Red Sox

Drellich: Nunez has more to lose than Red Sox if knee is further damaged

Drellich: Nunez has more to lose than Red Sox if knee is further damaged

HOUSTON — Carried off the field Thursday at Minute Maid Park, Eduardo Nunez has more to lose than the Red Sox do in these rushed attempts to come back from a knee injury and help in the playoff run. 

Nunez is a free agent to be. The infielder’s right knee once again gave way Thursday, making it two straight games he’s tried to come back from a ligament injury and has not been able to make it through the entire game. The other was on Sept. 25.

The question now is whether Nunez is dealing with more than just the injury that’s been described by him and the team, to the posterior cruciate ligament, or PCL. Potential damage to the meniscus, for example, could lead to an operation.

Sox manager John Farrell said on Sept. 25, before Nunez’s first return attempt from an injury he originally suffered Sept. 9, that Nunez is “not putting himself at further risk.”

Farrell takes his players’ health very seriously, as does the training staff. But for the credibility of everyone involved, and for the sake of Nunez’s future and success in free agency, it’s important that Farrell’s statement prove true — that there has been no further risk to the knee by playing Nunez.

“I’m going to have another MRI in a few days and go back to Boston, and but we don’t see another damage so far,” Nunez said after an 8-2 Red Sox loss to the Astros to open the Division Series. “There’s no swelling, it’s just the same pain it was before. A little more painful this time. And we’ll see how the MRI say in a few days.”

Farrell said Thursday he had no regrets bringing back Nunez during the regular season.

“No,” Farrell said. “Because everything that we had, everything we had available to us, we accomplished those steps, the way he felt, trying to get another bat back in our lineup that I think we needed, no, no regrets with the way things have unfolded here.”

Losing Nunez is a blow to the Red Sox’ playoff chances, which weren’t in their favor to begin with against the stacked 'Stros. The Sox made nothing official on Thursday night about Nunez’s status, but the likelihood is that Nunez is off the roster come Game 2 on Friday and Chris Young is activated, on the bench, and maybe in the lineup against lefty Dallas Keuchel. Farrell confirmed Young would be the choice if someone is needed.

But Nunez himself described the rehab process as a rush. 

“We tried to rush twice, because we don’t have a lot of time,” Nunez said. “We were in September and now in the playoff time.”

In a sense, why not rush? Why not try? The Sox are better with Nunez. If there’s really no further damage and no risk for it, then the efforts seem noble and warranted — although, trying to come back in the regular season 16 days after the initial injury remains a bit head-scratching.

But if Nunez has been exposed now to greater risk and has indeed been further injured, it’s a bad look for the Sox, and most unfortunate for a player trying to do his best by a team he’s already done a ton for in his walk year.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

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

red_sox_addison_reed_080317.jpg

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

red-sox-mookie-betts.jpg

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.