Red Sox

Pitching duel ends in play at the plate

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Pitching duel ends in play at the plate

SEATTLE -- The baseball and the baserunner were on a collision course, hurdling toward home plate, from opposite directions. Jarrod Saltalamacchia had to keep an eye on both.
In a scoreless tie in the bottom of the ninth, only everything was on the line.
"The ol' bang-bang play,'' Bobby Valentine called it.
While blocking the plate from baserunner Casper Wells, Saltalamacchia thought he had the ball in his glove as he went to apply the tag.
More than a half-hour after the play had taken place, the Red Sox' catcher wasn't exactly sure what had transpired.
Did he tag Wells, only to have the ball jar loose on contact?
Did he never fully have control of the ball?
In reality, it didn't matter. Wells was safe, scoring the only run in a brilliant pitching duel, and the Red Sox lost to the Mariners, 1-0.
Wells was on second after a leadoff double, and the Sox elected to watch Justin Smoak with first base open.
Seattle pinch-hit Jaso for Miguel Olivo, and Jaso laced a hard single to right, which right field Cody Ross charged.
"We practice that play quite a bit,'' recounted Ross. "It's a do-or-die play. I know he's going to go (for the plate) right there. He can run pretty good. I charged it and came up clean. You're trying to keep the ball down; you don't want to air-mail it and not give your catcher a chance.''
But somewhere between Saltalamacchia fielding the throw and the application of the tag, the ball got away."It's just the way this game is,'' said Ross. "It's crazy.''
"The ball was hit off the end of the bat to right,'' said Saltalamacchia. "I knew Cody was going to make a great throw, and he did. It was right on the money. I've just got to do a better job of holding onto it in a big situation like that.
"It was a good throw, low, on-line, so I was trying to stay low with it and then as the ball was coming closer, I was trying to block the plate to make sure he didn't get to it. And I think as I was doing it, I was swiping in, trying to block the plate so he didn't get near it and I think it just rattled around in my glove.
"I think he tagged him in the helmet. But either way, he went way around home plate. I had a chance to back and tag him if I had held onto the ball.''
But he didn't. End of game.

Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins

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Report: Ex-Red Sox reliever Reed gets deal with Twins

He was dubbed "Closer B" by Red Sox manager John Farrell when acquired at the trade deadline last summer, now Addison Reed is "Closer B Gone"...to the Twins.

The right-handed reliever, 29, has agreed to a two-year, $16.75 million free-agent deal with Minnesota, pending a physical, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and TheAthletic.com reports. 

Reed began last season with the Mets and had 19 saves and a 2.57 ERA before being traded to the Red Sox, where he had a 3.33 ERA in 29 games (27 innings) without a save as a setup man for Craig Kimbrell.  
 

Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration

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Red Sox, Mookie Betts far apart on salary and heading toward arbitration

The Red Sox and star right fielder Mookie Betts intend to go to an arbitration hearing in February, and there were signs this was coming even a year ago.

Betts was the only arbitration-eligible player on the Red Sox who did not settle on a contract with the team on Friday, when a deadline arrived for all teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange 2018 salary figures. Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Drew Pomeranz were the biggest names to avoid hearings.

Betts filed for a $10.5 million salary and the Red Sox filed at $7.5 million.  Betts and the Red Sox agreed previously that if no figure could be settled on by the Friday deadline, they would proceed to a hearing, assistant general manager Brian O'Halloran said. 

A three-person panel of arbitrators therefore is set to determine what Betts makes in 2018: either the $7.5 million figure the Sox filed or the $10.5 million figure Betts' camp submitted. The arbitrators won't settle on a midpoint for the parties. 

O'Halloran noted to the Globe there are no hard feelings involved.

Nonetheless, such a large gap would seem to provide incentive to settle. The parties technically could still decide to do so, but that would take a change of course from the present plan. The idea was to settle any time before Friday, and they did not. 

Betts is asking for near-record money for a first-year arbitration eligible player. Kris Bryant set the record Friday with a $10.85 million settlement.

The hearings can be difficult for player-team relations because teams have to make the case in front of the player that he is worth less money than he wants.

Betts, 25, hit .264, with 24 homers, 102 RBI, 25 stolen bases and a .803 OPS in 2017, numbers that fell from his American League MVP runner-up performance in 2016, but were nonetheless very strong and coupled with first-rate defense.

This offseason is Betts' first of arbitration eligibility. In the first three years of service time in a players' career, there's no recourse if you don't like the salary a team is offering. Teams can pay players anything at league minimum or above. 

The only option a player has in those first three years is to make a stand on principle: you can force the team to technically "renew" your salary, which notes to everyone that you did not agree to the salary. Betts and his agents did that in 2017 when the Sox paid him $950,000, a very high amount relative to most contract renewals.

Some of the standard thinking behind forcing a team to renew a contract is that if an arbitration case comes up down the road — and one now looms for Betts — it's supposed to show the arbitrators that the player felt even in seasons past, he was underpaid.

Still, the Sox may have effectively combatted that perception by paying Betts almost $1 million on a renewal. Per USA Today, that $950,000 agreement in 2017 was "the second-highest one-year deal ever for a non-arbitration-eligible player with two-plus years of big league service." Mike Trout got $1 million in 2014.