Red Sox

Red Sox designate Pablo Sandoval for assignment, release expected


Red Sox designate Pablo Sandoval for assignment, release expected

BOSTON — One of the worst contracts in Red Sox history and an untenable situation at third base came to a head Friday, when the Red Sox designated Pablo Sandoval for assignment.

The struggling third baseman, who signed for a guaranteed $95 million ahead of the 2015 season, is still owed at least $41 million from the 2018-19 seasons, including a $5 million buyout of a team option for 2020. A bit more than halfway through the season, there’s more than $7 million of his 2017 salary still to be paid out, leaving more than $48 million still on the Red Sox’ books in all.

"That was hard," Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said Friday afternoon of the decision. "Talking about a lot of money. I give ownership a lot of credit that they are willing to allow us to do this."

Sox manager John Farrell said defense was the biggest problem for Sandoval.

"We were not a better club if he were on our club at the major league level," Dombrowski said.

The Sox have seven days to make a move with Sandoval now that he has been DFA'd. Sandoval will pass through release waivers, at which point another team can pick up Sandoval for the minimum with the Sox on the hook for all that dough. Per Dombrowski, Sandoval told the team on Thursday he would not grant the Sox permission to send him to the minor leagues — which is within his rights because of his major league service time.

If released as expected, then, Sandoval's salary counts against luxury tax threshold — minus any salary from where ever he may land.

"I think there’s more baseball left in him," Farrell said. 

A trade is technically possible, but would still require the Red Sox to eat the vast majority of the money owed to Sandoval. Dombrowski said Friday he already tried to shop Sandoval unsucessfully.

A discussion about going to the minors came up with Sandoval as far back as Monday, Dombrowski said, and talk of making this move internally stretched even further back with ownership.

"Talked about it a while ago, really a few weeks ago actually," Dombrowski said. "Spoke with John Henry and Tom Werner."

Sandoval, 30, was nearing the end of a minor league rehab assignment and the Red Sox had to make a call on their future at third base. Farrell has spoken about the infusion of energy Tzu-Wei Lin and Deven Marrero have brought, and for now, they'll handle the third-base duties. Their presence made the move easier, Dombrowski acknowledged.

Sandoval finished his two-plus seasons with the Red Sox with just 161 games played, hitting .237 with a .646 OPS. He hit .212 in 32 games this season and looked poor defensively.

Sandoval had glory days in San Francisco before joining the Red Sox, but it went south quickly. He missed nearly all of 2016, a year when he was noticeably out of shape, because of shoulder surgery.

Former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington’s legacy was bettered in the last year, particularly because of the young core of players that drove the team to a 93-win season and an American League East title in 2016. But Sandoval’s acquisition is virtually guaranteed to go down as his worst move.

Top prospect Rafael Devers' path to Triple-A was cleared with the exits of Sandoval and Jhonny Peralta. The latter was released on Thursday.

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


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


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

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.