Red Sox

No contract, but is it still a deal?

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No contract, but is it still a deal?

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

Two years ago, the Red Sox were outbid by the New York Yankees for free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira, a move that left both a sizeable hole in the Red Sox lineup and their pysche, having been beaten by their longtime rivals.

Players like Teixeira, who can impact a team both offensively and defensively, are rare and the feeling at the time was the Red Sox missed out on a chance to obtain a game-changing, middle-of-the-order force.

With the pending acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox have made up for their swing-and-miss on Teixeira, though in an least one way, the price they paid was higher.

According to baseball sources, the Sox have a deal in place to obtain the 28-year-old Gonzalez for a package that includes three top prospects -- Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes along with a fourth player to be named later.

The trade was first reported by ESPN.com

The deal is apparently contingent on Gonzalez passing a physical and agreeing to a contract extension, the latter of which is expected to rival the deal signed by Teixiera with the Yankees (eight years, 180 million). Gonzalez is otherwise eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.

Major League Baseball has granted the Red Sox and Gonzalez' agent, John Boggs, a window until 2 p.m. Sunday to work out a contract extension.

According to an industry source, Gonzalez underwent a complete physical Saturday morning in Boston, and while the shoulder is still healing, "should be fine."

As recently as three weeks ago, general manager Theo Epstein doubted that the Padres would deal Gonzalez this winter, believing that the surgical procedure on the first baseman's right shoulder would postpone serious trade talk until teams could see for themselves that Gonzalez was fully healthy.

Epstein also believed that it was more likely that the Red Sox would sign Gonzalez as a free agent rather than involve themselves in any bidding war next July. The reason: the Sox far preferred to sign Gonzalez and lose only compensation draft picks.

The Sox were further emboldened by the knowledge that, this time out, they would not have to compete with the Yankees. With Teixeira signed for six more years, they would have neither a position nor the interest for Gonzalez.

But within the last 10 days, the landscape began to shift, and with it, Epstein's approach. As more and more teams begin approaching San Diego GM Jed Hoyer, Epstein sensed that the time was now.

In between jetting around the country to visit with prospective free agents Carl Crawford (Tuesday night in Houston) and Jayson Werth (Wednesday night in Chicago), talks intensified for Gonzalez.

After initially refusing to include pitching prospect Casey Kelly, the Sox came to the realization that a deal could not be made without him. The Padres, seeking an eventual replacement for Gonzalez at first base, also wanted Rizzo, and the athletic Reymond Fuentes, the last first-round pick by Jason McLeod, the former Red Sox scouting director, now Hoyer's assistant in San Diego.

Having satisfied the Padres, the Red Sox must now satisfy Gonzalez and agent John Boggs on a contract extension.

It seems unlikely that there had not been at least some communication, however preliminary and informal, between Boggs and the Red Sox on what Gonzalez would be looking for.

When Hoyer and Boggs met after the 2010 season to see what Gonzalez would demand in a contract extension, Hoyer was told that the deals signed by fellow first basemen Ryan Howard and Teixeira would be good comparisons.

That was enough for Hoyer and San Diego CEO Jeff Moorad, who understood that the Padres' payroll couldn't handle a player making more than 20 million annually.

The decision to shop Gonzalez, then, became a matter of "when," and not "if."

At the GM meetings three weeks ago, Hoyer said the surgery on Gonzalez wouldn't necessarily stall trade talks, emphasizing that while Gonzalez wouldn't be 100 percent until March, he had managed to play the final four months of the year while injured and without much of an impact on his production.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

Red Sox can be thankful for a successful past and a bright future

For the glass-is-half-full folks, there are those back-to-back Eastern Division titles. For the glass-is-half-empty folks, well, there are those two first-round playoff ousters (though both their conquerers made it to the World Series, and one of them won it). But, here on Thanksgiving night, there's plenty for Red Sox Nation to be thankful for, starting with . . . 


YOUR GOOD HEALTH

We know you don’t need the Red Sox to know you how important the most basic elements of life are. But sometimes, the typical fantasy land of baseball can grab our attention. The death of 17-year-old Sox prospect Daniel Flores (above) this month from complications because of cancer didn’t take away only a potentially great baseball career. It took away a beloved, hard-working young person from the people who loved him. He had just made millions of dollars in July for his talent on the field, but what does such a windfall matter compared to one’s health? His cancer was both rare and fast-moving, per the Boston Globe.

MOOKIE, JACKIE, XANDER, BENINTENDI, DEVERS

The kids deserve some love. They probably won’t be together on the Red Sox forever. Heck, the group could get broken up this winter. But while any of the Killer B’s (plus a D) remain on the Sox, there should be a sense of optimism. Two straight 93-win seasons may have resulted in a first-round exit, and 2017 didn’t meet expectations for some individual performances. But you know what? The youths are still damn good, and there’s time for them to show us they can be even better.

INSANELY GOOD PITCHERS IN CHRIS SALE AND CRAIG KIMBREL

Neither hogs the spotlight once the game ends or says too much. Sale doesn’t even have Twitter. But the righty closer and lefty starter both do two things exceedingly well: make batters swing and miss, and prevent runs. When both pitch, your seat at the park may well be worth the price of admission. (But we won’t ask what you paid for those seats.) Sale didn’t take down Pedro Martinez’s Sox single-season strikeout record this year, finishing with five fewer than Martinez’s 313 in 1999. But he could have done it. And with a little more rest next year, one can envision him plowing his way through playoff opponents too.

ALEX CORA'S NEW DIRECTION

A first-time manager’s not a sure thing, but as Sox owner John Henry noted, there was a feeling it was time for a change. It’s a little early to be thinking ahead to a New Year’s resolution, but a manager who better connects with his players and brings a different vibe to the day-to-day scene is reason to feel the Sox are following the right road map. Plus, if nothing else, Cora took that awesome picture walking toward Fenway.

A CHRISTMAS SHOPPING SPREE MAY BE AROUND THE CORNER

We don’t want to be too materialistic. But Uncle Dave Dombrowski couldn’t let you buy everything you wanted last year. The credit card companies needed him to step back for a year. Now he’s ready to spend. He might not close down Bloomingdale’s for the day for you to do your private shopping, but if you need a couple great jackets to complete your look, it sounds like he’s ready to get you some designer threads. He probably feels there won’t be too many chances to have a moment like this with you, at this stage of your life, and he wants to make the most of it.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

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Why the Red Sox should sign not one but two relievers

BOSTON — There is a world outside of Giancarlo Stanton. 

Stanton, at this point, simply doesn’t appear likely to end up in Boston. That should feel obvious to those following along, and so should this: it can change. 

But there are other pursuits. Besides their search for a bat or two, the Red Sox have been actively pursuing left-handed relief options. Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is a fast mover, but this year’s market has not been.

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Robbie Ross Jr. and Fernando Abad are both free agents, leaving Robby Scott as the lone incumbent southpaw from last season's primary group. Brian Johnson is bound for the pen, with Roenis Elias as a depth option too.  Still, even if Johnson’s transition pans out, the Sox still have an opening for a late-inning reliever with the departure of free agent Addison Reed. 

Reed is a righty, but between Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly, Heath Hembree, Carson Smith, and Craig Kimbrel, the Sox have more right-handed choices than left. Coming back from surgery, Tyler Thornburg, should be in the mix eventually too, but it's difficult to expect too much from him.

What the Red Sox should do: sign one of each for the bullpen, one righty, and one lefty. And then trade a righty or two. Turn some of that mishmash into an addition elsewhere. Be creative. 

Because inevitably, come midseason, the Sox will want to add another bullpen arm if they sign just one now. Why wait until you have to give up prospect capital when you can just add the piece you want now?

Go get a near-sure thing such as Pat Neshek, a veteran who walks no one and still strikeouts a bunch. At 37 with an outgoing personality, Neshek also brings leadership to a team that is looking for some. He walked just six guys in 62 innings last season. Entering his 12th season in the majors, he’s looking for his first ring.

All these top of the market relievers may be handsomely paid. But relievers are still something of a bargain compared to position players and starting pitchers. One of the key words for this winter should be creativity. If there’s value to be had in the reliever market, capitalize on it. 

Comeback kid Mike Minor, Jake McGee and Tony Watson headline the crop of free agent lefties available. Brad Hand of the Padres could also be had by trade but his market isn’t moving too quickly (and he won’t come cheaply).

Minor, 29, who posted a 2.55 ERA in 2017 after health issues kept him out of the majors in 2015-16, is expected to be paid handsomely. He is also open to the idea of potentially starting if a team is interested in him doing so. The Royals reportedly could give him that shot.

McGee’s American League East experience could be appealing.

He's 31 and had a 3.61 ERA with the Rockies in 2017 and has a 3.15 ERA lifetime. He’s not quite the strikeout pitcher he was earlier in his career — he had an 11.6 K/9 in 2015 — but a 9.1 K/9 is still very strong, particularly when coupled with just 0.6 homers allowed per nine.

For what it’s worth: McGee has also dominated the Red Sox, who have a .125 average, .190 on-base percentage and .192 slugging against him in 117 regular-season plate appearances. 

McGee throws a mid-90s fastball with a low-80s slider. He can operate up in the zone, and he actually has been even more effective against righties than lefties in his career, including in 2017. McGee’s been a closer, too, with 44 career saves.

The Sox had the second-best bullpen in the majors by ERA in 2017, at 3.07. Yet, come the postseason, there wasn’t a sense of great confidence or even a clear shape to the pecking order behind one of the absolute best relievers in the game, Kimbrel.