get past today," Farrell said.

That's nice. But as teams advance scout one another this month, there will be people charged with thinking about this very topic: would the teams act any differently in those regular season games? It's all hypotheticals, for now. But the standings are a road map.

Sometimes starting pitchers are held out of games against division-rivals in spring training. There could be too much on the line — seeding, if not a division title for the Sox — to skip someone in that final four-game series.

At the very least, Sox-Astros is the most compelling regular-season pair left on the schedule for Boston after this weekend.

Four games against the Yankees concludes a spin through a meat-grinder patch of the schedule. The Sox faced the Indians twice, the Yankees twice and had some Orioles mixed in. 

Up next, the Sox have the Blue Jays, the Rays, the A’s and then the Blue Jays again. None of those teams were above .500 entering Thursday. The Orioles have been streaking and also just swept the Sox, so their meeting at Camden Yards Sept. 18-20 could have significance.

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Martinez tells Red Sox he would DH, but others want him as outfielder

Martinez tells Red Sox he would DH, but others want him as outfielder

Free agent slugger J.D. Martinez has told the Red Sox he would DH and play the outfield for them, a baseball source said Friday.  The flipside: teams are offering Martinez a full-time outfield job, and he enjoys playing the outfield.

Martinez, the best bat available via free agency, visited with teams at the winter meetings this week.

Michael Silverman of the Herald wrote Friday that Martinez has been telling teams he prefers to play the outfield, and suggested the Sox will have to pay a bit more to land Martinez.

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“Martinez remains open to being a DH so his preference to play defense regularly does not eliminate the Red Sox from signing Martinez,” Silverman wrote. “It does, however, put them in a position of having to make an aggressive offer that would distance themselves from competing offers where teams can present a corner outfield position. 

“Just what defines aggressive is something only Martinez and his agent Scott Boras will ultimately determine.”

The market could start to move a bit now, although that doesn’t mean anything is necessarily imminent. Another baseball source on Friday night noted that the market has started to thaw with Carlos Santana off the board. He agreed to a three-year, $60 million deal with the Phillies.

The Red Sox made an offer for Santana, but the offer made clear that Santana was not their primary choice. In other words, it wasn't close to what Santana ended up with.

A scenario in which Jackie Bradley Jr. is traded to make room for Martinez in the outfield seems reasonable, even if the Red Sox and Boras, who represents Bradley, have both downplayed that possibility.

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Scratch another Red Sox' target - Santana goes to Phillies

Scratch another Red Sox' target - Santana goes to Phillies

The Red Sox options for a power bat grew fewer and likely more expensive Friday when former Cleveland Indians first baseman Carlos Santana agreed to a three-year, $60 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Jon Heyman of FanRagSports.com and MLB Network was first to report the Santana deal, which comes as somewhat as a surprise with the rebuilding Phillies making a free-agent splash.  

The Red Sox reportedly met with Santana earlier this offseason. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reported that the Sox offered a three-year deal to Santana that wasn't in the range of the Phillies. 

He doesn't hit for a high average (.249 career), but his combination of power and walks gives him a career OPS of .810. Last season he hit .259 with 23 homers and 79 RBI and an .818 OPS, and over his career, he has averaged 25 home runs and 85 RBI over 162 games. 

That Santana was able to command a $20-million-a-year deal from the Phillies likely raises the price of the other power bats the Sox had reportedly targeted, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer.